NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Worth Waiting For Cars 3

If you read my blog posts you know I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Cars 3. If you do decide to read this, be aware that I will share some of the story plot points. So if you don’t want to be spoiled on anything, you can wait till after you’ve seen the movie to read my review. But if you don’t mind a general overview, go ahead and read.

Before I get to the review, though, I want to share something else. You see this past weekend, when Cars 3 came out, my church had organized a youth retreat for our students. I was helping teach at the retreat and our focus was on God’s Kingdom and living for it instead of yourself. I found my desire to see Cars 3 as a perfect illustration at the retreat, so I thought I’d share it here as well.

Although I love movies and get excited to see ones I’ve been waiting for, living for them is not fulfilling. At the end of the day, a movie is just a movie. Two hours and it’s over, maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t, but it’s not as important as other things in life. When I committed to teaching at this retreat, I was showing by my actions that I value the Kingdom of God more than getting what I want. Even though I would have loved to see Cars 3 on opening night, living for God and His kingdom is so much more important to me and more valuable in the long run. His Kingdom doesn’t end, like movies do, and He satisfies us with His presence, love, peace and truth in a way that nothing else can.

So anyway, I just wanted to share that before I give my review. I think putting things into perspective helped me enjoy this movie more. I wasn’t looking for a perfect movie to satisfy all of my desires, but instead got to just enjoy it for what it is. Plus I got to see it with two of my closest friends and laugh with them during the whole thing, which makes any movie experience ten times better.

If you couldn’t tell from the above comments, I loved this movie. It was just what the original story needed as it’s sequel. There were tons of funny parts. I especially liked seeing McQueen’s interactions with his fellow racers and then with the new character Cruz. One of my favorite scenes was when Cruz tells Lightning he has to name all of his tires and he responds with the most sarcastic and hilarious response: “Lefty, Righty, Backy and Backy Jr.” It’s fun to see them learning from each other and although I was hoping for Lightning to have a big comeback, seeing him become a mentor to Cruz was ultimately much more satisfying.

All of our favorite characters are back, even Chick Hicks, and their interactions match their personalities perfectly. This film stays true to the original Cars feel, and shows the value of community and relationships over just winning. And it also dives deeper into the background for Doc’s character and shows how much Lightning changed him as well.

All in all this is a very heartwarming story and it was well worth the wait. So good job with the sequel Pixar! I hope you do this with all future sequels.

Leave a comment »

Wonder Woman

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, be warned, there are spoilers in my review. So I’ve put off writing a review for Wonder Woman even though I saw it in theaters opening night. I think it’s because I really wanted to like this movie and most of the reviews and responses to the movie were very positive. But I just didn’t come out of the theater thinking ‘I loved that movie’ and I wasn’t really sure why. But now that I’ve had some time to think it over, I’ve come up with some reasons why I didn’t love this movie.

Now don’t get me wrong, this movie is a very high quality film and I’m glad it’s getting good reviews and people are enjoying it. I don’t want to start any arguments or make anyone upset. But since I have reviewed movies in the past, I wanted to at least give my opinion.

First off, one thing that makes me love a movie is the comedy. Not all movies need to have comedy, but even dramas I think are improved with moments of comic relief. Wonder Woman too, includes some comedic moments, but most of them are based in sexual humor which is awkward to me and not very funny. I don’t like that kind of comedy and so I found this movie very lacking in any funny moments that usually make me enjoy a superhero movie.

In addition, what makes me really enjoy a movie is a connection to the main character and a desire for them to succeed or accomplish their goal. I’m still not sure why, but I just didn’t connect to Wonder Woman as a character. I didn’t care what happened to her and even when her love interest died, I didn’t cry. Maybe it has something to do with her being a god and not having many things is common with me, or many of the other characters.

And speaking of the whole god thing, that was another reason I didn’t like the movie. As a Christian, any film that has it’s story line based in mythology always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I believe there is one true God and seeing anything with reference to other gods is just always harder for me to get into. But that’s just who Wonder Woman is, so I don’t blame the movie at all, they are sticking to the original comic for her back story, as they should. It’s just another reason that I personally had a hard time enjoying this movie. I prefer superheroes who get their powers by accident or technology instead of because they are a ‘god.’

And lastly, I had a hard time following the story in Wonder Woman. She seems to believe for most of the movie that she just has to defeat this one bad guy, Ares, and then everyone will stop fighting and there will be peace. It’s a naive understanding and I enjoyed seeing her discover that killing one bad guy won’t solve everything when she kills the German with her sword and the fighting doesn’t stop. But then the audience is shown that in fact it was just the wrong bad guy and even her sword isn’t the weapon we thought it was. So instead Wonder Woman is the weapon and some other guy is Ares and she battles him, wins and then the fighting stops.

So it felt like they were setting up an alternate ending where Wonder Woman doesn’t just defeat a bad guy and win, but then that ending sort of happened anyway. So I felt led on as an audience member. I don’t mind it usually when movies have surprises that you weren’t expecting, but it just felt like it was trying to do something new and then said never mind we’ll just do the regular ending that everybody expected at first.

In conclusion, as I’ve already said, I didn’t enjoy the movie. And that’s sad because I was really excited about it and was hoping I’d really enjoy it. I loved the scenery and setting in World War 1 and I liked Chris Pine’s acting and several of the action sequences were very well done. But in the end, it just wasn’t for me.

Leave a comment »

Snapshots

I’ve been going through my old phone photos today and man, I’ve taken a ton of pictures. It’s funny how more often I take them now that I can do it with my phone, which I pretty much always have with me. Sometimes they’re very random, like a picture of a receipt or a screenshot of something I found online. Other times it’s a pretty sunset or a selfie with friends. But each photo brings back a memory and gives a little snapshot of my life. And although every memory might not be a happy one, they are all significant.

This past week I’ve been learning from God how significant life is and even my life. He didn’t create any unimportant people, we are all important to His plan and have a unique role in it. I may not always be in the spotlight, and for me that’s a comforting thing, but what I do each day does matter. How I talk to someone, how I drive, what I think about and notice, and what I choose to do or not do all has an importance that I don’t always see.

So may these random photos and my little ramblings remind you today that you are important, significant and loved by the One True God and that He has you right where He wants you.

The beauty of spring flowers and new life

My cat reminding me to take time to relax

A reminder to get a new perspective

Celebrating Easter with people I love

Leave a comment »

Sneak Peek of the Pirate Princess

So I’ve been working on the next book in the Finding Home trilogy and I thought it was high time for a preview of the newest book. So, if you’ve read any of my books or you’re interested in adventure stories for young readers, I hope you enjoy this preview for Finding Home: The Pirate Princess.

Serina stared out at the violent waves, as they finished their job of wrecking the small rowboat to shreds. It felt like the sea was mocking her, arrogantly destroying her last shred of hope. How could it have gone this wrong? The sand felt hot against her bare feet, but she didn’t move, she couldn’t. Her whole world had crumbled and there was nothing she could do about it. Why? What did I do to deserve this? She clenched her fists and tried to keep the tears from coming but they came anyway, adding to the saltwater that already covered her trembling body. Now that she was alone, she couldn’t hold it together anymore. Why couldn’t it have been me? Why did they have to take Adrian? Why does it always have to be Adrian? Why can’t God just give me what I want for once in my life? She pulled on her hair, tempted to rip it out in frustration. But instead she fell to her knees and sobbed.

She didn’t know how long she’d been crying but her eyes refused to produce any more tears. She was dehydrated, drained and she felt like giving up. She looked up at the sky. “Alright, fine. I give up. Are you happy now? I’m sick of trying to do things my way. It never works and I’m tired of it. I don’t have anyone else so I’m giving You a chance. So help me save Adrian, please. He’s the last person to deserve this.”

She waited, silently hoping for a thundering voice to speak. But the roar of the waves and the cawing of seagulls was all she heard. Then in the distance she spotted a dark spot on the horizon. What is that? She stood up and put her hand to her forehead to block the sun and help her see clearer.

She stared for so long that her eyes began to hurt, but she didn’t take them off of the small dot. The wait was almost unbearable, the heat stifling, her clothes were already almost dry as the sun beat down on her. But the dot continued to get bigger and a flame of hope had lit in her chest that she held onto with everything she had left. Please be a ship. Please!

Finally the mast and sails took shape and Serina jumped with excitement. “Yes! A ship! Thank you God!” She didn’t care about anything else, not her torn dress or parched throat, or empty stomach. She just kept staring at that lovely ship. It was the most beautiful thing in the world to her. Thank you God!

Caleb stumbled out of the trees. “I heard you yelling, what happened?”

“A ship!” Serina said excitedly and pointed. She stopped as she realized Caleb was alive. She turned to him and gave him a big hug. “We’re saved!”

Caleb indulged her hug for a moment then stood back and blushed. “Do you still happen to have that spyglass?”

Serina wondered how she could have forgotten about it as she had watched that small dot getting closer. I really must be tired. She reached into her damp jacket and fished out the spyglass. She gave it to him with a smile.

Caleb took it and stared out at the ship. After a minute he mumbled sarcastically, “Oh great.”

All of the excitement drained out of Serina in an instant. “What?”

Caleb handed her the spyglass. “Take a look for yourself.”

Serina hurriedly pulled the odd contraption to her eye and tried to focus. Her hands were trembling too much and she had to take a deep breath to calm her nerves. Finally she found the ship among the vast blue ocean. She couldn’t see anything wrong with it. It looked sturdy and large enough to fit two extra passengers. But then she spotted the flag. The ugly red with a black X chilled her to the bones. “Oh no, it’s the pirates.”

“No, really? Ya think?”

“What are we going to do now?”

Caleb threw his hands up in the air. “I have no idea! But they’re headed straight here. It’s probably one of their bases of operation.”

“Maybe we could hide.”

Caleb shook his head. “I searched the whole island and besides a fresh spring it’s worthless. There’s nowhere we could hide where they wouldn’t spot us. It’s just not that big.”

Serina felt her chest tighten as the ship came nearer and nearer. And I thought things couldn’t get any worse.

2 Comments »

Jesus Changes Things

Now that summer is getting closer, I’ve been thinking about how it’s going to look different than past summers. For the past thirteen years (since 2003) I have taken part in our church’s summer outreach called Great Adventure. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’ve seen some posts about it in the past. Looking back, it really has had a huge impact on me personally. The first year I attended a Backyard Bible Club as one of the oldest children. (I was going into 7th grade). It’s similar to a Vacation Bible School except that the high school and middle school students from our church would go into different neighborhoods to run a club for a little over an hour. Adults helped drive the students and host the clubs but the students did the teaching.

The next year when I was going into 8th grade I joined one of the student teams and helped teach grade school kids who came to the clubs. It was a huge growing experience for me. I learned how to talk in front of a crowd, connect with kids, share the gospel with different illustrations, and be a part of a team. The next year I was stretched even more. I was going into high school and old enough to be a captain or leader of one of the student teams. It was intimidating, but I felt like God really wanted me to say yes, so I did. I went to several training camps for the first time (I should have gone to one of them the year before, but was on a vacation during it). That summer I learned so much about relying on God, trusting Him, and stepping out in obedience. I got to see kids come to Christ and see my own growth in sharing the gospel and doing what was uncomfortable.

After that year, I was hooked. I wanted to do Great Adventure every year. It had changed me, made me more confident in what God could do if I trusted Him and obeyed. It was exciting to see Him answer prayers, give us energy and work in the lives of the children we were teaching.

Although I wanted to be a part of it, I didn’t exactly want to be a leader again. I thought I’d done my time and now that there were more high schoolers in our youth group, I could let someone else be the captain. But God had other ideas. I ended up being a captain every summer after that up until I graduated from high school and went to college.

You know how when something really works for you, you think it should work the same for others? Like you don’t want it to change? It’s easy to make a good thing into a tradition. I totally do the same thing with restaurants. I keep going back to the ones I’ve been to before and am more hesitant to try new places. But anyway, for the next four years I always returned home for the summer and helped however I could with Great Adventure. It usually meant going to the training camps, taking pictures at the clubs, organizing supplies, and just helping others with what I had learned.

I started seeing changes though. When I had done Bible Clubs, we had gone to two clubs in the morning and 2 in the evening. At one point we even had clubs Monday through Friday and then a huge carnival called Summerfest on Saturday or Sunday. It was a pretty huge commitment and it took a lot of hard work.

But as the years passed, things changed. We ended up switching to only evening clubs, stopping on Thursday, and instead of a huge party at the church, we had individual block parties at each club. We also started writing our own curriculum instead of using other church’s scripts. And we changed the name to Summer Bible Clubs instead of Backyard Bible Clubs. Some of the changes I liked, others were hard to accept. But each year it seemed like God wanted to do things a bit differently. Those “good old days” I’d had in my high school years weren’t the same. But somehow it was still good. I guess God has a better plan than me.

After college I was able to intern at the church and help write the curriculum for several years. I brought all of my experience from the past but tried to be open to doing things differently. We added new games, changed how we shared the gospel with personal testimonies, and just tried new things to make it more friendly to unchurched families.

So that brings us to today and now the latest change has come. Instead of doing Bible clubs for one week, we’re going to connect to neighbors at parks throughout a whole month, and have groups within our church plan their own outreach activities. And instead of teaching students how to run a club, we’re going to teach them how to share the gospel with their friends and to view their schools as their mission field.

It’s kind of hard for me to let go of Bible clubs. I learned so much from them and they were a huge part of my life for the past thirteen years. But as I’ve seen Jesus change our plans every summer and still be faithful to do even greater things, I will trust Him in this. Because I do not worship a curriculum, a tradition, or my own preferences. I worship Jesus Christ. His ways are always best. He is always making things new and changing us from the inside, so I can’t expect Him to do things the same way forever. His purpose is unchanging. His goal is fixed. But His methods can be quite surprising and unconventional. So wherever He leads our church, I know it’s best, because He is always right.

Anyway, I hope you learned something from my ramblings about change and learn to trust Jesus in what He’s changing in your life too.

Leave a comment »

I am a Teapot

So I was sitting in church on Sunday and for some reason I started thinking about a teapot. Maybe it’s because I had been reading/watching some movies and books based in Wonderland and tea seems like a big deal there. But anyway, I started thinking about how God pours His love into our lives but it’s not meant to just stay in our hearts, we in turn should pour out His love to others. It’s kind of like how a teapot is pretty useless if you just put warm tea in it and let it sit there. But if you pour it out into other people’s teacups, everyone can enjoy it. I know it’s not the greatest analogy, but for some reason it came to mind and I thought I’d write a poem about it. Also, I kept noticing references to pouring throughout the church service, so maybe God was trying to tell me something. In any case, I hope you enjoy this short poem.

I am a Teapot

I am a Teapot
short and stout.
Not meant to sit pretty
but to be filled and poured out.

God pours in His love
and I pour it back out.
And find I’m most full
when I’ve shared love about.

But I must never forget
the love that I give,
comes not from myself,
but from Him who first gave.

And so I return to be filled once again
and pour out His love that never ends.

Leave a comment »

The Idol of Marriage

I’m a single lady and I’ve gotten all the questions about when are you going to get married, is there anyone you like, etc. I’m sure there’s some single guys out there who can relate as well. But I was thinking about it the other night and I just got kind of sick of how our culture views marriage, so I decided to write this blog post.

Our culture has set up marriage as this huge goal for life. All of these movies and books and TV shows have marriage and romance as the goal. People pick up on this and eventually relatives and friends begin to assume that you can’t be happy till you’re married, or in a romantic relationship. And it’s not that I don’t want to be married someday. I would love that. But I also know that anything, even a good thing like marriage, is not supposed to be what we base our life on. It can’t fulfill my desire for happiness any more than money or a successful career can.

And as I’ve seen more and more of my friends getting married, I can see it’s true for everyone. Marriage is a good thing and there is a lot of blessing and happiness in it. But there is also a lot of hardship and frustration. One person cannot make you happy all of the time, even if they try really hard. And the “happily ever after” fairy tale is a lie. Life is hard, and so is marriage and often times it involves deep hurts, disagreements, hard situations and working through that is tough. It’s even tougher if you’ve built up marriage into a myth and idol to strive for that will somehow make you happy and fulfilled. Even though I’m not married I can confidently say marriage cannot make you happy. Because nothing in this life will. The only thing, the only One who can is God. Nothing can replace Him. He is where we get meaning, fulfillment, happiness, joy, peace, love and everything good from.

So no, I’m not married. And I honestly don’t know if I will ever be married on this earth. But that doesn’t mean I am unhappy or unfulfilled, or even sad. Sure there’s a part of me that would still like to be married and might be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. But it’s not what my life is all about, and I won’t be crushed if it never happens. Because I do have God, and I love Him with all my heart and soul. And He loves me more than I can imagine, and better than a husband ever could.

So, sorry for the rant. But I’m sick of this culture pushing marriage on everyone as the only way to be happy. Because it’s not the only way, and it really isn’t a way at all. Without God, nothing will satisfy you, not even marriage. So if you’re married, congratulations, and I hope you enjoy it but remember to look for your ultimate satisfaction in Christ. And if you’re not, please don’t set all your hopes and dreams on finding that one special guy or girl. No one can fulfill your life like that. Only God can.

2 Comments »

Be Our Guest

I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast twice now, so the songs are getting stuck in my head. Sorry but this post is not about the movie. It was well done and I enjoyed it, but I want to talk about something else today.

It’s funny how the simple things in life can so easily be overlooked and underappreciated until you don’t have them anymore. My family is in the middle of a kitchen remodel so we do not have access to a stove, oven, dishwasher, or large sink. Our meals have consisted of take out, shakes, microwave meals, leftovers and whatever else we can scrounge up.

Then yesterday, we were invited to the home of one of our church friends for a meal. I didn’t realize how much I had missed a good home cooked meal until I sat down at their kitchen table. It reminded me of all those times I came home from college for the weekend and finally had my Mom’s home cooked dinners instead of cafeteria food. Everything just tasted better. There was breaded fish, sliced potatoes, green beans, a huge fresh salad, roasted chicken, and fruits, veggies and even a blueberry crumble cake for dessert. Everything just looked, smelled and tasted so good. With the absence of our own home cooked meals at our house, this one felt even more special and it made me realize something.

God emphasizes hospitality for a reason. Our culture has made this gift or courtesy less important than it should be. Welcoming someone into your home, feeding them and spending time to get to know them better shows such value and care. I really felt blessed after our meal together and it’s making me excited to get to do the same thing for others once our kitchen is done.

So here’s your challenge for the day, think of someone that you can share a meal with. If you can’t actually host, then go out to lunch or dinner. But if you can open up your home, do it. You might be surprised with how meaningful it can be. But one word of caution because I’ve found myself feeling this way before: Don’t stress too much about how the house looks or if everything is perfect. It’s okay to clean up for guests but keep your focus on them, not on the impression you’re making.

Well that’s my short post for the day, hope y’all have a great week!

2 Comments »

When Life Gives You Lemons… or a Flat Tire

So this past weekend I finally made a trip to Uvalde, TX to see some of my good friends and their baby. It was a lot of fun, but on my way home, something unexpected happened. I was driving on Highway 90 East towards San Antonio when suddenly everything got really loud in my car. At first I thought the road was just bumpy, maybe made of a different kind of asphalt or something, but it was really loud and then it hit me: Something is wrong with my car. So I slowed down, got into the right lane, pulled off onto the shoulder of the road, and put on my hazard lights. When I finally got a look at my tires, this is what I found.

This was not what I had planned on, but there was nothing to be done but start fixing the problem. I called my mom first, just to help calm myself down. Then I called Roadside Assistance and checked to make sure I had a spare tire. It was very low on air, but it was usable. Unfortunately my jack was completely rusted. Somehow water had gotten in where it was stored and I couldn’t even make it budge and I highly doubted it would work even if I could get it out. I then contented myself to sit in the car and wait for a call back from Roadside Assistance. But when they called, partway through our conversation, a knock sounded on my car window.

A lady had seen me pulled over and she had gone out of her way to stop and see if I needed help changing the tire. She had a jack that wasn’t rusted and experience with changing a tire. So between the two of us, we got the car in a safer position and started lifting it off the ground. But when we tried loosening the bolts on the tire, one of them wouldn’t budge. But God provided again and two young men strode over to help us out. They quickly got the bolts loosened and replaced the tire. I felt so blessed and cared for by these strangers on the road. It reminded me that there are people out there who care, who don’t mind interrupting their day to help someone out and lend a hand.

They even told me the closest place I could go to refill my spare tire with air. So after calling to cancel the Roadside Assistance, I slowly drove over to the nearby gas station. The ladies and young man working there were very helpful too. I had to buy a tire gauge to check the pressure. And I had to call my Dad to ask what the pressure should be in a tire. He also suggested I go to Discount Tire to see if they could replace my tire.

So the next few hours were spent at a shopping area with a Discount Tire and several shops and restaurants. I got to eat lunch and get some help with my car. I even met an older gentleman who was also waiting in Discount Tire and we talked about where we were from and how we ended up there. He and his daughter had also had a blowout that day. But through the whole experience I felt at peace and that all I had to do was the next thing and God would take care of me. And it helped extremely to have perfect strangers come to my rescue on the road. It made me want to start looking out for other people I could also help out that day.

I know there is still a lot of tension in our country about politics and policy changes. But my experience with the flat tire reminded me that we are not alone. If we rely on God and try to help each other out and look out for each other, we’ll be okay. So I’m going to try to keep a look out for people that could use a hand and I hope you do too.

Have a wonderful week!

Leave a comment »

Refurbishing Yourself

For the past 8 weeks my church has been going through a series called Life’s Healing Choices. It’s a step study based on taking an honest look at yourself and seeing what needs to change and how to start that process. And then today, we just started work on refurbishing our kitchen. I can see several similarities about the two processes, so why not write a blog about it?

The Kitchen (Before)

Anyway, before you can do anything, the first step is always realizing there is a problem. For our kitchen it was things like moldy old cork board, a sliding door that was coming out of it’s rail and chipped tile. But for yourself, it could be a whole mess of personal issues. For me I recognized my tenancy to want to be in control and not admit my problems. I tend to listen to other people’s problems and not talk about my own. There’s definitely some pride in there as well.

Our broken door

But that’s just the first step, then I have to realize I can’t fix all of this on my own. For our kitchen, we realized we needed someone else to make new cabinets, take out the old stuff, raise the ceiling, and put in new tile… among other things. And for my own heart, and habits, I needed to realize I couldn’t change myself with my own will power. I can stop a bad habit for a little while, but then I give up. And I can remind myself not to be prideful and then fall right back into pride when I feel like I’m doing it well. What I need is God’s power to help me and His truth to guide me and fill me.

One of the steps in the kitchen process was cleaning out of the stuff in the kitchen: the dishes, storage containers, food, pots, pans, decorations, etc. And one of the important steps in Life’s Healing Choices is making an inventory and actually writing out the hard stuff, like who has hurt you in the past, and how you’ve hurt others, and things you feel guilty for and need to admit. But when you finally finish emptying the kitchen, there’s a big weight removed, and the same thing happens with the inventory.

The cleaned out kitchen

Then when you finally reveal your deepest darkest secrets to God and another person, (tell someone everything that is on your inventory) there is freedom in that. And it’s sort of like how my house looks now. All of the old junk has been ripped out and we’re getting ready to start building it back up again. It may not be easy, and it definitely isn’t pretty, but you can’t get the new kitchen without taking out the old one, and you can’t be the person you want to be without confessing what is wrong with you and admitting it honestly.

Kitchen after Demolition

And then it moves on to the slow change. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like it will take at least a month to build up our new kitchen, it will take time to change your habits and ways of thinking. One way I’m trying to start that is by meditating on God’s word before I go to sleep. I’d found myself being anxious or restless and not being able to sleep well, so I’m reviewing verses I’m trying to memorize right before I turn off the light.

I’m sure that’s not the only change I’ll have to make, but everyone has to start somewhere. So anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and remember that no one can change on their own. We all need help from each other and from God. And it is a very long process, one that will continue throughout our lives. But in the end, it’ll be worth it.

Some of the guys helping us with the kitchen

Leave a comment »