Changes/The Last One

It has been a while since I last wrote something for this blog, the reasons for which are many. I became discouraged that I was not reaching anyone, because honestly it appeared as though no one was reading what I wrote; to include people who seemed excited about this idea at first. I also discovered that I had developed a gluten intolerance and a Vitamin D deficiency, this was after months of not feeling well. Add in a demanding bachelors degree, family time, an epic summer European travel, and moving back to the states; and my year has been quite full.

Today I felt the need to add one more post to this blog, because so much has changed since the last post; which was written shortly after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the post I wrote about Anakin’s lightsaber making a cameo, Kylo Ren’s intentions, and Anakin’s possible appearance in the new Star Wars movie, expected to hit theaters next summer. My main concern being that Anakin’s legacy will dealt with properly, not to mention his true character. I have not thought about Anakin much sense then, aside of a occasional find on Pinterest; but he is and will always be my favorite hero, followed closely by Killian “Captain Hook” Jones, William Barret Travis (the commander of the Alamo), and Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes.

I have learned a great deal about myself over these past few months, the “ins and outs” of my personality, my strengths, my weaknesses; and how I can use this information to better myself. And most importantly to be okay with what makes me, me. This is something I have struggled with on a regular basis, I sell myself short, I hold back when I should have said/done something; and I have a hard time making friends, or at least I think I do. Which of course makes our recent move from Germany to New York that much more difficult. I long for our routine, the sense of belonging, the feeling of being settled, being familiar to people, and people being familiar to me. Perhaps this is why I have focused so much on bettering myself, because me is something that I can always take with…well…me.

What does this have to with Anakin you my ask? Honestly I am not sure. Anakin had struggles, he felt lonely, disconnected, and probably felt as though “normal” was always just out of his reach. Moving half way around the world, having 1 out of every 4 or 5 things go wrong, and having a “to-do” list a mile long, can feel a bit like chaos. But the good news is that, the place where we felt settled, the place that provided the belonging that we so long for; was once where we felt lonely, disconnected, and unfamiliar. Yes it takes time, but this new house will one day soon be home. The old saying, “this to shall pass”, is full of so much truth. The tunnel may be long, but the light is always there.

I have written nearly 30 posts for this blog over the past 3 years, I feel that it is time to say that this will be the last one. I hope that you have been inspired, encouraged, and blessed. I hope that you have spoken against your own doubts and fears, that you have quelled your own anger, and perhaps tried to become a little more patient. Along with Star Wars, I have written about, Killian Jones from Once Upon A Time, Spiderman, the ending to How I Meet Your Mother, Texas history, and our own family’s adventures/mishaps. I have enjoyed finding little bits of wisdom and nuggets of truth, in these real and fictional stories. I hope that you will be encouraged to look to your favorite heroes, movies, historical accounts, or right in your own backyard, and find what speaks to you.

May you be blessed, happy, and healthy. Thank you for reading!

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Legacy

Good day readers! I hope that you all had wonderful Christmas and stand ready to accept God’s full blessings for you throughout this New Year! Yay 2016!

**Contains Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens spoilers**

As I am sure most of you know, a new Star Wars movie came about a few weeks ago, and I hope you got to/will get to see it because it was quite good. Except for that one part that was quite sad, I won’t say what that was because if you did not see the movie yet, I don’t want ruin the surprise (for lack of a better word.) Anyhoo…I enjoyed the movie, and find myself looking forward to Episode VIII, and how this new story develops, and hopefully getting to hear Luke say…something…anything really would be awesome. One thing that still concerns me however, is how Anakin’s legacy will be handled in this new story line, especially after reading that Hayden Christensen will possibly be in Episode VIII. I truly hope that his appearance will be less about Darth Vader and more about Anakin, and what he did to save himself, Luke, and galaxy; from the tight grip of evil.

In the new movie, a new evil has arisen, and is attempting to once again take over. Kylo Ren, who is Han and Leia’s son, is the new bad guy and vowed, while talking to Vader’s half melted mask, to finish what Grandpa Vader started. Two things bug me about this scene: first, listen here sonny Darth Vader is not your grandfather, Anakin Skywalker is. Second, where on God’s green Earth did he get that mask?! And third, what Vader started was brought to an end when Anakin came back, someone needs to finish what Anakin started, and leave Vader’s nonsense where it belongs in the past. Okay so that’s three things, but I can’t help it Anakin is my favorite. I know big surprise, right? : )

My favorite thing about the movie was seeing Anakin’s lightsaber again. And not just seeing it, but watching it being used by a good guy. This amazing weapon, that Anakin built himself, and was also used by Luke, found itself once again in the hands of good. While just a small part, his lightsaber was and is apart of his legacy. Something that was given to his son, something that connected Luke to this father, and instilled the confidence of a Jedi. While yes I know that it was not Anakin’s intention to leave his lightsaber behind. Protecting it from his bad turn, is what allowed it to get into Luke’s hands. What would have happened to it if he had kept it? Would it have been destroyed? Redesigned? Hidden away?

This got me thinking about the things that I may leave behind, things that will inspire, connect, or encourage. My stories, my pictures, the things that I write down, can all be used by those that come after me. Objects and mementos that could possibly help my kids, my grandkids, and beyond find themselves, and all the wonderful things that God has in store for their lives. And these things need to be made available to them, not hidden away, or redesigned, or even destroyed because of lack of perfection. Because an important aspect of legacies, is we don’t get to keep them, others do. The Bible says in Psalm 78:4, “We will not hide them from their children, but to tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and wonders He has done.” In 1 Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.”

So allow your gifts, your talents, your things, to be passed on. Allow them inspire, to encourage, and to connect. And like Anakin, they just might help you to rediscover a piece of yourself.

The Pursuit of Goodness

“Mama, what’s your favorite TV show?”

This is a question that my daughter asks me at least once week and I always give her the same answer. Yesterday she asked me again and I gave her the usual response, “I Love Lucy.” then I added, “But I think Once Upon a Time is becoming a contender for that spot.” Now I am not big on watching television, to count the number of shows that I have watched enough to have extensive knowledge of, I wouldn’t need to go past my fingers. (Actually I just counted the number is seven.) Every now and again, however, a show comes along that I deem worthy of my time, and Once Upon a Time certainly fits into that category. During the first two seasons, my favorite characters were Prince Charming and Snow White. I love their story. The love and the commitment they have for/to the other. No matter what has been thrown at them they always find each other, every time. It truly is a beautiful thing.

After watching season three and especially season four, my favorite character changed to Killian Jones, also known as, Captain Hook. This leather clad pirate burst onto the screen at the beginning of season two and he was a villain, joining forces with Regina’s questionable mother Cora. He was consumed by vengeance and was relentless in his pursuit of it. During season two, I found him frustratingly amusing and oddly likeable, I was trying to not like this guy but still did, perhaps hoping that he would change. The season two finale showed that he could change, and the next two seasons proved that he not only could be but that he was a hero.

Killian Jones became my favorite Once Upon a Time character for the same reason that Anakin Skywalker is my favorite Star Wars character, they are both more than just a villain, or rather a guy who became a villain. They were both victims of circumstance and more importantly their reaction to those circumstances. The death of Killian’s brother made him a pirate, and the death of Anakin’s mother made him angry and opened up seeds of doubt. The death of Killian’s first love, Mila, produced in him the pursuit of revenge and he would do anything to get it. The fight with Obi-Wan and especially the death of Padame, caused Anakin to fully give himself to the dark side of the force. Each man needed a reason to see themselves differently, a reason to change, and a reason to do something heroic. For Captain Hook it was Emma, and for Darth Vader it was Luke. Killian and Anakin both figured that the desires of Hook and Vader would bring them satisfaction, but it wasn’t until they began to pursue what is good that they truly were fulfilled.

There are a few Bible verses that discuss the pursuit of goodness, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, tells us to, “Hold fast to what is good.” Matthew 12:35 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in him.” To me this says that if one is to see the good that is in them, then goodness will surely be brought forth. However, the opposite is true if one sees themselves as evil or bad. And sometimes, like Killian and Anakin, one may not necessarily see themselves as evil, but rather encourages the evil or the desires of the flesh. Being angry, fearful, or pursuing revenge is easy, it takes strength to push that aside, to be the hero and to fight only for the good. Now when I say hero, this also includes everyday heroes, something that we all have the capacity to be. So if you are going to be relentless in your pursuit of something let it be for the good, let it be hope, let it be charitable, let it be to help your fellow man. For in that goodness, which is God breathed and Spirit led, you will find fulfillment.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9

Reaching Out

“So…you did that yourself?!”

This was a question asked of me by a fellow mom after she learned that my kids and I had traveled to Sicily just the three of us. We had tackled this long trip to go visit my husband who has now been there for almost four months. In the moment I answered, “Yes…I guess so, but it was worth it.” As I thought about the question later that afternoon however, I realized no, I did not do that all by myself. My source of help, encouragement and strength, was by my side every step of the way. And it’s a good thing that He was, because the trip had its rough points.

It was worth it for sure, but it was not always easy. The day that we spent traveling there was by far the worst, full of traffic, delayed flights, standing in (the wrong) long line, and a suitcase that was suck in Milan for a few days. We had run really, really fast across the Milan airport in order to make our connecting flight to Sicily. I had also forgotten Howard (our GPS) so we had to navigate the old fashioned way using road signs and a paper map. We got sunburned pretty bad, our rental broke down one evening-thankfully it was right after we got back on base-and the twisty, hilly roads of one town turned our stomachs upside down and caused our standard transmission rental car to stall out twice, and maybe start to roll down hill…backwards.

The Bible says in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” Standing on God’s promise can help one to see the “fingerprints” of His goodness even when things are not going very well. Yes there some things that went wrong, but there was so much more that went really well. We made our flight, we were on base when the car battery died, my husband was able to get the car started and back up the hill really quickly, and although we got sunburned, we had a fun day at a water park. It’s important to not let rough waters cause you to sink, or give up, or be “shut down” by anger or frustration. And its more important to reach out for help, from God and from those around us.

While thinking about reaching out for help, and how I really did not do this trip on my own, I was reminded of a line from Episode III. In the scene Anakin and Padame are noticeably a little nervous about their current situation and how having a baby will make it harder to continue to keep their secret marriage well, a secret. Padame suggests reaching out to Obi-Wan for help and Anakin responds with out hesitation and with full confidence, “We don’t need his help.” Anakin-aside from that one scene with Yoda- did for the most part keep his struggles to himself. When he did confide in someone it was, as you know, the wrong person. And this person put Anakin on the path to Darth Vader. While we really can’t be certain what would have happened if he did reach out to Obi-Wan, I think we can all agree that it would have been better than confiding in Palpatine.

God puts family members and friends, in our lives to help us and to lift us up. Anakin had a friend in Obi-Wan and a strength in the Force, two things that he turned his back on thinking he could do it himself. Humans are social creatures, and we are not meant to go about this life alone. So I would encourage you to put your trust in God first and foremost, but also in those that He surrounds you with, they are there to help. I will also encourage you to stand on His promise even when things are not perfect, because things will never be perfect. You can trust that no matter what He is everything He says He is, and you don’t have to go it alone.

“I wanna walk on water, take the leap, and step out knowing you won’t let me sink, I wanna trust you deeper, live life believing, that You are, everything You say You are.” – “Walk on Water” by Family Force 5

Who Controls Your Box of Crayons?

There is a song called “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli. The song is about allowing God to be the author of your story. At one point in the song Francesca sings, “My life, I know its never really been mine. So do with it whatever You like.” It is powerful lyric, but one that rings true. If one is really going to fulfill their place in the Kingdom, they need to give control to God. Which I know that that can be difficult because we humans like to have control, we like to know what will come next, we like to plan. But if one is going to follow God’s plan, control is one of the first things that needs to be let go of. And I can say that, for me, letting go of control has been nothing but awesome.

By now you may be wondering, just what is up with the title. I got the idea after watching the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, which I had some problems with. I was presented with a completely colored in picture, and I didn’t like some of the colors that they used. God brought to my attention the idea of one’s life being a picture that gets colored in bit by bit, and whoever is control of the box of crayons has control of how the picture looks. Who is it that could be eligible for control, or who at any point holds all or some of the crayons? Possibilities could be, the individual, God, other people, the ways of the world or even the enemy himself. All these possibilities can influence how a season or series of seasons in our lives can turn out, the choices/mistakes that we make, the joys and the heartaches. The Bible says in Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” This verse speaks about trusting God, and allowing Him to color your picture. And I would encourage you to trust Him, because He can produce some pretty awesome artwork.

What can happen when someone other than God colors pieces of your picture? Well lets consider Anakin, someone who quit trusting in the light side of the force and started trusting in something and someone else. This was not something that happened “over night” but rather something that took a period of years. It was 13 years to be exact, before the Palpatine influenced picture was completed when Anakin became Darth Vader. The process was gradual, Palpatine was building a foundation (coloring in Anakin’s picture). Sometimes Palpatine had complete control, other times he would encourage Anakin to put down one crayon and pick up another. Like when he convinced Anakin to kill Count Dooku or told Anakin that his killing of the Sand People in Episode II was justified.

While there were times when Anakin noticed that something was not right, like when he told Padame in Episode III, “Something is happening. I’m not the Jedi I should be. I want more. But I know shouldn’t.” Palpatine was continuing to gain control because of the foundation he had spent years building, Anakin was becoming less like himself more like the future Darth Vader. Try as Obi-Wan and Padame did to show Anakin that this was not okay, he still put down his blue crayon and picked up a red one. Coloring all over his life’s picture with Palpatine ready to supply Anakin with another red crayon, whenever one would run out. And his life became something that, especially after he met Luke, he started to like less and less, probably wishing there was more blue than red.

This thing called life is not our fight to win. We are here to bring God glory, which He richly rewards. But that can’t happen if we allow anyone, other than God, to write our stories. So take that box of crayons out of the hands of human desires and ways of the world, and give it to God. And I promise you something beautiful will be created. It will be legen….wait for it (because God encourages patience)…dary. It will be legendary.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

Who Am I?

There is a new song out by Blanca (formerly of Group 1 Crew) called “Who I Am”. The song is about who we, as believers, are in Christ. The lyrics speak out how no matter what anyone else says, who we are in Christ does not change. This even applies to what we may say about ourselves. “I am strong, beautiful, I am good enough. I belong after all, ‘cause of what You’ve done.” Our identity is found in Christ and Him alone, and if one can be confident in that identity, rather than one the world may assign, that person can be capable of amazing things. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” You read right, YOU are a part of it, a part of God’s amazing plan. YOU are loved and treasured, beyond measure, and God has a divine assignment for each one of us, including you.

Sounds awesome, right? Now you may be asking what is the catch? There isn’t one really, not from God at least. If that is the case then, what or who, can get in the way of walking in this truth. The answer is, humans, you and me. How often do we get in our own way, doubt ourselves, or even our connection to God, and lose our identity. We find ourselves searching the ways of the world for our identity, or justification, or even purpose. And when we do this, we will mostly certainly come up short.

This got me thinking about Anakin, and the moment when he lost his identity. His identity was that of a Jedi, and a pretty awesome Jedi, and the Jedi found their identity in the light side of the force. This identity emboldened them with the mission to be peacemakers, to right the wrongs, and help those who could not help themselves. Problem is, Anakin began to look elsewhere for his identity. To look elsewhere for ways to accomplish the afore mentioned missions, believing that perhaps there was a better way, or a way that allowed for more possibility. He lost himself, and turned off of a path that would have fulfilled his purpose and his hopes. Meaning that he would have become a Master Jedi, of that I have no doubt, and he would have helped to bring “peace, justice and security” to the galaxy, the right way.

I have wrote in previous posts about Anakin’s pride, impatience, fear and anger, all things that where encouraged by Palpatine that led to Anakin turning to the dark side. An act that helped no one, least of all Anakin. Well no one expect for Palpatine. As Darth Vader, Anakin’s victories were bittersweet at best, certainly did not have the greater good in mind. Yet, his true identity was still locked inside of Darth Vader, and this is the most beautiful part of Anakin’s story. His identity was not found in his mistakes, and neither is yours. He lost his identity, or perhaps a better word is forgot, his identity for a time, but it was not lost forever.

You may step away from your identity in Christ for a while, and I think we all do to some degree, because human desires can be quite appealing to well, humans. This is why it is so important to pray, to stay in the Word, to worship, and to fellowship with other believers. A community of believers is there to encourage and to lift up, to listen and to hold each other accountable.

So who am I? I am a child of the one true King. Blessed, favored, treasured, loved, and here to accomplish a series of divine appointments, that are a part of His perfect plan.

Who are you?
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”  -1 Peter 2:9

Finding Purpose In Something That Makes You Sad

**Disclaimer** This post contains HUGE How I Met Your Mother spoilers!**

So for the last 10 weeks I have been (practically) binge watching the TV series How I Met Your Mother, which I loved, for the most part. I loved it until the finale. The finale left me stunned and honestly a little broken hearted. I just sat there on the couch starring at my TV in disbelief, then I cried a little, then (as embarrassing as it is to say) I had trouble falling asleep. And the next morning was no different. I realized I had not felt this way about fictional character since, Anakin Skywalker on that fateful day when God got a hold of my heart using the story of the guy who became Darth Vader.

The thing about the HIMYM finale that upset me the most was, Barney and Robin getting a divorce after 3 years of marriage. I loved Barney and Robin together, because they made so much sense and were adorable. Barney Stinson in love, is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen on TV. While having my morning coffee I found myself browsing through the HIMYM pins on Pinterest, and could feel tears welling up in my eyes whenever I saw something having to do with Barney and Robin. Then I realized that there was something that I needed, and that God was using this lousy series finale, to help me see that I really needed it. And that was….a good cry.

You see, my husband has been gone for several weeks, 10 in fact, and those weeks were starting to get heavy. So I went upstairs and sat on my bed, and cried my eyes out over a fictional couple (that I adored) not being able to stay married. At least I started out crying for that reason, I was also crying because I hadn’t hugged my husband or seen him in person in over 2 months. Even though I promised myself, the last time he was gone, that I wouldn’t cry when he wasn’t home; mainly because it just made me miss him even more. But today I needed it, and after releasing my built up heartache I felt better and lighter.

I was then reminded how Luke’s heartache and a revelation that certainly made him sad, inspired someone who was lost, to find himself again. God used a TV show to help me see that I needed to release some tears, that I had been stubbornly holding back. Barney and Robin’s failed marriage produced this unbelievably adorable scene with Barney and his daughter:

barney and baby

Like I said Barney Stinson in love is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve seen on TV.

Does this mean that sadness is super fun? No it doesn’t. Luke, for a time, wished that Darth Vader/Anakin was not his father, I don’t like being separated from husband and the episode where Barney proposes to Robin will always be my favorite. But what it can do is give us little moments that we would not have had otherwise. Luke gained a love for Darth Vader, I (and my husband) have a chance to truly appreciate what we have and Barney finally did find the girl that would change his life.

So the next time you feel sad, I encourage you to allow God to show you the light at the end of the tunnel and the rainbow after the thunderstorm.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.” -2 Corinthians 4:17