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.

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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

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

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

The Perils of Parenthood

I have given a great deal of thought to parenthood lately, mainly because I am a parent and with my husband being gone, I have been shouldering the responsibly myself. My husband has been gone for nearly three months (which is the half way point, yay!), but that also means that there are three more months to go. I’ll be honest I have had my days where I wasn’t sure if I would make it to bedtime, I have lost my cool, and I have been overwhelmed with my role. And sometimes it can cause me to wonder whether I indeed am the best mom for my kids. After all, isn’t it me who can be driven crazy be their silly car game? Wasn’t it me who allowed them to eat chocolate cupcakes (which were homemade, in my defense) with peanut MnM’s on top, um…3 days…um…in a row? Would some other woman be better able to handle their questions, their energy, or their “them-ness”?

The answer is honestly, maybe. But would she be the perfect mom for them? The answer is most certainly, no. Why? Because the God that I know and serve, doesn’t make mistakes. His ways are perfect and He knew what He was doing when He gave me the kids that He did. The Bible says in Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” His ways are perfect, His calling for my life is perfect. Do I always execute perfectly? No of course not, I am human, and great thing is that that, is okay. God doesn’t expect me, you, or anyone else to be perfect. What He does expect is for us to trust Him, and to turn to Him for strength, and to find His perfect will and His peace amongst the chaos of the day to day.

Another thing that I have come to realize is that my kids are a perfect mix of my husband and myself. Meaning that, their personalities are something that they, largely, got from us and have combined into something uniquely them. And if they had different parents they wouldn’t be the same people, they wouldn’t have the same energy or the same sense of humor. This got me thinking about two other people whose traits combined to make some awesome kids, Anakin and Padame.

There are some that might say that these two, well Anakin mainly, were not meant to be parents. But when their good qualities came together, it produced Luke and Leia, leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Leia, is so much like her mother, she was strong, brave, and had her mother’s relentless spirit. And Luke, is so much like Anakin, he had a thirst for adventure, the desire to help others, and Anakin’s bravery. Luke, like Padame, also had the ability to see the good in Anakin, and fought for that good relentlessly. Leia and Luke were instrumental in the fight to save the galaxy from the clutches of the Empire, and they got their “them-ness” from Anakin and Padame. Therefore, Luke and Leia had the perfect parents.

Parenting is hard, and I think that most of us have had our days when we felt that someone else could probably fill the “mom” or “dad” role better than us. But that is simply not true. No one can parent my kids better than me, and no one can parent your kids better than you.

Will have my days were my patience is lacking? Yes. Will I have my days were I wonder if I am a good mom? Of course. But I will rest in the promise that God does not make mistakes, I will recognize the joys in the midst of the chaos, and I will parent my kids to best of my ability, because I am the perfect mom for my kids. And it is my prayer that you will stand on the same promise.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
-Psalm 127:3

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

Plan B

“To quote Anakin Skywalker in Episode III, ‘I will quickly discover the truth of all this.’” I said these words to my husband on the day that I would finally find out how my beloved TV show How I Met Your Mother would end. And I was super excited to see the outcome that I knew was going to be legendary. Problem is that like Anakin, on the other side of those words I found disappointment, heartache and few tears.

The ending left me speechless, and not in a good way. To me it just didn’t make sense. And you may be thinking why would talented writers spend years constructing a great story only to deliver an outcome that didn’t make sense? Well, when watching the special features (I am a HUGE special features nerd) I learned that they decided how the show would end during season 1. Since this was their plan they needed to do one of two things:

A. Write a beginning, middle and end that would support that outcome

or

B. Recognize that their story had changed in ways that they hadn’t expected in the beginning and tweak the ending to reflect those changes.

They did neither.

What they did do was stubbornly cling to an 8 year old idea. While their excuse could be that the character, Ted, was telling the story in the future, it was being written in the present; and things change in the present. Response from fans was less than positive, and as a result they put out a Plan B for the ending (available on the DVD box set), which I think is much better.

This got me thinking about Plan B’s in life, and how they are better. Because Plan B’s become necessary when we step away from God’s will, or act on human desires. While God’s plan should always be Plan A, sometimes when put in chronological order, we find that God’s plan didn’t come first. The Bible says in Psalm 128:1, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways.” But how often do we find ourselves unable to let go of something that just doesn’t work anymore, or something that we need to let go of for our own good or the good of those around us. Whether it be a destructive relationship or a plan that is outside of God’s will, it needs to be let it go.

Picture one step or a series of steps in God’s plan as a puzzle getting put together piece by piece, but when you first started you put one piece aside. Over the years your puzzle has changed and maybe even grown in ways you didn’t expect, and new pieces have come in to enrich your walk. Now its time for the final piece before moving on to the next step. Problem is, it doesn’t fit anymore, you can try to force it but it becomes clear that you can’t shove an outdated piece, into a newly crafted hole.

Your puzzle could also end up looking like Anakin’s, one that never should have existed. A puzzle built with fear, anger, doubt and/or desires of the flesh. Anakin’s Plan B, was to finally fulfill his calling and regain his true self. Which I think we can all agree should have been Plan A. He too had feelings that he had a really hard time letting go of, but when he did everything was better.

Whatever it is that you are holding to, I encourage you to let it go, and embrace God’s perfect will. Put down your Plan A and pick up God’s.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come!” -2 Corinthians 5:17