April 15, 2012

memory

This song always makes me cry --- it's so beautiful, one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.


the burden is light

"For this is the love of God,
that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not burdensome."
1 John 5:3

'And he answered,
“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD
WITH ALL YOUR HEART,
AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL,
AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH,
AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND;
AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."'
Luke 10:27


I love God's Word

April 13, 2012

photo security

So, we lose Picnik.com in six days. Anyone who has ever used it is obviously sad about this, but I have good news: I received an email from Picnik, suggesting a few other photo-editing sites --- I just tried PicMonkey, and the techniques are very like Picnik's, and therefore quite user-friednly. It is also free, and I think I'll be returning there again, soon. =)
    Another site is called Aviary, which seems to be an application for cellular phones. Now, I don't have one of my own, so it's difficult to give a report on the app, but it looks like another great option. (Maybe my sister will let me give it a spin on her phone!)
    Hope this is helpful!

April 12, 2012

reading and remodeling

My house is all messed up. Our kitchen is in the living room, our dining room table is in our library, and a couple of days ago, half of my bedroom was in my parents' room while my dad was putting up new trim . . . Yeah, it's been pretty crazy these past couple of weeks! A guy came to install new counter-tops in our kitchen, and until this morning (when we could relax a little), it's just been weird.
    And as we were moving all of my things back from my parents' room and into mine, I rearranged everything. Now, my bed is directly under my window, my dresser is nearest my door, and my desks are on opposite ends of the room from each other. I rather like it.

And yesterday, I finally finished reading 'Forest Born' by Shannon Hale. That's a check off my extensive book-reading list! I'm going to be charging through 'The Hunger Games' (as mentioned before) as soon as possible, and I'm also interested in giving 'The Unwanteds' by Lisa McMann a try. I came across it accidentally at the library in audio version, and immediately requested it after I read the description:

In a society that purges thirteen-year-olds who are creative, identical twins Aaron and Alex are separated, one to attend University while the other, supposedly Eliminated, finds himself in a wondrous place where youths hone their abilities and learn magic.

And that wasn't even the first thing that caught my attention about it. Not only was the cover illustration intriguing, but on the top of the book cover, it said "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter". Naturally, having fallen in love with both of those stories, I couldn't resist this one. And I'm always searching for good books that will "hone my abilities" in writing. ;)

April 10, 2012

surrounded


"As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever."
-Psalm 125:2

I don't know about you, but as a Christian in an ungodly, wicked world, I feel surrounded. Surrounded by the wickedness; surrounded by temptations; surrounded by things that seem so good but are WAY overpriced. ("For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" -Luke 9:25)

It's so easy to be like Peter, who glanced away from Jesus for just one moment at the wild storm, and began to sink (Matt. 14:29-31). If we spend all of our time looking at the crashing waves, the lightning, and we let ourselves begin to tremble at every boom of thunder, our faith will shrink, and so will our hope.

"...he [satan] 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 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." 
    -Charles H Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (devotional)

As it says in the verse at the very top, 'the LORD surrounds His people'. We seem surrounded by things that would tear us down, and that's the devil's ploy; if he can get us to look away from Christ for even a second, we easily tear ourselves apart with doubts and despair. But what does the Bible repeat so often for our benefit? That God is Almighty (Gen. 17:1; Job 5:17; Rev. 19:6). What do we need to fear if God is with us? If He surrounds us, there is no stronger bulwark of protection against the storms.

And what else does the Psalm at the top say? Not only that 'the Lord surrounds His people' but that He does so 'From this time forth and forever.' If you ask me, that's some assurance!

In God --- in His power, His grace, His love, His Son, His Holy Spirit --- we cannot fail. 
He surrounds us. And let us never doubt Him again.

April 7, 2012

death to life

"If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar
and His word is not in us."
-1 John 1:9-10

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
    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. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
    Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned — for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
    But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
    So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord"
                - Romans 5


"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only son
To make the wretch His  treasure"
♫♪

April 6, 2012

thirst for righteousness

Every Friday, I have Literature Class, and for some reason, I have had more trouble this year completing the work on time than ever before. Perhaps it's partly because I'm such a perfectionist, and want every question I answer to be thorough and extensive (it's a writer's curse).
    After weeks of just barely completing the work on time --- almost literally to the last minute --- I decided to stay up as late as I needed to finish it so that after brainwashing sleep and dreams, I wouldn't have to struggle through a wild daze to check off the last ten questions. The result of doing this was relief from starting the day with immense stress, and freed-up time to spend with God.
    I've mentioned before that a dear friend from my church gave me a book called 'Abiding in Christ' by Andrew Murray. I chose to read it this morning because it's been on the shelf for so very long, and I remember loving the first few chapter I had already read. I was just finishing the eight chapter, "He Is Your Righteousness, and this is what transfixed me:

As long as he [the Christian] only thought of the righteousness of the substitute, and our being counted judicially righteous for His sake, the absolute necessity of abiding in Him was not apparent. But as the glory of "the Lord our righteousness" unfolds to the view, he sees that abiding in Him personally is the only way to stand, at all times, complete and accepted before God, because it is the only way to realize how the new and righteous nature can be strengthened from Jesus our Head. To the repentant sinner the chief thought was the righteous the comes through Jesus' dying for sin; to the intelligent and growing believer, Jesus, the Living One, through whom the righteousness comes, is everything, because in having Him, he has His righteousness too.
    Believer, abide in Christ as your righteousness. You still have within you a nature altogether corrupt, which is always trying to rise up and discourage your sense of acceptance and access to unbroken fellowship with the Father. Nothing can enable you dwell and walk in the light of God, without even the shadow of a cloud between, but habitual abiding in Christ as your righteousness. To this you are called. Seek to walk worthy of that calling. Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the wonderful grace that permits you to draw near to God, clothed in a divine righteousness. Take time to realize that the King's own robe has been put on you, and in it you need not fear entering His presence. It is the token that you are the man or woman the King delights to honor. Take time to remember that as much as you need this robe of righteousness in the palace, you require it even more when He sends you forth into the world, where you are the King's messenger and representative.
    Live your daily life in full consciousness of being righteous in God's sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ. Connect every view you have of Christ in His other graces with this first one: Christ Jesus --- our righteousness from God. This will keep you in perfect peace. You will enter into, and dwell in, the rest of God. And your inmost being will be transformed into being righteous and doing righteousness. In your heart and life it will become obvious where you dwell; abiding in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, you will share His position, His character, and His blessedness. It is said of Him: "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (Hebrews 1:9 NIV). This joy and gladness will be your portion too as you abide in Him.

Was that encouraging? I hope so. I just couldn't refrain from sharing it! It's the kind of thing I want to underline, highlight, surround with little pink hearts, and copy into my journal and all over my bedroom wall.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you."
-1 Corinthians 16:23

April 4, 2012

on to chapter three

I finally did it.
Late on the night before last, I finally met my writing goal of finishing chapter two of my novel! I was able to end it in a way that fully satisfied me; it wasn't a cliffhanger, but I think it'll be the sort of thing that makes the reader want to keep going, because it promises something important in the near future.

So, now I can finally let my dad read my story; I promised him I would let him as soon as a certain chunk of editing was done, and now it is. =)

I've been writing drafts of this idea for almost seven years, now. I started it in early/mid July 2005, when I was eleven. It was based off of a dream I had one night, and the dream based off of a game I used to play all the time. I used my grandma's typewriter to get the gust of the dream down on paper. A year later, I threw that draft away because it embarrassed me with it's childish simplicity (that is, a complete lack of necessary details) and it's speediness in causing things to happen in a ridiculously short amount of time. (Pretty much, the story was about three or four pages long, and involved one day's worth of life for the characters therein.) I'm re-writing that specific draft partly as an exercise and partly because I don't want to lose that memory of how this story began.

Dragons. It's all about dragons. But it's not going to be like any other dragon book I have ever read, because it's me; it's filled with characters derived from my own imagination and disposition, with places I've dreamed about my whole life, and with words that have been on my tongue for years, just waiting to be knitted together and expressed to the world. The story is made up of pieces of myself; of memories, desires, and of course, that driving force to remind the world what really matters through fictional characters who one can grow to love.

A lot of days, I don't do as much writing to my story as I would like to, but day-by-day, the simplest things from any area of life inspire me --- just a couple days ago, I came up with one of the most important ideas for my story that explains one part of the adventure that didn't absolutely make sense before. Even if I'm spending more time taking notes about what I plan on doing than actually pursuing the end of the fairy tale, I'm on a roll!

So, on to chapter three!

April 1, 2012

April transition

My family is going nuts right now in our house; we're finally going to be putting up the last three new doors in the hallway (which includes mine!), preparing to put new carpet on our stairs, seeking the best new counter-top for our kitchen, and preparing to put up the rest of the trim on the upper-level. It's exciting, and yet also a little intimidating --- there's so much to do, and we want it to all be done within the next thirty days! What a time frame, right?

And speaking of time frames, that reminds me... I set myself a deadline for my novel. Well, sort of. I want to have the second chapter completed by tomorrow. Yeah, I'm close, but I want to have at least a couple more pages worth written, and that takes time. And a lot of it. I want my dad to be able to read my novel soon because I promised him that when I was done with this chunk of editing and writing, he could read it. So, I'll be cracking down on that shortly.

Have I ever mentioned that I love my church? I spend most of my time with two girls (sisters) in particular, April and Robin, who are both so sweet. We have many interests in common, and of course it's just wonderful to talk to people who share the Faith!
    I always love it when our pastor is saying so many wonderful things that my little pen can barely keep up. When I look back, I know which sermons were the best by seeing how messy my handwriting was! Well, this morning was like that. =)
    My mom, sisters, and I all joined our church choir, and we're going to be singing five lovely songs this Easter. I'm humbled by all of the beautiful voices that stand beside me, and at the same time, delighted to listen.

I tried something new today.
My sister, Lilly, had made a batch of macaroni and cheese for lunch, and when she finished her part, I decided to help her get rid of the last little serving. I had already started cooking a bowlful of tomato soup, and so, simply for the sake of experiment, I put a little macaroni on a spoon and dipped it in the soup. It was quite toothsome, and so I put the macaroni on a plate and drizzled over some of the tomato soup. Lilly was appalled, but my mom confirmed my theory that cheese and tomato go well together. It was kind of like Spaghetti-O's, but on an entirely new level of delicious flavor. What a pleasant discovery!
    Unrelated to this, I'm in the mood to learn how to cook more things. Pizza, check. Toast, check. Oatmeal, also check. The most difficult recipe I've ever conquered on my own was a hash-brown casserole I made last summer. I need to spice things up a bit and try something unfamiliar --- let's talk Pinterest.
    I've been collecting interesting, mouth-watering pictures of recipes, and yet bringing none of them into reality. That's a crime of the tongue. The two recipes I'm most interested in attempting presently are 'Tastes Like Lasagna Soup' and 'Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread'. Dinner plus dessert --- yes, please!
Who else loved The Hunger Games movie that just came out? My younger sister, Emily, is nuts about it --- she's already seen the movie twice in the theater, she's been braiding her hair to the side every day for over a week, and she won't take off the mockingjay pin replica that her friend gave her as an early birthday gift.
    Me? I really, really like the Hunger Games, and probably a lot more than I'm willing to admit because I don't want to seem totally fanatical about it. But it was a great movie --- far better than I expected, and I love all of the characters. (Well, mostly Ceasar Flickerman because he's totally full of himself and wears an all-blue sparkly suit with blue hair.) Anyway, I laughed and cried during the movie, and am psyched up for reading the books!
    Alright, for those of you who weren't that big on The Hunger Games, I'm also excited to go see The Hobbit this December. I've read the book and really enjoyed it, and I also just LOVE The Lord of the Rings movies which precede The Hobbit, although I have yet to read the books for those.

Well, that's the gist of my week. Thank you for reading this, and please do have a blessed Palm Sunday, everyone!
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