Tuesday, March 21, 2017

for once it might be grand to have someone understand

It's time to dust off this old thing again.  And by "this old thing," I mean any ability I've ever had to write a blog post.  Many brain muscles I used to use constantly are now sadly atrophied.  I used to have almost an eidetic memory, and now I struggle to remember much of what used to come naturally.  I used to be able to memorize things (particularly passages of Scripture!) almost at a glance or a listen, and now my brain actually hurts after trying to memorize more than about three sentences.  And I used to write nearly every day, whether it was journaling, or stories, or blog posts...and now the last post I wrote here was a year and a half ago.  It's sad, really, how little I write these days.  This is an attempt to begin to revive my love for writing, I suppose, however misguided an attempt it might turn out!

So, in the most recent news possible, I just went to see the new Beauty and the Beast!  I had many doubts about it when I first heard it would be remade.  My doubts were greatly intensified upon learning that Emma Watson had been cast as Belle.  I did not think she could possibly play the character well.  And while her performance was better than I feared, still I think the biggest flaw in the 2017 remake is in its main character.

Belle, or at least the animated 1991 rendition of the character, had always been my favorite Disney princess, because I shared her love for books, and because I could see that there was "something there," as the song went: Belle was different, and it wasn't merely her love of books that made her so.  She was good.  She was kind.  She was smart, she was loving, and she was brave.  She didn't care what others thought of her, but not because she was better than them - she only wanted more than they did, because her mind had been opened to the idea of more.  Belle selflessly gave herself up for her father, and yet she had the kindness and grace to treat the Beast with respect (and she had the courage to talk to him on his own level: see the scene where she treats his wound and thanks him for saving her life).  Belle is unlike any Disney princess that came before her, and unlike any that followed her, and I believe it is her grace and kindness coupled with her education that make her so.

Yet, as played by the admittedly well-suited Ms. Watson, Belle is not much like her animated counterpart.  Watson's Belle is the outcast of her village, a woman ahead of her time.  Belle is an inventor, and one of (if not the only) few females in her village who are literate.  Belle invents a washing machine, and while it washes her clothes, she assists a little girl with some reading.  The village schoolmaster sees this, and is outraged that she would be teaching "ANOTHER girl to read!"  And the rest of the villagers actually agree with him!  And they break Belle's washing machine and throw her wet clothes on the ground.  No, seriously.

The villagers clearly don't know what to make of Belle, and some are frightened by her unorthodox behavior and manner of dress (she wears bloomers under her dresses, and no stockings!), but Belle seems just as uncomfortable and wary of them as they are of her.  And as snobby as some villagers are towards her, Belle seems just as snobby towards them.  Belle knows she's better educated, more free-spirited, more open-minded, more creative, and more beautiful than the rest of her village, and yet she doesn't seem to handle this with much grace.  She doesn't seem to care about sharing her education (beyond this odd little scene of showing the girl how to read), she doesn't try to suggest to anyone in the village that there might be more to the scope of life than the mundane daily grind they know, and she is never shown trying to build relationships with anyone in her village.  She complains that the owner of the bookshop is the only other person in the village who reads, but she never tries to tell anyone else of the wonders and joy of reading.

Belle wonders aloud to her father if he thinks she's "odd."  I would have liked to see her ask this question of a female, perhaps a village acquaintance she exchanges pleasantries with at least.  But she passes by nearly everyone in the village without giving them a second glance, and is downright rude to Gaston when he asks if he might join her and her father for dinner.  (Yeah, yeah, he's stuck up, conceited, and definitely doesn't deserve to marry her, but seriously, it is possible to decline the offer of a date in a straight forward way WITHOUT being rude.  And I would argue that even people as self-absorbed as Gaston deserve basic politeness.)  For all her championing of feminism, I would have liked to see Emma Watson push for Belle to have a female friend in the village.  Watson is the one who pushed for Belle to be the inventor rather than her father, and for Belle to take a more active role in her own story.  But Belle has no friends save for her father, and eventually, the Beast.  Would it not have been far more progressive to have given her a true female friend? 

I think the biggest issue I have with Watson's portrayal of Belle is that at the end of the movie, Belle does not appear to have gone through any significant character development.  She started the movie as an outcast, a weirdo, an outsider in her own village, and does not have to change anything about herself or learn any significant lessons in order to get her happily ever after.  She is never forced to ask herself what she could do to better her life; it seems she thinks the villagers, Gaston, the Beast, or maybe even life itself ought to change to suit her.  Even her relationship with her father, and the backstory of her mother, do not seem to develop the character of Belle. 

Even, dare I suggest, her ability to see the human within the Beast does little for Belle.  The whole point of this "tale as old as time" is that Belle is meant to be the one who can see beyond the shallowness of looks to find what's really important - but she never turns this focus within herself, when perhaps she should.

Belle is the most beautiful woman in her village, and while she doesn't care about being beautiful, she never seems to ask herself how she can bring out the beauty in others around her.  She only bothers with the Beast because A) he saved her life, and B) he eventually reveals that he has read most of the books in his extensive library.  Belle seems to lack sincere interest in anyone around her unless it turns out they have some manner of education, but she never seems interested in educating anyone herself. 

This seems in sharp contrast to Cinderella, particularly the 2015 remake where Cinderella is played by Lily James.  Both Disney versions of the character have infused her with grace, kindness, and gentleness, which many interpret as weakness and passivity.  But I do love the wisdom and humility displayed by Cinderella:

"Have courage, and be kind."
"Just because it's what's done, doesn't mean it's what should be done!"
"And Ella continued to see the world, not as it was, but as it could be, if only you believe in courage, and kindness..."
"Would who she was - who she really was - be enough?  This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take: to be seen as we truly are."
"Your majesty, I am no princess.  I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry - I do not even know if that slipper will fit.  But if it does, will you take me as I am?  A good, honest, country girl, who loves you."

And most of all, the moment when Ella turns to her stepmother and says, "I forgive you."

There are no such pivotal developmental moments for Belle, and therein lies the whole problem with the latest rendition of the tale as old as time...

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell!  And for once it might be grand to have someone understand: I want so much more than they've got planned..."
"New, and a bit alarming; who'd have ever thought that this could be?  True that he's no Prince Charming...but there's something in him that I simply didn't see."
"He's no monster, Gaston, YOU are!"
"For who could ever learn to love...a beast?"

For all Belle's education, for all her beauty, for all her desire for more from life and her creativity and her ability to see past a person's looks, I'd rather emulate Cinderella any day.  I'd rather have courage and be kind, and be vulnerable, and real, and true, and good, and honest, and loving, and forgiving. 

So there you have it.  Beauty and the Beast was beautiful, and refreshing, and nostalgic, and I definitely appreciated a few details that fill in some of the gaping plot holes from the 1991 animated film...but for all those good qualities, both the movie and its lead character miss the mark overall.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

whose unfailing mercy is solid and clear

*an open letter to Anna Duggar*

Dear Anna Duggar,

You don't know me.  I don't know you.  I've never even watched 19 Kids And Counting, except for Jill and Jessa's wedding episodes.  I know nothing about you other than what is in the news and what I have read online about the Duggar family, which isn't exactly extensive information, never mind its accuracy.  But I still feel a connection with you.

I know we do not believe the same things about many issues, but I also know that we worship the same God.  And that is the most important thing about us.  And the main reason I am writing this.

I cannot even imagine what you are going through right now.  I cannot imagine what you are thinking and feeling day to day, hour to hour.  As you care for your children, including a newborn, I cannot imagine what you say to them.  What you have told them about their daddy (Josh Duggar), and what he has done (lied, hidden a secret porn addiction, been unfaithful to his wife), and where he is now (in rehab), and why he is there (to get help, to try and turn his life around).  I do not know who you surround yourself with, besides your children.  I know you have no lack of siblings (7 of your own, and 18 in-laws) to shower you with love and care, and I hope they are all doing just that. 

There are a few things I wanted to share with you.  First of all, you are loved.

You, Anna Duggar, are loved.

Not just by your children, or your parents, or your other family and friends.  Not just by fans.  Not even just by people like me, who love you because you are a sister in Christ, even though we've never met.

You, Anna Duggar, are loved by the King of kings and the Lord of lords. 
You are loved by God the Father, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Giver of every good and perfect gift from above (James 1:17).
You are loved by Jesus the Son, who gave His life for you, Anna Duggar, on the cross, so that you could have salvation and spend eternity with Him, the perfect Savior, Friend, and Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). 
You are loved by the Holy Spirit, who helps you in your weakness, intercedes for you before the Father with groans that words cannot express, who prays for you when you do not know how to pray (Romans 8:26).

I've been on your Instagram account and those of several other Duggar family members, and the comments there are awful.  People telling you to ditch your husband and your marriage, to get as far away from Josh as fast as you can, people bashing him and his hypocrisy, people offering their opinions on subjects they know next to nothing about.  People presuming to speak as if they know Josh's thoughts and feelings, what is best for you, what your parents or your in-laws are telling you to do, what God is doing in your own heart, what the Scriptures say you should do.  It's terrible, and honestly, quite confusing.  I know that I know only slightly more than these people do, and I just want to share a few thoughts with you.

Scripturally, marriage is established by God as an exclusive, permanent, and sacred union between one man and one woman (Genesis 1:27, 2:18, 20, 22-25; Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9; 1 Corinthians 7:25).  I especially love the phrase in the Matthew and Mark verses: "...what God has joined together, let no man separate." 

However, there is only one clear Scriptural basis for divorce, and Anna, you have every right to employ it: that of marital unfaithfulness, porneia, which may include adultery and/or homosexual activities (Matthew 19:9).  However, Christians are not obligated to divorce under these circumstances.
Even though there is a biblical basis for divorce (one's spouse is guilty of porneia), the person should seek to persevere and protect the marriage as long as there is any possibility of repentance (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7).  The first steps are to pray, seek biblical counseling through a local church or an organization such as Peacemakers, and trust God to bring reconciliation.  God has done many miracles in marriages through this approach.
Those seeking to remarry after divorce should stay single as long as there is any possibility of a reconciliation (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).  There is always this possibility until the offending person remarries or dies.

Anna Duggar, I do not know you, and I do not know the details of what Josh has done.  I do not know his heart or yours, or how you live your lives day to day, or how you feel about Josh and what he has done.  All I can tell you is that I'm so very, very sorry for you, and that I have been praying for you, and I am so rooting for you to save your marriage.  I will not offer my opinion on Josh or what he has done, except to say it is obvious he has sinned against God and against you, and that you have every Scriptural right to divorce him if you choose.

But I pray that you will find a way to forgive Josh.  That you will find a way to reconcile with him.  That you will find a way to save your marriage with him.  That you will find a way to forgive him, as Christ has forgiven him.  That you will know that kindness and forgiveness does not mean you are weakly giving in, but actually utilizing a strength beyond that of man.  You could never forgive Josh or reconcile with him simply because you wanted to, because why would anyone ever want to forgive someone who has hurt them and betrayed their trust in this way?  The only way you can do it is through a power far greater than your own, and because of a love far stronger than your own.

Keep strong, Anna Duggar.  Know that there are loads of women out there rooting for you, myself included, and that we think you are a strong, beautiful, kind, loving, forgiving woman, worthy of great respect and love.  I hope Josh's heart is repentant, and that the two of you can reconcile and come out of this horrible situation with healing and forgiveness.  I hope you can find comfort in your children, and in Scripture, and in your faith, and in the beauty of the little things.  I hope you can find a way to laugh and have joy, and I hope you can indulge in the relief that a good cry can bring, and I hope you can sleep deeply and have rest.  Eat a piece or two (or seven or eight) of your favorite chocolate (I recommend Dove chocolate myself), and take a few deep breaths. 

Be strong, Anna Duggar.  I'm rooting for you. 

"Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified and do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."  ~Joshua 1:9

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
~Isaiah 61:1-4


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
~Psalm 103:1-5

Sunday, July 13, 2014

but I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Let me just say it right now: being a twenty-something kind of sucks.

Being a single twenty-something also kind of sucks.

At least in my opinion/experience, anyway.  Seriously, what's a single 25-year-old woman to do, who still hasn't graduated from college, is still living with her parents (and on their dime and insurance, for the most part), and has just gone back to the job she first got when she was 17?  Ugh.  UGH UGH UGH!!!  Being a twenty-something is one of the worst first-world problems EVER!  Truly, it's very uncomfortable, and it doesn't help that I don't have very many close friends who are also fellow twenty-somethings to commiserate with. 

So if you are reading this, and you are a twenty-something, and you find your life to be very frustrating because it doesn't look at all the way you thought it would when you were 17, can you just take a moment and commiserate with me right now?  Send me your commiseration vibes.  I'm feeling them now.  (Then again, maybe those are just my own vibes coming back around at me.  Who can say.)

Now...maybe you are a Christian twenty-something and frustrated by your life, but you know you shouldn't be because really you are incredibly blessed. 
Maybe you have amazing parents, who allow you to live with them and who support you financially and pay some or all of your college tuition. 
Maybe you have a couple of close friends whom you've known since elementary school, and who you still consider to be some of your best friends. 
Maybe you are grateful to be single, because being in a relationship is so much effort, and you've been badly hurt in the past.  Maybe Christ fills you with His joy, His peace, His love, and you have to just take a moment and let yourself experience it to the fullest. 
Maybe you are involved in some sort of ministry in your church - maybe you work with children or youth, and you love getting to spend time with those kids and laugh with them and watch them grow and ache when you know that if they would just listen and ask God for guidance and help, they would receive it and understand! 
Maybe you are part of a small group, at church or somewhere else, and you love the Bible studies you do and the people who study with you, even if you don't know most of them that well.

Maybe there are tons of other things too, and you know your life has truly been richly blessed...but it's hard to remember sometimes because it just seems that there's something missing.

Maybe you're like me, and you are SO READY TO NOT BE SINGLE ANYMORE.  Or maybe it's not anything to do with being single necessarily, but there is just one thing in your life that you feel like you want more than anything, and it would be SO EASY for God to give that thing to you, but He just hasn't, for some reason.

Maybe you want a boyfriend/girlfriend, or really a husband/wife.  Maybe you even have a specific person in mind, and maybe they even like you back, but for whatever reason, you can't be together.  If you could just be in a relationship, you know you'd have everything you ever wanted.  Heck, if God would even allow you to have a chance at a relationship, at least you'd know what it's like either way.
Maybe you want children, desperately, and are unable to have them.  If God would just give you that precious little life, you would raise it to know Him and love Him as best you could.  Your life would be complete if only you could have that son or daughter, and you would truly be the best parent you knew how to be. 
Maybe you want a certain job, and you know you would be SO GOOD at it, and that your having that job would benefit the company, or your co-workers, or the people you serve.  If only you could have that job, you'd have plenty of money, and you could donate some to charities or your church, and you can just taste how successful and richly blessed your life would be, if you could just have the job.
Maybe you want to pack up and move to New York, or L.A., or Chicago, or London, or Africa, or Australia, or anywhere but the place you currently are, where you feel trapped.  If only you could get out of this one-horse town, wherever you are, you'd be able to leave the past behind and finally start really living your life, and you would have a chance to be content and happy.
Maybe you just want to lose some weight.  If you could lose ten pounds, or twenty, then you could shop at certain stores and dress in certain ways, and that would solve so many issues that are wrong in your life.  Right?


It's not like it'd be hard for God to fulfill that one thing that we want so badly.  God can do anything, right?  He loves us, doesn't He?  And He wants to give us every good thing, according to the Bible (see Luke 11:9-13, Matthew 7:12, Psalm 37:4).  Why won't He just do that one thing that He knows would bring us so much happiness, and that would be so good for us, and probably benefit a lot of other people too??  It would be so simple for Him, and so good for us.  Why doesn't He just do it?

Unfortunately, my answer to that question is just this: I don't know.

I really, really wish I knew why God does what He does, and doesn't do the things He doesn't do.  I don't know why He has never let me have a boyfriend, which is something I've wanted ever since I can remember.  I don't know why I'm 25 and still not graduated from college yet.  I don't know why I am fully in the midst of my twenty-something life and greatly disliking being here.  And I don't know why He hasn't done whatever thing you are desperate for Him to do in your life, that would complete it and make you so happy you can almost feel it already.

Most blog posts I've read on this subject are from the POV of someone who was waiting for that one thing, and after what seemed like forever to them, they finally received it, and are now passing on their wisdom that whatever it is is worth the wait.  Well, I'm sure that's true.  However, all those blog posts leave kind of a bad taste in my mouth, because all I can think when I read them is: "That's easy for you to say."  They've finally gotten what they want!  And they've gotten what I want, too!  It's not fair!  I'm still here, waiting, twiddling my thumbs, wondering if God will ever allow me to be in a relationship, wondering if I'll ever get married or have children, or even graduate college.

And that sucks.

Fellow twenty-somethings, let's just take a minute and agree that being in this stage of life, and waiting on whatever it is that we're all waiting on, sucks.  It really, really does.  It sucks that we're still waiting, it sucks that we don't have what we want, and it sucks that we don't know why God hasn't allowed us to have what we want.  It sucks that we don't know His plan or understand His timing, and it sucks that His plan and timing are so different from ours.  And can we also just admit that it's usually not very comforting when people try to comfort us by reminding us that our lives are "all in God's plan"? 

Yes, of course God has a plan for our lives.  Of course His plan is far, far better than anything we could ever have planned for ourselves.  And of course we need to seek our security and our identity and our everything in Him, instead of in that one thing we want so badly.  Of course that one thing can never solve our problems, or fulfill us, or complete our lives.

Only Jesus Christ can do that.

Believe me, I know this.  I know it in my head, and I have to work every day to try and get my heart to realize it too.

But can we just take a moment and say that we're really tired of waiting?  And that sometimes, the most helpful thing to do is express frustration, rather than smother that frustration with guilt because we know "God has a plan for our lives"?  And that it's okay to be frustrated, and to express that frustration (as long as you do so appropriately)??

Okay.  Moment taken.  Thank you.

"Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will glorify You."  ~Psalm 63:3, NIV

"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."  ~Acts 20:24, NLT

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.  Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed in the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that's where the action is.  See things from His perspective."  ~Colossians 3:1-2, MSG

God is really the only thing worth wanting, worth having, worth living for.  We all know that, deep down.  God, help us act that way!  Help us see things from Your perspective, and live like we are serious about You.  Give us patience as long as we do not have the things we so desire, and help us control our desires for those things.  Let them never overshadow You in our lives.  Help us delight ourselves in You first and foremost.

And to finish, one of my favorite verses (which coincidentally inspired the lantern scene in Tangled...go watch that movie again immediately and see that it totally fits!):

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  ~James 1:17, NIV

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

tales as old as time

My own definitive ranking of all the official Disney princesses, ranked from worst to best.  That's right, only the 13 official Disney princesses are being ranked here, though there is certainly plenty to be said for the likes of Alice, Wendy, Megara, Nala, Esmerelda, and the rest. 


13.  Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)



In her defense, poor, naïve little Snow White is a victim of her time period.  Had Snow White been made even ten years later, its titular character might have been more fleshed out, more developed, more active, and less surreal.  But 78 years' hindsight leaves much to be desired in her character.  Homegirl spends her entire movie simpering as she scrubs floors for her wicked stepmother, cooks and cleans for seven men, and talks to woodland creatures.  If she could do any of those things with her eyes actually open (seriously, unless she's frightened, her eyes are almost completely drooped shut for the whole movie), I might like her a little bit better.  Unfortunately, her purity and sweetness combined with the feminism (or lack thereof) of the 1930's make for one thoroughly weak, passive princess who remains remarkable almost solely because of her status as the main character of the first ever full-length animated feature.  If she had shown any sort of spunk, rebellion, wit, or desire to do anything other than cook, clean, or marry a prince, Snow White might have received a higher ranking.

Best quote:
"I'm awfully sorry.  I didn't mean to frighten you.  But you don't know what I've been through.  And all because I was afraid.  I'm so ashamed of the fuss I've made."


12.  Merida (Brave, 2012)

 




I honestly did not particularly like both Brave as a movie and its lead protagonist.  I appreciate how fiery and independent Merida is, and I certainly admire how she had the guts to fight for her freedom from cultural paradigm and avoid a completely undesired marriage.  But I spent most of the movie thinking she was mostly just a brat.  Yes, her mother should have been more understanding of Merida's personality and desires and who Merida truly was, rather than trying so hard to transform her into a "proper princess."  But on the other hand, Merida needed to understand that everyone has to make sacrifices for a greater good than their own wants and desires, whether they are a princess or not.  And putting a spell on your mother just so she will stop telling you not to put your weapons on the table is really going TOO FAR.  Legitimately, Merida's brattiness very nearly caused her mother's death.  I liked that Merida so does not need a man to make her happy, she merely needs to be allowed to be herself - but if she could have matured and learned to be herself without turning her mother (and brothers) into a freakin' bear, I might have liked her a little more.

Best quote:
"Call off the gathering.  Would that kill them?  You're the queen.  You can just tell the lords the princess is not ready for this.  In fact, she might not ever be ready for this, so that's that.  Good day to you.  We'll expect your declarations of war in the morning."


11.  Aurora/Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)




This one is so not Aurora's fault.  If she had spent more than 18 minutes of the movie as an awake 16-year-old, she might have been ranked higher as well.  However, she manages to make those 18 minutes count well.  Aurora's playfulness is charming, as shown when she teases her aunts and dances with the woodland creatures who are pretending to be her prince.  And her wide-eyed shock and shyness when she first meets Philip belie an underlying desire not for a prince necessarily, but for passion and romance, which are things she's never known before.  (Side note: it is my firm opinion that Aurora and Philip have the all-time best Disney meet-cute.  It had to be said.)  The grief, anger, and fear of her true identity as a princess threaten to choke her, as this glimpse of a new life is torn away from her (or so she thinks...since she doesn't realize Philip was a prince and she's actually already betrothed to him anyway!).  It's such a shame that after this point, she spends the rest of the movie in a trance, then asleep, and even when she wakes up at the end, does not utter a single word of dialogue.  Again, Aurora is a product of her time, and if she had been allowed more than 18 minutes of *awake* screen time, she might have ranked higher on this list.

Best quote:
"Oh, we walk together, and talk together, and just before we say goodbye, he takes me in his arms, and then...I wake up.  *Sigh*  Yes, it's only in my dreams.  But they say if you dream a thing more than once, it's sure to come true.  And I've seen him so many times."



10.  Ariel (The Little Mermaid, 1989)



I might get some heat for ranking Ariel so low, as she is arguably the most popular Disney princess.  I admit I see the appeal.  Ariel is the youngest of many sisters, yet she is completely unique.  Her huge blue eyes combined with her amazing red hair and skimpy (yet classy!) outfit make her one of the most beautiful Disney princesses, and her spunk and rebellion mark her as the first proactive, rather than reactive, princess.  But ultimately, The Little Mermaid suffers from flawed storytelling, and therefore so does Ariel.  I get the teen angst and anger at her father that caused her to accept Ursula's incredibly tempting deal - sell your voice, get legs, and become a part of the human world for three days.  I love that she made her own choice, which is so not what her predecessors would have done.  But I hate the choice she made.  She gambled her entire life as a mermaid, her father, her sisters, her friends, her kingdom, on a three-day stay in an entirely new world where she knew no one and could not communicate.  This empowering, free-woman choice Ariel makes for herself makes her an absolute feminist icon to some, but to me, it just makes her appear naïve, and not in a good way.  (Her naivete also appears to her disadvantage while she is human, as evidenced by her enthusiastic combing of her hair with a fork, and her noticeable failure to employ her ability to write as a means of communication with Eric.  Flawed storytelling, seriously.)  I like Ariel's spunk, I truly do.  And Prince Eric is a total hottie, so I get why she's crushing on him and why she would want to become a human to be with him.  But her naivete (which sometimes borders on plain unintelligence) combined with the flaws in her story rank her low on this list.

Best quote:
"What would I give to live where you are?  What would I pay to stay here beside you?  What would I do to see you smiling at me?  Where would we walk, where would we run, if we could stay all day in the sun?  Just you and me, and I could be part of your world."



9.  Elsa the Snow Queen (Frozen, 2013)



Another choice I'm SURE I'll get flak for, ranking such a newly beloved character this low.  Believe me, it was a hard choice to make.  And again, it's not particularly Elsa's fault - her character suffers from extremely bad advice from others, plus some serious flawed storytelling.  Had Elsa's parents tried to oversee their daughter's gift, offer her some help and support as she learned how to use and control it, she might have never had to shut herself away.  Or had she herself reached out, even in fear, to her parents or Anna or anyone, things might have been different.  Had she done anything other than hiding in her room for over a decade, she might have been able to enjoy her life.  She might have been able to avoid harming her sister.  She might have truly blossomed as a princess and then a queen.  But instead, she spends her life shut away from everyone, hating herself and living in fear, thinking her powers are evil and bad and she must spend her whole life concealing, not feeling, who she truly is.  Had she even attempted to explain to Anna why she was always shutting her out, I probably would have ranked Elsa much higher. 

Best quote:
"The cold never bothered me anyway."



8.  Anna (Frozen, 2013)


I liked Frozen, really I did, but am I the only one that thinks it's really overrated?  Still, I do think that Anna is pretty adorable.  She's playful, curious, awkward, speaks before she thinks, and loves her sister more than anything.  Yeah, she's given flak for agreeing to marry a man she'd only met hours previously, but she only did that because she was insanely lonely from having been pushed away by her sister her whole life.  Ultimately, her love for Elsa saved both sisters from death.  I also love that even when Elsa's powers are discovered, Anna remains firm in her belief that her sister is not dangerous or a monster.  She sets out to find her sister and try to convince her to return, always believing (accurately) that her sister just needs some help and reassurance.  Plus, when Anna wakes up in the morning drooling and with her hair all lumpy and frizzy - as opposed to Cinderella, being awakened by birds and with her hair in perfect cute braids and singing beautifully - well, Anna's kinda legit.  She's a very modern Disney princess, yet overall less memorable than many of the others.

Best quote:
"This is awkward.  Not, not you're awkward, just, I'm awkward.  You're gorgeous.  Wait, what?"


7.  Cinderella (Cinderella, 1950)




I absolutely LOVE Cinderella, and in fact she's probably my second favorite Disney princess overall.  But, as another victim of her time period, she is ranked only as #7.  Cinderella is gentle, kind, graceful, and never allows her stepfamily's horrible treatment of her to squash her dreams.  Amazing, really, as her stepfamily is literally THE WORST.  Cinderella's main fault is that she doesn't really do anything in her movie, short of demonstrating her lovely voice, ability to waltz, and refusal to give up her dreams.  Everything just sort of happens to her; use, abuse, fairy godmother saving the day, and her prince (who I absolutely REFUSE to refer to as "Prince Charming," because that is NOT his name) falls in love with her on the spot.  Yet she still seems like a real person (something Snow White never achieved) as she is quite witty and even a little bit sassy at times.  All she wants in life is happiness and a better life, and she never loses sight of that.  The late Ilene Woods' vocal performance as Cinderella is the perfect blend of girlishness, maturity, grace, and a touch of sass, and Cinderella remains just as memorable as ever after more than sixty years.

Best quote:
"Oh well.  What's a royal ball?  After all, I suppose it would be frightfully dull, and boring...and completely...completely wonderful."



6.  Jasmine (Aladdin, 1992)




Jasmine has a unique position among the Disney princesses, as she is the only princess who is less important in her movie than her prince.  Still, Jasmine makes her screen time count.  She is every bit as spunky as Ariel, and while she is naïve, she is by her own admission a "fast learner."  She has her head on straight, knows exactly what she wants, and refuses to live her life on any terms but her own.  She is clever, quick-thinking, and completely unafraid to stand up to the men in her life.  Jasmine never hesitates to show her complete and utter disdain for Jafar, never puts up with arrogance from her suitors, and is able to not only recognize but vocalize the fact that she "is NOT a prize to be won!"  I absolutely love Jasmine's complete confidence in who she is and what she wants and deserves from her life, even if she is a princess and a sheltered one at that. 

Best quote:
"How dare you!  All of you!  Standing around, deciding my future?  I am NOT a prize to be won!"


5.  Pocahontas (Pocahontas, 1995)



Let's ignore the fact that this movie is rife with historical inaccuracies, and instead focus on Pocahontas as a Disney princess rather than a real-life person.  She's beautiful, intelligent, brave, open-minded, able to see past differences, and willing to make any sacrifice in order to do what's right.  She doesn't hesitate to stand up to her father, even if it means she might be killed, and she ultimately enables him to look past his own prejudices and make peace with his enemies.  What's more, she has the strength to let her love interest do what he needs to do and leave her behind.  Plus, she can paint with all the colors of the wind.  (It had to be said.)

Best quote:
"Look around you.  This is where the path of hatred has brought us.  This is the path I choose, Father.  What will yours be?"



4.  Rapunzel (Tangled, 2010)



Seriously, Tangled is one of the best Disney princess movies out there.  The animation is stunning, the story is incredibly entertaining, and the characters (in particular the non-human characters of Pascal and Maximus) are wonderfully developed.  Rapunzel emerges as a Disney princess filled with life, spunk, beauty, and a desire to see the "lights" as she calls them, so that she can understand what's missing in her life.  Sure, she's sheltered, but her time shut away in her tower has not been wasted, as she is shown to be incredibly talented at baking, sewing, astronomy, and most of all, art.  Her determination, even through her fear, to go and see the lights and accomplish her dream, is wonderfully refreshing.  And her inner strength and self confidence once she has seen the lights is truly inspiring.

Best quotes:
Rapunzel: I've been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky.  But what if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider (possibly the freaking BEST Disney prince EVER, btw): It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is?  What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: You get to go find a new dream.
^SUCH PROFUNDITY.  PERFECTION.

Flynn Rider: Rapunzel?  You were my new dream.
Rapunzel: And you were mine.
^I really just can't even handle how romantic and wonderful and perfect this declaration of love is.




3.  Mulan (Mulan, 1998)




Mulan is so awesome.  She tries, truly she does, to do what is expected of her and what she knows will bring her family honor: she gets all gussied up and presents herself to the matchmaker, truly attempting to become a bride.  Her heart is SO in the right place.  But this really shows when she decides to save her ailing father and go to war against the Huns in his stead.  Masquerading as a man, Mulan pushes through army training, becoming super badass along the way, and manages to save not only her father, but her fellow soldiers, captain, the Emperor, and all of China as well.  Seriously..this chick ROCKS.  Girl power!

Best quote:
"Just because I look like a man doesn't mean I have to smell like one."



2.  Tiana (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)



Tiana ranks this highly because she knows.  She knows!  She is the only Disney princess to have been given the truth by her father: that she can wish on a star all she wants, but in order for her dreams to come true, she has to work hard to achieve what she wants.  And this is exactly what she does.  Sure, she actually focuses a little too hard on work and forgets how to have fun and really live, but enter her fun-loving prince Naveen, and together they work together and teach each other important lessons.  Tiana's head is squarely on her shoulders, and she knows what's up.  In fact, she knows what's up so much that she is able to resist Dr. Facilier's temptation to give her everything she thought she wanted in exchange for Naveen's life.  What an awesome Disney character.

Best quote:
"My daddy never did get what he wanted.  But he had what he needed.  He had love.  He never lost sight of what was really important.  And neither will I!"



1.  Belle (Beauty and the Beast, 1990)



Seriously, I just love Belle.  She's insanely beautiful, but she doesn't really realize that, and more importantly, she doesn't care at all.  She wants knowledge, adventure, a better life, a meaningful life.  She doesn't care about beauty, or status, or getting married, or anything like that.  And she's able to see past all those things to what's really important.  She's brave and self-sacrificing, as shown when she gave herself up for her father, and she's not afraid to tell it like it is, as shown when she and the Beast argue while she bandages his arm.  Belle has so many moments that show her quick mind, her store of knowledge, her courage, and her refusal to let a man dictate her life, that I won't list anymore.  I'll just tell you to go and watch Beauty and the Beast again.  Best.  Movie.  Ever.

Best quote:
"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!  I want it more than I can tell!  And for once it might be grand to have someone understand - I want so much more than they've got planned..."


So there you have it.  My ranking of the Disney princesses.  #theimportantissuesinlife

Monday, June 3, 2013

I want a feast - I want a bean feast!

The Fellowship of the Ring is sidetracked into another strange situation, this being ending up at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...

Legolas: Where the heck are we?

Frodo: Crud! We're cursed!

Boromir: So where are we now?

Gandalf: Wonka something or other.

Aragorn: Is there a door?

Boromir: We're standing in front of it, stupid!

Aragorn: Oh.

Merry: The sign says 'Ring bell and enter.'

Gandalf: There's got to be some catch. You don't just ring a bell and enter. What must we
do? What's the password?

Gimli: This isn't the bloody mines of Moria! Just ring the bell!

Pippin: Duuuuuuuuuuuhhhhh.

Gandalf rings the bell. The bell plays the tune of 'Pure Imagination.'
Legolas: Ugh, what a ghastly little tune.

They wait outside for the door to open for ten minutes.

Gimli: Open the bloody door or I'll chop it into sawdust with my axe!

Willy comes to the door (finally) and opens it a crack to talk to the Fellowship.
Willy: What do you want?

Gandalf: Hello to you too. It's so nice to hear you've retained your politeness.

Willy: Why should I be polite? That Charlie Bucket kid owns Wonka Industries now.
Unfortunately when I granted that little beast ownership of my enterprise I was high. I bet you never knew wonderful Willy Wonka smoked pot.

Gandalf: No I did not, nor did I ever really have the urge to know.

Merry: Well, that explains your constantly being a nut case.

Willy: I'm afraid that comes naturally.

Legolas: Reeeeeeeeeeeally.

Gandalf: Anyway, would you care to let us in?

Merry: We're cold and hungry here.

Pippin: YES! Excessively hungry!

There is silence.

Sam: CAN'T YOU HEAR US?????

Willy: Willy hears you. Willy just doesn't care.

Frodo: Let us in! Let us in NOW!

Sam: I've got a frying pan and I know how to use it!

There is more silence.

Gandalf: Forget that stupid scuzzbag.

Legolas: That hat of his is sooooooo tacky.

Suddenly, at the word 'tacky,' a frazzled Willy Wonka opens the door and brandishes that annoying cane of his at Legolas.
Willy: TAKE THAT BACK!!!!!

Legolas: Well, it is tacky.

Willy: YOU put it on then! Go on!

Legolas reluctantly puts on the hat.
Aragorn: Wow. That actually looks good!

Boromir: Yeah. What's your trick, elf boy, in making tacky things look good?

Legolas: Anything looks good on beautiful people.

Gimli: Pppphhhhttttt.

Willy: You might as well all come in now. It's not like the candy's going anywhere soon. Charlie has a whole giant store of it. He's taken over the chocolate room. He's even considered shipping the Oompa-Loompas back to the land of Vermicious Knids, but I threatened to expose the fizzy lifting drinks "episode" to the public.

Merry: I thought you said he wouldn't notice, Pip!

Willy: Notice what?

Pippin: Nothing, nothing.

Sam: Can we please come in now, Mr. Wonka?

Willy: Yeah, sure. Just walk through the door. You'll see some freaky stuff, and when you get to another door, just wait there and I'll let you into the chocolate room, for that is why you have come, is it not?

Gandalf: No, we--

Pippin: Of course! A chocolate room! How grand!

Merry: Just spiffy.

Frodo: I wonder what we've gotten ourselves into now.

So the Fellowship goes through the door, sees some freaky stuff, and gets to the other door, which is the door to the chocolate room.
Willy: Check out the wallpaper. It tastes like fruit! I think you can get high off it, though.

Gandalf: Ooooooo!

Pippin starts madly licking the wall.
Pippin: Wow, this is good! It's like a rush! I'm going to lick wallpaper more often now!

Merry: Hey! Stop licking all the taste off the wall! Save some for me!

Frodo: Why? Why did I take them? Why did I take wallpaper lickers with me?!

Legolas: So, about this chocolate room...

Willy: Ah yes! The chocolate room! Well, it's a...a...a...chocolate room...and, uh...yeah.

Boromir: So let us in!

Willy: Yeah, I just always sing this song before I go in and--

Pippin: Cut the crap and bring on the chocolate!

Aragorn: I think I just tasted radishes on this wallpaper.

Willy: Oh, that's just your pure imagination. Which reminds me of a song!

Legolas: No!!!!!!

Gandalf: Oh please don't.

Willy (singing): There is no life I know to compaaaaaaare with--

Pippin: --pure exasperation.

Willy: HEY! You ruined my song!

Merry: So?

Pippin: And your point is?

Willy: When people interrupt my songs, Master Pippin, they don't EVER come back, nor do they ever leave for that matter.

Sam: You've got some major issues there, buddy.

Frodo: Can we go? The Wonka dude is freaking me out!

Willy: Do I scare you? Do I really make you afraid?

Aragorn (thinking): Yep, you do.

Willy: Do you want to see the chocolate room or not?

Pippin: Yes! Yes! Open the door!

Willy opens the door. He is about to burst out into song, but Merry and Pippin barge past him and knock him to the ground. Everyone looks around the chocolate room in wonder.
Pippin: Woohoo! It's paradise! Food everywhere!

Frodo: It's a chocolate Rivendell!

Legolas: Mmm! Sugar!

Merry: Wow. A chocolate river!

Pippin, who's beyond ravenous, devours more than his body weight in chocolate and candy.Willy: Good grief man! What is his problem?

Gandalf: 'Tis no man. 'Tis a remorseless eating machine!

Pippin (with a mouthful of M&M's): I'm a hobbit, actually.

After a while, the Oompa-Loompas appear.

Oompa-Loompas: Oompa-Loompa, doompa dee doo, I've got another puzzle for you...

Aragorn: Sorry, I'm not in the mood for puzzles.

Oompa-Loompas: But we've got a puzzle for you!

Aragorn: No thanks, that's quite all right.

Everyone just hangs out in the chocolate room for an hour. Merry steals away and finds the fizzy lifting drinks. He distributes them to the three other hobbits. Suddenly there are 4 hobbits floating in the air.
Pippin: Yeah!!!! I can fly!!!!!

Merry: I think I'm getting gas from this stuff.

Sam: Of course you are. It's fizzy lifting drinks, not flat lifting drinks.

Merry: Hey! We're "Monty Python's Flying Hobbits!"

Pippin: Yeah! Go us!

Frodo: Wow, you can see the bald spot on Boromir's head from up here!

Sam: Are you serious? Let me see!

Willy: This is so tedious! You're not at all like these kids that came in here earlier. One kid jumped in the chocolate river, one of them ate this messed-up gum I made and turned into a blueberry! That Charlie kid and his grandfather stole the fizzy lifting drinks--wait a second! Why are the hobbits in the air?

Pippin (from the ceiling): Whoohoo! I can fly! So, what's in this stuff?


Willy: Oh, ginger ale, ginger pop, ginger beer, beer bubbles, bubble-ade, bubble cola, double cola, double-bubble-burp-a-cola and all those other little carbonated things that tickle your nose. Few people realize what tremendous power there is in some of those things.

Pippin (to the other hobbits): Sorry I asked.

Sam: Great, how do we get down from here?

Merry: Yeah, I'm starting to get hives from being up so high.

Frodo: Hives?

Merry: Yeah, it has to do with that whole "fear of heights" thing, ya know?

Frodo: Oh right, right.

Gandalf: We should be going now.

Pippin: But how do we get down?

Gandalf: Just burp, you fools!

Pippin: Ooooooooh, okay.

So all the hobbits burp. They float down. And now they are facing a very angry and very paranoid Willy Wonka.

Willy: Why'd you have to take the fizzy lifting drinks?? WHY???

Pippin: Because...because...we felt like it?

Merry: How come we always attract evil, Pip?

Pippin: No idea, but I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with me.

Gandalf: Whatever. We've got to go now.

Willy: YES! Leave now or I'll set my Oompa-Loompas on you! They're already mad because you wouldn't let them tell you a puzzle.

Everyone: Yeah, let's go now.

Willy: Go! Wonka is mine! All mine! MINE! My precioussssssssss...

Frodo: Whooooooooooooaa....

Sam: Okay, time to leave

So they leave. And as they do, they can hear Willy's crazy cries coming from the chocolate room.

Legolas: Whoa, that guy is cracked, man.

Gandalf: I think he cracked long ago.

Boromir: Say 'crack' again.

Legolas: Crack.

The fellowship is just about to leave the factory when they suddenly see Willy standing in front of the door out.
Gandalf: I thought you were wallowing in your chocolate.

Willy: Well, Mithrandir, I've changed my mind and I've decided to keep you all here for a while. I think a tour of my chocolate factory would do you all good.

Frodo: What if--

Willy: Shhh!

Frodo: But--

Willy: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts then we'd all have a merry Christmas.

Frodo: Whatever.

Willy: So, come along and see the rest of my factory.

Gandalf (to Aragorn): It never ends, does it?

Aragorn: No, it seems it doesn't. I really hope that when they write a book about our
quest, they leave this part out!

Reluctantly, the Fellowship follows Willy back into the chocolate room again. Merry and Sam have to physically restrain Pippin from eating his heart out again.
Pippin: You can't do this to me! You just can't!

Merry: Just chill.

Sam: You've already had pints and pints of chocolate from the chocolate river!

Pippin: It comes in pints?!?!?!

Everyone (thinking to themselves): Must get away!

Willy: Okay! Less chocolate, more me! Let's get along now. There's my boat, I wondered where it was. Shall we?

Aragorn: Shall we what?

Willy: Let's go! You've got to see my other freaky things.

Aragorn : Why not?

Willy: Good. So let's all get on the boat. NOW!

Gimli: I've never seen anything like this.

Pippin: Well, it all fits in with Wonka's freakiness.

So everyone boards the boat. Willy's ego starts to rise and he begins to sing, but is interrupted by Pippin.
Willy: There is no life I know to--

Pippin: So what else is there to see in this mad house?

Willy (grinding his teeth): You'll see, Master Pippin. Now, if you'll just let me sing...

Legolas: No! Don't sing! Please don't sing! I'm begging you!

Willy: Well, excuse me! I just have a need to sing constantly!

Pippin: Yeah! There's a name for that. It's obsessive-compulsive.

Willy: Well, we're entering the excessively un-scary tunnel of doom right now. I think I
need to start singing my excessively wacked-out sing right now. There's no earthly way of knowing, which--

Pippin: Oooh, I have a better song! There are chickens in the treeeeees...there are
chickens in the treeeeeeeeees...won't you count them if you pleeeeeeeeeeeease? There are chickens in the treeeeeeeees!

Legolas: Oh my.

Frodo: This is worse than the wallpaper!

Willy: Oooookay! Let's listen to my song now. There's no earthly way of knowing, which--

Merry: How about an encore of "There are Chickens in the Trees"?

Sam: Anything's better than Mr. Wonka's singing. (shivers)


So Pippin sings "There are Chickens in the Trees" ten times until they are at a door to Wonka's inventing room, or whatever you call it.

Willy: Here is my most prized possession: the everlasting Gobstopper!

Pippin picks up a Gobstopper and sucks the life out of it in 30 seconds flat.

Pippin: I wouldn't call that everlasting, Mr. Wonka. Are you running a scam?

Willy clenches his teeth and compulsively runs his hands through his untidy brown hair. He then proceeds to yank most of it out.
Willy: Master Pippin, you'd do well to leave things alone!

Pippin: Well, it isn't everlasting.

Merry: He speaks the truth, man!

Willy: You blasted halflings! You've ruined my day! You're bringing down my self-esteem!

Merry: Hoo yeah! It's being deflated like a balloon!

Pippin: As it should be.

All the hobbits nod vigorously at Pippin's words.

Willy: Shall we look at my other creations? Yes, I think we shall. Come along now.

Everyone follows Willy into the golden egg room.

Willy: These are my geese. They lay golden eggs. I named one Priscilla.

Legolas: That's great.

Willy: Someone always falls down the egg shoot. I have no idea why, though.

Gandalf: Maybe it's because of lack of a sign that says, "CAUTION! DO NOT SIT DOWN! YOU ARE MOST LIKELY A BAD EGG IF YOU SIT HERE! SO STEER CLEAR!"

Boromir (to Legolas): I'm not sure he wants to put up a sign.

Legolas: I think he very well enjoys watching people being sucked down a chute. I mean, this is Wonka!

Willy: Shall we go see my awesome fizz car that runs on soda fizz?

Aragorn: Forgive me for not leaping for joy.

They all go into the room with the Fizz Car in it.

Willy: Behold! My awesome fizz car!

Legolas: You have a lot of time on your hands, don't you?

Gandalf: Now that's just scary.

Aragorn: Oooh, I have a good idea!

Boromir: What is it, then?

Aragorn: Okay, we steal the Fizz car and bust ourselves out of here! There are no words to
describe the ultimate scariness of this place.

Legolas: Good idea. All in favor say aye!

The Fellowship: Aye!

Gandalf: It's settled then. Someone get on Willy's back when the fizz starts spewing
everywhere and knock him off. Legolas can take over the controls.

Willy climbs onto the Fizz Car and starts it up.
Willy: Hum diddly dum doo laaaaaaaaa deeeeeeeeeeeee daaaaaaaaaaaaa--AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

Merry and Pippin knock Willy off. Legolas whips Willy's top hat hoff his head and puts it on his own. So there's this elf in a purple top hat driving the Fizz car...while singing.
Legolas: War! Ho! Good grief man! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin', say it again,
I say war, ho...

The Fellowship is soon bolting out of Wonka's chocolate factory while being pursued by angry Oompa-Loompas. Legolas is looking insane with a manic smile on his face with the purple top hat on his head. He's cussing at the Oompa-Loompas without mercy.
Legolas: YEAH! You'd better run! Before I knock you over with this messed-up car of mine! HAHAHAHA! You can't catch me I'm the ELF MAN! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Gimli: Are you all right, Legolas?

Legolas: I'm great! Never been better!

Frodo: Wow, this is a side of Legolas we never see!

Legolas: Take a picture, Frodo my halfling friend, 'cause you ain't gonna be seeing it again anytime soon.

Sam: I feel so priviliged.

Pippin: YEAH! Go Legolas!

Merry: WHOOOOOOOO!!!!

Frodo: Well, this stinks. Wonka is coming after us in his glass elevator!

The Fellowship looks up and sees the faint outline of a glass elevator, along with the faint cackle of frenzied laughter.
Willy (distantly): You stole my Fizz car! Curse you! Curse you!Cursesssssssss... (cackles)

Pippin: I'm thinking the Wicked Witch of the West!

Merry: Yeah! Maybe he has green skin under the purple suit!

Legolas (shouting to Wonka): Hey, where're your flying monkeys, Wonka? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Boromir: Oooh, I'd pay big money to see a house dropped on him!

Pippin: Oy! Gandalf! Where're we off to next?

Gandalf: I don't know. I expect somewhere weird again. Who knows?

Pippin: I have to pee.

Merry: Go you.

Pippin: No, really.

The scene fades with Merry and Pippin arguing in the background.


(I SO wish I knew who wrote this or where it came from...all I know is that my friend Jenna Hotz showed it to me when I was in ninth grade.  And I still think it's every bit as lame and every bit as hilarious now as I did then.  LOTR nerd in every way!!!)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

the fullness of Christ is my treasure

Wow.  I can't believe it's June 1!  It hasn't even been two whole weeks yet since BSF ended, and already so much has happened.  One thing we've been talking about for the last few weeks of BSF was how we were going to stay in God's Word over the summer.  My dad came up with a really neat idea that I have also adopted: we are writing out, by hand, various books of the Bible in notebooks.  My dad is doing the entire book of Romans, which is an incredibly arduous task!  I decided to start with something a little less intimidating, and today I finished writing out the book of Ephesians (I am continuing with the book of Colossians, but that's another post!).  The last part of Ephesians, which is chapter 6, talks about the armor of God.  I can never remember exactly what any of the armor means or how to use it, so I thought I would write the definitions here.  My former youth pastor, Keith Mason, preached a sermon on the armor of God in 2011 and here are the notes I wrote down on the different pieces of armor.


  • "Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..."

Remind ourselves that in coming to Christ, we have found all truth.  Satan is the father of lies, but we believe the truth found in Christ.  Colossians 2:3 "...Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  John 14:6 "Jesus said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'" 

  • "...with the breastplate of righteousness in place..."
When we fail, we try to hide it in our own righteousness.  But we have no merit apart fom Christ.  By God's righteousness, Christ's righteousness, we can withstand the lies and guilt of the enemy.  Romans 3:21 "But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify."  Romans 8:1-2 "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."

  • "...and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."
The gospel of Christ's death, resurrection, and salvation brings us peace.  The gospel of peace gives us a whole new way to view our struggles and suffering.  Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"  John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble - but take heart!  I have overcome the world."

  • "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
Acting on our beliefs in our everyday life - we can and should use the shield in every specific situation.  This is how we extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy.  Psalm 7:10 "God is my shield, saving those whose hearts are true and right."  1 Peter 1:4b-5 "This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who in faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

  • "Take the helmet of salvation..."
We are saved in hope.  Recognize that Christ is working out His plan, He's coming again and will gain a final victory.  Romans 8:22-24 "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we await for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved."  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal." 

  • "...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
Clearly, this is God's Word - though it is not to be used by itself, but after we have truth, Christ's righteousness, hope, peace, salvation, and faith.  Arguably the best way to use this weapon is by memorizing Scripture.  Psalm 119:11 "I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." 



A few final verses about the armor of God:

"The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.  He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak."  ~Isaiah 59:16-17

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross."  ~Colossians 2:13-14

"Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."  ~Romans 16:19-20

"And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation."  ~Revelation 5:9



I highly recommend this idea of writing out books of the Bible by hand!  It's really been great.  I've finished Ephesians, have begun Colossians, and will probably move on to Philippians next.  It's really a great way to stay in the Word!

Friday, April 19, 2013

hey baby, I think I wanna marry you

"Staying home alone on a Friday
Flat on the floor, looking back
On old love
Or lack thereof
After all the crushes are faded
And all my wishful thinking was wrong
I'm jaded
I hate it."

Thank you, John Mayer, for summing up my feelings right about now.

I am single.  I am so single it's unreal.  And to be honest, I'm so tired of it I could scream.  I have screamed.  I have cried, wept, prayed, pushed it to the back of my mind, smiled, threw myself into my work, laughed, been filled with joy in my God and my ministry and my family and my friends and my life, remembered my singleness, screamed, cried, wept, prayed, and repeated this cycle over and over so many times I can't even count them anymore. 

I don't understand.

I don't understand why I must want to not be single so badly, if I have to spend my whole life single.

I don't understand why no one has ever wanted me.  Or why no one has ever wanted me enough to pursue me.

I don't understand why I've come so very close before, so close I could almost taste what being in a relationship was like - only to have it come to nothing, again. 

I don't understand why I'm twenty-four years old, have never had a boyfriend, have never been on a date, and see absolutely no end to this in sight.

I don't understand why, as my life has been that way, the one thing I've wanted ever since I can remember is to be with someone.  To be married, and have children.  Or at the very least, to be granted the chance to realize that that's not what I want. 

Okay, seriously...this isn't what I came to my blog to post.  Sorry about the pity party, I've just been thinking about this whole topic and I couldn't help vomiting some of my frustrations out here.  Okay.  Get it together, man.  GET IT TOGETHER.  GAAAHHHH.

So for reals, I wanted to discuss what I need to be doing in the meantime, while I'm in this endless period of waiting, and waiting, and waiting...sorry!  Anyway, a few of my friends have been posting blogs on facebook about finding a godly husband.  And while it's extremely important to know what a godly husband should be like and how to find one, really, those posts aren't for many girls right now.  Those posts certainly aren't for me at the moment.  I'm not dating anyone - I don't even have that many guy friends at all right now.  I'm not considering any actual person for a relationship.  Those godly husband posts will be for me at a much further point down the road.

What I need right now is to focus on how to become a godly wife, rather than worry about choosing a godly husband.  If I am not currently making the choice to pursue marriage with any man, why should I worry about what he is like?  I need to instead focus on making myself into the wife I would want my husband to have.  After all - "An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels."  (Proverbs 31:10) 

  • She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
  • She dresses herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.
  • She opens her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
  • Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
  • She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
  • Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
What man would not want to marry a woman like this?  What woman would not want her husband and her family to perceive her in this way?

How can I become such a woman?

(Thank you, BSF lectures, for helping me with this!)

--Depend on God in prayer (from Genesis 25:19-34)
Isaac had inherited God's promise of descendents to Abraham, but Rebekah was barren.  Isaac didn't try to "help" God along, as Abraham did when he agreed to sleep with Hagar - Isaac went straight to God.  Even when God gives us a promise, He still wants us to come to Him and ask Him for it. 
Matthew 7:11 "how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask!"  Philippians 4:14 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Isaiah 41:10 "And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desires in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." 
What promise of God do I need to ask Him to fulfill?  How will I ask him?  When?

--God's providential plans cannot be earned, changed or lost by our efforts (from Genesis 25:19-34)
God had promised Isaac and Rebekah children, and they believed enough to ask repeatedly in faith for Him to fulfill that promise.
Our circumstances don't necessarily make us who we are, they reveal who we are.
Being single makes me angry, and depressed, and lonely.   Being single reveals that I am seeking elsewhere than God to satisfy my heart, and that I need to learn to love Him and submit to Him completely whole-heartedly.
God's love is never partial or performance-based.
When Esau came to Jacob famished and seeking food, he could have gotten other food easily rather than sell his birthright.  On the other hand, Jacob could have cared for Esau and shown him hospitality and kindess, rather than trying to greedily hurry God's promise along that he would get the birthright.  Jacob loved the right things - God's promised blessing - but in the wrong way.  Esau loved the wrong things altogether - and there is no right way to love the wrong things.
God's gifts are personally handed out, not tossed up for grabs. 
When and how am I tempted to use a worldly way to get what I want, even if it's a promise God has made me?
Are my hands gracious, or grabby like Jacob's?  Does my life offer praise or demands from God?  Jesus freely shares His own spiritual inheritance...how can I be so selfish and greedy as to grab it from His hand before the time is right?

--God's discipline is intended to be transformational (from Genesis 29-31)
When Jacob met Rachel, all he noticed was her physical beauty.  He didn't ask God if she was "the one," nor did he discern anything about her character, completely unlike Abraham's servant who was sent to search for a wife for Isaac.  The servant put his faith in God and prayerfully considered Rebekah's character.  And when Leah and Rachel were both married to Jacob, Rachel never humbly asked God for children - she demanded that Jacob give her children and Leah give her mandrakes.  God wants us to change, to make decisions that glorify Him.
How must I change?  How do I respond to God when new people and new relationships come into my life?  In what ways can I use those relationships to make God's name known?  To bring Him glory?

What do I want, and how am I trying to get it?? 

How can I become more like a godly wife, while I wait here, single, with no end in sight?