Sunday, April 24, 2011

By His Blood.

Unlike most of the world, Easter, for me, is a very sobering time.

Sure I enjoy the chocolate, the Sunday service, a chance to wear pretty, spring clothes. My grandma, even after all these years, still insists on giving me a candy basket. :) 

All that aside, however, it's hard to talk about "what Easter means to me." Not because I don't care, it's just that I've never been one to aptly express my inner-most feelings to others.Ten to one, unless I'm crying (which isn't that often), the things I'm saying aren't really all that personal. ;)

But now I have the opportunity to say something, and I want to take advantage of it. 

Easter affects me in a way that few things do. It probably has something to do with the fact that my family (excluding Mia) watches Passion of the Christ every Good Friday. Though we normally don't entertain R rated films in our home, I appreciate this one because it turns mere "words on a page" into a reality. So often, I think kids growing up in Christian homes become desensitized to the power of the Gospel. We've heard the stories, memorized the Scriptures, prayed the prayers, etc., but what was a radical, life-changing event for our parents--to us--is just normal.  

Only there's NOTHING normal about God! 

That's an especially hard concept for me to grasp. I mean, being a textbook learner has its benefits, but the consequences are that I tend to view some things very academically. And I think Scripture, at times, is one of them. Passion changes all that. For once I'm able to see an mostly accurate, non-blaspheming portrayal of Christ's death. And like I said earlier, it affects me. I've never yet been able to watch the crucifixion scene, (WAY too much for me!) but every year I discover more and more that Passion "gets" me in an entirely new way. For instance, scenes that didn't use to make me cringe now have me turning away entirely, plugging my ears, balling my eyes...Maybe it's 'cause I'm older, able to comprehend what Christ's sacrifice entailed. Maybe it's because I'm better able appreciate the payment for my sins. But I think more than either of those points, as I mature in my walk with the Lord, I'm reminded that the violence of what happened in real life was so much worse than what's depicted by any Hollywood film. And that thought literally grieves my spirit. 

Because I am so unworthy. So NOT deserving of that kind of love, forgiveness, redemption. As His back bore chunks of flesh being ripped to shreds, as that crown of thorns peirced His temples, as His bones shattered and splintered beneath the crushing weight of those nails....No, I am not worthy. But I am SO THANKFUL that He took my place. I'm told that when I was little, I asked my mom, "How much was the price that Jesus paid?"

I feel like if God could speak audibly in my ear, He would whisper: "priceless."

Oh, I certainly don't feel priceless. But I'm glad He thinks I am. Kinda like my dad. I'm still his "Sweepea" no matter how nasty I look like or how grumpy I am. ;)

Thank you, Lord, for seeing me through the lens of your Son. Thank you that you loved me enough to suffer torture and death for my sake. Thank you for redeeming me for everlasting life. And thank you that every day we are able to celebrate your resurrection...because we are testimony to what you did on Calvary.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Senior Pictures

Well, it's official. I've finally taken senior pictures. *applause*  This is something I've looked forward to and dreaded since my junior year, the reason being I'm SO picky when it comes to appraising pictures of myself. lol Just being honest. Anyway, to save money, I opted for a little amateur photography. The lighting was perfect, and with a little help from Photoshop, Joe  was able to make a lower-quality lens look professional--blurred background and all. He's so handy to have around...and so incredibly patient with his perfectionist sister. ;) Here are the best three, I think. 


Random Note: Today my piano teacher and I rehearsed the Rhapsody in Blue duet that we're playing for my recital. SO fun! I think today was the best sounding ever. I'll be very sad to quit next year. Who will I have to make me practice my Kabalevksy Sonatas? ;)

Sweet dreams. I'm off to bed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Musings.

Well, it's Monday. Again. :(

Sometimes I think "Anti-Joy-Day" is out to get me personally. *sighs* Oh well, the only consolation is that I'm able to swim off all the extra calories I've consumed over the weekend. To continue...

Found this questionnaire on a blog I stumbled across recently. The original version was WAY too long, but I've edited it down to something readable...I think. Enjoy! :)

  • What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 
A true heroine is a girl that isn't perfect. She doesn't say all the right things at the right time in the right way to the right person. She merely lives life to the fullest while having the discernment to avoid those things which may taint her character. She is a leader who knows her own mind, yet is open to suggestion, beautiful but able to channel her power into something good. A girl who has something intelligent and provoking to contribute to conversations, who will root for the underdog and despise the arrogant. Someone who has a servant's heart, but will not allow herself to be misused or imposed upon. She is a girl who has been tried by adversity and has come out triumphantly on the other side, confident in her successes, repentant of her failures. A girl with a heart worth winning, but not subject to false pretenses of modesty. A girl who can laugh at herself and at others (internally) without pause, someone who isn't overly concerned with how she looks, but still takes pride in her appearance. She is a girl with ambition, not content to be "normal," but setting herself apart from the status quo. She is a breath of fresh air, a beacon of light, trusted confidant, loyal friend, poised, graceful, intelligent, kind, spunky, humorous, daring (in a good way), adventurous, elegant, and altogether not like anyone you meet every day. :) How's that for an explanation? lol
  • Five of your favorite historical novels?
    • The Count de Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
    • Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
    • Queen Margot by Alexander Dumas
    • Four Feathers by W. Mason
    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Out of those five books who is your favorite character and why? Definitely Harry Ferversham of The Four Feathers. You have to read the book to understand, but I find his character so wonderfully complex, so noble and brave, yet daring, loyal, and a man of his word.
  • If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to --and what would you plan to do there? Oh, don't get me started. I'm saving for an England-Scotland-Ireland extraordinaire for my end-of-college graduation present...to myself. :)
  • What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? 18th century England or France--the Napoleonic Wars. I also enjoy stories about the French Revolution.
  • You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation--what is your act comprised of? Oh, boy. Well, I usually don't feel comfortable singing in front of a "big" crowd. While I can carry a tune, I was never trained to use my diaphragm and consequently my volume is not what it should be. But as it is for charity, I could make an exception. :) Otherwise, recitation. Maybe the Highway Man? *wink*
  • If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? Wow. I'm really tempted to say someone cultured and refined, but I can't feign airs and graces  for the life of me. So I guess I would rather be the comedy relief. Maybe Miss Bates from Emma? :)
  • What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? Okay, I don't think there's quite enough time nor space to accurately express my "sentiments" on the subject. :) I believe chocolate is, in short, a gift from Heaven created expressly for my pleasure and sole consumption.
  • Favorite author(s)? Oh, so many! The Bronte Sisters, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, C.S. Lewis, Gaston Leroux, Louisa May Alcott, Lucy Maud Montgomery... 
  • As a small, imaginative, red-haired damsel might query; would you rather be divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good? Why? Well, like that particular titian-haired damsel, I can never quite make up my mind. :) I'd like to be divinely beautiful, but in the end, I think I'd rather be dazzlingly clever. Gets you more places than looks do. 
  • In which century were most of the books you read written? 19th century  England
  • In your opinion, the ultimate hero is…Is this where I get to copy my What- I-Must-Have-In-A-Husband list? lol No, seriously um...the ultimate hero is a guy I can respect. Who has a sense of humor, who is gracious and compassionate, gentle, yet physically and mentally strong. Determined. Persistent. Daring within the boundaries of common-sense. Constant. Good-looking (handsome, I guess would be the better word) and intelligent, a leader amongst men, able to carry himself well and confidently. Again, holds his own opinions but embraces other points of view. Someone who manages his money well, who tells the truth, seeks to rescue damsels in distress :), and has the poise of a gentleman. Someone who can appreciate a variety of music, literature, and art. Makes an effort to better those lower than himself. Knows what he's good at and never boasts in his own abilities. Someone who is humble, but not a door mat. Able to find humor in the little things of life, an athlete, secure in himself, noble, courageous, takes initiative, able to take (and occasionally give) a dare :), a guy who will sweep you off your feet and never know you exist. That's usually the hero. :)
  • Describe your ideal dwelling place.  Depends. Am I single or married? :) Right now I would love a two story flat smack-dead in the center of New York City. Or at least someplace clean and bustling with life. Married, I want a single-story house in the neighborhood where I now reside. 
  • Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? Yes. In the Disney movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, the hero's name "Al" doesn't suit his face, mannerisms, or personality. And it burns my soul! I mean, really. Al is such a boring, prudish, unromantic name for someone altogether tall, dark, and handsome. Oh, and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. I know someone with that name, and I don't care for the association. :)
  • In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...I don't know. Confession: I tend to like the bad guy in books! Javert from Les Mis is a good villain. So is the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. But I can't bring myself to say they're the all-time worst, so....I'm namingggggggggg....the father of David Copperfield. He's just NOT a nice man!
  • Three favorite Non-fiction books? 
    • Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
    • Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot
    • Joni by Joni Erikson Tada
  • Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? When are duties ever met for the day? :) Well first, I'd kick everyone out of the house so that I could play the piano in peace and quiet, then I'd retire to my bedroom for a hour or so of delicious reading, then I'd take the laptop and write...after which I'd watch a movie. 
  • Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. My true character....muaw-hahahaha. Well actually, my dream hat is the big purple one from Titanic (have not seen the movie).


 
As I'm not about to get flowery, I'll just say...sophisticated, dramatic, fashionable, complimentary, and full of mystique. How's that for a skewed portrait of my character? lol 

 Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
Well, apart from the fact that we adopted a little girl from CHINA, I turned eighteen, and also finished my Congressional Award, I can't think of anything much. :) 

Hope you're all havin' a great evening! Love,


Friday, April 15, 2011

Made to Order.

Spoiled, spoiled, SPOILED little girl! Care to check out her gourmet breakfast (which, I might add, was made to her specifications--with a couple of helpful suggestions from yours truly)?
Yogurt, toast, salami, a poached egg, bling-bling, tea...what else do you need? Oh, just a minute, the little diva is asking for a refill. ;)

You know what I had for breakfast this morning? A bagel. ROFL

Actually I shouldn't be complaining. When we first brought her home, Mia would not touch anything starchy--bread, oatmeal, muffins, cereal, cornbread. Now, she's eating a bowl of porridge every other day and a sandwhich once a week. Progress!

Hope you're all enjoying this lovely morning.
THANK GOODNESS IT'S FRIDAY!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

He Didn't Die Correctly!

I am so mad!

Just finished watching Masterpiece Theater's A Tale of Two Cities. Good movie, not the best quality, but entertaining nonetheless. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the story is just living for the last scene...

And what does the director do?

He doesn't even give Sydney a proper death!!! Ugh! I'm so PUT OUT. I mean, come on. What girl doesn't find a mystical, bad-boy appeal to Sydney Carton's character? And to not even have the satisfaction of watching him sacrifice his life for Lucie--that was a spoiler, sorry--completely negates the last two and half hours I spent watching his love unfold.
Why don't people consult me before they kill off a character? No, really.The whole thing needed to be so much longer and drawn out. A flashback to Lucie's face, the promise he made to her long ago (sssooo romantic), being bound, walking up the guillotine steps, hearing the drums beat, climactic music, and then at the very LAST minute, a cut away to a black screen. Slowly fade in music, guillotine reappears blood-stained and still, followed by a quick glimpse of Charles and Lucie living happily ever after. Fade out. Credits scroll. The End.

That's how it's done. That's how you leave the girls in tears. Build up the rival really well and then do him in gracefully in the last five minutes. But nobody ever listens to me!

When I think back to the character deaths that have affected me the most as a viewer, they had five things in common.

1) they were men and women whose full potential was never realized
2) they all were young and hopelessly in love (a definite MUST HAVE)
3) they had strong characters that were consistently built up throughout the movie
4) the music that accompanied their "death scenes" was passionate and incredibly haunting
5) they never cowered in fear of death, but rather embraced it as their duty or the will of God.

I know, a very morbid post. But hey, I'm on a roll now, and I can't stop! lol  Besides which, when I watch a movie about the French Revolution, I'm not exactly looking to laugh my head off, am I? My eyes didn't water once. How pathetic is that?

*deep breath*

Okay, so maybe I should go to bed. Sleep this appalling nightmare off.

Sweet dreams. MUAH-HA-HA-HA! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My One Beauty...

I have gone and become "Jo-ified." :) [Excerpt from Little Women...]

As she spoke, Jo took off her bonnet, and a general outcry arose, for all her abundant hair was cut short.
"Your hair! Your beautiful hair!" "Oh, Jo, how could you? Your one beauty." "My dear girl, there was no need of this." "She doesn't look like my Jo any more, but I love her dearly for it!"

SSSOOOO...Here's my bed head from this morning...
And here's my new "do" this afternoon...
                                               
                                                
Can anyone say HUGE difference? Lol! I was tempted to do one of those "before-and-after-no-make-up pictures", but in the interest of humanity I thought it best to spare everyone's eyes. :)

I LOVE my hair. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!!! :) It's so light and easy to maintain. Today I went to the pool--immediately from the hair salon, actually :)--and couldn't believe how much easier it was to lift my head in the water. :)

I have to say, Mia is extremely thrilled. Since we've come home from China, she has been VERY envious of my long hair. They shaved the kids' heads in the orphanage, so it's a big deal to her. Anyway, when I charaded that I was voluntarily going to get it cut off [my hair that is, not my head :)], she looked at me in sheer horror, paused, and then broke out into a large, fishy grin.

"Towya!" (Talia) *signing scissors snipping* "Towya!"
Oh, she was SO giddy. Like at Christmas. I've never seen a child so excited. :) I could just read her mind. "Finally, I won't be the only one with short hair. Finally, my older sister will be put in her place. No more long hair to torture me." :)

At her insistence, my mom took this picture.
Believe it or not, Mia's hair is now longer than mine! Sister rivalry is something I'm definitely NOT used to. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Me and My Twin...

Today Mia decided to copy her Jei-Jei. Then, at the last minute, her Jei-Jei (well, actually her mom) decided to copy her. :) Like the ginormous bow?
Okay, maybe not so much.
Crazy child.
What can I say? Pictures with Mia are always so...animated! :) And in case you're wondering why I look like I'm about to collaspe...
I've started lap swimming again after a three year hiatus. Today was my first day back and my arms are jello, not to mention my hair kinky curly with chlorine. I thought I was still in pretty good shape. *cough* After 1.5 hours of straight swimming, I'm ready to crash. And it's only 5pm. 
To continue: here's another picture with Miss Mia...taken before my birthday dinner. Isn't she adorable?
But I'm not biased. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

This is NOT an April Fools...

I've just had ten years taken off my life.

TEN.

Do you know what's like to loose ten years in a moment?
Today I took Mia to the park. Things were fine, both of us having a great time on the swings, playing tickle fight, etc. She was very anxious to show every kid on the playground her "new," hand-me-down, broken cell phone. :) Anyway, as we were leaving, I heard this voice say to me, "Check if both Mia's hearing aids are in."

Of course, they're both there, I thought. Why wouldn't they be? But just to ease my mind, I checked.

Right ear. Okay.
Left ear. Gone.

(For those of you who don't know, hearing aids cost between $4-6 THOUSAND dollars and are NOT covered by most insurances. We got Mia's pair from my uncle.)

So I started charading to Mia: "Mia, where's your hearing aid?"
Shrug. (As if she knew where it was--stupid me!)
"Where did you drop it?"

She couldn't answer me, so I ran back to the park. Mia tagged along behind, probaby wondering what was wrong with her older sister. I got down on my hands and knees and felt through the grass, through the woodchips, looked up and down the playground equpiment. All the time my heart is RACING and dollar signs are flashing through my mind. I kept thinking, "Somewhere on this playground, $2,000 are lying on the floor."

$2,000 DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was an old man at the park with his grandkids. Bless his heart, he noticed my frantic searching and asked if he could help. I told him what was the matter and soon we had a six member search-an-rescue team scouring the park.

Dear God, I prayed. Please help me find that hearing aid. PLEASE. PLEASE. Mom and dad are going to kill me!!!

Note: Has anyone ever looked for a CLEAR peice of tubing in a sea of woodchips? Forget needle in a haystack.
How 'bout: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
"Grandpa," says the little boy. "What did it look like?"
I showed him Mia's other hearing aid.
"Hey, Grandpa! That's the thing I threw at you a litte while ago."
WHAT? Dear Lord, please...

Five seconds later the hearing aid was found, thrown far from where we were looking. Figures. But I think that little boy was really an angel in disguise. I told him, "Cooper, I could kiss you!" :) And I would have were it not for the fact that it might have been considered a little "much." :)

Oh, but I'm so sick. Sick to my gut at the thought that all that money could have been...I don't even want to think about it. Suffice it to say, I'm still breathing. But I've lost ten years of my life, I'm sure I have at least one grey hair, and--worse--NOBODY seems to care!!!! *sniff sniff*

So cut me some slack if this post is full of grammatical errors, misspellings, and what have you. I can't think for the life of me...

A VERY relieved and altogether emotionally-worn out,