Sunday, April 15, 2018

For anyone who's also struggling with this


(I have SOOO much that I want to say about this topic, but I don't think I can say it all yet, so I wanted to say a little.)

Over the past couple years, especially, God has really been showing me some profound insecurities, misconceptions, and struggles that have lodged themselves in my soul.  He's helping me root them out, but I've got a feeling it will be a years-long process.  They go very deep.

In the midst of discovering my fears, God has showered me with confirmation that they are not unique to me.  I believe these are issues that many of us deal with.  The problem is that we don't talk about them, and that needs to change.

I mean things like:

- perfectionism
- works-based approval (both from God and from others)
- religiosity & legalism

These problems can manifest themselves with symptoms such as:

- inability to believe that you are truly "free in Christ"
- tendency to overanalyze even insignificant thoughts, decisions, etc.
- wondering whether you're idolizing something or someone you deeply love
- inability to let your mistakes go 
- inability to rest in your spiritual life

We're ever striving, striving, striving.  Ever feeling like we haven't quite reached the mark -- like there's a little more we could and should give.  Never feeling like it's okay to say, "That's enough for now"; not wanting to settle down and be at peace or "do something for us" --  something fun and frivolous and "not spiritual" -- because we equate peace (a gift of the Holy Spirit) with complacency, and we believe that being "all in" for God means shunning anything that even slightly resembles satisfaction for our "flesh." 


Forgetting that maybe sanctification is actually a thing and maybe it's actually a process and maybe that's actually okay.  (I mean, were the disciples magically perfect when they received Jesus' call?  A resounding "heck no" to that.  Well, then, did Jesus give up on them in disgust because they weren't instantly perfect?  How about another resounding "heck no".)

Forgetting that "every good and perfect gift comes from above" (James 1:17). 

Forgetting that "God . . . richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17). 

Forgetting that having doubts, questions, and fears doesn't automatically boot you out of the Kingdom.  (Remember Thomas?)

Forgetting that the Spirit gives different people different gifts, and that it's a crying shame when we fool ourselves into thinking our gifts and talents and callings aren't "spiritual" enough (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). 

Forgetting that when Jesus prayed for His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He didn't pray that God would remove our humanity, but that He would purify it (John 17:15).  (Michael Lloyd has great things to say about the whole issue of hating our humanity in his Café Theology.)

(random bunny because bunnies are happy)

I could go on, but, again, I can't cover it all right now.  Hopefully more will be coming soon over on my other blog (link on my sidebar).

Suffice it to say, for now, that I believe there are lies that the enemy has spoken into our souls, and it's been hurting my heart today to think about how deeply we've fallen for them -- what damage they've caused our mental, emotional, and spiritual psyches, what scars they've left on us.  So I wanted to hopefully speak some truth and love into this kind of situation (and please understand that I need to latch onto this every bit as much as you might).  I think this is one of the main things it comes down to: we haven't really grasped, deep down in our souls, that we -- individually -- are loved by God.  And there is something so broken in the outlook of a Christian who doesn't believe God adores them.


Beauty, please believe that you are loved.

That's what I want to leave you and I with today.  We think we're clinging to God by a thread, and that any mistake or mishap could break it and send us plunging.  We also think that we're the ones doing the running after God, as if He isn't running after us too -- more than that, He was running after us first.  First and always.

So if this is you -- if you struggle with feeling like you never perform well enough for God, if every slip-up has the potential to send you into a whirlwind of self-doubt, if you don't truly believe down in the core of you that God loves you voluntarily and passionately -- please try to believe this instead.  Please allow this message to sink down into your soul and dare to believe that it might be true:

You are not alone and you will not be given up on.  


(P.S. I'm right here trying with you, and I'd love to talk. Please feel free to reach out. We need each other. <3)


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

REAL TALK ABOUT "FINDING NEMO" {2003}

Because -- as you know if you saw my status update on Goodreads -- I watched it for the first time in a long time yesterday, and I HAVE SOME FEELINGS, FAM. <333


Wow.  You guys.

I appreciated this so much yesterday.  I mean, I appreciated it as a wee child, but a few years later it's even better.

True, it's not one of what I would call my "core favorite" movies: while it has a place in my heart, that place isn't nestled deep into the fibers of my soul, if you know what I mean.  And I'd probably get tired of it if I watched it over and over again (I think that's what happened before).  But it's still a favorite -- just not a top favorite -- and it's definitely still a very nostalgic, meaningful movie to me, just on the basis of #memories, quality time with siblings, etc.

BUT IN IT'S OWN RIGHT, THOUGH, THIS MOVIE IS FLIPPING AMAZING.

LIKE THIS PART.  Feels alert!

// The Experience //

First of all, I'd like to point out that this movie is almost everyone's childhood.  (Not everyone's, I know, but a lot of people's.)  It's iconic to a lot of people, and that says something.

This time around, I couldn't even make it through the menu without Feeling Things.  The moment the coral reef showed up, I was already feeling like:


And then it didn't even take ten minutes of the actual show before I was like this inside:


I found myself feeling tense and nervous in certain "suspenseful" parts, even though I've seen it so many times and know how everything ends. ;D  Again, good proof as to how great this film is.

// The Script //

The basic plot is well thought out -- and, I just now realized, it manages to be compelling without any major plot twists.  You know?  Nothing remarkably unexpected happens; it all just works on its own.

Anywho.  The way that the story is executed is also admirable.  I mean, THEM LINES, THOUGH.  There are a lot that I've loved for a long time, obviously, ("Commmmme baaaaaaaaaaaaaackhh!"), but there were a lot that I hadn't caught before this last time.  

Let's take a look at some of the best ones, shall we? ;)


"Humans!  Think they own everything."
"Probably American."

~ ~ ~

"I'm gonna see a man about a wallaby."

~ ~ ~

"I'm H2O intolerant."

~ ~ ~ 

"He touched the butt."

~ ~ ~

"BUBBLES!  The bubbles the bubbles the bubbles. . . . My bubbles."

~ ~ ~

"BAD SQUISHY!"

~ ~ ~

"Hop inside my mouth, if you want to live."

~ ~ ~

"It's like he's trying to speak to me, I know it!"

~ ~ ~

And, of course: "SHARKBAIT, OOH-HA-HA."


// The Characters //

Ahh, the characters.

The phenomenal, amazing, iconic cast of love-bugs.

I WUVS THEM. <333


Marlin = #relatable and awesome
Nemo = adorable and awesome
Nigel = Geoffrey Rush, Australian, and awesome 
Gill = #boss (aka awesome)
the whole tank clan = precious and paternal and welcoming and awesome
Dude Crush = cooler than any of us will ever be, and awesome

And, of course, Dory.  The incomparable, the inimitable Dory.


Let's be honest: we all freaking love this fish.


// The Aesthetic //

300% MY THING!!  Ack.  Guys.  

The animation is breathtaking.  The care the animators took to strike the right balance between making everything look as realistic as possible while still retaining an element of magic and whimsy is amazing.  The colors are bright and vivid and clear and happy and safe -- most of the time.  In certain areas of the ocean, they're certainly not: for instance, closer to the commercial areas, there's a lot of algae-covered piping, depressed-looking fish, etc. -- which, while not as easy on the eyes as the parts near the coral reef, or with the jellyfish and the sea turtles, definitely seems realistic.

Again, though, color-wise, a lot of the film is bright and idyllic.

It also has some gorgeous, incredibly detailed shots:


Sorry, I know you can't really see this, but it's when the camera is panning further into the whale's mouth, and it's really cool.

I always thought this thing looked so cool. :)



// OVERALL //

It's a story that deals with the idea of home, so it's fitting that it's a movie that, overall, leaves the viewer feeling at home.  

I watched the documentary about the making of the movie, and it's amazing how much care and love went into creating that sense of belonging for us.

Seriously, everything about this movie is so carefully crafted and unique and magical and SAFE. Very, very special film. Legitimately one of the best I've ever seen.



Friday, April 6, 2018

Elements of an Aesthetic Reading Experience + My Adventures in Reading the Past Year

IT IS WEDNESDAY, MY DUDES.

(What?  I like to prove that I'm not totally disconnected from the mainstream on occasion.)

(I know, that's pathetic. What can I say.)

Also, it'll probably not be Wednesday by the time you're actually reading this, but I'm starting it on a Wednesday, so whatever.


ANYWAY.

Have you guys ever stopped to consider little things that just make reading better?  (Yes, I'm sure you have.  I'm surrounded by fellow bibliophiles, after all.)  Well, today, as the title of the post may have informed you, I'm here to share some of the things that I've observed.  Call them tips or tricks to "a better reading experience," if you will. 

- The sound of typing -
Okay, have y'all noticed??  It is SO NICE to hear the "soft tapping" of someone's computer keys while you're reading.  It's like a soundtrack to the writing of whatever book it is you're reading.  

(I'm assuming this works best with computer keys.  I can't say from firsthand experience, but I imagine a typewriter's keys -- wonderful though they may be -- might be a bit too loud and "punchy" to be relaxing.)

- A COUCH -
Couches are a must.  Definitely my favorite piece of furniture on which to loll while reading.  (Although a chair -- if it's of the right size, shape, cushion amount, etc. -- can also be quite nice.)

A month or so ago, I was reading (A COMPLETELY AMAZING AND HEARTRENDING BOOK, but more on that later) while on a family trip.  We were in a lakehouse, and there was an L-shaped couch and an incredible fleece blanket, and boy, I snuggled in there and READ TO MY HEART'S CONTENT.  

And it was satisfying.

- And, if it's chilly, a blanket for said couch -
Case in point. See above.


- If it's nice outside, a swing -
Swings also work.  Dangling your feet, swinging -- or more like rocking -- to and fro listlessly, caught up in the story but conscious of the pleasant world around you . . . 

Well, I mean to say, Jeeves, that one could do worse.

- The spring season -
Working off of the swing thing, spring is a very aesthetic time in which to read.  Specifically outdoors.  I mean, everything is just so pulsing and green and beautiful and fragrant and -- I should stop now before I get into my full-blown rant about spring.  (Which might come later, when spring actually makes up its mind to BE A THING this year.  Ahem.)

- The winter season -
Tragically, I haven't yet had a lot of experience actually doing this, but there's definitely something very inviting about reading (preferably near a window) during a snowfall.  Magical, as they say.

(I assume -- due to Pinterest pictures -- that autumn is also nice and aesthetic and cozy for reading, but I'll admit, I haven't found that to be overwhelmingly true in my own life?  Like, in theory I agree, but in terms of experience . . . not necessarily.)


ANYWAY 2nd.

As I mentioned on my other blog, my first year of college has actually been surprisingly full of fun new books.  (I guess not having literature classes prevents you from burning out in your leisure reading.) 

So, anyway, I've gotten to read a fair amount in the past 8 months or so.  The three best new-to-me books in that time frame -- as in, the ones that have really nestled somewhere in my heart and Touched Me -- have been:

- The Book of Sorrows* by Walter Wangerin Jr. -
This was STUNNING and AMAZING and touched my soul.  (Of course, I'm already comfortable and familiar with "epics" about animals and animal communities, so if you're not, it might not have the same impact on you.)


It's definitely a very sad book (I mean, Book of Sorrows), but it was so beautiful at the same time and so instilled with the truth of God's grace that I felt more hopeful than anything else.  I can see myself rereading this soon and officially adding it to my "favorites". :)

*It is the second part in a trilogy, just FYI.

- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman -
Another heartbreaking one.  Probably more so, because there's less hope interwoven throughout it.  But there's still enough to keep it from being depressing, for me.

Honestly, though, this one got under my skin and has stayed there in the few days since I finished it, in a way that I almost don't like because it's difficult to get rid of.  (But, like, I still loved it.  I still think it was amazing.  I just am slightly unnerved by how the story clung to my thoughts and emotions.  Does that make sense?  Y'all relate?)


Also, I LOVE TOM SHERBOURNE, OKAY?!  The poor cinnamon roll deserves all the hugs. <3

- Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley -
This was a positively charming retelling of Cinderella that came to me at precisely the right time and I loved it completely.  I don't really know how it could be improved, other than perhaps cutting out the whole thing about the magic ring.  That seemed sort of distracting and unnecessary to the plot, BUT STILL.  Frabjous book.  I was very satisfied. :)



(There was also an excellent book on theology by an English chap named Michael Lloyd (the title of the book is Café Theology) that I found inspiring, encouraging, and helpful.  I didn't necessarily agree with everything he said, but on the whole, I thought it was a great treatment of basic Christian doctrine.)

Welp, that's all for now, folks.

What are some of your favorite "reading aesthetics"?
What's the best book you've read recently?

(Also, no, as you can see, it is not still Wednesday.)



Sunday, April 1, 2018

He Is Risen Indeed


                                                                                                                 
Spring winds murmuring,
Emerald grass marshaling,
Glad birdsong twittering,
All flowers glimmering.
Rise to a rumor given:
"Fear not, for He is risen."
Creation awaiting with bated breath
The Power that conquered cowardly death.
A slab of granite rolls aside --
Dazzling light bursts from inside --
Easter morning dawns.










/////

"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
Luke 24:38-39

/////

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lately, I've Been . . .

You know those times when you really want to blog, but you don't have much inspiration as to what to blog?  Yeah, that.  I'm in one of those slumps.

But never fear!  A good ole "currently" post is sure to come to my rescue.  Here's some of what I've been up to recently! :)

{watching}
  • Season 2 of The Crown
These two are so sweet gahh I mean they clearly love each other why can't they always be happy and
communicative and and and ??!!

Watched this with the parents. :)  So this show is amazingly acted with delectable sets and visuals and compelling plots and such-like, but the seventh episode of the second season just revealed why it's rated TV-MA. :-/  I thought it was because of some of the other content, such as in the first season, but . . . nope.  Yeah.  No.

Anyway, we finished this a little while ago, and MAY I JUST SAY THAT THE END OF THE FINAL EPISODE WAS VERY SATISFYING AND IT GAVE ME FEELINGS. <3

  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries


I've watched and loved Emma Approved, so I figured it was about time saw LBD since, you know, reasons.  I don't like LBD as much as EA (there are some things I don't care for), but it sure is addictive.  I just finished this one, too, and DANG IT ALL, Darcy and Lizzie got to me.  I thought I was immune and I was not immune.  I felt feelings.

Also, props to LBD for being the first P&P adaptation to make me feel like I could actually possibly fall for Bingley.  (AND JANE WAS PRICELESS.)

And it's making me want to re-watch EA because that one is so stinking cute, too. ;D

  • Ballykissangel


(I know.  That title.)   Only two episodes into this one, so I don't have a whole lot to say yet. 

{reading}


  • the Chauntecleer the Rooster trilogy by Walter Wangerin Jr. {The Book of Sorrows got me, y'all.  It got me bad.  It touched my soul.}
  • the Gospel of Mark
  • The Business of Heaven by C.S. Lewis
  • Café Theology by Michael Lloyd
{listening to}

I just discovered this band and I really like what I've heard so far!  Here are my two favorites.  Have a listen.  (Pssst, isn't "I Love You Will Still Sound the Same" like the most adorb piece of adorb you've heard in a long time and definitely future wedding video material??)

(Wait.  That sounded somewhat leading.  No.  Whatever idea might have just popped into your head, nope.  No news here. ;))



"Take All the Time You Need" is also really cute. :)

Whiiiich is basically just music that I don't have on my iPod yet/probably won't get but still like/whatever.

{wondering/thinking}


Lots of things.  Some constructive, some not so constructive; some happy, some not so happy.  But, y'know, we're all growing, right? ;)  {And God is always, ALWAYS working, guys.  We can't forget that.  And He loves you.  Like, He really loves you.  A whole lot.  (And He likes you, too.)}

One of the things I've been thinking:  WHAT THE HECK, SPRING.  YOU BETRAYED ME.

Wondering:  WHEN ARE YOU COMING FOR REAL.

{doing}

  • school 
  • attempting to get my room cleaned, little bits at a time
  • wasting time on YouTube and such :-P
  • singing!  {Guys, I SANG IN MY SCHOOL'S TALENT SHOW.  *bites fingernails*   It was last night and it went pretty well and it's kind of like that part in Tangled when Rapunzel's saying, "I can't believe I did this.  I CAN'T BELIEVE I DID THIS!!"  Because it's totally not something I would ordinarily be brave enough to do . . . just . . . God. :)  So yeah. :)}


What have you been up to, my loves? :)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Red Carpet Eye Candy {7}

We haven't done one of these in a while, and I'm on spring break so I feel like doing ALL THE BLOGGING but I'm also #lazy so I don't feel like doing anything that requires that much mental exercise.  So here we are. :-P

Enjoy!


I love how simple and effortless this is.  The Pinterest caption mentioned the detail, and it really does look like there's some amazing detail close up.  I also like the way this was styled -- the bangle isn't my style, but I like how it adds a touch of "hardness" to keep it from being too feminine, if that's what Amanda was going for.  And the hair and makeup go nicely.


Awww.  This is just cute and sweet.  Look how happy she looks! :D  The pink is luscious, and the turquoise ring is a nice pop of contrast.


Yaaaaaassss.  Blake Lively knows how it's done.  (I mean, I haven't seen/liked all of her red carpet looks, but most of the time, yes.  And she knows what styles work for her.  Also, can we talk about how talented she is at making maternity gowns look amazing??!!)


This is very pretty and feminine.  I love the little flower appliques, the pink belt, her earrings, basically everything. :D


I'm not a hundred percent sold on the hairstyle, but I like the contrast within the dress itself, the sparkles alternating with the gauze, and it looks pretty comfy.  Make the bodice a little bit more modest and I'm there.


Again, not totally feeling the hair, but here's the "starry"/sparkly outfit for the post. :)  Looking at it from a different angle (this wasn't the original picture I saw), I'm not sure that the pleating of the skirt works perfectly with the sequin-y look of the top, but I still like it overall, I think.


This seems very relaxed and casual for a red carpet look, which I like for a change.  Vanessa Hudgens pulls it off. :-P  And, of course, it's got a very tropical/beachy vibe, which is somewhat refreshing.  I don't know, it just works.


The Cinderella dress!  (I wonder if I'll run out of "starry" and "Cinderella" dresses one of these days.)  Anyway, I think this was a great choice for Amy!  That shade of blue is wonderful for her, and I feel like it's difficult to pull off the feathery look, but this is very flattering on her.  And, again, the styling is on point. :)


*gawking*  GUYS I'M LOW-KEY OBSESSED WITH THIS.  I mean, seriously.  I am shook.  It's BRILLIANT.  I just . . . it makes me happy. :D  (And I feel like almost no one else could pull it off, but she nails it.)

Which is your favorite? 







Thursday, March 1, 2018

Movies: Month in Review {February 2018}

First things first: I changed my blog look!  March 1st is the first day of spring to me, and "I will brook no argument."  So that means, for me, that SPRING HAS BEGUN!!!


Obviously, I can't keep a winter blog look if I think it's spring, now, can I? ;)  What do you all think of it?  I'm pretty happy with it, though I may change the sidebar back to the right-hand side, and I might change my profile picture.

And now, the post.

/////


Captain America: Civil War (2016)

First of all, it probably would have been better if I had seen Avengers: Age of Ultron before watching this, but no matter.  My brother was able to fill in the gaps for me.

This one excited many mixed feelings in me.

basically

I'm holding off on sharing my thoughts about most of the characters until I can get caught up on the rest of the Marvel movies (I've watched several but am quite behind on some others), but for now: I don't know whose "team" I'm on in terms of the Accords thing, I still ship Steve and Natasha, and I liked Black Panther (eventually).

Oh, and I loved the new Spider-Man guy!  He was adorable, and now I'm looking forward to watching Homecoming. :)

/////


Citizen Kane (1941)

I had to watch this for my film appreciation class.  It was good, I suppose. :-P  I mean, I don't have a lot to say about the story aspect of it, other than that, on the whole, it's actually not quite as depressing as it could be.

/////


Hitch (2005)

Mehh.  I wasn't impressed for the first half or so, but it got a little better.  I thought the romance between Kevin Hart's character and the lady he had a crush on was neat.  And Hitch and Sarah were cute, too.

Overall, it was relatively entertaining, just not an outstanding chick-flick. 

/////


Hoodwinked (2006)

Finally got around to watching this!  I remember people in one of my old co-ops used to talk about this movie sometimes. :)

While it certainly didn't become a favorite, it was very witty and I loved some of the lines/characters.  I also kind of liked how random it was, if that makes sense. ;D  And it's neat to see a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood -- even though it's not one of my favorite fairytales, one doesn't see it talked about very much, so that's kind of cool.

/////


Hugo (2011)

I had never been interested in this, but then I read Naomi's mini-review of it and decided I must try it. ;)  I'm not sorry I did!  It's a fun, very unique little movie, and I found the storyline doubly interesting since I recently learned a little about Georges Melies in the aforementioned film appreciation class. :)

The film has a nice aesthetic, too.  Very blue.  I liked Sacha Baron Cohen's character and his little romance with Emily Mortimer's character. :)

*SPOILERS!*  Oh, but I kept hoping that Hugo's dad didn't really die, so it was a little disappointing when it turned out he did. :(  *END OF SPOILERS*

/////


The Imitation Game (2014)

*sniffles*  This was sad.  I am saddened. :(

But good movie, nonetheless, and it probably wouldn't have been so sad if I didn't know how it ended.

/////

Thoughts? :)