watching, reading, and writing stories

Snow Day

Growing up in central Texas means you rarely have a snow day. And even when we get a snow day, it’s usually because of ice, not snow. In face what passes for snow is usually sleet, tiny round balls of ice that don’t stick together to make anything. It can be pretty to look at, but, well it’s not snow.

But last night we got a huge surprise. It wasn’t even freezing and snow started to fall from the sky. And this wasn’t sleet, this was flaky soft snow, some of it clumping together into extra big flakes. And it didn’t stop, it just kept falling and then started to accumulate on the ground and the cars. Anything hitting pavement just melted, but it was amazing to be in the middle of an actual snow storm and see it gathering on the trees and cars and grass. I can’t remember this ever happening before in my life.

I know some people live where it snows all the time, but for this Texas girl, last night and today were something special and something I want to praise God for. It was such a blessing for me to see His handiwork in the snow and laugh with joy as I tossed snowballs at family members and opened my mouth to catch a flake on my tongue. It is a special time that I don’t want to forget. So here are a few pictures from my snow adventure. I hope you enjoy them and take time to praise God for the little blessings He gives you today.

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I Love to Laugh

I’ve been reading the Brotherband Series by John Flanagan recently and I was struck by one character’s action. The whole group or brotherband as they are known were worried about one of their group who was injured and left behind to recover and also missing the constant bickering that usually came from that member’s presence. So this character, Thorn, decides to create some bickering with another crewmate’s help and soon everyone is laughing and enjoying themselves again.

I’ve also been rewatching a lot of Marvel movies with my sister, and each of these movies intentionally adds a lot of comedic scenes and moments into their plots. I think this is part of the reason that they are so well liked.

We all like to laugh, to smile, to experience joy. It’s part of our human nature. Now laughter may not always be the appropriate response, it could be seen as offensive or hurtful in certain situations. Just as Solomon writes there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4a). Sometimes it is not a time to laugh. But laughter is important. Whether it’s laughing with friends at an inside joke, or a funny line in a movie, or book, or just at a punny situation, laughter is part of life. And often, it’s the best medicine.

Laughter breaks up boredom, releases tension, heightens enjoyment and has many other physical benefits.

So I’m thankful for all the people that make me laugh: my family, friends, and even the comedians online or on TV. I hope you have a good laugh today. Remember to enjoy life, laugh at the awkward situations you find yourself in, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Sometimes all someone needs to brighten their day is a little laughter.

So here’s a clip to help you laugh a little today. Enjoy!


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Why Do I Spend Time Alone with God?

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Growing up in a Christian household and in a Bible church, I have learned from a young age to have a “quiet time” with God. As I’ve grown up this time has gone through the phases or being a chore, a learning experience, a comfort, and a joy. It’s also changed as I’ve grown and matured. When I first started having a time by myself with God, I was focused on reading the Bible. That seemed to be the whole point. I was supposed to read God’s word in a quiet place and maybe make some notes about what I had read. It was similar to doing homework that my teachers had assigned.

But I clearly remember one year in high school I decided to read the whole Bible in one year. My Bible came with a handy little reading guide in the back, and I used it to read the whole thing. Well, when January 1st came I had done it, I had finished reading the whole thing. I got out my Bible again and my little sister asked me, “Why are you reading that? I thought you finished it.” And I realized that reading the Bible is a lot more than just reading a book. The point isn’t to read the whole thing and then put it back on the shelf. It helps me get to know God, it shows me what He’s like:His character and feelings. And it shows me what needs to change in my own life.

Well, on top of this reading of God’s Word, I had the clear impression that I was supposed to pray, or talk to God during my “quiet time.” Kind of like God’s Word was what He said to me, and prayer was my response to Him. So most of my time with God involved me reading, then righting down notes, and then writing out a prayer to God.

I found that after that year of reading the whole Bible, that if I ever took a day off from reading, life just seemed more difficult. I didn’t have a good attitude about things, and I didn’t feel right. I also remember a few specific times when I was really upset about something and decided to pull out my Bible to read, and found a sense of comfort and peace.

Thus I learned that a time alone with God wasn’t so much a requirement to being a Christian, but a way for me to handle all that life threw at me. No matter what crazy project I had to finish, or big decision that had to be made, or drama that was going on with a friend, I could tell God about it in my time alone with Him and know that He was listening. He cared, and as His Word promised again and again:  I was not alone, He was in control, and He was going to work everything out for the best.

This past month, I have been learning more about spending time alone with God. Our church has been practicing the discipline of Prayer and Solitude. I might have thought that my past years of learning meant that I wouldn’t get much out of this discipline, but it has been exciting for me to see how much joy and happiness is found in God’s presence. During this month I got to spend 10 days setting aside 30 minutes to just talk (out loud, which is not normal for me) to God about anything and everything. It was amazing how much more at peace I felt and how much closer to God I was after these times. Then early one morning I got to go to a park and just sit in God’s creation, marveling at all He had made and what it showed me about Him. During this time I also read His word without being in a rush or facing distractions. I had no where to be, no responsibilities to be mindful of, and I truly enjoyed just being with God.

In addition, this whole month I’ve been reading a book called “Happiness” by Randy Alcorn. This book has been almost a daily reminder of how much God loves me, how He wants me to enjoy Him and be happy in all that He has made and given me. It was truly a blessing to be reminded constantly that God wants me to be happy and can actually give me that true happiness in Himself. And spending time alone with Him is a big way of how I enter into that happiness.

So anyway, that’s what God has been teaching me recently, and I thought I’d share it. Maybe this can inspire you to spend some more time alone with God and enter into His happiness and joy.


Inside Out

If you read my last post, you know that I was very excited to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out. And I can say with confidence I was not disappointed, and if I ever make an updated list of my five favorite Pixar films, this one will be on it. Sometimes I set the bar too high for movies and end of leaving disappointed, but Pixar has done it again. They surpassed my expectations and left me wanting to see this movie again.

So before I get into the details of the movie, if you haven’t seen it, I’d say go ahead and watch it first. I’d hate to spoil anything for you. And if you still need some info before you see it, here’s a preview.

Alright, onto the review. This movie combines outstanding characters with an epic story. As only Pixar can do, the cast of this movie leaves the audience laughing at every turn. There were multiple times when I watched this movie that the audience or myself was laughing so hard, that I missed what a character said right after the funny moment. (This is one of the reasons I want to see it again).

One scene in particular that I found hilarious, was the dream sequence which began with the average dreams that pretty much everyone has experienced (reliving a bad memory, losing your teeth, and not wearing any pants) but the film pokes fun at these stereotypes by having Fear (played by Bill Hader) comment on the predictability of these scenes. Then as other characters, namely Joy (played by Amy Poehler) and Sadness (played by Phyliss Smith) try to change the dream, Fear is left wondering what in the world is going on, saying such things as “What the?” and “Stick with a plotline people.”

And this I think is one of the things Pixar does best, starting with Toy Story they have had groups of characters that feel so real, but say and do things that are just hilarious. I still remember Mr Potato Head saying “Look I’m Picasso,” and “What are you looking at, you Hockey Puck?” Inside Out has the same quality of one liners that leave you laughing. But just as Toy Story, and almost every Pixar film has funny characters, it also has an emotion filled story line.

I can honestly say, this movie made me cry… multiple times. It just knows how to tug on your heart strings, and take you from laughing to crying so fluently. Ironic right, since it’s a movie about emotions. But this is something that Pixar has perfected, even managing to make a 5 minute love story between two people that is heart wrenching in their movie UP.

One last thing I want to mention that I really enjoyed from this movie is how loss is handled. In the movie, Joy is always looking on the bright side and being optimistic and trying to make everyone around her, even Sadness, happy. But at one point she in confronted with a character who is heartbroken. Something they loved, that was really important to them was lost, and they’ll never get it back. (It reminded me of a person losing a friend or a loved one). Joy responds as she always had before, trying to put a positive spin on things, and distracting the character from the loss. And that can be such a typical response that we can give to someone else’s tragedy. But in contrast, Sadness listens to the character’s story and lets him mourn. She enters into his pain and lets him feel that it is alright to be upset. And that ends up being so much better for him, and for anyone dealing with grief.

I’ve been learning a lot about that in my own life now, with so many people around me and in my city experiencing tragedy. I want to remember to not try to fix everything or make someone feel happy, but let them be sad, validate their sense of loss and even cry with them.

So, I hope you enjoyed this movie too, and if you haven’t watched it and went ahead and read this, I hope I didn’t give away too much and you’ll still enjoy seeing it for yourself.


A Lesson in Joy


Girl, Joy, Smiling, Happy, Children, Child

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I’ve been learning a lot about joy recently. Partly because it keeps coming up at church as we read through Philippians, but also because of what I’ve been going through lately. I tend to be a happy person, and look for the positive in each situation. But when circumstances get hard, I feel like I have a right to be angry, upset, hurt, sad, depressed, etc. In essence I can throw myself a little pity party and I want everyone to notice and try to make me feel better.

But that is not right. Even if a lot of other people do the same thing, and there is a time and place to mourn and cry and be sad. At the end of the day, it’s not about me, what I want, what I don’t have, my feelings, or anything related to me. It’s really all about God. His plan for my life is what matters, not my own. And I know if I let go of my self pity, and focus instead on what God is doing, I will have joy. It’s more of a choice than I realized at first. And it’s a hard one to make. There’s something in me, probably in my selfish will that wants attention, wants other’s love, wants to be noticed, but even when I finally do get that attention I crave, it doesn’t make anything better. I’m still stuck feeling sorry for myself. It’s only when I stop looking at me, that joy, life, and peace shine through.

Well it’s a lesson I’ve had to learn again and again, and I’m not done learning it. Each day I have to choose not to focus on me, and instead focus on Jesus. But I know it’s better. And I’d like to ask you to do the same thing with me today.

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Lessons from Haiti: The Hidden Joy in Waiting

In case this is new for you, I am currently posting a series of blogs that detail my recent trip to Haiti and the lessons I learned from going there.

Haiti bus

Day 2: The Hidden Joy in Waiting

Building on the lesson I learned from traveling on the previous day, I awoke Saturday morning prepared to meet every obstacle with prayer. I was also bubbling with excitement that today we would finally make it to our destination. We arrived at the Florida airport without a problem, then found our way to an empty check-in station. We discovered that we couldn’t check in till the plane from Haiti landed, since the people who were on the plane, were the same ones who would check us in. This began one time of waiting, which would be repeated throughout the day, and in actuality, throughout the trip.

However, during this time of waiting, or delay, I was pleasantly surprised to find a source of joy. You see, in the present day culture of America, there is a lot of emphasis on instant gratification. Google, texts, YouTube, Hulu; they all let you get what you want now. Whether it’s the answer to a question, or a missed episode of a TV series, there is not a lot of value in waiting. But waiting in the airport, I found how nice it is to not be in constant motion. On this trip I purposefully left my cell phone at home, so I could engage with what was going on in the moment. And during this time of waiting, things began to happen.

Other passengers, also taking plane to Haiti, were gathering in the airport, and we began to strike up a conversation about why they were going to Haiti. We found out one family was hoping to adopt a child from the country and that they were going to visit the orphanage where the child lived. And we were also able to share with them about our purpose in going; setting up a radio station for the area, and running a soccer camp. We even prayed together, even though we had just met these people. It was a beautiful moment.

Once the plane landed, we began to move again, proceeding from check-in, through security. However, God wasn’t done with our time of waiting. He soon provided another opportunity to be still. You see, we were planning on taking this huge 80 pound box with us to Haiti. It had equipment for the radio station we were setting up. However, the airline wouldn’t allow such a heavy, and cumbersome box aboard. So a few team members stayed behind, in the check in area, to wait for a friend in Florida to pick up the box. The rest of us proceeded through security and to a Burger King for a hurried lunch.

Then, it happened; a security threat. There was a suspicious bag left at the check in area, and all of the people there, including our team members who had stayed behind, were forced to evacuate. Now our team was separated, and our flight was supposed to leave in 15 minutes! Remembering what I had learned yesterday, we all stopped to pray that God would take care of us, and bring our team together again.

We went to the gate for our plane, and were quite relieved to hear that our plane would not be taking off without our other team members. In fact, the people from Haiti who were running the check in were also stuck with everyone else who had been evacuated. So  we had another large chunk of time to just sit and wait. It was another delay. But also another opportunity. And so we began to share testimonies in our group. We shared stories of how we had started following Jesus and gotten to the point that we were now at in our lives. It was a real time of team bonding. And part way through, the few team members who we had left at check-in, appeared! God had provided a way through the airport, even with all the security block offs.

Eventually we were able to board the plane, and fly to Haiti. I had been to Haiti before, so the 3rd world country was not surprising to me. The biggest lesson I had learned that day was: God can turn times of delay and waiting into times of joy as community and relationships grow.