December 31, 2011

"Good Reads"

I've read so many great books this year! Some of them were entirely new to me, while a few others are old favorites. I can't get enough of good fiction that makes me think (as a writer), and I'm trying to invite new "reads" to my extensive book list. The last two you'll see below here are nonfiction as well as amazing first-timers I would in no way be sorry to read again!

    ~The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale~
This is my favorite novel of all time! Based on ideas derived from a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, it is about a princess who does not seem fit for royalty --- she is a klutz, is very shy, and does not have any close friends.
    Ani, as she is called, is sent away by her sixteenth birthday to marry a prince in the neighboring kingdom in order to gain peace concerning a dispute over some unclaimed land. She is sent from one adventure to the next: falsely accused, sought out by a murderer, and now very far away from all familiarity and everything she once held dear.
    This is a tale of magic, destiny, hope, and love. It is technically part of a series called the Books of Bayern, but is so fantastic, so original, so classic, that it is perfectly wonderful just on its own. I have personally read it four times, own a hardcover copy because my mom sweetly gave it to me, and am going to continue to read it over and over again!



    ~Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale~
This is the second of the Books of Bayern. Its protagonist was Princess Ani's new friend, Enna, a forest girl who loses her brother to some mysterious obsession with fire.
    I found this book to be intriguing at a high degree, just as magical if not more than The Goose Girl, although a little more predictable. The ending did, however, catch me by surprise, and although it was not exactly my favorite book, it was very exciting and full of inspiration. Actually, I liked it a lot!



    ~The Frog Princess, by E. D. Baker~
Ever heard of those stories where girls would kiss a frog so that they would turn into a twist? Well, this story is told a little differently. This is the book on which they based the Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog". When Princess Emeralda finds a frog in the swamp who claims to be a prince, she agrees reluctantly to kiss him and turn him back. But when she does, something altogether unexpected and frighteningly wrong happens; she herself turns into a frog!
     I loved this tale, although it was obviously written for a younger generation. It made me think about magical possibilities, and I love books that do that! Now here's the most interesting part: I found it on the shelf because I liked the cover! I believe that today, one really can judge a book by this method!

    ~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling~
After seeing all of the movies repeatedly, I finally decided to sit down with this and see the magic from J. K Rowling's personal perspective. I really loved it! The style of writing was easy to read --- I believe the first one was meant for younger children --- and having enjoyed the movies already, the excitement of the ending had me captured. (Also, I tried to read much of it aloud according to the way the actors sounded in the movie.) I plan on reading the rest of the series --- that is, as soon as I've finished off some of the other books on my ever-increasing reading list.... ;)
    Favorite quote: "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

    ~The Healer's Apprentice, by Melanie Dickerson~
I had hardly any idea what to expect from this novel when I first picked it up. I learned of it from Sarah Elizabeth, the brilliant writer behind oh, restless bird (formerly Daughter of the King). From her, I understood that it was a retelling of the famous Sleeping Beauty tale. The truth is, it wasn't what I expected. It was even better! I had no idea it was written by a Christian woman, and was delighted to read a fairytale that honored my God.
    I loved how realistic and believable all of the characters were, and especially how they made their decisions based on what was right and not on what they felt. It was truly inspiring, intriguing, and it has been put high up on my favorites list. Really, this is one that I would love to own and read a hundred times!


    ~The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill~ 
This is the true story of the Christian heroine, Corrie ten Boom, who experienced the effects of the German invasion of Holland. She and her whole family, along with many friends, were put in prison for helping or showing kindness toward Jews. The book is an account of the fearful trials she endured, as well as the grace which God showed her throughout all of her struggles.
    This is a book which I would recommend to anyone --- it is not only touching, but inspiring; inspiring to live for Christ in such a way that not even persecution and death can destroy hope of something far greater than mere  freedom --- a life with God in heaven.
    This is my favorite quote: "There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety---" -Betsie ten Boom


    ~Hope Rising, by Kim Meeder~
This book was incredible. It's the first horse story I've ever read where there isn't utter selfishness or rebellion, where there is faith in God, and where everything that happens is completely true and not a work of dramatic fiction.
     And it is so beautiful!
    There is an astonishing, delightful number of secret metaphors in this book, so sweetly flowing with the rhythm of each short account, so that one nearly misses them altogether. This book gives the reader hope and clearly shows us the fact that with God, all things are possible; that miracles do happen; and that dreams really do come true. ♥






God bless and Happy New Year!

December 23, 2011

Color

My room is a splashing hurricane of color --- a kaleidoscope of God's glorious rainbow --- the color wheel of wonder that would be much-envied in my childhood. I have mixed, hardly matched, and am still slowly-but-surely adding to this magnificent little square space I affectionately call 'bedroom'.

I found my dream bedspread on sale at WalMart --- four different shades of blue and green circles on one side, neon green on the other. It most delightfully contrasts the overwhelming pink on my walls and in my wardrobe.

My darling Princess Pumpkin (also referred to as Plumpkin, Flumpy-dunk, or 'our fat cat') loves to share my bed in the daytime while I read. I really don't think that she cares a cat's whisker about what colors my room consists of, but she seems to really like it in there.

If I had had mine own way, my whole room would be cool colors, particularly blue. But as it was, I selected five visually-satiable colors that matched some already-made curtains mom had intended for the room practically since we moved in: desert gold, pale tan, disco and princess pinks, and lavender. The colors have become a little (as mentioned above) overwhelming, so I've been calming it down with blues and greens. Emily even painted my closet trim blue for me. Now, as it turns out, the curtains cannot be found, and so my mom says I can get new ones. Now I can have even more blue in my room!

I would actually love to paint my walls a dark grey to contrast the crayon-box colors of everything else in the room. I've learned so many incredible craft ideas from Pinterest that I can't wait to get started on, and all of these will also add some pizazz to my room. {click the provided link to check out my ideas!}

Once I get around to it, I'm going to crochet myself a rug to cover up the matted-down grey carpet. (There's only one book I have found so far in all of my local library that has a rug pattern. Wow.) And guess what color it's going to be? That's right, blue.

There's also the dream of getting the trim up, the new white door, buying new carpet, and locating a cheap but still eye-pleasing desk lamp. Before any of those can come, however, I shall make myself thoroughly content. 

My room has never looked this good, this ME. ;)

December 22, 2011

Upon the Ice

So far, I've been babysitting regularly for about four or five months, now. It's been a challenging experience from which I have learned so much. And today, I and the boys I care for went down to the lake for ice-skating


I'm no great skater myself, but it was still a blast. I tried to go as fast as possible without losing my balance --- not very fast --- and the boys were chasing after each other and their hockey-playing friend (who is actually quite good).


I was exploring a large crack in the ice when I realized that one could see how deep the ice was according the the crack, for it went all the way through to the cold water underneath.


I showed the boys, who immediately proceeded to attempt to hammer a hole in the ice with a hard stick. They couldn't get very far. Not only was it cold, and the ice very strong, but the layer on which we stood was over six inches thick.

We were observing another area where two cracks ran over each other in an X, when we heard a deep, quiet boom. That's the only way I can think to describe how it sounded when the ice shifted slightly under our combined weight. I knew it wasn't enough to send us into the icy water, but natural fear and caution drove me to persuade the boys to move nearer the shore, just in case. It was exhilarating.

After this adventure, we returned back to their house --- for not only was it dark, but we were growing cold --- and played games after a hearty meal of pepperoni and sausage pizza, along with mugs of hot cocoa.

It was a very nice day.

Waluigi

This afternoon, I spent a few hours at a friend's house --- someone I now only rarely see, and have missed immensely --- and spent at least two of those hours playing Mario Kart with her and her sister! Having only played it perhaps once in my entire life before, I obviously wasn't very skilled. I was almost always in last place, but I still enjoyed it. I was Waluigi.

The coolest Wii character I've ever seen, he made us all laugh with his vengeful "I'll get you next time!" and his disgruntled, "Ah, Waluigi lose... IMPOSSIBLE!"

That, along with a delicious lunch, gift-exchanging, and simply talking every ones' heads off made for a great time with my buddies! ;)

December 20, 2011

The "W" in Christmas

I love this story. Although simple, and perhaps silly-sounding to many people on whom it's meaning is lost, it is a good reminder of what this season --- this "holiday" --- is all about.

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the
precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of
Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old.

For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the
production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.

Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes
early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snow-caps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"

December 19, 2011

Humpty Dumpty


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

But when Jesus Christ at last intervined
Grace entered the vastly discomposed scene
He repaired Humpty 'til he was better than new
And none other this undertaking could do

December 9, 2011

I Have Bangs!







After nearly six years of never, EVER having bangs, I finally decided it was time. Time to give them another chance. I put the hair I wanted to keep up in a ponytail.


And then my mom snipped off the rest.






 
And then, I wanted to finish it up on my own --- a very unwise and frankly dumb decision.
But mom helped me straighten it out. I hated it for the first five minutes, but I'm warming up to it. It still isn't the style I planned for, but my one comfort is...

IT WILL GROW BACK!


December 6, 2011

Lovely Chaos

My world is a tumbling hurricane of chaotic Christmas preparations, deep-sea cleaning, novel-writing, and a little bit of everything else. I'm sure my story is not that different from many others' at this present moment.

I'm trying to clear-off as many things as I can off of my laptop in order to refresh it and make it go really fast again. (I never realized just how many pictures I had taken until today.)

Tea is my one comfort while stressing over math.
I've started knitting another purse, a scarf, and hope to get working on some hats --- the last ones I made didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped *blush*.

It's great to have winter back again. Just loking out my bedroom window at the snow cheers me up and makes the day worth getting through.

Wow; it takes a lot of effort just to make room for fifteen minutes with God in prayer!

And yet, what a blessing it is to be busy and at work; how dull life would be if there was nothing to do but the things we want to!

God bless!

November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all did things that made the day all the more special to you, and are thanking God for everything He puts in your path, even though the special day set aside for it is here and gone.

I can't believe how quickly this has gone by, this series of gratitude. I loved the picture of the verse ( to the left because it reminded me not to simply thank God for what He has done and all that He is simply this one month and certainly not this one day, but always, and in everything.

And now we come to the final thing on my list:

    24. Salvation in Christ Alone
As the verse goes, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
    I was saved at about the age of eleven, not of mine own work, but because of God's love and mercy. He showed me my sin, my worthlessness, my need for His hand in my life. I would never have chosen Him on my own accord, but I did because I love Him; and I love Him not on my own, but because He loved me first. I realized that I was a prisoner to sin, and that Christ had set me free. Obviously, this is the thing I am most thankful for, above all other things --- this is true love... God's love.

November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,three


    23. My Family and Friends
I absolutely love my family. My parents are so sweet and generous, my sister Lilly is the joy and entertainment of my daily life, and Emily --- although we argue often --- is adorable and I love her so much!
    As a child, I had only a few very special friends, and today I now know so many wonderful, godly people. I love planning hundreds of ways to fill up my days with their company. (My best friend of all, whom I have told you about before, has a birthday in two days --- I just hope her surprise arrives in time.) ;)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones." 
-Proverbs 3:5-8

November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,two

    22. Life Itself
I've definitely covered the essentials of this over the past twenty-one Thanksgiving posts, but how often are we truly thankful for life? The fact that God gives us breath at all is a marvelous demonstration of His incredible mercy!
    Everyone has days when they are tempted to want a different life. But notice; even the people who have the life you find ideal are also discontent. Don't think anything but what God has giving you would or could ever be "better". He knows better than we do, that's why He gave us the life we have, and not somebody else's life.
    I'm making it a goal to thank the Lord every day for the life He gave me because I know that regardless of the struggles that tempt me to be discontent, He has a plan for the best. And besides, it's much better to enjoy the good times when they come, and to remember them when they depart to make room for trials.


Amazing... we're only two days away from Thanksgiving already. This series has been excellent practice for being consistent in my writing --- although I have missed a few days and needed to catch up a little --- and I hope that the things I've shared have inspired you in some way. =)

November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,one


I've decided to stroll off the beaten path today and list a few different things I'm thankful for, just for today, instead of simply one for which I'm thankful in general.

    1. Writing
I don't know why, but when the seasons change, I am more inspired than ever to write. Since the snow fell just a few days ago, I've felt such an urge to sit down and just GO. I'm only into the second chapter of my story, but as more and more ideas come, the more I know I need to set free my fingers and print the words from my whirlwind of thoughts.

    2. Piano Music
It is the day of the first piano lesson I have had in over a month. And so, I now regret having not practiced more over the lapse of time, but I am reaping the consequences tolerably. I am thankful that God has blessed us with music to enjoy --- and of course, I want to practice more in the future so that I am not so easily caught off-guard. ;)

    3. Sleep
I've been caring for a friend's cat this week, and the friendly little thing does not want anything else but to be in my lap whenever I am in the same room. My bed is also located directly under my window --- a favorite place for her to roost --- and so she must jump from the floor to my feet, and from my feet to the windowsill in order to peer out into the starlit night. I like to roll around in my sleep, and so my consciousness of her presence prevents me from rolling enough and thereby sleeping soundly. If all that escapes your understanding, simply know that I have grown to appreciate sleep more than ever this week!

    4. Thick Socks
Doing school today was hard because my toes were soaking up all of the cold in the room. (It's very hard for me to concentrate on anything when I can't FEEL anything....)

    5. Pinterest
My sweet sister-in-law introduced my family to a fun site called Pinterest, and I am completely addicted to it, as she predicted! (You can find me on Pinterest here)

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name." 
-Psalm 103:1

November 19, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty


    20. God's Blessed and Holy Word
I confess, I have a hard time remembering how truly important it is to read His Word daily. There's ALWAYS something else I want to do, and I have to make a choice. I often --- nay, most often --- choose something else. No, we don't need to be reading our Bibles constantly, and no, doing pleasurable things (such as reading other books, going for a walk, or spending time with friends) is not evil --- they are an entirely different matter of discussion. But we do need to keep in mind that if we are Christians who spend more time doing the things WE want to do rather than what GOD wants us to do, we're giving Satan an enormous foothold on our lives and hearts. We begin to justify what we do, thinking, "But I'm not going out and murdering someone, so it's okay." Yeah, that does sound drastic, but read what Corrie ten Boom had to say on the subject when she and her sick sister Betsie were in prison for harboring Jews in their home:

"Selfishness had a life of its own. As I watched Mien's bag of yeast-compound disappear I began taking it from beneath the straw only after lights-out when others would not see and ask for some. Wasn't Betsie's health more important? (You see, God, she can do so much for them! Remember that house, after the war!) 
    And even if it wasn't right --- it wasn't so very wrong, was it? Not wrong like sadism and murder and the other monstrous evils we saw in Ravensbruck every day. Oh, this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his: to display such blatant evil that one could almost believe one's own secret sins didn't matter."

{ emphasis added }

Every sin, no matter how small is sin, selfishness included.

God's Word is such a blessing that I wonder sometimes why it is such a struggle to sit down with it, even for as little as fifteen minutes? I really do love the Bible; not only is it full of true stories that are as delicious to read as my beloved fairy-tales, but the Truth of the Gospel which gave me new life in Christ, as well as instructions for how to return His love for all He has done and all that He is.

Bless the Lord for His Word, and for not letting our Salvation depend upon us, but only on He who saves!


"And looking at them Jesus said to them,  
With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
-Matthew 19:26

Giving Thanks ... day nineteen

    19. God's Power
In fellowship with many of the wonderful women from my church two nights ago, we discussed holiness. Holiness, in a nutshell, is being completely like-minded with God; loving what He loves (righteousness), hating what He hates (sin). As Christians, we are to pursue holiness, being as much like-minded with God as we possibly can.

One of the main things we discussed was how this was impossible... by ourselves! 

Christianity does not end with Christ dying for our sins; He also commanded us to pursue righteousness, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We've tried that, haven't we? Everyday we try to pursue godliness, but at the end of the day we're crying out to God in utter failure! The most important part we need to remember is that we must go to God in prayer if we are ever to have the strength, or even desire to pursue holiness! We can't do it. He can! But He doesn't just do it for us. He gives us all the strength and nudging we need and then it's our turn to obey and take the first step. And then the next. And pretty soon, we're like toddlers learning to walk, but it's the Spirit holding us up, and our Savior to whom we're walking!

Along with thanking God for His Grace given to me freely, I thank Him also for His strength and power to help me pursue holiness every single day until I am at home with my Lord, King, and Savior Jesus Christ.

November 18, 2011

"Come on, Emily ... Let's Gromit!"

After years of hard work, determination and patience, my sister Emily and I at last completed one of our favorite PlayStation games, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" this evening! Levels of fun based on the 2005 film, our older brother gave it to us just a few years ago to our immense delight.

 
At first, we were overwhelmed by the detail and difficulty of the many challenges set before us, but the experience helped improve our mind-to-thumb skills over time. ;)


The main point of the game is to get all of the hungry bunnies safely captured and caged before the annual prize vegetable competition the town is having that autumn. Wallace and Gromit's humane service 'Anti-Pesto' uses Wallace's specially-designed gadgets to help them capture the many adorable pig-nosed rodents.
 

As seen in the movie, Wallace attempts an experiment which goes very, horribly wrong, creating a monster of a rabbit that goes about in the night wreaking havoc upon the town's prize vegetables. 


This is a tale of mystery, loyalty, sacrifice, immense danger, and a quite proud, bald villain who is obsessed with his gun. The film is full of laughs (although having the unfortunate few and occasional hints of crude humor not at all appreciated in my family), and I find every character easy to love... especially Gromit, who is a true hero.


There are some 'quests' still to be completed in the game Emily and I have shared, and I am determined to give my best to that aim, that is, completing every last task.


Behold, my dear readers... Wallace and Gromit!

   

Giving Thanks ... day eighteen


    18. Mysteries of Creation
We look at the way blood travels through the body, and it makes sense. But how do we know it makes sense? Intellect and information are two of the most incredible parts of God's creation which I just have to marvel at. It's a complete mystery how we can observe every part of creation and comprehend it. The animals were given instinct, and we humans were given limited knowledge and understanding for these amazing things. (Much like how our emotions separate us from mere animals, so do intellect and understanding.)

And yet, although we can comprehend all of these things, we know not what the future holds (we can only guess), and we cannot grasp things eternal --- at least, not completely. Everything we know has a time limit; every human, creature, and plant has a life span then eventually dies. Trying to know and understand that we have been created by God, who is eternal --- who never had a beginning, nor ever will have an end.

I could go on for chapters, books, and entire series writing about these things, going into great detail, naming all of the things our awesome God has made and done.

He is the marvel behind and above the mysteries of creation.

November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day seventeen


    17. Trials
I know I've gone through this generally when speaking of missionaries and suchlike, but this is something I want to stress specifically this year. I have experienced a few very difficult trials over the past three years; trials all of which have tested my faith in God, and took some time to recover fully from. For privacy I can't go into detail, but I want to share at least that although every one of these trials was extremely difficult, God brought the best from them, just as He promised:

"For I know the plans that I have for you,’
declares the LORD,
‘plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope."
-Jeremiah 29:11 

(I speak of course of true Christian believers, true Children of God, and not the unsaved.)

Some trials we bring upon ourselves by sinning; but God still works through them in our lives for the best.

Some trials are given to us by God Himself to grow us; for without a workout, muscle doesn't grow; without tempests, the sailor wouldn't know how to handle his vessel on the seas; and without winter time, we'd be overrun with rabbits --- or rather, sins, in our lives.

Trials are just another part of the Holy Spirit purifying and sanctifying us in preparation for heaven. They are not 'fun' when we are in them, but after the fact --- when we see what God had been planning all along --- we marvel that we couldn't see it and that He could be so wise and truly wonderful to us!

November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day sixteen



    16. My Church
I have attended four different churches over the course of my life, and I believe God has used all of them for the benefit of myself and my family --- all in completely different ways.

I'm so quickly and completely falling in love with 'my church' today. It is a Scripture-deep church with incredible people who love the Lord with all their hearts. I love everything about this beautiful, godly church, and I can't get enough of it.

November 15, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day fifteen



    15. The freedom to be a Christian
Just two days ago, my group in Sunday School was discussing what a blessing it is to have the freedom to be a Christian. As far as I know, every other country in the world does not have this freedom. It is so dangerous to be a Christian outside of America.
    I have grown up so comfortably that I hardly know what this freedom means --- and what not having it means. But even though the expanse of my understanding in this area is very thin, I am so grateful to God that He blessed me with this freedom, and am growing more prayerful for those who have not this freedom. God bless them!

November 14, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days twelve thru fourteen



    12. Missionaries
I am reading The Hiding Place in school presently, and have an ever-growing love for the dear ten Boom family. They were not exactly 'missionaries', but they certainly had quite a ministry, both within their home as well as the concentration camps and prisons in which Cornelia (Corrie ten Boom) especially spent much time.
    The hardships which God's people go through when spreading the Gospel of Christ are heart-wrenching. I know my own turn enduring persecution for my Savior will be easier when I remember all of the martyrs who have gone before me.
    13. Emotions
When pain fills up a heart, there is no better relief than letting the heavy tears flow. When joy is chained up within, there is nothing more delightful than setting it free and sharing it with others. When anger and frustration arise, there is no greater or more honorable challenge than suppressing it with patience.
    Emotions separate us from mere animals --- animals react, we feel and understand.
    Emotions connect us to each other. Since everyone has emotions, we can relate to each other, comfort each other, encourage each other, and so on.
    Emotions help us to understand our Creator better in our hearts. We read in His Word that 'Jesus wept' (John 11:35), among displays of many other emotions. Emotions make things personal. Emotions are such a blessing!

    14. Prayer
There were many times when people either could not or had no idea how to communicate with God. Until Christ came to the earth, we were separated from God by our own sins against Him. Christ changed that by 'switching accounts' so-to-speak; He took our dept to God upon Himself, and imputed His righteousness to us, so that God would punish our sins through Him... and forgive us completely.
    Now that Jesus' work is accomplished, we can speak freely with God, at any time, anywhere --- for He is never too busy, although He takes care of everything; nor is He too far away, for we know that He is omnipresent.
    He loves to hear our requests, to hear us repent of our sins and cry out to Him for help. And I love seeing Him answer my Christian family's prayers every day. We have an awesome God.


One thing that I am thankful for, just for today?
A clear blue sky to fill up the earth with golden sunlight.
Although the sun has already passed the vast horizon,
I'll remember it's smile as I lay to rest tonight.

November 9, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days ten and eleven



    10. Individuality/personality/uniqueness
Everyone has their own style, their own likes and dislikes, their own ideas, their own imaginations; they each have a completely unique fingerprint given to them by God. Imagine how dull life would be if everyone was exactly the same. It would be awful! I thank the Lord that He made every person different.

    11. Activities
I, for one, love having lots of things to do. There are my responsibilities, which come first, but also just fun things like reading, knitting, playing games, etc. The list goes on and on. Photography is definitely one of the top ten things I love to do, along with writing fiction. The best part about the different things each person can do is that they don't need to do them all alone. It's the best to share something you enjoy with someone else. My best friend may live states away, but we keep in touch often through handwritten letters, which we've kept up for nearly five years straight, now. I'm so thankful for an endless list of things to do!

Giving Thanks ... day nine


    9. Stories
Stories give us so much to think about. They open our minds to the thoughts of other people; they give us a map of the writer's imagination. They plunge us into an entirely different world. The pattern of words paint a beautiful picture of one of adventure, of mystery, or of anything desired at all. They can last for centuries not only on ancient faded pages, but also on the hearts of people around the world.

I love stories.

November 8, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day eight



    8. Music
Every week in church, we sing lovely songs to the Lord. I love to just listen to all of the voices coming together as one in musical praise to God, a representation of what I believe we will be doing in heaven for the rest of eternity. It is so beautiful.
    Some of my favorite music consists of movie soundtracks. For example, 'Forbidden Friendship' from the animated film How to Train Your Dragon and 'Rejection in the Rain' from Megamind always touch my heart.
    My favorite songs of all are 'In Christ Alone' (preferably the beautiful rendition by Owl City), and the precious hymn 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing'. Both of these seem to momentarily bring me to heaven and give me a clearer glimpse of my sin as well as God's incredible love.
    Music can be so healing; music can speak so much more than mere words ever could; music is one other thing I am so thankful God put in our lives!

"I will praise the name of God with song
And magnify Him with thanksgiving."
-Psalm 69:30

November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day seven


 
    7. Seasons
Every season of the year is beautiful and unique; each one has its own selection of troubles and blessings; and each one is a gift from God. Personally, my favorite season of the whole year is autumn. There's something wonderful and almost magical about the vibrant colors, crisp air, and also the hazy gold sunsets through the bare treetops, which stretch upward like arms of worship. Thank the Lord for a variety of seasons!

November 6, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days one thru six

 
Being busy is a blessing. Not being able to post on my blog? Pure torture. But I have only myself to blame for that because of my tendencies to procrastinate... I was finishing my literature work until (literally) the last minute. The new freedom from all of that stress is... so amazing.

I've been planning on blogging about 24 things I'm thankful for this year, right up until Thanksgiving Day itself. I wanted to post one a day, but unfortunately, I've already missed the first five days due to the aforementioned school, among other things. Therefore, they shall join the sixth on in one big clump:

    1. Laughter
One of the greatest blessings of human life that everyone seems to take for granted. It is such a beautiful, healing thing to laugh, to share joy and cheerfulness with those around you!

    2. Colors and Beauty
God gave us such a beautiful place to live. The earth is made up of an endless variety of detailed plants, people, colors, creatures, all with unique functions and purposes. I marvel that so many people believe that this glorious place was an accident. The evidence of our incredible, all-powerful God is everywhere.

    3. Modern Machines
Our clothing dryer broke down late summer this year. It wasn't until then that I realized what a blessing it was. And not only drying machines, but other simple things such as running water faucets, electricity to power lights in the evenings, and SO MANY MORE!

    4. Work and School
I admit, I almost always take these things for granted. I don't have the brain or heart for math, and work is always a bummer when I don't have the right attitude. But the fact is, whether or not I see these things in the right light, they are great blessings from God; and right now, seeing them for what they really are, I thanks God for them!

    5. Food
It's incredible how much we take food for granted. There are inconceivable varieties of food out there, and we people of America hardly ever realize (or definitely experience) the sting created by the lack of food in many other countries around the world. We're so used to having our bellies full that we are numbed to the fact that there are people out there LITERALLY starving to death. We so carelessly use that phrase 'starving' when our tummies start to rumble slightly. The truth is, I really don't understand what it's like to be starving. And I don't dare take it for granted. I thank the Lord for every meal He gives me, and I pray for all of the people who are not so fortunate. (And thank the Lord for so many people who strive to help the truly hungry!)

    6. Time
Every one has a different amount of time to live. Some people from long ago lived hundreds of years. Some people are only alive for months, days, or even minutes. Every time I remember how much time God has given me to live, I thank Him for it. Life is hard, but life is good, and every life belongs to God.

And one of the hardest questions every person faces during life is, "What am I going to do with my time?"

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way." 
-Psalm139:23-24

October 21, 2011

The Love of Christ

From Charles H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotional:

Morning, October 21
"The love of Christ constraineth us." -2 Corinthians 5:14

How much owest thou unto my Lord? Has He ever done anything for thee? Has He forgiven thy sins? Has He covered thee with a robe of righteousness? Has He set thy feet upon a rock? Has He established thy goings? Has He prepared heaven for thee? Has He prepared thee for heaven? Has He written thy name in His book of life? Has He given thee countless blessings? Has He laid up for thee a store of mercies, which eye hath not seen not ear heard? The do something for Jesus worthy of His love. Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him, but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing forth to His poor or to His work. Out on such love as that! What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." Who will accept a love so weak that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal! Think how He has loved you, and given Himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin. ... Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labour. Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honour Him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardour never to be wearied, let us manifest the constrains of love to Jesus....

October 18, 2011

Response of my Little Princess

Amazing... I go all that way to give my niece her scarf and realize that I completely forgot my camera. Ah, well. At least I can tell you she was excited --- even more excited than I expected her to be!

Lulu was downstairs watching The Jungle Book when I came over with Lilly. (Lil was having her piano lesson for the week.) Dear little Lulu was just sitting downstairs on the sofa, completely absorbed in the movie, giggling gleefully at every other movement each character made.

I sat down on the sofa beside her. When I had her attention I declared with secrecy, "Lulu, I have something for you..."

Her little face lit up, and her jaw dropped with excitement.

"Do you remember what I was making you?"

"What?"


"Can you guess?"


Lulu sat there thinking hard when suddenly her eyes sparkled as I drew out the scarf rolled up and tied with a ribbon. "A scarf!" she cried delightedly. I gave it to her, and she studied it for a moment before untying the ribbon and beginning to unroll the gift. I pointed out the tassels to her, which I was grateful to find that she liked very much, then watched her wrap it delicately around her tiny neck.

I joined her as she finished up her movie, which I found had so many things I had loved and forgotten from my seemingly far-away childhood. I am more and more delighted every day, seeing how Lulu is living out the same imagination-oriented life I had when I was a little girl. (Er, well... littler.) She's the same princess/fairy wannabe that I was at her age. Except she's a blonde. ;)


I so love the simple pleasures of life --- God is so good!

October 12, 2011

Any-day Gift to my Little Princess...

I made my niece a scarf this week. She saw me knitting a small pillowcase and asked if I would make her something, too. I asked her if she would like her doll (a Snow White Barbie) to have her own scarf, and another to match for my niece herself. The darling little girl agreed excitedly.

And so, I completed the doll's scarf (which was very, very small) within minutes. Just today --- less than an hour ago, in fact --- her own scarf was also finished at last. The tassels have been added, and all of it is rolled-up neatly and tied with a bright blue bow, so that I might present it to her tomorrow. And if I know her at all, she'll open it up, whip the scarf around her neck, and ask me to tie the ribbon in her hair so that she looks like the princess she is in her dreams. ;)


(I shall try to remember to take a picture of her reaction and post it before long....)

God bless you, my dear readers and followers!

October 11, 2011

Quest of Words



~~
Words are flowing as pouring falls
as whispering whirlwinds their spirit calls
whipping through past ladies' shawls
On a quest to speak again

{all images via. weheartit.com }

Words are flying on pigeon's wings
deliv'ring life to forgotten things
hope again-to-keep it brings
On a quest to be heard again


Words are waking hidden souls
setting flame to chill grey coals
filling up long-empty holes
On a quest to serve again


Words are walking though the lane
singing out to hush the rain
hoping to dislodge the pain
On a quest to inspire again


Words are striving to believe
that soon their work with be relieved
as strength returns, purpose acheived
On this quest to be loved again


Words have found their resting place
stored in a mind, behind a face
purpose now found, no more a lost case
On that quest to be home again
~~

October 8, 2011

Thanks to Binoculars...

I haven't edited photos in way too long! I just started going through the pictures on my camera's memory card and discovered hundreds of photos with great potential. I also found a new style of editing that suits me as well as the season.



This is kind of cool. While at my grandparents' house, I discovered a few different uses for their binoculars. One of those was taking photos.




The binoculars can be looked through from both directions, front and back. What some might consider the 'wrong way' of looking through them is what you see in the photo above. It was a neat discovery.




The other direction, or 'the right way' to look through them, allows me to capture things at a distance, and automatically adds this shadowed border.




And so, you see, I was able to capture this photo of a bird, which would have been otherwise impossible for my simple-old-digital-camera. So, here's my photography hint for the day: if you can't yet afford or simply do not have a fancy-pants camera at your disposal, go out and buy yourself a pair of binoculars!

The Blessing of Suffering



I was always inspired by an interesting quote from the movie 'the Dark Knight': Rachel tells Harvey Dent with a half-encouraging, half-teasing smile, "If you're not getting shot at, you're not doing your job right."

A funny place and a funny quote from which to reap spiritual encouragement. But I believe God really was showing me something through this: 'If you are not being persecuted for your faith in Christ, you're not doing your job right.' In more detail, if I am not reflecting Christ as I ought, and if the world is willing to tolerate my presence (which it would never do if I was really at all like Christ), then I'm not doing my job right.

Just a few days ago, I was encouraged while reading Philippians 1:27, which says, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,..." and Philippians 1:29, "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake," Both of these and many other verses from God's wonderful Word have been causing me to desire 'getting shot at' by the world for the sake of my precious Savior. When it is such a blessing to suffer for Christ, and brings Him so much glory, how can any Christian not want that?...

October 1, 2011

Missing Blog... Shilah

There was once a blog that I read all of the time. Suddenly, just recently, this blog disappeared. A friend of mine had told me about it, and I fell in love with the writing right away. But now, it's gone. The blog was called 'Shilah', and I can't find that dear writer's new blog she promised anywhere! If anyone knows where she went, please let me know, for it would be a sorry loss for me to never find her again.

Dream a little dream...

The alarm clock blared and my eyes opened wide. I sat up in an instant and tried to push the 'snooze' button. Satisfied when it stopped beeping at me, I fell back onto my pillow. What a dream! Pirates, mystery, action, a super-hero wanna-be and his minion in a Musketeer hat.... I slept-in an entire hour just to finish it off, leaving the alarm on to stop me from actually falling asleep again. I let the dream unfold further. I edited it and unfolded it again as if it was all brand new. It was intriguing, and I just couldn't get enough of it.



Dreams are unlike anything else. God has used them to show or tell His people important things (concordance link). They can give us pleasure, make us think more deeply. Some people sleep so heavily, they don't actually remember their dreams at all! But they are there. Some of them are so odd. Some of them are so real, you awake and wonder how you ended up in bed all of a sudden.

Dreams are beautiful. They are inspiring. They are magical. They are the happy little things that make us excited to go to bed at night. (Well, sleeping in and of itself is desirable after a long day, I'll admit.) But who has had a dream and doesn't want to have another one, again and again and again? NOT ME!

And don't get me started on daydreams. I'm sure I have more of those than the rest of my family put together! Oh, having the mind of a writer makes every detail, every possibility, every beginning of an idea or thought such a delight!

The tiniest little things --- everything God blesses us with --- is never too small to be treasured, and dreams are no exception. Thanks be to God for dreams!

"My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long."
-Psalm 71:8

September 30, 2011

Season of Fire

My absolute favorite time of the whole year has arrived. Autumn. Technically, it the official 'first day of autumn' has already come and gone, but to me, it started just yesterday. I looked out the window and saw a thickening blanket of bright yellow leaves swirling about in the delightful blustering wind. Sunlight rained down through leaves still attached to the trees with the effect of a cathedral window, stained in hundreds of varieties of red, orange, gold, and green. The two young apple trees in the yard were overloaded with fruit. Enormous white clouds were rolling by, revealing large lengths of blue to contrast the vibrant colors below.

{ purevioletphotography© }
No other season causes my heart to beat so erratically. The memory of this is the fiery beauty and the promises of God keep me warm throughout the winter. The tomatoes I planted earlier in the year were not quite as fruitful as I had hoped, but plucking the small harvest from the limp green branches still had that wonderful hint of satisfaction which nothing but hard work can provide. (Next year, I shall do far better, for I have learned from my mistakes.)

I hope that you all enjoy this season as well and discover the immense beauty in the little things, as I try to do daily.

"The earth is the Lord's and all it
contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it."
-Psalm 24:1 (NASB)

September 27, 2011

The Continuing Discovery of Mine Own Language

Words are everywhere. From birth to death, people have the opportunity to learn them, use them, or if nothing else, simply think about and enjoy them. I still remember where (and sometimes when) I first learned so many English or other words. For example, here is a list of a selection of words and where I learned them for the first time:

  • Acquiesce --- Pirates of the Caribbean; The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Barbosa
  • Nautical --- Spongebob Squarepants, the singing pirate
  • Salicylic acid --- Gilligan's Island, the Professor
  • Hygiene --- the Sims computer game
  • Vigilante --- The Dark Knight
  • Delectable --- Charlie and the Chocolate factory, Willy Wonka
  • Pygmy --- Spyro; A Hero's Tail PlayStation game
  • Phosphorescent --- Nancy Drew; The Secret of Shadow Ranch
  • Regurgitate --- Horton Hears A Who (the one with Jim Carrey and Steve Carell)
  • Posthaste and Brobdingnagian --- Sarah Elizabeth at her blog Daughter of the King
  • Heroine (a hero, but a girl instead of a guy) --- Trixie Beldon; The Secret of the Mansion

Funny --- nay, fascinating --- how you can learn new words nearly everywhere you turn. I'm one of those kinds of people who goes to look up one word in the dictionary and ends up spending hours just going through it and taking volumes of notes! I am an utter logophile. A lover of words. And I am so glad!

September 24, 2011

Lions

Well, that goal certainly spurred me on. I was up until almost 2 AM writing the night before last, and I finished the first chapter of my novel in a cinch. And then last night I was up until past 1 AM uploading photos to Facebook and writing some more. In total, since I posted my goal, I have added 1,826 words. Let's see how many more words I can write by October 1st, eh? Fortunately, if I just get myself to start writing, it comes naturally. (And blogging is a most excellent way to 'prime the well'.)

{ weheartit.com }

I was at a volleyball homecoming game with eight dear friends and two new acquaintances, plus my sister Lilly. It was amazing! They all did an incredible job, and Lilly and I were fortunate enough to photograph and videotape the game for the team.




They won by a landslide!




My dad let me use his camera, a Canon Power Shot, which has zoom-power seemingly a hundred times better than mine own camera. The only downside was that the sport setting (which captures movement better) made the pictures a little 'noisy', or 'grainy'. Ah, well --- it was still good practice.




For once in my life I felt a little more professional, with that nice-looking camera slung around my neck. And the girls are all naturally photogenic, and positively beautiful. It was a fantastic evening. GO LIONS!

September 22, 2011

Eight Days

I fear that something has happened to my blog that I've been afraid of; that I've made all of my writing too official, and not the flowing, personal delight I had ever hoped it to be. I have a habit of writing far too matter-of-fact when I mean to sound intriguing.
    So, in my roundabout way, I mean to say that I shall endeavor to sound less... formal, and more... exciting. I have some books of poetry nearby to put me on a head-start, and a willingness to let the inspiration come and sweep me up in the cloud of blissful writing.
    Also, I have only written 6,940 words to my novel --- that's really quite smaller than it sounds! --- and have not even finished the first chapter. But, oh, inspired as I am presently, this should soon change! I'll make myself a goal, shall I? I shall strive to have at least the first chapter of my novel completed by the first of October. That gives me... eight days, not including today. Time to do the work that is as play....

September 6, 2011

September

And here we have it --- the beginning of the end of another wonderful summer. The past few weeks have been filled with some days too busy to hold my head upright and keep my eyes open by the end of them, and other days so free from obligation that I've sat about and completed hardly a thing.

{ http://weheartit.com }
Just this past Friday, my family went to the Minnesota State Fair. Same as always, we walked about without any certain plan as to where we would go. Sadly, I missed watching the 4-H Arts-In performance, which is one of my favorite parts of the whole fair. We did, however, run into some dear friends and talked for a good while while I pecked at a corn-dog. My sister and I were fortunate enough to happen upon the Webkinz booth, and each purchased dear little toys for ourselves. (It may be considered a childish game, but even now at the age of seventeen, the little girl in me loves visiting this blessed game-site!) Overall, it was a fun day. Oh, and Emily got a picture with Captain Jack Sparrow! (Not Johnny Depp, but close enough.)


{ "Take what you can, give nothing back!" }

I think that was the highlight of her day --- not to mention a great way to end it!
    We heard about an fairly new apple for the first time in the Horticulture building called 'Sweetango'. We visited an orchard just yesterday, but they didn't have it quite yet. Hopefully the other orchard, Pine Tree, the one we usually visit will have it so we can give it a try.


{ photo by me! purevioletphotography }
Today, my older sister, Lilly, turned nineteen! I never could imagine what it would be like when I was younger --- watching as my older sister became an adult. But it's happened.
    The day started out slowly. I cleaned, cuddled with my cat, and ran out the door dragging along my socks and shoes as I chased after my family. We took her, blindfolded and bursting with excitement, to a bowling alley as a surprise birthday gift. She loves bowling.


I lost poorly, but considering I haven't bowled since I was nine, I guess I have a good excuse. Lilly did really well, however, and I'm so happy to see that she had a great time.


Halfway through, we were blessed with the opportunity to babysit my darling little niece, Olivia. Emily best of all of us can get her to smile big, and she has the most beautiful eyes in the world. Here, you can see Lilly is holding her. They're both so precious!

{ http://owlcityblog.com/2011/08/29/all-about-us-2/ }
I heard this song for the first time today. I can't believe how sweet it is. If I ever have a quiet moment, not doing anything --- not writing, not reading, not celebrating --- I'm going to hear it all the way through for the seventh or twentieth time and cry my heart away.
    For a moment, I wasn't even sure I was hearing Adam Young's voice, but every time I listened it became clearer and clearer and clearer that the fine sound belonged to no one else.

 On a sadder note, my family lost our sweet feline, Ned, early this past Sunday morning. I went downstairs and found him, dragging his hind legs behind him. At the emergency vet about an hour later after this alarming discovery, my dad and I learned that our poor Little Buddy had a blood clot, hence the sudden loss of usefulness in his back legs. By then, knowing I couldn't bear to put Ned through anymore misery, I began to resign myself to letting him go. I had plenty of time to cuddle him in my arms and say goodbye. I couldn't watch, but my dad was there holding Ned tenderly until the very end. 


At times it seems silly to cry for a cat. But I realize that God gave us emotions to use them. I know that it's okay to cry for an animal. After all, he was my Little Buddy; no other cat I have ever known had a sweeter disposition, a deeper love for people, or a greater appreciation for any and all kinds of attention. I'm going to miss him a ton!




On a much lighter note, Emily is excited --- nay, completely beside herself --- about starting the fifth season of Psych. I know, it's the sixth one coming out next, but we don't watch live TV; we do the much more fun waiting-for-each-season-to-come-out-so-that-we-can-borrow-it-from-the-library-and-watch-all-of-the-episodes-within-a-week thing. We've seen every other season several times through Netflix, and now seeing new ones is truly... very fun.


Happy late Labor Day, all!
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