July 30, 2011

Respectable Sins ... Prelude

Dear Reader,
I have decided to begin a series of posts for the glory of God --- a series in which I will be going through a most excellent book by Jerry Bridges; it is called 'Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate'. I haven't even finished reading it yet, and it's already opened my eyes incredibly to the detail of sin. Remember when Christ pointed out that being angry with someone was equal to committing murder? That's exactly like what this book does. We are quite aware of the major sins, but those little ones --- those ones that seem so small that you hardly know they are there --- are what this book helps us see and teaches us where to go to get rid of them.

To best prepare you for what to expect in this series, I shall herein insert the preface by the author. If it interests you, I hope that you will gladly return to read more, as I plan on writing one post approximately every week. I hope it convicts and inspires you as greatly or more than it has me.

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7, KJV) Though many scholars today question whether the well-known account of the woman accused of adultery actually belongs in the gospel of John, the expression has become a part of our wider culture, along with a similar one: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1, KJV).
     This book, as the title announces, is about sin --- not the obvious sins of our culture but the subtle sins of believers, the target audience of this book. So let me say up front that I am not without the sins addressed in this book. In fact, you will find that I sometimes use my own sad experiences as examples of some of these sins.
    The motivation for this book stems from a growing conviction that those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more "refined" or subtle sins.
    While seeking to address these "respectable" sins, however, I also want this to be a book of hope. We are never to wallow hopelessly in our sins. Rather we are to believe that gospel through which God has dealt with both the guilt of our sin and its dominion over us.
    The gospel, though, is only for sinners, for those who recognize their need of it. Many Christians think of the gospel as only for unbelievers. Once we trust in Christ, so the thinking goes, we no longer need the gospel. But, as I seek to bring out in this book, the gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives. So we still need the gospel every day.
    This book by no means covers all the possible subtle sins we face. A number of friends in Christian ministry looked over a lengthy list of sins I had compiled and helped me reduce it to a manageable list of the the more common ones. To those friends I express my deepest thanks for their suggestions.
    ...And above all, to God be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
{end of quote}

 Because this is only the prelude to the series, I'm not going to wait a whole week to post the first official part. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow --- quite fitting for a Sunday, don't you think? ;)

Please come back soon if God has put it on your heart to read more.

God bless!

"The heavenly Potter's design may be thwarted in a number of ways, the most common of which is the toleration of sin in the life. It may be open sin or sin cherished in the imagination. It may be sins of the spirit such as jealousy, pride, covetousness, or sins of speech. Those may seem more respectable than the grosser sins of the flesh, but they are no more acceptable to God. Sin of any kind will mar the vessel."
-Spiritual Discipleship, J. Oswald Sanders

July 25, 2011

My Little Princess

Dear Readers,
My mom and I were stopping by my brother's house, and my niece, Lulu, came out to play with me. She showed me their baby chicks, and then rubbed the scented hand sanitizer I offered into her hands with delight. She dug through some drawers in the garage and found a black garbage bag. {Oh, how wonderful to be a child and use the simplest everyday objects to fuel one's imagination!}

 She put her arms through the handles of the bag and ran around, a Little Princess in a Cape. 

I chased her around the front yard, snapping pictures on my camera when I could manage. One minute, she was a princess, the next minute, she turned around and told me sternly that she was a witch and then put a spell on me. 
"OH NO!" I cried, and fell to the ground, shaking, and then going still.
Lulu came up close, and I suddenly reached up to tickle her, and off we went again, chasing and tickling and taking pictures.

 {I love my Little Princess!}

God bless!

July 22, 2011

Friendly Neighborhood Flowers

Dear Reader,
Here are a few more photos I've shot and collected. What do you think of the different styles I used to edit them? I'd love to hear your opinions and suggestions!


God bless you all!

The Legend and the Myth

Dear Readers,
The following poem was inspired by a game I once played as a child and still enjoy occasionally. I centered the poem as the gist of the novel I am writing presently. It (being the poem) was written on May 1, 2009 and many of the details it carries no longer are akin to that of my novel since the latter has undergone vast change over time, but I find the poem still has that delicious essence of mystery and adventure that I have always loved to read and write. And so I share it with you now to give a taste of what my slow-coming novel is going to become:

"A pattern made by magic has
    been woven in the arch
The fiercest swamp-gnorc warriors
    to dragon lands they march

No fear is in the little one
    who guards friends in the grove
Who fights for dragon freedom and
    is ever on the move

He always is protecting those
    is his homeland and world
From the evil one who always lusts
    for all power to hold

This honest legend will not rest
    until his friends are safe,
And may not live to see that day
    if takes he, the dead one's place

The mem'ry of the Elder blue
    who heard the phroph'sy told
Lives to see the day when myth
    from childhood's day unfolds

The white dragon returns to join
    our legend in the war
To save the creatures of the land
    Where good will surely score

It will not be easy to keep
    the dragons from the grip
Of cruel one who see fortune by
    killing with sword and whip

If rescue dragons our legends will
    more courage it will take
For if they wish all to survive
    their own lives are at stake

With thunderstorms and crows --- all bad
    --- the Gnasty one will kill
By using potions and magic ways
    he'll surely get his fill

The treasure yet unseen by any
    living souls here known
Will be sought out by our legends
    to avoid Gnasty's controll

While the white myth learns from fairies' Sage
    the Gnorc will then prepare
His evil plans for dark revenge
    and of loot get his share

Perhaps the one who came from earth
    with come 'long just in time
To meet up with our Gnasty Gnorc
    and fulfill history's rhyme"

God bless!

July 21, 2011

Random Rhyme

Dear Readers,
This is a poem I had written on September 4, 2009 --- a Friday. (It is one of the poems I had posted on my now officially deleted Violet Anthology blog.) I believe that, at the time when I first wrote it, I was simply practicing my cursive handwriting, as I had forgotten exactly how since childhood and needed --- or rather, sincerely desired --- to relearn it. I did put some time into it regardless of the focus on making flourishes with my pen, however, and I truly hope you will enjoy it.  =D

The dragon's strength
the goblin's gold
The witch's wrath
the yeti's cold

The wizard's might
the page's tale
The fairies' light
the old hag's kale

The master's scrolls
the Father's will
The king's mettle
the demon's kill

The west wind's breath
the sailor's drink
The fall-leaves' dance
the young skunk's stink

The lady's dress
the young man's stare
The destined path
the mother's care

The kitten's meow
the finger's twitch
The werewolf's howl
the victim's stitch

The heron's walk
the castle's thief
The panther's stalk
the widow's grief

The lion's bite
the prince's wealth
The pauper's plight
the tiger's stealth

The face of death
holds terror's sting;
The face of life is
a true blessing

God bless! ♥

July 20, 2011

Farewell, Violet Anthology

Dear Reader,
I had made a second blog specifically for sharing my written works a month or two ago. Unfortunately, parts of the appearance (such as the colors of various areas of text) have occasionally changed without my consent as well as becoming impossible to change back to normal without errors. I have decided, therefore --- not only because of these troubles but also because I already have this Thirst For Purity blog on which I can share my writing --- to delete The Violet Anthology. The next things I shall be posting are poems from that blog which I had already shared there. I hope that you enjoy them!

Cookies In A Pig
A Poem by: Katie Church

A wandering child in her grandparent's abode
Discovered a cookie jar in a bright pink pig mold
Alarming it was, for the pig smiled with glee
A napkin 'round his neck, and his smile filled with teeth

The child looked o'er the pig jar, not daring to touch
She bent into the cupboard over plates, bowls and such
She lifted the lid of the jar by the ears
Concern on her face, her thoughts full of fears

Who knew how long this jar had been sitting?
But the the girl was determined; there would be no quiting
She peered down the cavernous hole of the head
And she did not scream, but sat gaping instead

Oh, all the treasures of sweet treats she found,
Enough to have candy for all year around!
But there was a problem; the treats were not hers
And we all know how greediness soon stirs

Her first thought was to hide them in a blanket or sack
Until she could place them in her own pink backpack
There they would be safe and no one would know
Before it was too late to stop her selfish stow

Her second thought took her rather by surprise
That she could not steal from her grandparents' with lies
Not from incapability, nor sir
But from guilt over greediness starting to stir

She replaced the lid, or the pig's floppy ears
And stood up, her eyes overflowing with tears
That she might have committed the stern crime of sin
A new resolution to behave then did begin

We can all learn from this short, simple, rhyming account
That some treasures are not what they seem from without
They may be quite temping, and seem even good
But we must not do what's easy, but do what we should

~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~

Cookies In A Pig: Where did the title come from?

I was at my grandparent's house with my dad; he was going to help them fix their lawnmower and trim the yard for them. While we were in the garage, offering our goodbyes, the glass head of a pig sitting on a shelf caught my eye. Correct to my initial assumption, my grandmother told me that it was an old cookie jar. Before one could shout 'John Jacob Jingle-heimer Schmidt' I had my notepad in hand and was writing 'Cookies In A Pig' on the small white page, already cooking up --- no pun intended --- a few lines to a poem.

Does the girl in the poem represent anyone in particular?

I had not really planned on molding her after any certain person, but I guess I took a little piece of myself and put it in her character. The struggle she went through with the candy represents the kinds of struggles I have every single day of my life. They aren't necessarily concerning food or candy, but just greed and selfishness in general. These are my most despised of all sins, and unfortunately the ones I seem to struggle with the most. The girl in the poem also represents, however, the way I want to answer my temptations. God always gives me just enough strength to make the right choice, so that the strength to do right and the temptation to please myself are about equal. Then it's just a matter of the choice I make.

"...with God all things are possible." -Matthew 19:26

July 16, 2011

A Little Bit of Magic

Dear Reader,
Here are some photos I have accumulated in my edited folder over the course of the month; I'm trying not to give too much detail about them anymore because I fear you all find that very dull. (Please let me know if this is an inaccurate presumption.) Enjoy!

God bless!

Tears "Rowling" Down My Cheeks...

Dear Reader,
All my life my parents had told my siblings and me that we couldn't read or watch Harry Potter because of the witchcraft and magic in it, and I honestly was perfectly content with that. But for some reason, while we were over babysitting my oldest niece one evening of February 2010, my mom plucked the movie off the shelf and put Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the DVD player --- just to give it a try. We are huge Lord of the Rings fans, and discovered with pleasure that this Harry Potter movie seemed to be not all that different! There was magic, but it wasn't the sickening, God-dishonoring junk we always presumed it was before. There was that precious good vs. evil flavor everyone enjoys, and many really excellent characters.

Rubeus Hagrid made me laugh with his repetitive 'I should not have said that', and I was intrigued by the mysterious character of Severus Snape. I'd always liked Alan Rickman as an actor, and by the end of the movie --- despite how Harry and his friends had seriously misunderstood him, or perhaps, because they had --- I was determined to always let him be a 'good guy' in my heart.
Ron Weasly's facial expressions just killed me, in a good way, and the prejudiced Dursley's drove me nuts! Truly, I liked every moment of it, and I believe the sweet ending had me in tears.

Soon, we'd gone through the series up until the sixth movie, and ended up watching them several times each. My younger sister, Emily, read every one of the books, and she was the one I always went to when I didn't understand parts of the lengthy story. But it wasn't over.

When the Deathly Hallows Part I movie came out in November of last year, my mom, sisters and I joined some of our friends who are also Harry Potter fans to see the midnight showing in the theater. It was the first Harry Potter movie I'd be seeing in the theater, and I was so excited!
It disappointed me greatly. The story was fantastic, to be sure, but the scene with Ron and the horcrux made me furious. And the ending.... I knew before we sat down that they would end the first part of the Deathly Hallows at the worst possible point, but I had no idea it would be that horrible! Talk about cliff-hanger.
Coming out of the theater, I had yet nothing good to say about this particular movie. Skipping the horcrux scene in the future while watching it on the laptop with Emily, however, helped it to improve on me. Even so, I kept on hoping the last movie would not let me down as this one had.

The wait was awful. At least at first. Yes, it's a hallow thing that can only fill us up with excitement and pleasure for a little while --- unlike faith and a relationship with Christ; everlastingly satisfying, and altogether better than anything else we can imagine --- but stories are my passion; they always have been. Now that I'd fallen in love with the characters, it was hard to wait and see where they would go next.

One night this past week, I stayed up later than I ought to have listening to Emily reading aloud essential clips from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book. Neville Longbottom had been my favorite character for the longest time, but what Emily read aloud to me caused me to change my mind. Neville had to step down to second on my favorites list to make room for Severus Snape, whose story both delighted and heartily saddened me beyond words. From that hour on to this moment, his character has continued growing on me immensely. He was definitely always a favorite, but now he is the top, and I doubt that's going to change anytime soon.

But finally --- yesterday --- the day came. My dad had worked an extra hour so that my mom, Emily and I could go see Deathly Hallows Part II in the theater. The midnight showing tickets were sold-out, but that was fine by me because I severely dislike staying up excessively late. (It makes my grumpy.) And I was still afraid that I would find this final piece to the Harry Potter series to be a terrible disappointment.
Yesterday afternoon, once we had found some nice seats somewhere up front in the middle-right of the room, I began to feel a deep dread. "Why on earth did I come?" I asked my mom, who sat on my right, and Emily on hers. I hate theaters! And what if this movie really was a disappointment? Just in case, with just a smidgen of hope that it might possibly exceed my expectations, I forced myself to expect it to be an awful letdown. But this wasn't necessary.

Because of Emily's reading aloud to me the aforementioned night, I knew a little about where and when to expect the story to turn. Despite some fears others had aroused in me, there wasn't more action than story, and there was plenty of comic relief. I'd hate to give any part of the story away to anyone who has yet to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, but I had to write and say how much I LOVED it! There was a scene with Severus Snape --- remember, he's my favorite character --- that was... perfect. It caused me to cry buckets, unashamedly. Apparently, my mother could feel me shaking as I wept, but I couldn't help it, and I didn't want to. I had tears "Rowling" down my cheeks!

The story had every ounce of satisfaction I had dared to dream of and more. Anyone shall have an extremely hard time trying to convince me that it could be better!

And now, amidst other reading, I am beginning the Harry Potter books for myself. Emily would joyfully read them all aloud to me from start to finish, and I might let her do so anyway, but I'd like to be able to say that I read them all on my own. I think Daniel Radcliffe was right when he disclosed the opinion that people will love the Harry Potter books and movies for generations to come. They already have a great head start!

So, thank you to J.K. Rowling for writing these excessively fun, thrilling, and altogether brilliant books to enjoy, and to everyone who has put so much effort into making the story last.

Although Harry Potter really has grown to mean a lot to me over the past year-and-a-half, I'm determined to never give it as high a status in my life as the Truth. I will hold to Christ more than anything, especially now with this series of stories stealing away much of my time and nearly half of my thoughts. I want my Savior and God to forever be my Number One.

"Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me."
-A. W. Tozer

May this quote not dishearten, but encourage you to put the Lord first, always.

God bless you all!

July 15, 2011

To God, the One God

Dear Reader,
I have had it on my heart to share this passage --- Psalm 19:7-14. Glory be to God, the One God, for all He has done!

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. 
 "If we love Christ our devotion will not remain a secret." -Anonymous

God bless

July 10, 2011

The Most Wonderful Weekend!

Dear Readers,
I had been gone last month on a road trip to Illinois to see two of my dear second-cousins --- the older girl is newly graduated from high-school (a wonderful excuse to come see her and her sister again!), while the younger is my pen pal and best friend! My grandmother offered to bring me up there to celebrate the graduation and spend time with my best friend, whom I hadn't seen in two-and-a-half years! So naturally, I was EXTREMELY excited for this trip! I took plenty of pictures, and as you look at them, I'll explain the whole story of my wonderful weekend one sweet adventure at a time.

 My Grandma Mary scooped me up  one Thursday evening and took me and her sister, Anita, home with her and Grandpa in Wisconsin for the night. Friday morning, we blasted off at about seven, headed for Illinois, Grandpa staying behind.
I had forgotten to bring a book, so for most of that six-to-eight hour long drive, I listened to Owl City and wrote to one of my old stories I have not yet finished. My imagination was then beginning to overflow with fantastic new ideas, so much so that I could barely write things down at the near light-speed of my thoughts.
 My mom had just recently purchased what we thought was a mere thirty-inch-tall camera tripod for me --- THANK YOU MOM!!! --- which I was experimenting with Thursday night as I got into bed and read the Bible for the evening.
(Once returned home from the trip, my dad discovered that the knobby knees of the tripod unsnapped and let out to make the legs even longer! I now have my dream tripod, and you can only imagine my love for it, if one can love a tripod.) ;)

Proverbs... LOVE!!!

As I said, on Friday morning --- at last --- we were off! I took but a few photos of the nature outside before we hopped into the car and were on our way.


We stopped at a gas station and I took out my camera, ready to capture the many interesting things around me, including small buckets of crawling creatures, a giant hanging frying pan, a wooden black bear, and some old, overgrown flowerbeds.

I remember when I was taking this, Great Aunt Anita pointed out how another flowerbed nearby looked even worse, laughing and teasing me lightly about how strange of things I enjoy snapping photos of. I looked at the flowerbed she pointed out, and took a picture.

Isn't it beautiful? ;)

This is my excited "I just tried the most delicious lemonade EVER" face.
 While grandma was driving, I got the brilliant idea to take pictures of myself in the rear-view mirror --- there were other pictures also, but the faces I made were a little too creepy... You can imagine... ;)
 When we AT LAST arrived in Libertyville,  we stopped at my cousins' aunt's house so that Anita could drop off some flowers for her. We made such jokes about how many flowers there were in the trunk so that she doubled over in laughter and couldn't stop for a full sixty seconds, at the very least!
 Arriving at my cousins' house was the best part! When we drove up, my grandma moved to park in front of the house. We were just about to get out when the ladies decided the car wasn't close enough to the curb. It must have been a few AGONIZING minutes before they deemed the parking job acceptable and let me out of the car. Leaving all purses, bags, and other encumbrances behind temporarily, I raced to the door and knocked soundly, barely containing my excitement. Aubrey, their dog, came to the door, barking his announcement that someone was there. After a few seconds, my dear cousin --- my best friend Elaine --- opened up the door. She gasped, and we both began to grin from ear to ear. She flung the door open, and gave me a huge hug, exclaiming about her excitement that I was finally there! She said that she had been wondering why it was taking us so long to get there, and all I could do was laugh and stammer and laugh some more. I was so happy to see her again!
    We brought all of our things inside, and Elaine gave me a brief tour of the house. I still remember the last time I visited vaguely; I remember how Lilly, Emily (my sisters), Stephanie, Elaine (my cousins) and I all slept in their living room on the floor. That was eight years ago. I remember staying up super late watching 'PowerPuff Girls' and talking so much we kept the adults awake. Ooops... ;)
    This time, we were going to leave soon for Stephanie's graduation ceremony, and had some sandwiches before we left. Elaine and I sat in the living room, talking so much that I barely had a chance to eat! Every time she left the room I gobbled down as much as I could so I wouldn't starve through the night. It was WONDERFUL to see her again and to have so much to share.
    Also, related to the picture of the flower... this was the first Lady's Slipper I had ever seen before! Minnesota's state flower, and the first time I ever see one, I'm in another state! ;)

    Stephanie's graduation was at a place called the Sears Centre. The walls had the coolest wheat-like pattern on the outside.

Inside, the unanticipated spaciousness was mind-boggling! There were exactly five-hundred-and-seven high school students graduating! The ceremony was about two hours long, maybe longer. But it was VERY nice. I'd never been to a graduation ceremony before, only  open houses, so this was a rare treat for me. And best of all, I was with my very best friend. ♥
Get a load of that crowd! Stephanie's in there somewhere, a really accomplished young woman; she was being recognized as an Honor Student and several other amazing things. I was and still am so proud of her!
Later that night, after we had celebrated with Lemon Blueberry Supreme and Apple pies, Elaine and I were preparing for bed when we were called downstairs to see a 'critter' her dad had discovered outside. I was surprised, a little frightened, but also delighted when I saw that it was a luna moth! I'd seen them in pictures Lilly had taken on camping trips before, but this was my first time seeing one up close and personal. Elaine and I leaned in close once and it flitted it's wings, which nearly scared us too death! It was a little freaky, but also so beautiful. =)
The next day, everyone was preparing for Stephanie's open house. I was privileged with the opportunity to go with Elaine to the party store to pick up some balloons. While we were waiting for them to be filled with helium and tied, we explored the store; we found so many kooky glasses and party props!

I had to show her my 'Harpo face'. I told her about when I was up in Ely, Minnesota with my family last year, and my mom took a picture of me making this face in beside a totem pole. When, at the party store, Elaine spotted this large tiki tiki pinata, she insisted. =)


 Elaine's "I just found fake mustaches" face! ♥

We talked and planned so many fun things we could do with these mustaches! At first, our plan was to introduce me at the open house to everyone attending as Elaine's home-schooled cousin from Minnesota --- with the mustache on, and doing the Harpo face. I loved that plan. Making a good impression on people is very important to me. ;)
    What we ended up doing was even better, but I'll have to save that story for just some photos later...
When we had the balloons and left the party store, Elaine showed me around the town, and I --- naturally --- took plenty of pictures.

As we were setting up decorations, and preparing food, I snapped a few pictures around Elaine's backyard.
 Now, back to the Mustache story. While working on decorating (and watching a few humorous YouTube videos by the White Brothers --- two of my awesome friends! --- on the side), we were asked to head to the grocery store for some necessary food items.
Pealing the paper from the adhesive on the back was no small feat. Eventually, we --- Elaine, Stephanie and I --- put on our fuzzy mustaches, smoothing them down often when the heat and humidity caused them to slip down. Mine own molted, as seen in the photo below, as I was constantly straightening it.
We passed once by my grandmother, and she didn't take notice of our dignified mustaches. But when at last she did, after being pursued and her attention grabbed by our deep voices and British accents, she laughed and took our picture.
Elaine wore a pale gray mustache to match her blue eyes. Stephanie chose a marvelous blonde one, small and 'right-to-the-point' styled. I selected a black one which reminded me of Groucho Marx, complimentary to my Harpo face. ;)
At the store, we walked straight and tall, greeting everyone we passed in our dignified British accents. I carried a basket, Elaine sought out the items for which we had come, and Stephanie documented almost everything on her new camera recording device. Two men with real mustaches complimented ours with smiles and light laughter as we marched stiffly through the aisles, and we cordially congratulated them on theirs in return. We received frequent stares and giggling, so much so that it became quite difficult for me to keep my poker face on. A lady at the check-out aisle said she wished that we could stay her entire shift; we would have been delighted to, of course, but we had a party in the making, and had to return home with the groceries.

There was a line of people at a Dairy Queen on the road, and while the light was red, we greeted them also, commenting about the 'jolly hot weather', and asking what they thought of our mustaches. There were a few smiles, but after a moment, everyone turned back around to face the ice cream window. "How very rude," we said, ruffled and displeased. And still, a most undignified smile was threatening to break past my serious expression. Elaine conversed with another driver on the road, his son staring at us from the back seat with either marked confusion or absolute horror. Or more likely, a great deal of both! I confess, this was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip! ;)

So... The food was nearly all prepared, the decorations distributed to their various locations, and soon the guests were going to arrive!

I met a few darling little children at the open house, and many of Stephanie and Elaine's delightful friends. At first, I shyly hung around the arbor in the backyard, alone, being yet unacquainted with anyone but my cousins. But after Frisbee and Ninja, I was warming up nicely. ;)

Elaine set up a makeshift cage for her and Stephanie's bunnies to be enjoyed. Sweet-Thing and Panda. Brother and sister, and as-adorable-as-they-come bunnies. ;)

Everyone took great pleasure in observing Stephanie and her boyfriend in their own dignified mustaches. =)

Later that night, Elaine, her friends, and I all went out and had skateboard races. How fun it was! There were two skateboards and two scooters, and five girls total, so we always had someone watching the road for the rare car.

Sweet Elaine.... I've rarely had so much fun!

Let me tell you now...

Steering a skateboard --- whether sitting or standing on it --- is one of THE MOST difficult things a person can do!

Being the short, pale, simple person I am, I rarely dare to even pretend to be 'cool'. But the silly side of me takes great joy in occasionally attempting to be so ridiculous. ;)

And at last, here come Elaine and I in our own race! I feel like a true girl saying this, but I tore a nail pushing myself along. Oh, not badly! But it was so much shorter than all the other ones... =(       ;)

Here is my dear Elaine reading a draft of one of my stories. It was the last picture I took on the trip because I accidentally dropped my camera on the road while the others were skateboard-racing. It was off and closed, but something got messed up when it fell, and I couldn't change the settings. It was set to Auto, but I use Close Up so often... not being able to get to it would be a real pain. 
When I finally got it to snap back it place, my camera turned on and off at the mere touch, so that it was spasmodically opening and closing. This was just after I took the picture above. I pulled out the batteries and didn't bother with the camera until I could show it to my beloved older brother, Dan, who can fix pretty much anything.

I kept Elaine up until almost 3:00 in the morning, telling her all about the intricacy I'm planning for the story I was showing her the first draft of, and retelling the whole first versions of other stories I had written in the past. I can hardly believe that she put up with me so long! We talked about what-not together along with my droning-on about my fairy-tales.

In the morning, (for it was a Sunday), we prepared for church. I had never been so tired in all of my life! I should have known I'd regret staying up until three in the morning, but I couldn't regret trying not to waste a single moment I could spend with Elaine!

God spoke to my heart while we were in church in a powerful way which I had not experienced for a very long time! During communion, as I prayed and repented, I had tears pouring down my face from both grief over my sins and joy because of God's incredible grace. My hands were wet from wiping my eyes.

There was a meeting after the service for the members, so --- being guests --- my Grandmother and Great Aunt drove me back to the house. I packed up my things and when I brought them down, I was surprised and delighted to see that Elaine had been granted permission to come home early from the meeting and see me off. How grateful I was for that!

There was some more sweet conversation, a few bites of delicious open house leftovers, and a few more pictures taken of my best friend and me. And then, Grandma, Great Aunt Anita and I pulled out onto the road. I waved to Elaine until she was out of sight, already missing her with all my heart. I was and still am determined to not let it be another two-and-a-half years until I see her again!

Every moment I had with Elaine throughout this weekend reminded me in the most wonderful way why she is my best friend.

God bless you all,
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