Sunday, July 31, 2016

Could it Be

I see the gorgeous works of art you create
the paintings
the intricate letters
the beautiful writings
the slab of wood turned into a masterpiece
the gifts you make to bless others
the complicated piece of music which you play so deftly
and I wish I could do the same.
But of course, I cannot, because there is nothing beautiful in me to pour out
My hands are too clumsy
I don't see things the way the should be seen
And so I push away the wistful thought that these fingers of mine could take what is in my heart, and put it in tangible form
For why dwell on what cannot be?
 And yet, a tiny voice, hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, whispers
it asks...
Could it be you are not living up to the potential you were created with?
Could it be you are listening to and believing in the lies of the Enemy?
Could it be?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Elisabeth Visits {Part II--July 25}

If you didn't read my last post about Elisabeth's visit, you can read it here.
My first memory of the second morning of Elisabeth's visit is feeling myself slowly wake up. I rolled over and opened my eyes, and looked down from the top bunk to see Elisabeth rummaging quietly through her suitcase. She turned around, and the expression on her face was hilarious. She looked so bewildered, and she stared at me for a second before saying, "But I was being quiet!"
All I could do was giggle. I don't think I will ever forget the look on her face. XD
We spent the morning in relaxing, jumping on the trampoline, and hanging out. Around one, we headed out the door in search of whatever Monday's adventures might bring. My dad was working, Natalie had Driver's Ed to attend and piano lessons to teach, and Tim and Noah decided to hang out at home, so just Levi, Mom, Elisabeth, Mrs. Sullivan and I headed out this time.
One problem: we were running late! Once we got there, we parked the car and hurried to purchase tickets. It was beautiful; we were all running up the deck, struggling to reach the ferry on time. Levi got way ahead of us, and I called after him to wait. He called back, "But I'm just so anxious!" It was so cute; I guess he was a little excited for his first ferry ride. (The rest of us Tafts have gone on at least one before, although Noah would have been too little to remember his).
Thankfully, we made it onto the ferry, and promptly headed out to the deck to enjoy the view for a bit.
It was about an hour long ferry journey, so we spent it in going back and forth between the deck and the warmer seating inside.
Selfie on the ferry! :D
We eventually reached our destination, a darling little town by the harbor. Our first plan of action was to find something to eat. We ended up at a cute little restaurant, where we ate outside. There was one little bee that would not leave us alone, though!
We both got a coke to drink, and Elisabeth was very attached to her bottle, and kept it with her all afternoon, planning to take it home with her. XD
As soon as we had finished, we set out to explore the town. We were laughing when we discovered this restaurant, because on the ferry, we were both trying to find what we called "the food place". So the name on the sign made us giggle.
 We were both most excited, though, to discover there was a book store, and since neither of us could resist its charms, we all trooped in. Elisabeth and I explored every inch of that store, exclaiming over the classics especially.
We found some beautifully designed books, including Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, Heidi, A Tale of Two Cities, The Secret Garden, Huckleberry Finn, Robin Hood,  Black Beauty, and more. Also among these was an absolutely gorgeous copy of Little Women, which Elisabeth fell for immediately. I asked her to select a book for me, and she picked Peter Pan. We both couldn't get over how beautiful these books were!
 Notice Elisabeth's hand, though? That water bottle she's carrying? That's mine! She kept sneakily picking it up when I set it down, and then carrying it. We made quite a thing out of me having to steal it back from her. Seriously, though, I would have lost that thing so many times throughout the day if she hadn't rescued it for me. It did earn her the title of bottle thief, though.
We stopped by one other store, and then hung out on benches by the harbor for a bit before heading back to the ferry.
A random selfie. :)
The ride back was so much fun! We kept going out onto the deck, in spite of the wind and cold. The day before we accidentally-not accidentally got it into Elisabeth's head when we visited the cold mountain water that if she couldn't stand the cold as well as we could, she was just a wimp from a warmer state. From that moment on, she was not going to give up. XD
We kept standing out there, holding onto the railing as long as possible. She only had the sweater she is wearing in these pictures, and I had nothing, so it was definitely chilly.
 Occasionally Levi would join us, and then he would be so cold, and to warm up, we would do a group hug. On Sunday, Levi had gone swimming in the water until he was freezing, so during these group hugs, thinking no one was watching, we were yelling, "Levi, don't die! "Don't get too cold!"
In the middle of Elisabeth's saying, "Levi, don't get hypothermia like yesterday!" I looked over to see this woman staring at us in amusement. We all kind of giggled, and then were much quieter after that.
Disclaimer: Levi did not actually get hypothermia. We were being slightly dramatic. XD
My mom sneaked out for a couple of minutes and managed to get this picture. :)
In spite of the cold, we did our very best to stay out on the deck as much possible, and it was one of my favorite memories of the trip. (Those kids who were talking about snorting, though!)
We arrived home for a late dinner, and Elisabeth's Gollum impressions in the kitchen. They were fabulous! Natalie got a recording and put it on Facebook, which is why Elisabeth claims she now has a love-hate relationship with her.
We watched a little more of The Happiest Millionaire to close out Day #2... and then there was now only one day left.
Please forgive all the posts so close together! I want to finish blogging Elisabeth's visit and the rest of July before we leave for our trip on Wednesday. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Elisabeth Visits {Part I--July 23, 24}

I have just experienced the most amazing couple of days ever. My best friend--Elisabeth from Reflections of the Heart--- came from her home so far away, accompanied by her mom, and stayed in our home for four nights.
It was the most wonderful culmination of two years of emailing, messaging, talking on the phone, and Skyping. You, see, although we were so close, we had not yet met in person.
And on Saturday, July 23, 2016, we finally did.
On the day they were to arrive, I was so very excited, and yet it hadn't really sunk in that Elisabeth was coming. I spent the day cleaning my room, preparing, and just trying to let it all sink in.
My dad was insistent that we didn't need to be there until about a half an hour after their flight was supposed to get in. I had my doubts, but since I had no real experience with airports, and my dad did, I let it go.
I was just sitting at the computer, trying to pass the time, when Dad came in and said, "We checked on the flight. It got in early. You have to go!"
And so, after a few minute's scurrying, my mom, sister, and I all were safely settled in the car and beginning the hour and a half drive to the airport. I was a little stressed about how late we were, but since I couldn't do anything about it, I tried to settle in and read a book, or chat with Mom and Natalie; anything to calm those butterflies in my stomach!
As we drew closer, Mom telling Natalie to text Elisabeth's mom that we were fifteen, then ten, then five minutes away, I was pretty sure I couldn't breath my heart was pounding so hard. And then we were in the spot where, somewhere, I knew they were looking for us, too.
"I can see them!" said Natalie.
I leaned as far forward as I can, inwardly regretting the fact that I was in the backseat. "Where??"
"I can definitely see them!"
"Why can't I?" I exclaimed in frustration...
And then they were there.  I slid across and swung my legs outside of the car and, as if in a dream, I watched them load their luggage into the car.
And then I jumped up, and Elisabeth and I hugged for the first time! And then we all got in the car, and pulled out. It was strange how natural it felt to have Elisabeth sitting next to me, in spite of the fact that for about half the drive I was still in a dream like state, and hadn't really processed what was happening.
 That was a wonderful night! Although, all we really did was just eat pizza and go to sleep. (Correction: everyone else went to sleep. I was too wound up to sleep for hours, and then I woke up early).
In the morning, Elisabeth and I just got up, sat in my room, and chatted, since it was about 5:30 A.M., and no one else was up yet. It was so incredible, to finally be simply hanging out, early in the morning, doing normal best friend things. I couldn't believe we'd just had a sleepover! I also gave Elisabeth her first taste of coffee, although I think I sweetened it wrong, and it wasn't very good; nevertheless, she kindly downed it anyway.
Eventually, Natalie, and my little brother, Levi, joined us.
We eventually began to prepare for church. Elisabeth had sent me one of her handmade shawls for my birthday two months before, and as she had one of her own, we twinned for church.:)

At church, I finally had the pleasure of introducing my good friends, Evan and Alekai, to Elisabeth, and Evan afterwards accompanied us on our tour of the church. He loved the Bofur hat Elisabeth made for him!

After church, we picked up ice cream, made lunch, and then headed out in search of our first adventure.
We found a train, a lake, mountains (they don't have mountains where they live! The horror!) We also found a park....which somehow seemed to be the most exciting part to all of us. XD

As night began to fall, we made our way home. Natalie, Elisabeth, and I got ice cream and headed back to watch the musical "The Happiest Millionaire" before bed. And thus ended day one. I was beginning to freak out a little at this point, realizing how fast that day had gone by, and how quickly the next two would pass.
I will put up posts about the next days soon! Thanks for bearing with this long post. I wanted to put up some of the details, and I had a hard time choosing between the dozens of pictures we got! :D
Let me just say--Elisabeth is just sooooo wonderful! I always knew it, but meeting her in person just confirmed it, and, as Natalie said...she's like the sister we never knew we had. If you get the chance to meet your online friend (as long as you are sure they are who they say they are), go for it! It will be one of the best experiences of your life.
You can see my post for Elisabeth's birthday here, for more details on exactly how this odd friendship came to be!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Party {7.22.2016}

In a very, very short while, I get to leave with my mom and sis to get my best friend from the airport! To pass the time until then, however, I thought it would be fun to put up a few pictures my mom took at one of my really good friend's sixteenth birthday party last night. It was a bit formal, with dancing, dresses and suits, including a few steampunk themed outfits. I had a lovely time. <3 center="">

I believe all the teens made it into this picture, as well as a few of the younger party members. We all look fabulous, if I do say so myself. ;)

Left to right: Tabitha, Elizabeth, me, and Evan. I'm so blessed to get to attend school with these three! 

My sister, Natalie (the one in the black dress) and the lovely birthday girl, Becca, joined us for this picture. I have been blessed with Becca's friendship for nine years, and also have the pleasure of attending classes with her.

We were told to have some attitude, and this picture is the result. :)

Tabitha, Elizabeth, and me

Hanging out. :)

 Beautiful sunset before we left. <3 center="">
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Character Reflection // The Crawley Sisters

When watching a show, I often try to discover which character resembles me in deed and word.
In this post, I'm exploring the Crawley sisters from Downton Abbey.
I prefer to think I'm like the soft, kind-hearted, yet still passionate about what she believes in, Lady Sybil Crawley. The one who slips compassionately behind her sister and whispers, "I know you're sad about {his death} , whatever you may say."
But I sometimes fear I rather more mirror the heart of Lady Mary, the  beautiful, but cold, selfish, and often distant one. The one who replies to her sister, "You are a darling for saying that, but that's my problem. I'm not as sad as I should be, and that's what makes me sad."
Yet, on other occasions, I wonder if I am Lady Edith; awkward, fumbling to find my way in the world. Always trying to do the right thing, and forever failing.
I feel like Sybil when I get caught up in mission work, on the days when I help others, when I try to be useful.
Far too often, nevertheless, even on these occasions, I turn into  Mary. I do this work perhaps because I think the recipient of my kindness is worthy of it, or perhaps because I believe that in so doing, I will gain the respect and love of others.
I frequently feel like Edith when performing these tasks, because no matter how I try, I  cannot succeed in performing them correctly. I make mistakes, because I expect to. And so it is no surprise to me, and I sigh and say it is worthless to try again.
I wish to be Sybil, helping the servant downstairs in the basement to get the job she longs for, devoting hours of my time and energy to doing so. But it may be that the truth is, it all depends on if that "servant" seems deserving of my help, and so I turn into Mary, and when my attempts to help fail, I become Edith.
I think I could be like Sybil, who takes her time, making sure her decision is the right one to with which to secure her happiness, but in the end goes ahead with it, convinced she is right, against her family's wishes, although she makes her peace with them.
But I'm altogether afraid I'm Mary, so determined to hold onto control of my world, so frightened to hurt myself by making the wrong choice, that I come across cold and unfeeling as I chase my own happiness away.
And then again, perhaps I am after all Edith. So in pursuit of having a purpose in life, that I become too hasty, and end up losing that purpose.
I suppose in the end, though, all three girls learn the lessons they must learn, and secure their futures. And although their stories are fictional, I must learn from them.
For you see, they searched for joy that cannot come from this world, for they searched without God. Without a God to mold, shape, and bend them to His will. Without the God who could give them the peace that passes understanding. Without trusting the God who holds the future in His hands.
And so, no matter how they try, their life would remain empty.
But whether I am most like Mary, Edith, or Sybil Crawley, it truly doesn't matter. Because with God, I can become what He most desires me to be; a woman of God.
And that is the best person I could ever hope to be.

Friday, July 8, 2016


It was a typical Wednesday night, back in winter time. I was volunteering with the second grade sparks in the AWANA at my church. My little brothers were off in their age groups, my dad was in his adult class, and my other brother was in the smaller building for youth group. We went through the usual opening time, verse study, and game time, before heading to story time. During these last fifteen minutes of story time, I wasn't needed, and was going to head down to the youth center to say hello to friends were visiting my youth group for one of their first times. In answer to my niece's questioning look, I whispered, "I'm going out for a bit. I'll be back in time to walk you guys down to your mom." She nodded, and I quietly left the room, then hurried down the two flights of stairs, out the door, and across the parking lot to the youth center. Peeking through the window, I could see they hadn't broken out of their discussion groups yet, so I slid down against the wall outside of the building to wait a couple more minutes. As soon as I could see the discussion time was up, I went in and found my friends in the kitchen area. We exchanged greetings, and made our way to the main area of the small building. One of our friends had gathered quite a crowd around him as he pounded out the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean.
"Show off, " grinned one of my friends. "Just wait till I finish learning this song, and can play the chords correctly..."
I laughed. "Hey, could you tell me what time it is? I only have a bit, then I have to go get my brothers and Brandi's kids out of their classes."
"Yeah, but you really need to get a watch."
"It's not my fault I share a phone with my sister!"
Just then I glanced out the open door of the youth center, and saw an emergency vehicle drive past. My throat went dry. "Did you see that?"
And then it was back again.
My first thought was that something must have happened in the big church building. Something was wrong. My brothers were in there, my dad was in there, my nieces and nephew were in there...
We all started to make our way to the door. One of the leaders stopped us, though, telling us it was alright. This was just a precaution more than anything. I couldn't tell if she was being truthful, though, or just trying to keep us inside. I still worried.
Eventually I learned it was for one of the kids in the youth center, and the leaders said he'd be okay. I watched them put him on a stretcher. Even as I breathed a prayer for him, I couldn't help but feel a guilty sense of relief. My family was fine.
With a jolt, I realized what time it was, and with a hurried goodbye to my friends, made my way up to the big building, feeling grateful I could still pick up my brothers, Noah and Levi, and my nieces and nephew, Kyran, Alahna, and Hailee. When I got there, they were already waiting, clustered in the hallway. "Chrissie!" said Noah. "You're late! I could see what was happening by the youth center from the window, and I was so worried about you guys. One of the other boys was making fun of the whole thing, though..."
I hugged him, and the others, and we made our way back down to meet my big sister and my dad.
Just like any other Wednesday night.
I am so blessed.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Independence Day // Simple Pleasures

 Enjoying a coffee with my sister on July 3rd.
While I'm sitting here listening to "We Own the Night" from Finding Neverland: The Musical, I figure I'd better get up a small post about our Independence weekend. It was full of laid back, good, old-fashioned family fun. On Sunday, I went shopping for last minute holiday items with my Mom and sis. Natalie and I had fun goofing off while we shopped. :) We had pizza for dinner, and afterwards, I went and enjoyed some of our towns festivities with my dad and brothers. It was lots of fun, and then we came back and had popcorn and watched a movie.
On the 4th of July, my dad, sister, brothers, and I all went to the parade in our town. We met up with friends, and had a wonderful time, in spite of the fact that it was really wet out.
Fun at the parade. :)
After the parade, we drove out to my grandpa's house, which is a little over an hour away from us. My Uncle Mark and Aunt Carrie were there, too. Technically, they are not my aunt and uncle, but my second cousin and his wife, but we've always called them that. It was really fun to see them; I have really good childhood memories with them, but I hadn't seen them in several years. Aunt Carrie has cancer, though, so if you could all be praying for her, that would be wonderful.
 It was good to see Grandpa, too, since we had last been there on Christmas Eve.
Grandpa has a lake by his house, and I loved sitting on the dock, reading, enjoying the view, and playing with my siblings. Although it kind of freaked me out, because I was in constant fear that one of them was going to fall in. We also took the boat out for a while, while Dad told us stories about growing up on this lake.
I could get used to a view like this. Okay, I'm used to it. Guys, I want a lake.
It was kind of funny, because we didn't eat dinner till like nine o'clock, and since my brothers aren't used to eating that late, the youngest kept saying he was hungry, and ended up eating a lot of chips. When it was actually time for dinner, he wasn't really hungry anymore. I took my dinner out onto the dock, and sat and ate in the dusk and watched some of the early fireworks.
When it finally got really dark out, we got out our own fireworks and started lighting them. I just watched, though. It was really cool, when we lit off our two or three really big ones, I was standing right under where they were going off, and it was beautiful. After we finished with the fireworks, we came in and had ice cream, and then finally began to get ready to leave. We didn't leave my grandpa's house until about 11:45, and because we also had to get gas on the way out, we didn't get home till about one in the  morning, and I didn't get to sleep until about two.
In the morning, I had a vague idea of going to piano lessons, which didn't end up happening as planned, but I ended up spending the day with my second family. We dropped Allie off at painting lessons at my church first, and then we drove around, and picked up food from Taco Bell, settling on the grass by the church for an impromptu picnic, watching the baby, Hana, out of the corner of our eyes the entire time. We also went to the store after Allie got out, and then headed back to their house, where we spent a cozy afternoon. I almost fell asleep a couple times, because I was still so tired. We had dinner, and watched Hook, before finally getting home a little after 10. It was a really nice day, one of those "pearls on a string" days.
Well, I'd best be off! I'm babysitting some kids at my house in about a half an hour, and I'm going to movie night at my youth group tonight. :)
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Friday, July 1, 2016

Journaling Summer 2016: In June...

June was the most laidback, although still very fun, month I've experienced since...well, September when school started. It was nice to get to spend more time with my siblings, jumping on the trampoline and just hanging out.
One the first day of June, we had our end of the school year party, followed by the awards night, and then ice cream at Denny's with friends. I'm not sure why, because this should have been a fun day, but I didn't enjoy it very much. However, I did get to spend time getting to know friends better, and that was very nice.
On the second day of June, my sister, Brandi, and all six of her kids came out to our house for the day. It was really fun to catch up, because we didn't get to see them as much during the school year. (Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from that day).
The following Wednesday I spent with friends, Nathan, Melissa, and their kids Allie, Hailey, Danielle, and Hana. (Skylar was gone on a trip). They are pretty much my second family, and this time I enjoyed a walk with Allie, Hailey, and Danielle. My town puts on a lot of events for the 4th of July, including a rodeo, and during the months before, there are little "mini shows" there, and it is very close to where they live, so us girls went ahead and walked there. Dani was very upset with us, though, when we had to go and leave the "O o's." (horses). ;)
On Friday of that week (June 10th) ,  I went to my friend's birthday party, and afterwards went to my other friend's house for a bit while waiting for my mom to be able to get me. It was super fun, and we got to watch a girly movie. I didn't get to see how it ended, though. :(
On Sunday, we went on a spontaneous trip to the bay. {See my post with pictures here}. It was lots of fun, and I can't wait to go again tomorrow!
On Tuesday, June 14th, I got to go spend the day in Seattle with some of my awesome friends. We had such a great time, and a lot of laughs! You can view my post about the trip here.
The next day, youth group started up again after a three week break. It was so nice to be back, spending time with friends and listening to the wonderful messages again! I also got to spend the day with my sister Brandi's kids again, and that was fun! We enjoyed the sun, and I was proud of myself for being able to recite the entire children's book "Love You Forever'" by memory to them.
On the 16th, we started our first weekly mother/teen daughter Bible study, which meets on Thursdays throughout the summer at Woods Coffee. My friends, Malia, Ariana, and Hannah are all doing it, along with their moms, and of course my mom and sister, Natalie. It's great to be able to talk about the Bible, as well as enjoy chatting with them (and drinking coffee, of course!) Although, thus far, I ended up ordering apple cider all three times. It is very good!
The next weekend, I was supposed to be gone with my mom and sister, but I got offered a babysitting job, so I ended up staying behind. Unfortunately however, I got really sick while babysitting, and had to go home early. But I was at least able to enjoy an evening with my dad and brothers, rewatching "Alone Yet Not Alone" and eating popcorn with M&M's. The rest of the week was fairly laid back; my sister started Driver's Ed, and I rode along a couple times while she was getting her drive time in with Mom. I was scared for my life! Just kidding, she did great. :) I went on a nice walk with my parents at a familiar, very beautiful, trail on Monday night.
We have ended up putting our feet in this creek by the trail at least once every summer since we moved to the house we are in now back in 2008.
 On Wednesday, I got to spend the day with my oldest sister, Heidi's, three kids and we had lots of fun together! I really don't usually get to see them much, so the whole day meant a lot to me!
Then of course that night we had youth group again. Although I was almost falling asleep during the message, I was so tired!
Yesterday, the last day of June, we had Bible study with friends. Unfortunately, one of the girls and her mom couldn't make it, and two others had to leave early. So we ended up getting to spend a lot of time just visiting with Hannah and her mom, which super fun, and just what I needed that day.
We also later went dancing with Hannah, two of her friends, and our friend, Alekai. I had a great time dancing, hanging out with Hannah and Alekai, and meeting Hannah's friends, in spite of the fact that I unfortunately had a bad headache.
Natalie, Hannah, and me, ready to dance!
It was a wonderful evening with which to close out June!
Thank you for reading!  
What did you do in June?
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