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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