NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Smurfs vs Baby Boss

 

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So I haven’t done a movie review in a little while and I happened to see two movies this past weekend, so I thought it was time to do one. The two family films or kid’s movies that I went to see with a friend were The Boss Baby and Smurfs: The Lost Village. I have to admit from the previews I was a lot more excited about Smurfs than Boss Baby. The whole idea of a baby acting like an adult kind of weirded me out and even though I like Alec Baldwin’s humor, I wasn’t sure it would work out in a kid’s movie. Smurf’s on the other hand, looked extremely funny from the previews and I thought an all-animated movie would be an improvement over the mix of live-action and animated figures that we have seen in past Smurf movies.

And so, into the theater I went. The first film I saw was The Boss Baby, and I was surprised at how good it was. There were multiple funny lines and scenes, and the characters had a depth with great strengths and weaknesses. I was especially excited to see how both of the main characters grew through the movie. The single child realizes how fun and good having a brother can be. And the boss baby learns what he’s been missing out on by not being part of a family and how empty career advancement really is. And both boys learn how love isn’t limited but how it can grow to include more and more people.

At the end of Boss Baby I was just so happy. It had enough surprises for me to not feel like I had known exactly what would happen before I even watched the movie, and it had a satisfying conclusion where both characters get what they thought they wanted and then decide to change and give up their old desires for new better ones.

After a snack break and some leg stretching me and my friend headed back to the theaters for the Smurf movie. As I watched the movie, I found myself not laughing as much as I had thought I would. I realized that most of the jokes that I had found funny in the preview were the same jokes in the movie. After seeing them in the previews, they just weren’t as funny and there were not many additional ones to the ones I’d already seen. There was also not a lot of surprises either. The majority of the plot had already been revealed in the preview: other Smurfs exist in the forbidden forest, and four of our more familiar Smurfs go find them, the new Smurfs are all girls, then they have to defeat the evil wizard. There were a couple of other things that weren’t shown in the preview, but it definitely felt like I already knew most of the plotline. So when we finally got to the climax and it seemed like one of the Smurfs was a goner, I seriously doubted that it would end that way, and of course that Smurf magically came back to life. So it was an emotional ending, but somewhat predictable.

In the end, I actually liked Boss Baby more than the Smurf movie. This might have had a bit to do with low expectations for Boss Baby and High Expectations for Smurfs. Or perhaps I was excited for a movie when I saw Boss Baby and a little tired of watching movies by the time I saw Smurfs. But I think the biggest reason was because Smurfs revealed too much of its plotline in its previews and that made the movie predictable. Whereas Boss Baby set up the intro of its movie nicely in its previews but left most of the plot a surprise for the audience, and it had more of a surprising ending.

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NaNoWriMo in April

So apparently there are writing camps and all sorts of fun things that NaNoWriMo does throughout the year. I’ve only ever done the write 50,000 words in November contest before. But this month my sister was thinking about joining a cabin and writing for the month of April. When she told me about it, I suggested that we use the month to start writing our co-authored book together. You see, we talk about story ideas all the time. Usually we keep our writing separate, but we’ve talked for years about writing a novel, or even a series together. So I figured, why not try it this month?

Our story idea revolves around a middle school student getting the super power of teleportation and then learning how to use his powers and become a hero all while keeping his identity a secret and keeping up with normal teenage life. It’s been a blast so far, though I still have very little direction for where this story is going. But I figured y’all might like getting a glimpse of what I’m working on, so here’s a section that I wrote.

Keep in mind that this is unedited and subject to many changes.

Our working title is:

Tales of a Middle School Superhero

This is the story of how I became a middle school super hero. It’s pretty crazy so be warned. You might not believe me but I’m totally telling the truth.
It all started when I was sitting in history class and my teacher, Ms. Robinson was talking on and on about the Great Depression. Which I think is such a bad name, like how can a depression be great or even good? They should have named it something else like the horrible depression. But anyways I’m getting off topic. So I was trying my best not to be depressed listening to her talk about all the horrible things people had to deal with, like dust tornadoes and living in cars instead of houses. And I started thinking, why couldn’t everybody just go to Disney World and be happy? Or better yet why can’t everyone go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for free? I mean they have so many good rides and like the best water park. Why can’t we all just be happy? And I started thinking about my favorite ride at Six Flags. It’s totally the Superman Krypton Coaster. I love when the first drop makes you feel like you’re really flying and then spins you in the giant loop. I started imagining that I was on the roller coaster instead of stuck in my boring… and depressing classroom. This is a normal thing for me, my mom says I have trouble daydreaming. But I really don’t have any trouble with it. I do it so well that I could actually call it my special talent. I can actually picture that I’m there and not here. But well, this time felt different because, I didn’t just see it. Like I heard it. People were screaming around me and there was wind in my hair and I could feel the twists and turns of the coaster pulling me out of my seat. And that’s when I realized something. I was no longer in my class. This was NOT a daydream, or even a dream dream. This was real! Somehow, I had left my class, traveled over a hundred miles, and landed in a an empty seat on the Superman. I let out a surprised scream, but no one else seemed to notice me. They were already screaming anyway. I realized the restraining bars were a bit tight. I guess the guy who closes the empty coaster seat put it as tight as it could go, since no one was in the seat when the coaster left. Lucky for me, I’m small for my age. I haven’t quite hit that growth spurt yet. So the coaster sped me on my way and gave me a great look at the park. I noticed that there weren’t many people around, which makes sense. It it a school day. Even though summer is definitely on it’s way, most people aren’t going to the theme parks yet. The brakes squeaked loudly and jolted me to a stop, then we coasted slowly into the terminal. The fat guy behind the controls looked at me and blinked a couple times. I froze, wondering if he realized I hadn’t been there when the ride started. Then he pressed a button releasing the locks and our restraints lifted. I unbuckled mine and stepped out of the seat.
“You want to ride again? There is no line.”
I looked up at the operator but I felt a bit unsteady from the coaster. That or reality that I had just teleported.
“No thanks, I’m good,” I said, then quickly got up and hurried past the worker, following the walkway into the Superman gift shop. I sat down at a bench and took a deep breath. Before I could decide what to do next, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I fished the phone out of my cargo shorts and promptly dropped it on the concrete sidewalk. The phone kept buzzing though, so I picked it up and saw the picture of my best friend stuffing an entire slice of cake in his mouth. It was the profile picture I had assigned him. It matched his personality quite well. Sam was always hungry, especially for anything sweet. We joked that he didn’t have any normal teeth, only sweet tooths. I managed to swipe my finger across the touch screen before it went to voicemail and put the phone to my ear.
“Nick? What happened to you? Did you ditch without me?”
“Hey Sam, I uh. I don’t…”
“Dude, that was not cool. Ms. Robinson grilled me like crazy. She said she never said you could leave for a bathroom break. I had to tell her you were about to throw up.”
“Actually, I might.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, you’re never going to believe me Sam, but I think I just teleported.”
Sam cackled. “You’re right, I’m never going to believe you. So where did you go?”
“I uh, went to Six Flags. I just rode the Superman.”
“Are you tripping man? Seriously, do you need a doctor or something?”
“I’m serious. I was imagining riding it while Ms. Robinson droned on and on and then suddenly I was riding it.”
“Okay, you can stop with the joke, it is way too late for April Fools.”
“I’m not joking Sam. I don’t know what happened. One second I was there and the next I was here.”
“So you didn’t sneak out of class?”
“No, I didn’t mean to leave.”
“Wierd. I didn’t even notice. No one did. Ms Robinson just asked me where you went and then I noticed that you weren’t there.”
“What’s wrong with me Sam? People don’t just randomly start transporting places!”
“I know, I know, chill. We’ll figure this out. Where are you now?”
“At a bench, next to the Superman Coaster.”
“I wish I was there, I still have two more hours of torture before school ends.”
“What do I do Sam? I can’t walk home from San Antonio!”
“I know, I know. Just stay calm. Maybe you should call your mom.”
“And tell her what? Hey mom, I just teleported, could you come pick me up please?”
Sam giggled. “Yeah I think she might not believe you.”
“You do believe me though, right?”
Sam didn’t answer.
“Sam?”
“Look I know you like playing jokes–”
“This is not a joke! I’m really in San Antonio. You want me to send you my location on my phone?”
“Sure, do that.”
I hung up and opened up my maps app. I took a screenshot of my location and texted it to Sam. I waited till the text went through then called him back. The phone rang twice before he picked up.
“So did you get it?” I asked.
“Yeah, how’d you do that? This is a pretty elaborate prank.”
“It’s not a prank Sam, I’m really at Six Flags. I can send you pics if you want, or a video. But I’m not lying. I’m really here.”
“But you were in class ten minutes ago. You couldn’t…”
“I did.”
“Okay you’re totally scaring me now. If this is a joke you’d better tell me right now.”
“For the last time, it’s not a joke.”

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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!

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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!

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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

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The Lego Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie logo

This past weekend I went to see the Lego Batman movie with a friend. I knew from the previews that it would be very similar to the original Lego Movie, in that it was highly comical and would reference other fandoms. However, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy it, until the movie started. From beginning to end, this movie throws out funny tidbits and references that keep the audience, especially the adult audience, giggling. Even the opening credits are included in this wave of hilarity. Batman narrates the opening black screen, studio logos and quote, and then continues to bring us hilarious dialogue throughout the movie.

Yet even with these continuous comedic elements, the film still manages to bring in a fairly good story line. Batman especially, realizes flaws about himself and chooses to make a change, making him more of a hero than when he just saved the city from criminals.

I also loved seeing so many other characters from other franchises popping up in the story. Sauron from Lord of the Rings makes an appearance, as does Voldemort from Harry Potter, and the Dalek from Doctor Who. And I especially loved the references to the previous Batman movies and Batman’s unending competition with Superman.

So if you love Legos, or Batman, or just want to sit back and laugh for an hour, go see the Lego Batman Movie.

Here’s a preview, if you’re interested:

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Flash from the Past

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been feeling sentimental recently and I really just want to look at some old photos. So I thought I’d share from my findings. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my life and history and if you think it’s a cool idea, feel free to do your own Flash from the Past on your blog or social media. Enjoy!

2008
I’m starting with this year because it’s when I first got my own digital camera, and digital photos are much easier for me to upload. This was the end of my senior year of high school and also my first semester of college.

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My high school Senior Picture… or one of them at least.

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My Senior Formal (Prom for homeschoolers)

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At my graduation party with one of my best friends Lindsey.

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My 18th Birthday with my family.

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Making new friends in college like Victoria.

2009

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A ski trip to New Mexico that I went on with my Dad.

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Having fun with friends Kari and Amanda at a dance in college.

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I helped paint our house that summer.

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I went on a road trip from Nashvilled, TN to Austin, TX with my brothers.

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My Sophomore dorm room and friend Heather.

2010

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At my cousin’s wedding in Indiana.

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Going to the Rodeo with my sister.

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My 20th Birthday.

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I went to Palmetto State Park with some college friends.

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I got into the Alpha Chi Honor Society that fall.

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We decorated our college apartment for Christmas.

2011

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We had a snow day in February!

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I finally saw the Austin bats with Tracey.

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I went to Germany with some college friends, including my roommate Victoria.

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I helped with my church’s Bible Clubs like I had for the past several summers.

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I went to a UT football game with my cousin Hannah.

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Senior Year Homecoming.

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On the TLU campus.

2012

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Ice skating with my family during winter break.

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One of my paintings for my Senior Art Show.

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Finishing my senior bucket list with my roommate by going up the chapel bell tower.

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College Graduation.

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I went to the Bahamas with my family and we swam with dolphins.

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I kept painting and made this for my friend Lindsey.

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Having Fun with my family for Thanksgiving.

2013

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I tried a Cleanse and ate a lot healthier in the Spring.

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I went to the Austin Kite Festival.

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I painted a cover for my first novel.

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I got the obligatory Bluebonnet picture.

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I donated my hair to Locks of Love with my sister.

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Haiti mission trip.

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I went to see my old roommate Victoria in Philly and we took a day trip to NYC!

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I decorated my first tree on the side of the road for Christmas.

2014

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I made a snowman, or iceman.

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My brother proposed to Ashley and we all went up to Abilene to celebrate.

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Another Bluebonnet pic with my sister.

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I was maid of honor in my friend Lindsey’s wedding.

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I got to be a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and I got a new sister!

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I saw Victoria for Christmas in San Antonio.

2015

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Ski trip to New Mexico with our church’s youth group.

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In Florida for my Grandpa’s memorial service.

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We had heavy rains that spring and a lot of flooding.

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Spring Bluebonnets with all my sisters.

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My 25th Birthday.

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My first book fair with my novel.

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Mission trip to Mozambique.

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Going to the Trail of Lights in Austin.

2016

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I went to a Spurs Game with my cousin Hannah.

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My friend Lindsey had Bethany, her first baby.

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I got to meet Marissa Meyer, the Author of the Lunar Chronicles.

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I got to go on a backstage tour of the AT&T Center.

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I went to Kentucky to see the replica of Noah’s Ark.

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I got to see a beautiful sunset in San Diego.

 

Well I’m going to stop there. It was fun to look through old photos and see some of the cool things that have happened in my life. I want to take some time to stop and be grateful for all the places I’ve seen, people I’ve known and ways that God has shaped me and grown me over the past 9 years. I hope you take some time today to do the same.

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Using Your Gifts and Talents

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to make artwork for a women’s conference. I’ve always enjoyed making little paintings and watercolors, but in more recent years I’ve started to see ways how I can use this hobby for God’s glory.

It all started with my mom’s birthday a few years back. She wanted to celebrate with a lot of people, but she didn’t want a bunch of presents. So she thought we could have a few donation options for people to give to in lieu of presents. Our church had been doing a similar thing with Christmas where you could donate to a charity and get a small ornament to give to a friend or family member and let them know that you gave the gift in their honor. My mom set up the church’s charity as one of her options, so people could get an ornament if they gave to that. (Maybe I should mention my mom’s birthday is in December). Anyway, she had a couple of other charities that she wanted to support and she thought it would be fun to have something to give if you supported one of those. Since all of the girls in my family like art, we decided to make several small paintings. Then if someone gave $50 or more they could have their pick of a little painting.

Here’s a couple of the paintings:

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These were my first attempts at more inspirational artwork. And one lady at the party asked if we had ever heard of or done prophetic art. The idea sounded a little weird to me at the time, but I think I kind of understand it a little better now. We all have different gifts and talents in the body of Christ. And art, just like any gift can be used for God’s glory. He can sometimes speak to people in pictures instead of words and I’ve found that combining the two is especially meaningful to me.

So fast-forward a couple years and my parents got involved in a Healing Ministry that wanted to give artwork to people who came to be prayed for. My mother volunteered and got me in on the reoccurring project. We decided to make watercolors since they are quicker and cheaper to make, especially if you need so many for one month. As I began with these paintings, I started to focus more and more on God’s Word and verses that spoke to me. Sometimes I’d start with a verse and try to paint something to match it, other times I’d start with an image and then find a verse to go with it. But each time I was excited to see how it would turn out and how others were impacted by it.

Here are some of the watercolors I’ve made:

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So when the opportunity came to do some more for a conference, I said yes and got to join with a friend and do it together. It was a little new for both of us to be making art with other people around, but it was also fun and I hope all the women at the conference who ended up with one of the paintings or drawings was blessed by it. In any case, I’m excited that God has given me these talents and opportunities and has more in store for me in the future.

So whatever your talent or gift is, I hope you look for opportunities to bless others with it and glorify God.

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Hamilton

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I’ve finally listened to the soundtrack for this new Broadway musical. Many friends and especially my sister have been bugging me about listening to it for quite awhile now. I would rather have seen it in person, but I do not live in New York, and even though it is coming to my state sometime next year, I highly doubt I’ll be able to get a hold of some tickets. But thankfully, the whole play is available to listen to online. So I’ve enjoyed a few weeks of slowly listening to the whole thing.

I can definitely see why this musical is such a hit, the songs are very catchy and also very relatable. I’ve often thought of the lyric “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now. History is happening and we just happen to be living in the greatest city in the world.” And it kind of strikes a chord with me. I know there is a lot of unrest in our country right now, and sometimes it’s easier to just ignore it, but it is happening, and we get to be a part of it. You and I are living in an important moment in history and it’s happening right around us. I really like how that lyric captures the moment. And even though it can be scary to be living in the middle of change and unrest, it’s also exciting to see how you’re a part of something bigger.

One of my other favorite parts of Hamilton deals more with the relationships. The play uses a large portion of the story to focus on Alexander and his wife Eliza. The songs where they fall in love are wonderful and definitely worth listening too. But after Eliza is hurt by Alexander’s affair and then their son is killed in a duel, one of my favorite songs comes next. “It’s Quiet Uptown” shows how Alexander and Eliza learn to forgive and help each other. They come back together after all they’ve been through and it’s so beautiful. It reminds me that no relationship is beyond God’s ability to heal. He knows the deep hurts, our pain, and the wrongs done to us, but He can help us forgive.

So overall, I really enjoyed this new Broadway show. If you’re sensitive to language and some more adult themes, you may want to be cautious with this play and especially with “Say No to This.” But otherwise it’s a great story and really great music!

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An Old Poem

I found this poem in my old school folder today and thought I’d share it. Enjoy!

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Companion

No one wants to be alone in this world
Everyone wants a friend or companion
Someone to talk to or sit beside
It doesn’t even have to be human

A cat will curl up and keep you company
A dog will stand watch and keep you safe
A bird will bring music to the silence
Even a fish will not leave you alone

But there is nothing like a real person
To laugh with, talk to, and even listen to
We were not made to live in silence
Or sit by ourselves at the table

We are social animals and we need
Others of our kind around

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