Things I’ve Learned About Snow Shoveling

Source: Things I’ve Learned About Snow Shoveling

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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!

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.

A Christmas Story

I do love the Christmas season. The music. The movies. The opportunity to bake, and cook, and give gifts. The special decorations, especially the Christmas tree. In the process of getting ready for this Christmas, my thoughts turned to last Christmas; to the one that did not really go as planned. The Christmas that inspired a blog post called “Red”, which a song that is about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas and the only thing that really matters at the end of the day.

We live far from our families because of my husband’s job, and our Christmas celebrations as of late have been (based on the worldly vision) less than ideal. Thankfully we have been blessed with wonderful friends, whom have given us company and/or a place to go. Last year however, because of sickness, it was just the four of us. In the midst of constant coughing and having to cancel plans, it seemed as though that Christmas had been “ruined”. But looking back on it after the dust had settled, it was in fact quite perfect. And the reason was, Jesus. He had still been born, He still brought joy, and He still gave us something to celebrate. This year we are still with out family gatherings, although we do get to see two members of our family, the family aspect is still largely missing. And this got me thinking about expectations. Expectations, about the ideal Christmas, or the perfect Christmas. Images of snow, family sitting by the fireplace, and the perfect dinner. This is the view that the world has for Christmas, but the truth is Christmas is about a Baby, a Baby who brought true and lasting joy. All that other stuff, although awesome, is extra.

This is the comfort for those whose Christmas is less than ideal for whatever reason. And if you are in that position believe me, I know how you feel. But I will encourage you to not allow your expectations to cloud what is right in front of you. Focus on who is there, rather than who is not there. In the absence of family, think of someone whom you could bless, someone that you may not have thought of, if your family was present. Heaven has a knack of invading our ideas of Christmas, and in my experience, I have found that Heaven has much better ideas. Expectations tend to steal our joy, and we could miss something important.

One could say that Anakin allowed expectations to steal his joy. He had envisioned in his head the way he thought his life should be, or what he thought his opportunities should look like. He was left wanting, he had no peace, he felt like he was owed something, and when it did not come in the package he expected, he fell. Luke, on the other hand, when he decided to save Anakin, went into it with no expectations. He was just going to love on Anakin in best way he knew how, complete with a “come what may” attitude. And the result was something beautiful, amazing, and for some (to include Anakin) unexpected.

I hope that you will allow yourself to be moved by the pulse of Heaven, which is joy. The joy of Jesus. The joy that the celebration of His birth brings.

May your Christmas not be weighed down by expectation. May your Christmas be focused on Jesus. May Heaven’s ideas invade your ideas. May your Christmas be joyful. May your Christmas be blessed.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hope

The Thanksgiving season is upon us and in preparation for that I have been posting onto my Facebook page something that I am thankful for, and it is not always easy. There days when I really have to think hard to find something specific of which to be thankful. And I have used things like my kids, my parents, even indoor plumbing. While doing this everyday, there have been terrible things going on in the world. Events that can cause people to be fearful or even angry, which in face of so much bad news it can be difficult to resist those feelings.
A friend of mine posted on to his Facebook yesterday, about how he is having trouble staying positive in the midst of all the violence and heartache. This got me to thinking about Psalm 112:7 which says, “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” To me this verse means, good will win even when it seems that evil has the advantage. Which it often times does, but in the end good wins, even if it takes a little while. And of course, when Jesus returns the ultimate good will win.

On the show Once Upon a Time, Snow White/Mary Margaret often speaks about good winning, and one time even states, “..just as it always does.” She also encourages the others to have hope, because hope is powerful thing. Hope speaks life, it encourages, it counteracts fear and doubts. Hope is something that resides in every positive person, every hero, and should reside in every Christian. Because as the popular hymn declares, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Now, the tricky thing about thankfulness and hope, is that they can wither away in the face of bad news, setbacks, or pain. And that is just what evil wants, people with out hope.

Luke Skywalker was relentless in his quest to hold on to hope, after he was “The New Hope”. Luke believed with every fiber of his being that the situation was not hopeless, and that Anakin could still come back. Yet even with his strong hope and faith, he was tempted by the Emperor and, even if just for a second, thought that maybe good would lose the fight. The Emperor would say things like, “You must know by now that your father can never be turned.” And made Luke stand there and watch all the good guys fall into the trap that he had set. It may have only been for a moment but that was all the Emperor needed, fear and anger flooded in and Luke came awfully close to killing his father. Thankfully good stuff like hope, love, and faith are stronger than ANY evil. (Which is something that evil wants you forget.) The Emperor was defeated and Anakin did come back to fulfill his calling and died a hero.

The evil that is at work in the world right now wants us to be discouraged, to be fearful, to be powerless. But I will encourage to look to the source of our hope, a source that will not run dry, a source that is perfect and everlasting. Because in the end good will win, it always does. And the hope found in Jesus will lead you to the greatest happy ending of all.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” -Psalm 31:24

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

Let It Be You

My son was watching Spider-man 2 today, one of his favorite things. He even wants Spider-man as the theme for his birthday party again, even though it was the theme last year. Both of our kids adore Spider-man, and why not? He is a hero after all. Then it came to the part in the movie where Peter Parker is struggling with his Spider-man role, not sure if he even wants to be Spider-man anymore. And he chooses to give up being Spider-man for a time. It was during that scene when Aunt Mae (unknowingly) encourages him to resume being Spider-man, or at least think about it, that was when I heard God speak these words. “Don’t count on someone else to do it.” By “it” He meant, my place in the Kingdom.

Suddenly my mind went back to when I had my doubts about this whole thing, and was uncertain whether or not I would actually write anything beyond simple notes. I questioned why God would put this, as in what would become Hope, Faith and Star Wars, on my heart rather than someone else’s. Perhaps I felt someone else was better equipped because, I have never considered myself a writer, mainly because of my (in my mind at least) poor grammar and spelling skills. But the thing is, I was the right person for this divine appointment, because if I had never written any of the 20 something posts that are on this blog, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. God knew what He was doing when He chose me, I just needed to see it.

Then my thoughts went to Anakin, while he didn’t necessarily depend on someone else to fill his place, what he did was forget it all together. And worse, lessened the chance that someone else would attempt to fill his role. You see, no one could have defeated the Emperor that way that Anakin did, his unique talents and all of his “isms” where what was needed for the task at hand. But Anakin lost sight of that, he didn’t just hope that maybe someone else would do it for him, he hoped to ensure that the role would never be filled.

Anakin Skywalker, Peter Parker, myself and you too, have one thing in common, we have a role to fill. A place in the Kingdom. A divine appointment. And all the “isms” that make us, us are what is needed to fill said role. Why it is true that some else can fill the role, no one can do it like you. Anakin is the Chosen One, Peter is Spiderman, I am a writer, and you can say, I am [insert your role/calling here]. People are chosen for the roles that they have for a reason, and it is my prayer that you and I and everyone else will not loose sight of that.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
-Psalm 143:10