November 26, 2012

deeds of might

Charles H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional:

November 26th, Morning
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."  
Ecclesiastes 9:10


“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.” One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do—“do it with thy might.” Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of today. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do today. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.
But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.

November 12, 2012

steps to holiness

"If I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you to Myself,
that where I am,
there you may be also."
-John 14:3

Learning to wait patiently for Your return, O Lord, I read Your Word, participate in Your church, fellowship with Your adopted children, and kneel daily in Your gift of prayer.

Grow me, change me into Your likeness, do not let me grow weary because of opposition, or discouraged because of the slowness of my run toward holiness.

Uphold me, comfort me in the power Your Spirit, empower me to sacrifice the desires of my sinful flesh, renew my mind in the perfection of Your wisdom.

Teach me to put to death my selfishness, my pride; and help me not to punish myself for my sins any longer, for Your Son has long ago been punished enough for the sins of all Your people, past, present, and future.

Praise be to God Almighty forever and ever!

November 6, 2012

election

I always want to trust God's will, no matter what happens, or how awful things appear. But that doesn't mean it doesn't sting a little when hopes are dashed and prayers are answered with 'no'.

It saddens me to see the statistics; I'm beginning to realize that everything I've been fighting for was almost wasted effort.

Truly, I can hardly wait until the elections are all over. My one comfort is knowing that God's plans can never be thwarted; He knows best, and the best will come.

After all, it's darkest before the dawn.

November 2, 2012

November Anew

The November sun has been hugging the south wall of the world here in Minnesota, shining brightly as if to encourage dreams and the little hopes of pleasures associated with this beautiful season. I can almost smell the pumpkin pie from here in the future; that spiced delight wafting around the house, fresh from the oven; turkey drizzled with gravy, mashed red or sweet potatoes, green beans, and a dish overflowing with steaming corn... And it isn't just the food --- it's everything. November reminds me to be thankful for everything.
    Last year I wrote about 25 or so posts on things I was thankful for. I don't want to be so formatted this time; I want to just write about the beautiful gifts God sends one at a time without planning it all out.
    Right now, one of the things I'm most thankful for is health. Last week, my whole family was exposed to a pretty bad case of the stomach flu. My niece, brother and sister-in-law caught it first, and I from them since I've been babysitting for my niece routinely for the past several months. The night after they were sick, I was sick; and the night after that, my sisters were sick; and the night after that, my mom took her turn. And then two nights later, my dad started to feel ill --- even my grandparents have caught the bug! I know it's a bad one because my dad almost NEVER gets sick, and the flu we catch almost NEVER spreads like this --- it's been like wildfire!
    I'm grateful to have my food stay in my stomach!

There's no better way to start off one of the best months of the whole year with a midnight showing of a movie, especially one that has been looked forward to for seemingly countless weeks! Lilly and I went with a few friends to see Wreck-it-Ralph last night. (I posted about my excitement for this Disney-Pixar animation last month, going on and on about how cool it looked and how happy I was that Owl City wrote a song for it.) I walked into the theater already knowing from trailers, photos, suchlike and so on that it was going to be spectacular! And well, to put it plainly, it more than exceeded my expectations!
As far as animations go, I can almost always tell how much I'm going to enjoy them. Wreck-it-Ralph was no exception. Lilly obliged my wishes by taking photos of me on her phone, standing next to all the posters I liked in the theater (this was during the last 45 minutes before the movie started). Beside the large Wreck-it-Ralph poster, I squatted down right next to Fix-it-Felix Jr. --- I had begun to have an inkling that I was going to really, really like him a lot, and he turned out (not at all to my surprise) to be my favorite character! With his gentlemanly "ma'am", his "oh my lands!", the sound it makes when he bounces around, his willingness to risk his life to do what is right, and by-gosh, that cute little smile! I just love him.
    It's really so hard for me to not share spoilers with all of you about the storyline; I was glued to my chair the whole time. I guess I can at least share that I practically laughed my head off, and even started to cry at one point. And honestly, I should have seen the ending coming, but it completely took me by surprise, in the pleasantest way. I just love it when movies do that! Now, I just have to wait until it's officially released so that I can buy it, smuggle it into the DVD player, and wow the rest of my family unfortunate enough to have been sleeping by midnight last night and have $7.50 still tucked into their wallets.

    Someone please say I'm not the only one who is ridiculously excited about this movie!

And now, I'm sitting here at the computer, Bible before me (turned to John 8; great chapter from Christ's ministry), Owl City's 'When Can I See You Again' from Wreck-it-Ralph playing on YouTube (multiple times; I've seriously listened to it at least 15-20 or more times since I woke up this morning), and Merlin cued-up on Netflix. (Oh boy, Merlin is a whole story of its own! I'll be writing about that sometime soon, too, I'm sure.)

 

Well, November... you and I are off to a great start.

October 20, 2012

gaining wisdom

My younger niece and both of my nephews have new teeth coming in. During this process, as is expected, they tend to be a little grumpier because of the pain, and their sleeping patterns often change slightly. And I know just what they're experiencing.

My wisdom teeth are coming in. It's not so bad in and of itself, but they aren't straight. While I was at the dentist having my cavities taken care of, they took an x-ray of my whole mouth, which showed that my wisdom teeth are actually curved.
    On the upper-right quarter of my mouth, that far-back tooth has almost completely 'erupted'. It's a little pointy on one side, and is digging just a little into my cheek. I've been stuffing facial tissues back there to give my mouth a rest, and finally the skin in that area is toughening against the attack. The first few days, I didn't think I would survive the pain. Really, it was awful; it gave me headaches, and I could barely open my mouth or chew any food. It's such a relief to be past that stage of the game!

When I finally do have my wisdom teeth removed, we're hoping that they will all have come out enough that the bill will not be quite as... well, substantial. What I'm hoping personally is that I've gained some actual wisdom out of the deal.

October 11, 2012

I'm gonna' wreck it!

I suppose every now and then, everyone has a movie or two they are REALLY looking forward to seeing in theaters. I have a gathering number of them, myself. I'm sure just about everyone has to be excited about the Hobbit, but I have an increasing interest in a film of a completely different variety.

Wreck-It-Ralph is due to come out November 2nd. It's an animation by Disney about an arcade game charaterI've seen two trailers (one of them multiple times), and the more I watch it, the more I anticipate its release.

You can image how excited I was when I logged on to Facebook and saw that Owl City had posted a photo of the movie, along with the link to the song he made for the Wreck-It-Ralph soundtrack! To put it softly, I was ecstatic. I literally had to tell myself, "Calm down, Katherine... Breathe..." and try to regain some (very little) composure.

Nothing I can say can truly spark an interest in you, so I give you the link --- then you can watch the trailer yourself and see why I want November to come quickly!

Wreck-It-Ralph, IMDb

September 23, 2012

accepted

Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning by Morning devotional

September 23

“Accepted in the beloved.” 
Ephesians 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only “in the beloved.” Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in him who has broken Satan’s head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.

September 22, 2012

autumn

I'm beginning to feel it... to smell it... hear it... see it...

It's almost autumn, and what I believe to be the most desperately beautiful time of all year! Those fiery trees, the chilled earthen breezes, climbing up some large oak of sorts and enjoying the lack of bugs, and magical sunsets which take my breath away --- each of these things define autumn for me.

I'm already bundling up against the cold, crisp air. I'm looking forward to fresh apples from the orchard (a family tradition), a walk around the lake, and visits to the country where colors thrive.

It will be hot chocolate season again, which I have been craving ever since early summer, when my mom bought me those tantalizing boxes of white chocolate mixes. I've been drinking a  lot of tea, too, because I have a cold --- a mug of any hot drink feels great in one's hands!

I never feel more inspired to write than when the seasons change (especially around autumn). The world seems to be bursting with the desire to reveal wonderful secrets about its design and Designer --- and yet it is silent, as if asking me to fill in the blanks of the words it cannot speak on its own.
    And my stories are easier to sketch-out when autumn begins to appear. Everything just feels magical. I almost can't help myself from writing --- yeah, I crave it, like any true writer does. *wink!*

September 21, 2012

rejoice ... rejoice

"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this,
that the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."
~ Luke 10:20 ~

Jesus was sending out 'the seventy' to preach ahead of Him in Judea. When they returned, they were joyfully saying that even the demons were subject to them in His name. In the next verse, Jesus says that He saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. John MacArthur says about that statement (which is in Luke 10:18),

In this context, it appears Jesus' meaning was, "Don't be so surprised that the demons are subject to you; I saw their commander cast out of heaven, so it is no wonder if his minions are cast out on earth. After all, I am the source of the authority that makes them subject to you" ... He may also have intended a subtle reminder and warning against pride --- the reason for Satan's fall....

Interesting. Very interesting....

I thought that Luke 10:20 is a good reminder for us to this very day. It's easy to forget our spiritual freedom, especially if you're like me, a third-generation Christian (grandparents, and parents also Christians before you). It is better to rejoice that oneself has been saved at all, then to lose track and rejoice instead in merely the benefits of Salvation.

It's amazing what God will reveal in His Word!

September 4, 2012

morning star

For my graduation, a handful of friends gave me various books, mostly devotionals (which I love! Thank you, everyone!) One of these is 'Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord' by Charles Hurlburt & T.C. Horton
    One is supposed to read a single page every day for a complete year (well, three-hundred and sixty-five days).

Anyway, one of the devotions (Day 8) was so beautiful, I just have to share it with you all!


A Star

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him,
but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob.
Numbers 24:17

What could be more beautiful or more fitting than God calling our Lord "a star"? Those who know Him best may say, "One day I will see him, but not now. I will behold him, but not from here." Far beyond our world of trouble and care and change, He shines with undimmed light, a radiant, guiding Star to all who will follow Him --- a morning Star, promise of a better day.



I at first thought it best to let the words speak for themselves, but I want to tell you what I gathered from this special devotional: Firstly, it is such a treasured thought among genuine Christians, that is the knowledge that one day we shall finally see our Savior and Lord! And not just for a moment (although that would be more than enough to suffice for all of the troubles on earth), but for the rest of eternity. Blessed thought indeed!
    And what good thinking was another word placed along with 'trouble' and 'care' --- the important word 'change'. God is righteous, holy holy holy, and unchangeable. This world is ever-changing, ever-worsening, ever-darkening, so that Christ shines still brighter daily through this darkness.

Beautiful words, and how true that we can scarcely wait to meet our Lord at long last, our Morning Star!

August 31, 2012

summer job

Watering at a cemetery.

Doesn't sound like the pleasantest activity, does it? Well, it's not so bad if the weather is alright. It has been a tough summer, though; my mom and younger sister, Emily, have been working with me at this cemetery, watering the flowers there. It's such a sweet relief when the job is done, and not at all unpleasant when the check arrives in the mail. ;)

We helped plant the flowers earlier in the summer; geraniums, coleus, ageratum, spike plant, marigolds, dusty... I have almost all the plants' names perfectly memorized (or at least their nicknames) and by now know exactly how to care for each of them. Don't get any water on the petals of the geraniums; it makes them brown faster. Look for baby trees sprouting up in the plantings and be sure to pluck them. If an animal pulls a plant out, press it back into place firmly before giving the planting water, or you'll have a muddy mess... And so on, and so forth.

It isn't always a fun job, but it's teaching me discipline, building up some strength in my skinny little arms, and providing an income for my various savings folders. I'm learning to appreciate work, even when it is hard; an important lesson indeed. If anything, this job certainly makes me appreciate relaxation more!

We couldn't finish the weeding the last time we worked (Wednesday evening), so we're going to return to the cemetery some time this morning. I actually kind of like this part; it's nice to get rid of all the dead buds on the flowers, and see the plants perky and colorful again. I don't know why, but there's a kind of pleasure even in just snapping off the dying limbs --- it's like twisting off a ripe tomato, snipping off some leaves of fresh lettuce, or the like --- there's simply something special about working in a garden. =)

August 30, 2012

answers

I love listening to Ken Ham. If I'm correct, he's the founder of the Answers in Genesis program. My mom sat Emily and me down to watch one of his videos one morning some time in June, and it was fascinating! He was going through why there is so much suffering and death in the world. I can't explain it very well at all, but he speaks so well and makes the most difficult concepts easy to understand.

So, suffering and death are the result of sin. Who sinned? The human race. People (mainly non-Christians) tend to blame God when bad things happen. Irony. It's our fault because we (humans) sinned against Him (God). We brought the curse upon ourselves.

I also learned something I never knew before: Ken Ham explained a correlation between the two trees --- the one that Adam and Eve ate from (see Genesis 3), and the one that Jesus was nailed to (see Matthew 27:33-50).

    I. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought death

    II. The cross (tree) on which Jesus died brings life

Now isn't that curious? I had never thought about it before. Two trees; one brought the curse, the other remedied it. But not the way some people expect. There is still physical death (there is still sin), but the spiritual death (justice from God which is condemnation and eternal punishment in hell) has been provided for; Christ has died so that we may live, in the sense that though our bodies die, we do not die to punishment.

"For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”"

-Romans 10:3-11 (NASB) 

camera

I have only posted on my blog one or two times since I got my new camera, and that was exactly one month ago. Weird... I can hardly believe that anything could crowd-out writing in my life, but I guess the novelty of a DSLR of my very own takes more time to wear off than I thought! To help balance this out, I have been taking a long break from editing photos the past several nights to finish writing letters to some friends, keep "plugging away" at my grad party thank-you notes, and baby-step my way to the end of my novel.

Even though I've graduated from High School, responsibilities and various forms of learning do not end. I'm taking piano lessons again (just started up for the season on Tuesday), and dappling in a few other subjects which interest me. I'm also starting to pick up my driver's manual so that I can hopefully earn my permit soon. I know it would be convenient for my mom to have another licensed driver in the family who can help run errands and suchlike.

I'm never quite sure just how to answer when people ask me about college or my plans for the future. The truth is, I don't really have any big plans yet --- I'm living life as it comes, continuing to stay at home unless and until God presents me to my own prince charming. I'm waiting for God to show me His own plans for my life. In the meantime, I may very well end up schooling myself in the areas of photography, writing, and useful homemaking skills --- all outside of college. Life seems filled to the rim even without college classes and a full-time job, and I'm content to wait on God's will for my life.

Having read a couple Medieval fantasies in a row, now, I plan to dig back into the Hunger Games trilogy. 'Catching Fire' is waiting for me on my desk, and I'm itching to open it! I have only a chapter or two of 'Dragon's Breath' by E.D. Baker to finish; so much reading, so little time!

My writing, as I have alluded to, has been mostly put on the back-burner of late, but I hope to put an end to this pattern. I'll try to return here often, now that summer chaos is beginning to subside.
    Along those lines, I also want to work on this one tough area in my novel; this sticky place that I've written and re-written more than once. I want that enormous section of the story fixed and behind me so that I can once again pour my heart into the more exciting parts of my work-in-progress.

Although my camera has crowded-out a lot of other activities in my life recently, it hasn't exactly been all in vain.






It may not seem very interesting, but I have to tell you... I took this photo out the dirty window of my moving car from the back seat. The fact that there is no blur, no sign of dirt, no anything bad is the reason why I love my new camera to death! ;)





I guess I have a 'thing' for leaf and sunshine photos. I can't help myself, though. The first photo is of a leaf I found in the public library parking lot. Nothing special, just your regular green. But the sunlight was perfect. My other leaf photo (directly above) is of a crunchy brown leaf, and the place at which I found it now escapes me. But the texture of it reminded me of a dragon's wing --- naturally I found the very idea irresistible.

This darling young lady is my younger sister, Emily. She was sweet enough to let me force her up into a tree and smile down at me. You professionals can tell I don't have much experience with portraits as yet, but don't worry; I'm learning. Em's just naturally a beautiful girl, so pictures of her, however poor the quality, are always lovely.

As I have said, I shall try to be more faithful in writing on Thirst For Purity. After such a long an eventful summer, there is now much to be said! Ta ta for now!

July 30, 2012

Bumble

I had my open house a week ago, Saturday. What a great party! so many beloved friends and family came to celebrate with me! It was a blessed time.

After everyone had gone (expect for my dad's parents, who were helping us with the take-down and cleaning), I was opening the cards I had received, sitting down at our dining room table. while I was paying attention to something else, my mom set down a cardboard box in front of me, and when I turned back, it took me a moment to register exactly what it was.

My parents gave me a new Nikon D3100, the camera I've been dreaming of for the longest time, now! Victor, my little point-and-shoot, has sadly been kind of left in the dust since Bumble came along. why Bumble? My Nikon has a strap that is black with yellow lettering --- like a bumble bee! --- and he/it also takes fabulous photos of bugs of all kinds, at least in comparison to poor old Victor.

I've brought Bumble with me almost everywhere since that moment. I can hardly wait to take some shots of St. Paul and begin practicing with my sisters for portraits!

This is my ham of a niece, Olivia. She doesn't really pose, but she's super photogenic. She loves attention, so she likes to entertain us with her silly faces and nonsense-gabbing. I love her so much!

July 29, 2012

speak of the beast...

I finally finished reading Melanie Dickerson's beautiful rendition of Beauty and the Beast, The Merchant's Daughter! By now I think I've mentioned it on my blog several times, but I can't help myself; it was... oh, how can I sum it all up in one word?... Victorious. Dickerson writes so well, her characters practically come to life from the pages, and the way she tantalizes you that there may not be a happy ending after all... I fall for it every time!
    The very best part of Dickerson's writing is that she always centers it around the Gospel of Christ. Her protagonists are Christians, seeking God more than the desires of their fleshly heart. But they end up receiving what they desire anyway because of their faith in God's will.

Somewhere, somehow, my mom learned that the same author is coming out with another book this December, Fairest Beauty, which is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Let's just say I'm REALLY excited about that! I want to own all of Dickerson's works; she's definitely a favorite author!


Now that I'm done with The Merchant's Daughter, I'm going to finish Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh, and have several other books moving up on the list.

What are YOU reading?

the phantom

I loved the music in the Phantom of the Opera, but for some reason the movie disappointed me. I know I have a few friends who would be sorely confused by this statement, being huge fans themselves. Let me explain.

Just before the movie was coming to theaters, I watched the trailer online and was honestly enchanted! What made me want to watch it the most was hearing the phantom's fabulous voice. I was intrigued, and I don't know that I had ever been more excited to see any other movie before! But when I did see it, it wasn't what I had expected. I overlooked the minor details which displeased me, but the ENDING! I was more inclined to feel pity towards the phantom than hatred for his misdeeds. (I confess, I'm like that with most villains. I feel just awful because of their blindness and their sad lives.) There was no happily-ever-after in the Phantom of the Opera, and that kind of ruined it for me.

I'm a huge fan of the famous Beauty and the Beast story. I love the redemption, the learning to love; a growing love that is pure and unbreakable. I wanted the phantom to have a second chance, to learn to love, despite all of the hatred from the past clawing at his conscience and reminding him he does not deserve love. The beast is supposed to earn the beauty --- no charming rich boy to get in the way.

The music still dazzles me, however disappointing the storyline was. Emily will play the music on our piano, and we'll sing together with all of our strength, letting the full power of it's magic sink in and settle on our minds. Music is magic.

I've seen the movie again, but my opinion remains unchanged. I suppose another reason I am so passionate about this is because I'm my own kind of beast, and what girl can resist dreaming of her own Prince Charming? Christ has saved me from my beastliness, and I'm looking forward to our happily-ever-after in heaven.

July 25, 2012

cavity . . . part four

I'm done with the fillings.
A week ago Monday, the dentists completed the final quarters of my mouth in one session. It's a relief to have that part over with, but even now, it sometimes hurts to chew. At least the pain from the Novocaine is gone; it lasted for several days!

So, now that this phase is over, we'll be on to pulling wisdom teeth. I'm fine with waiting and enjoying a lack of pain for the time being!

July 10, 2012

doctor dress up

I've been telling several friends my plan to dress up as Doctor Who for Teen Night (an adolescent homeschool party some dear friends of mine have hosted for years now). Well, I decided to go in normal attire after all, but I still wanted to dress up as the Doctor. So I did.

My bangs seemed just about the right length, and I found random articles of clothing and other objects around the house which did just the trick. Besides that, I have my own camera and an tripod. Really, I couldn't resist the temptation, even though it was by then well after midnight!

So, not a perfect replica, all-told, and the flashlight I used didn't actually glow green (I edited that part in), but with the absence of a sonic screwdriver I had to make-do. ;)

I tied a ribbon around my neck and stuffed in the tails to make the bow-tie. (Bow ties are cool.)

My Grandmother gave me the white shirt some time ago, and it's from China! (Has the doctor ever visited China?)

The jacket is my older sister's, and realistically should have been long-sleeved, but you would never know from the photo.

Also, I forgot to take my earrings out. I'm pretty sure Matt Smith doesn't have his ears pierced, but ah-well... Negligible detail.



My sister isn't the only geek in the family! ;)

July 9, 2012

cavity . . . part three

This morning, I had the bottom left side of my mouth drilled and filled. Right now, I'm waiting for the numbness from the Novocaine to wear off and am having a jolly good time trying to read as much as I can of The Merchant's Daughter before I have to return it to the library. (It's due today! Already!)

I'm going to have three more appointments; one for the each of last three quarters of my mouth. (Not looking forward to more Novocaine, but sitting down and reading a lot will be great!) After that, I'll have an appointment arranged to have my wisdom teeth removed (ouch!), and hopefully soon after that, finally get those braces. ;)

June 30, 2012

June . . . come and gone

I have finished Stepping Heavenward! What a beautiful book... Really not what I had expected at all, but truly a blessing. I confess, at some points I had to stop and read over a few sentences because I'm not accustomed to the language (that is, the old-fashioned form of English) in which it was written, but the book was full of wisdom and insight, and I found it extremely easy to relate to the protagonist's struggles, feelings, and desires. I would certainly recommend it to anyone in an instant, even to men because I believe it gives a better insight into a woman's heart; and then, of course, great encouragement to any wife, mother, or daughter who loves the Lord or is just learning to.

    Now that Stepping Heavenward is on my 'completed books' list, I have begun something new. The Merchant's Daughter, which I have expressed an interest in before, is in my possession temporarily form my library, and I'm devouring at least one chapter almost daily. (Truly, this is an accomplishment for me; I am a very distracted and slow reader!) I'm already intrigued by it; oh, how I've missed adventurous, eloquent literature rooted in imagination and well-watered with the talent of an experienced and talented author. Melanie Dickerson is certainly a favorite of mine; her style suits me well, and she is a Christian so her writing is for the glory of God. I can hardly wait to sit down with it and read more!

    My mom received a free bag from thirty-one for going to a party of someone who booked a party off of hers, and she sweetly gave it to me! I had it embroidered with the words 'purity girl' on it in blue, contrasting with grey. Normally I would have chosen some flamboyant, colorful pattern to match my personality, but I wanted the words to stand out. Plus, I really do love grey. Someday, I want to paint my room grey to make my lime-green bedspread, pink pillowcases, rainbow butterfly posters, and five-headed rainbow lamp all stand out distinctly (to put it lightly). The bag is the perfect size for carrying around all of my little 'necessities' and a few extra books (a writer-reader always needs a sufficient supply of books at her disposal at all times of the day).

    My neighborhood roads have been being worked on these past few weeks. It was strange to see the ground beneath the asphalt for a while, and to watch the machines going past, digging, drilling, spreading, rolling and whatnot day in and day out. They've laid down some new sod off the sides of the road and have watered them a couple of times, but what a season for it! It's so hot out presently, we may need to water the sod a few times ourselves just to keep it alive! Our mailboxes have been uprooted since before the construction began, so our neighborhood makeshift mailboxes are at the end of the road, all lined up in a pretty little row. The good news is that if we walk to get the mail, we get some good exercise in!
    I don't know when the construction is expected to be over, but for the time being, it's kind of nice to have some excitement just outside the front door!

    It's been a unique month, June has. I like the summer because even without school (although I am doing a little school this summer), there is always something happening, and I like keeping busy. Not too busy, of course; it's nice to be able to relax. But last year, when my older sister was away at camp, most of the excitement went with her which made for lots of movies and other dull hours for the rest of us at home. We didn't have our usual summer planting job then, or hardly any graduation parties to go to, so we mostly stayed indoors, savoring the air-conditioning.
    Yes, this June has been a good month, full of God's precious blessings (thank You Lord!) and all varieties of adventures. I'm looking forward to whatever July has to offer!

Plant Life . . . all whimsy aside

Owl City.
I still remember the first time I ever learned about his music. My family had just arrived home from the grocery store, and my older sister, Lilly, was watching the music video for Fireflies on YouTube. Truth be told, my first impression was that it was a pretty creepy video. But I couldn't get the tune out of my head, and then I started to learn the lyrics piece by piece . . . Before I knew it, the magic of the song had not only caught my attention but fully enchanted me. Soon, I was also mesmerized by the rest of Owl City's Ocean Eyes album, then it became my favorite band, and viola! Here we are.

I used to love the music just because it was beautiful, and yes even magical. But the more I listened, the more I came to realize that there was something underneath, something essential behind every rise and fall in the music. Cave In, Tidal Wave, Meteor Shower . . . they made precious allusions to the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and I still remember falling asleep one night as I listened, and began to realize that Adam Young is a Christian.

If nothing else, Owl City's blog post with his rendition of my favorite song, In Christ Alone, made it all too clear.

When All Things Bright and Beautiful was released, I must have listened to the songs a hundred times over. My grandparents gave me the album for Christmas last year, and I kept listening, loving the music more and more, (especially Galaxies!).
    Now, here's what I'm getting at:
    The first few times I listened to Plant Life, I was left a little confused by the pictures it gave of a haunted house and death and despair. It upset me that it was the finale of the album. But these words which I was alerted to by a fellow Owl City fan and that Adam young wrote on his own blog about the song totally changed my perspective, and make Adam's Salvation clearer than ever before:

All whimsy aside [...] this song’s deepest level of symbolism parallels Jesus Christ as the only ray of hope I have in this haunted house of a world. For me, sometimes it’s easy to focus on the bloody nightmares that inevitably show themselves from time to time, but despite such dismal distractions, it’s obvious the Lord has a way of planting victorious hope all around, and sometimes such beautiful blooms of color and vibrancy crop up out of nowhere when I least expect them. At times it requires wisdom to see them, other times it’s stunningly obvious, but regardless of circumstance, these angelic reminders are tremendously potent and absolutely real. Thus I continue to keep my knees black-and-blue, constantly on the hardwood floor, wholeheartedly thanking my Savior for the tremendous grace I’ve been given, for I’m not praying to the ceiling anymore.
[...]
At the end of the day, I can only answer for myself and I’ll be the first to admit I’m nothing but a worthless sinner, day in and day out. I’m as imperfect and flawed as they come. Thus, when the sun disappears behind the clouds and life suddenly turns into a haunted house, I cling to Jesus with every fiber of my being because He is unfailing, He is absolute, He is steadfast and His grace is deeper and wider than my imagination can even fathom. In Him and Him alone is where I’ve discovered a hope more bright and beautiful than words can possibly describe.

{ read the full blog post here }

 For the record, I did start loving Plant Life before I read this --- indeed, long before --- but doesn't it just sweeten it?

I feel like I'm bragging. "See how fabulous MY favorite musical artist is?" I don't mean to make it sound that way; I just want to share my delight in having a brother in Christ who ultimately writes magic and lives to shine "brighter than a shooting star" for God's glory. It's inspiring.

"You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 
nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on the lampstand,
and it gives light to all who are in the house. 
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

June 29, 2012

cavity . . . part two

Thank you to Hannah for praying specifically for me yesterday; I really appreciate it!

    So, here's what happened:
    It wasn't what I expected. Basically, the dentists just took a few x-ray shots of my teeth (including a panorama x-ray to learn about my wisdom teeth), and evaluated the problem. Nay, I should say 'problems'. I have way more than one cavity, I found out, and several areas between my teeth where the enamel is being attacked by little but effective spots of the beginnings of decay.
    Yeah, I'm in trouble.
    They told me that for now, I just need to clean and floss, clean and floss, and really get-at those areas of decay so they become dormant and can't do anymore harm (that is, become cavities which require removal and filling). I'm going in to the dentist again this next Tuesday for an official cleaning, and then later that same week again to have my cavities drilled out and filled. Then, I'll be going to another oral place to have my wisdom teeth removed. And then, after all that, we'll be heading to the orthodontist; they're the reason I spotted my bad tooth in the first place, and caught these others issues before they could grow any worse. My teeth are a little crowded, so I have a bottom level cuspid (canine tooth) that's coming forward, in front of my upper teeth, and now some other teeth are going a bit wonky. I'm hoping and praying that all of these individual trials with my teeth will be over soon!


The dentist gave me these special bottles of tooth paste to help strengthen my enamel, and though I'm not used to the flavor, I kind of like it. It makes me feel extra clean.
    My mom wants me to start carrying my new and special tooth paste plus a brush and floss with me everywhere I go now so that I can clean my teeth immediately after eating. We don't want anymore cavities that need more work, more time, and more money to take care of.
    I've been learning the importance of keeping my teeth clean the hard way. But rest assured, the shock of how bad the problem is has inspired me to do a better job than ever!
    I'm not looking forward to any pain, Novocaine, anesthesia, blood, metal wires connecting my teeth, not being able to bite into an apple, or not having as much sugar as I would so ardently enjoy, but it will be worth it in the end. And won't I be so happy to finally have it all over with!

Let my example encourage (and warn) every one of you --- KEEP YOUR TEETH CLEAN!

June 28, 2012

cavity

I thought I was doing a good job brushing those teeth far back in my mouth, but I guess not.

Here's what happened:
A few days ago, I was brushing my teeth in the morning (I've made a habit of doing that), and I noticed a little pain in the gums around the tooth furthest back in my mouth on the right side. At first, I had been thinking it was just from brushing too vigorously, but when the pain didn't go away a day or two later, I finally decided to take a better look. I grabbed a flashlight and looked way back to find a little black spot on my tooth . . . okay, so it's not all that little, but I know it could be worse.

Immediately after this discovery, I started freaking out and began thinking I was going to need my tooth pulled out, or that somehow I would get blood poisoning if I didn't have the cavity taken care of soon enough. Yeah, I do that. It's the curse of having a vast imagination --- great for writing, awful for teeth, or interpreting the creaks in your house when you're home alone.

But anyway, I'm going to the dentist today to have it taken care of. My mom assured me that they'll just drill out the cavity and fill in the hole, which to me sounds much better than losing my whole tooth. Besides, I've had cavities before, so it's not a scary first-time.

I've been praying about this appointment a lot because I'm still nervous. And I had been having a pride issue with my teeth, believe it or not, because I thought I was doing so much better of a job of keeping my teeth clean than others around me. I apologized to God for having this awful perspective, and He's certainly shown me through this ordeal that it's time to humble myself. It's amazing how deceptive pride is. My pastor had just been preaching on it last Sunday. I know I have plenty issues with pride, but I hardly ever think of specific ones when the subject is brought to my attention. Now, I have one --- of all things! --- my teeth.

If you want to pray for me about this --- my pride as well as my appointment this afternoon --- I would greatly appreciate it. =)

June 27, 2012

out of season, out of flavor

What a time for hot chocolate to arrive in the mail, right? Yesterday, there I was, boiling on the sofa with my computer working against the air conditioning on my lap, and UPS rings the doorbell with the package I could only dream of for two Christmas seasons. Well, it's my favorite flavor and is the ONLY ONE my local grocery store doesn't supply out of season, so it sells like hot cakes --- er, hot cocoa --- when the snowflakes start to fall. Basically, it's just really hard to get my hands on, and I love it so much that I'll drink it all year long. So my mom was sweet enough to jump on the internet, find a supplier for me, and purchase three boxes full of Arctic White hot chocolate. Thanks mom! Really, you've made my day!

June 26, 2012

the drawback to our destiny

Every Christian who is growing closer to God sees their sins more clearly, and it can disappoint them in their life-long walk toward holiness. 

I know I've felt this way before; so sinful that I wonder how God could possibly love ME, and that His grace could really be enough to cover all MY sins. I think in the worst possible way --- selfishly. Yet even during this thought process I am reminded ever so gently of that beautiful devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon, 'Looking Unto Jesus' (from June 28, which, by the way, is in only two days!)

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
    “My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

I've posted this before --- it's my favorite devotional probably because it's the one that I need to hear the most. It's so easy to make prayer to God an idol, or reading His Word, or giving money to church. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be seen by others and recognized for the good things you do. Good deeds may start out as genuinely wanting to give God all the glory, but it doesn't take long in this era of "self" theology to get caught up in just about anything BUT Jesus.
    Life as a Christian ought to not only start with the Savior, but remain so the whole course, and of course eventually end there. And then the new life, we being made perfect at last for an eternity with Christ the Lord, finally begins.

I'll admit it, I'm in the rut mentioned above; I know Christ ought to be number one, and I do try to make Him so, but I have a secret attachment to the things of the world. Alright, I'll be perfectly honest and admit a couple of them.
    Music. I have a weakness for the better Disney songs like Out There from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or exciting pieces written for PS2 games I love to play like Guide You Home which is sung by Gabriel Mann and Rebecca Kneubuhl. I claim my favorite song is In Christ Alone, and it is, but why is it that when I have my mp3 in hand, I'm tempted to listen to anything except that song?
    Another thing in my life which so easily entangles me is entertainment --- or rather more specifically, movies. Movies and TV and suchlike are designed to draw people in. I, for example, cannot walk into Best Buy, Sam's Club, or even Walmart without being distracted by the screens. And I have a deep-seated love for stories anyway, so it's even harder to resist Doctor Who or Lord of the Rings when my family is playing them, or really any films or shows. One of my favorite movies is Fireproof, but then why is it that I hardly ever watch it or suggest it to friends, while I do both of these concerning just about every other movie I see?
    I know why.
    The devil doesn't want me to proclaim the truth of the words 'In Christ Alone' by listening to that precious song and singing every lyric without shame in the grocery store for anyone to hear. The devil doesn't want people to know that Christ is the One who heals marriages, as Fireproof shows so clearly. No matter what the case, the devil really does work SO HARD to tempt us to turn our eyes anywhere but upon Jesus.

So, let it be our constant, undying prayer --- not just for our own souls, but for all the saints, all of the brethren of Christ --- that we would put Him first and fulfill our true destiny which is and always was meant to be giving Him the glory, forever and ever.

June 16, 2012

writer's block ... why?

I don't know what to write about anymore.

I feel like I should try to find something interesting in my life to share with everyone, but how can anything in my life be very interesting to anyone else? It's all so . . . normal.

It's like I'm just waiting for something to happen, and until it does, there will be nothing but normal life to drone-on about. Maybe I'm waiting for my opportunity to buy that new camera and begin an entirely new chapter of my photography adventure.

Maybe I'm waiting for that next vacation which always is a source of new and beautiful memories.

Maybe I'm just restless in general, so it's hard to sit down and push buttons once a day as lead by my brain.

Or maybe it's just the weather.
Honestly, the weather affects me greatly. I am usually most inspired to write when the season change. Winter always makes me want to cuddle up and read The Goose Girl, or Princess Academy. Summer makes me want to dig out my old dragon stories I wrote as a child and grimace and laugh at my inexperience. And I never know what inspiration to expect in autumn or spring --- they are pleasant surprises.

Maybe it's because I'm not going to bed before midnight very often.
There's always some sort of excuse for why this occurs; last night it was that I was in the mood to clean the house, and so I kept going until after midnight and I could hardly keep my eyes open anymore!

Probably, the answer to my restless trouble is a combination of many things.

Anyway, I hope you'll forgive me for not writing many things of interest. I'll just have to remind myself that if my writing is for the Lord, that's all I will need. I just want to please Him.

June 12, 2012

beauty and the beast

I love this story.

A beautiful girl sacrifices herself, her freedom, her dreams, all to save the life of her father; she doesn't fall in love instantly, it's something that takes a lot of time. Magic, suspense, comic relief, Disney --- pretty much, it has me written all over it.

Emily and I just recently watched the cartoon, and now we're both trying to play the enchanting theme piece on the piano. I hope to play it at my next recital --- it's a more challenging piece for my level, but so beautiful that I am determined to learn it!

Last year I read Melanie Dickerson's 'The Healer's Apprentice' for the first time. It was fantastic, and I plan on owning it some day; it's honestly one of my favorites! Anyway, I discovered that the same author has another such princess book titled 'The Merchant's Daughter', which I believe is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale. So, yeah, I think I'll be giving that one a try. But I have a goal right now to not start any other novels until I'm done with 'Stepping Heavenward' by Elizabeth Prentiss. I've been reading that one for over a year (with several books in between), so I need to have this one completed before I commence upon any new books.

Now, back to Beauty and the Beast. I have to confess, I don't really like that Belle is a little of a --- shall we say, feminist? She's dissatisfied with her life and complains a lot; she doesn't want to settle down and be married, she wants to travel and go on an adventure. Well, she didn't know that she was in for one after all, and certainly didn't expect it to start out being so unpleasant compared with the stories she had read about. And it bothered me that she was going to break her promise to the beast and run away. But then, she decided to stay after all when he saved her life --- yeah, it's complicated, and a little frustrating. I wonder how Melanie Dickerson is going to interpret it?

I like to think of the true beauty and the beast story, between Christ and humanity. I'm seriously contemplating writing a novel about it; a prince is betrothed to the lowest creature on earth, who hates him, but learns to love him. She is ugly, he makes her beautiful; she is rude and unforgiving, and he melts her heart with his unconditional love. It's exactly what happened to me; Christ saved me from myself, and He loves me so much that no words can express it. I was a beast, destined for a fate of perpetual misery, but He stepped in and broke the curse.

"For while we were still helpless,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 
For one will hardly die for a righteous man;
though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us."
-Romans 5:6-8 NASB


~ Now, that's what I call True Love! ~

June 6, 2012

the Avengers

Prompted by the reviews from more than a few friends, I finally went to see the new Avengers movie. My sisters were with me, along with one of our cousins and another close friend.

I have to say, it was pretty much what I expected. But don't get me wrong! I was not disappointed. The only thing that took me by surprise was (WARNING: spoiler ahead!) when the agent, Phil, from SHIELD died. Yeah, didn't see that one coming, but I think it made the story a little more believable, considering it had aliens and gods and suchlike. Well, I guess I didn't expect the Hulk to roar Iron Man awake, either. And, for the record, if Iron Man had died, I would have been very upset, to say the least.

[ { ( People avoiding spoiler resume here ) } ]

I had heard from a few people about some of the humor from the movie --- boy, did they understate it! Tony Stark, my favorite superhero, was positively hilarious. "Dost thou mother know you weareth her drapes?" Robert Downey Jr. has great presentation; he pulls off cocky, arrogant, and frustratingly loveable very nicely.

I can't give the movie the best report in the world. I won't go into detail, but there was some rather severe immodesty in a couple of scenes.

And I'll tell you the same thing my friends told me: if you do watch the Avengers, watch it until the VERY END of the credits. I won't give it away, but there was a little something else that deserves a chuckle.

Do we really have to wait until December for the Hobbit?!

June 5, 2012

chip

I chipped my tooth.

Yep, it's true. I was playing with my oldest niece, Lulu, three days ago. As I swept her up in my arms, the top of her head hit my chin and my teeth crashed together. She was completely fine. But I hear the cracking and felt what seemed like sand in my mouth. No, I didn't lose my tooth, but I got a little chip out of the deal. It's not too bad, but it was a sensation for my tongue for a while. ;)

Have you ever chipped a tooth before?
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