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Further In

I know this is another Narnia post, but it’s what’s on my heart. I always write so much better when it’s from my heart.

I went to see the movie again tonight for the second time, and I’m sooo glad. I even went so far as to download the soundtrack (legally) just now so I could be listening to it.

There’s been a lot of talk about this movie, and I wanted to throw in my tuppence.

First of all: Go see it.

I am being completely serious. Go. Today. Tonight. Tomorrow. As soon as you can. This is a beautiful movie, and it deserves every bit of praise it can be given. I cried through most of the movie the first time I went to see it, it was so beautiful. They really did a fantastic job with it.

I could break it down for you: the acting (the children were just perfect), the scenery (New Zealand is always breathtaking, and the Czech Rep. was great for a 100 year winter set), the effects (finally some realistic animals and mythological creatures!) but what I really want to do is first offer a few thoughts.

  1. If you are a Christian, go see this movie. If you have seen it, take someone else.
  2. If you are a Christian who is familiar with the book, STOP BASHING THIS MOVIE!!! Whatever its flaws (and I don't deny there are a few) the essence of the story IS intact. Instead of being negative, realize the potential of the story and use it to show others a picture of Christ’s love in a disarming, touching way.
  3. Do not compare LWW with LOTR. Or, if you must, start by realizing that the movies have to be different because the books they were adapted from are VERY different from each other. Simply because Tolkien and Lewis were friends, colleagues, & writing fantasy around the same time, it does not mean they wrote in the same style. At all. The two works are very different, so please keep this in mind when comparing movies.

Now, having said that, I just want to touch on the things I took issue with, and end on the things I loved (I like to save the best for last).

There was no moment of the movie I hated; but there were a few changes—mainly additions—that I wondered about. Nothing was major enough to disrupt the meaning of the story. But can someone please tell me why they felt the need to change the wolf’s name from Fenris Ulf to Maugrim?? I don’t understand.* I didn’t see the need for the waterfall/ice chunk scene, but I guess they wanted to add drama. The beavers could have been better, imo. Why didn’t they go into Aslan being a Lion and not safe but good before the kids met him? And I really wish that they had better conveyed the closeness Aslan and the children had before his death. Obviously, they must have been attached for them to grieve him so quickly, but it could have been shown better.

Now for the things I liked. The music is really good—not quite as rich as Howard Shore’s composition for LOTR, which is probably my favorite movie soundtrack (combined) of all time—but I am listening to it right now, and I am really loving it.

The acting was really excellent, and though everybody is raving about Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy (and she is quite brilliant in the role), it was Skandar Keynes (Edmund) who really stole my heart. He was just perfect, and really a sympathetic character. I just loved him. Edmund has recently become a close second favorite (human) character of all, and I think this gave him an extra edge. Sorry, I just really wanted to gush about him a moment, he really is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I have always admired how Lewis was able to make you start out disliking a character and then change the person enough so that you can actually like him in the end, barely remembering what a prat he used to be because he’s so changed.

I love the coronation scene; it still made me tear up. And I like how Lucy notices Aslan’s sorrow when everyone else is rejoicing, and that she is sad when she sees Aslan leaving; that was fitting and the closest they came to conveying that bond. Mr. Tumnus was really great, a really funny and likable character as he ought to be. I love seeing the grown-up versions of the children, even though my brother complained that they made Lucy prettier than Susan, and she really was supposed to be prettier. It didn’t bother me, because I like Lucy much better anyway. And one of my favorite things is the “real” ending of the movie: don’t jump up when the credits start, or you will miss it. Wait just a minute, and the very last scene is just a nice, fitting end to the beginning of more adventures to come.

Okay, so seriously, stop reading now and go to the movies. You saw it? Great! I’m so glad. Now go see it again. Yes, I’m serious. Okay, so you can leave me a comment first. Then go.

*Edit: I found out that Maugrim was the original, British-version name of the wolf. So that makes sense now.


Narnia Mania

I want to tell you a story.

When I was about three years old, my father started reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” to me. I am not kidding. He adapted it to my level, of course, so that my young mind could grasp the unfolding drama. The best part was that he used voices. He even used British accents. It was great. To this day I can still hear echoes when I re-read them.

I don’t remember the very first time I heard it, but I do remember becoming absolutely captivated at a very young age. At five, I was already imitating Lucy, my favorite character (besides Aslan)—I dressed up as her for (my last) Halloween that year. There was something about the stories that absolutely enchanted me.

Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a way into Narnia.

Seriously, I could write pages and pages on how much C. S. Lewis’ stories influenced me. Actually, I did write pages—in college I wrote a paper on it.

His depiction of Jesus as a Lion—wow. Brilliance. More than that, it was inspired. Aslan is both ferocious and tender, depending on the situation. He knows when to whisper and when to roar, when to use his claws and when to velvet them. There was something about this duality, this supreme wisdom that sunk deep into my psyche. Aslan’s supreme justice and supreme mercy combined to create a God that is seldom preached from our pulpits.

I was also deeply impressed by the intimate friendship Lucy and Aslan had. Lewis would often write that Lucy “understood his moods” or correctly interpreted his growls. She seemed somehow to be most in tune with him, and when she is told she is too old to come back to Narnia, she sobs that it’s Him she’ll miss, not the country. At that point in my young life I had a very similar connection to God—innocent, full of trust and love and the assurance that He cared about me.

I tell ya, Life can really take that out of you. It’s amazing to me how much that belief has been assaulted in the past decade or so of my life. That complete trust we have when we are children is attacked as we get older; it is shaken, just like our faith in everything else around us eventually is.

But no matter how old I get, I am taken back to that sense of wonder when I re-read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” In the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of reading it to children. I read it to a group of (older) students at a preschool a couple of years ago, and just a few months ago to my Chinese Church kids. Yes, I use voices and fake accents. I love seeing the kids get into the story…and I love getting myself back into it. I especially want them to know the “real” story before the movie comes out in December.

I know it will be really good, very well done, probably spectacular from all that I’ve seen of it already…but nothing will ever live up to the images I have in my head. They will change things, because that’s what movie people do to books. I could write a whole other post of my disgust on that topic. And because it’s something that means so much to me, I am trying to prepare myself now for the inevitable disappointments. (Hey, I had them with LOTR, too, and those are like my favorite movies of all time.) And I am trying to overlook the hype which now surrounds the movie and stay positive, knowing that no matter what happens with the movie, there will always be the original story.

The point is, I probably am who I am today in a large part because twenty-three years ago my dad read me a thirty year old book written by deceased English author. I would not be J. M. Richards, I would not have written “Found Phoebe,” if it weren’t for my dad, and Clive Staples Lewis. That sounds like a big thing to say. But I really believe it. The love of Narnia opened up for me a whole desire for more adventures into other lands—and for adventure in general, the longing to be part of something bigger. And the symbolism, which I was able to grasp even as a child, showed me that other stories might also carry a deeper meaning.

This is something which has come to fruition in me only in recent years; but I recognize when and where the seeds were planted (and subsequently watered in large part by John Eldredge). I look back in amazement that something so beautifully simple had such a profound effect on me.

Well, I told you I could write pages on this. I could mention the beautiful Chris Rice song, “Run the Earth and Watch the Sky” [thanks to Brianne for introducing me to that song] where he mentions Aslan and the Pevensies as part of his adolescence. I could go off on a tangent and talk about when I went to Chicago, to Wheaton, and saw (touched!!!) C.S. Lewis’ desk at a special library dedicated to him and six other British authors (including Tolkien and George MacDonald). But really this post is just a tribute; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and How it Changed My Entire Life, by J. M. Richards. Or something like that. If I sound fanatical, even evangelistic about it…well, I don’t apologize. I can only hope that someday you, too, will experience the wonder, and find your own adventurous encounter with the untamed God. Y



Your Hidden Talent

You are both very knowledgeable and creative.
You tend to be full of new ideas and potential - big potential.
Ideas like yours could change the world, if you build them.
As long as you don't stop working on your dreams, you'll get there.

So I watched "Sky High" tonight (I am a sucker for a good superhero story...like I am for a good spy story...or a good love story...or a good fairy tale...*ahem!*) and I thought I would post this. I took this quiz (I also have a thing for quizzes) a while back when I was wasting time on the internet. It was rather encouraging at the time, even though it sounds like it came out of a fortune cookie. Speaking of wasting time on the 'net, that is what I have already done too much of tonight. I've been dinking around on myspace--yes, I got a myspace. If you're interested, you can find it here, or in my links to the right. If you do, check out my "friends" for some familiar faces. :) Anyway, that's all for tonight, folks. 



I know. It's about time. I've been sooo sick of seeing my whiny post every time I logged onto the internet--which, granted, wasn't that often, and never for very long. Obviously my life didn't automatically calm down just because I went from three jobs to two...

By the way, I am enjoying my new job, and for those who were wondering, I don't miss my old one. If that sounds horrible, then I apologize. I didn't mean for it to. I'm simply being matter-of-fact.

But at the present, I am on vacation. *Sigh of contentment*
It's the holidays, and I am spending it with family. My parents and I flew to Washington state for Thanksgiving to be with my aunt and her kids (she has six, three of which are still at home and four of whom are younger than me). And I'm so glad to be here. We used to live out here, a couple hours away, actually, and for a time the whole horde of us lived in one house (and shared one bathroom!!).

Earlier this week we went down to
Pike Place Market, you know, the big shopping area in downtown Seattle, where they sell the fish? It was in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Then today we went to the dinky town we used to live in, where I spent my senior year. It was interesting seeing how the town had changed...and hearing how the people I used to know had changed, too. It doesn't sound like it was all that long ago when you put it in years, but it feels like a very long time ago. In fact, I was just telling one of my cousins last night that if the Teenage Me met the Me Today, we might not get along too well. And I've been thinking about why I've changed in the ways that I have. All in all, it's been educational. Probably all this introspective stuff will come out in greater detail in one of my books someday, so I won't spoil it for you now.

Till next time, when I will probably talk (read: complain) about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


3 Job Whine

I believe I mentioned in my VFD post that I am currently working three jobs at the moment. Moment, being of course, a euphemistic term for the past two weeks—and one future week—of my life.

It’s driving me insane.

I am getting sick at the moment (can colds spread over the phone? Or via the web? jk) and I know it is because I have not managed to get more than about five hours of sleep any night this week. My parents are shaking their heads at this, I just know it. Yes, it’s my own fault. Yes, I could go to bed earlier.

[Actually, it’s a lot harder than you’d think. Night Owlish-ness was already a habit before my college days…and I still have not been able to shed it.]

So basically I’m just dragging myself from one place to the next, with hardly a break in between. Which sucks, which is why I’m whining about it. Thursday I actually worked at all three places for a few hours…and I don’t think I was really focused on any of them. Shame on me.

I’m not the greatest multi-tasker to begin with; I don’t like having my attention divided too much. I’m so tired and I just want to get back into a normal routine. I’m on day-off withdrawal; I used to only work three days a week, this past year when I was working only for the dentist. I will miss that part of it. *sniff*

Okay, enough of my pity-party. The good news is, I ended up having the night off tonight, and tomorrow I don’t work (thought I do have
CW, hope I don’t lose my voice). Even better, I have the house to myself. I thought it would be a little depressing being home alone while the rest of my family is downtown listening to John Perkins, but after this week’s craziness, the peace is nice. I caught up on this week’s Veronica Mars and Everwood and What Not to Wear (guilty pleasures all!) that I was too busy (!!!) to watch at their regularly scheduled time. And in a bit I’ll work on a short story idea. If I get it finished soon, I may submit to my devArt site. (Of course, I won’t, b/c I’m a perfectionist and I am terrible at short stories. I’ll get maybe another page and give up before heading to someplace random, like Homestarrunner.com.)

You probably won’t hear from me again until my life begins to normalize (Normal? What’s that? And since when is that even an option?). Later.


Victorious Female Delighted

So…what a week!
I started a NEW job this week…which means until the end of October, I am technically working three jobs. Which might explain why I have been lax of late in blogging…*sigh*…sorry.

The new job is an office position in the Administration Office for Pregnancy Care Centers. Ironically, it is located in a wing of the
church that my dad also happens to work in. So that’s cool. I am happy to announce to those of you who have been following the “Retirement Saga” that I have given my notice to my bosses at the dentist’s office, and it went well. So as of the beginning of November…I’m done.

Now…for those of you who smiled at the title of my blog…yes, I was referring to the Lemony Snicket books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was ecstatic to find Book the Twelfth, The Penultimate Peril, at Wal-Mart the very day it came out. I finished it the other day; it was as good and bad as usual. Good, because Mr. “Snicket” (aka Daniel Handler) has a very funny way of writing. And bad, because terrible things really do happen to the Baudelaire orphans. But at least Lemony always warns us ahead of time. The next book will be the last one, and if I do not get a few answers (specifically as to why Mr. Snicket has dedicated his life to researching the events of the Baudelaires) I will be sorely disappointed.

And for those of you who don’t know anything about the books, VFD stands for the name of a secret organization in the stories…but it also stands for just about everything else and is used as a form of code. So I was signaling other volunteers by titling my post the way I did.

Also, I finally sent off my stuff to Red Lead…I will keep you updated as I hear from them to know when production will begin on the printing of “Found Phoebe.” It may take several months before it is available to purchase (and even then it may be pricey). Hopefully everything will go smoothly, and God will use this opportunity to open other doors, and let others read my work. (You can pray about that.)

I have realized recently that this is something I very much want to do with my life—
write stories that touch people’s hearts and minds and waken them up to the truth about reality—and I am growing more passionate about it daily. I know is something that is in me to do…I just can’t see exactly where it is going to take me yet.

But when could anyone see the end of his or her own story? 


It Takes More

(Disclaimer: This is destined, I am sure, to be only the first of many posts on this subject. You are free to agree or disagree and post your comments, but please be courteous.)

Tonight I watched the movie “Kingdom of Heaven,” which deals with the crusades. I was curious to see what side of it they would represent. Instead of going too much into what I really thought of the movie, I’d rather talk about something that sort of struck me as I watched, something that tied in with another topic I’ve been wanting to post about anyway.

In the movie, as in history, of course, you have two armies fighting each other for the same reason: the claim of the Holy Land, and for “God.” While some might argue that the Christian God and the god of Islam are the same, I am not one of those people. But on the side of the “Christians” (and while some Christians were actually portrayed with some integrity, the majority, as usual, were not) there were many who believed that marching on the Saracens under the Cross was God’s will and meant they could not fail. To say otherwise was blasphemy.

It takes more than a Cross to make a Christian.

It takes more than a symbol to make worthy a cause.

It takes more than singing the right songs, reading the bible, staying away from R-rated movies, joining bible studies, going to church every Sunday, not cussing, reading every Max Lucado* book that comes out (but never, ever reading any Harry Potter book!), volunteering, not smoking or drinking, or any other list of “do”s and “don’t”s you can think of.

I’m not sure when exactly I realized this, but it has made a big difference to me. To be a Christian of course involves personal sacrifice, giving up comfort, serving others, and doing the right thing. But we have made those things the standard of Christianity, not the fruit. These things develop naturally out of a relationship with God, not the other way around. Following a list of Do’s and Don’t’s doesn’t necessarily make you closer to God. Just ask the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

Truthfully, it bothers me that much of Christianity has been reduced to following this list. One of the things that ought to set us apart from every other religion in the world is that we don’t have to work for our salvation. We were given it as a gift, and it is out of gratitude that we serve God. It is out of his overflow of love into our hearts that we help the needy. It is out of respect for Him that we eliminate things in our lives which are not pleasing—and this doesn’t look the same for everyone!!!

Some people he calls at times to give up TV. Others he calls to write for or act in shows on TV which Christians may not even watch because it offends them. Because being a Christian literally means being a follower of Christ, we have to look at it as a journey. We often call our spiritual life our “walk” but then live as though it is a regimen. We all know deep down the cliché, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” But we don’t really live like that because it is hard. It is risky.

I know I’m generalizing. And I keep saying “we.” I’m just reflecting on what I’ve seen so far in my life. It takes more than staying in line to make us like Christ. And it takes more than a bunch of people showing up on Sunday to make a Church.

But more on that later. 

*I actually enjoy many of Mr. Lucado's writings, and did not intend to offend anyone by suggesting he is not a thoughtful writer. I do, however, take issue with his uber-popularity among Christians.


Rainbow Garden

There’s this little Chinese Food place that my family and I go to when we get the craving. It’s not far from us, and it’s so much better than the big buffet-style places. As you can probably guess, it’s called Rainbow Garden. Their food is good, and they are very nice.

In fact, the lady who works there now knows my order without me having to say a word; I always get the
almond chicken. It’s so good. She also knows my mom (shrimp with garlic sauce).

My mom and I stopped by there for dinner tonight after
Community Worship and before we went grocery shopping—you know how dangerous it is to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!—and we decided to eat in.

It’s a fairly small place, with about four tables, enough room to seat maybe 16 people. The woman who runs the place has a son who is almost always there, usually watching cartoons on video on a little TV. One time he was watching old
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and I wanted to laugh because it was such a blast from the past. Another time he was watching Star Wars (IV, A New Hope) and he had never seen it before.

So this kid sits at the table next to my mother and I as we’re eating. He’s not watching TV this time; he’s playing with
play dough. And since we were in such close proximity, he struck up a conversation with us.

Benson’s—that’s his name—favorite game is “guess.” Remember those days? He said he was in first grade and then wanted us to guess how old he was (8, he just had a birthday). Then he asked how old we were. <grinning mischievously> I told him to guess.

“Give me a hint,” he said. So I told him it started with a 2. “Twenty-something,” he murmured. “Stand up,” he said next. So I did, wondering how that was going to help him. After a couple minutes of looking at me rather intently and muttering to himself, he said, “twenty-six.”

I was shocked. That is my age. Kids never guess that, not right away. In fact I had a whole class full of kids trying to guess my age last night. Some were wayyy off. Surprised, I asked him how he knew, and he told me, “I counted.” I have no idea what he meant, and couldn’t bring myself to ask. Sometimes those explanations are best left unsaid.

Nonetheless, it was an encounter that left both my mother and I chuckling. I find kids
hilarious most of the time anyway; you just never know what they are going to say. Before we left, Benson asked us when we were coming back. And you know, I’m tempted to go by there again this week just to chat with him! “You can pick a day when you get home,” he told us helpfully.

Well, that’s all I have to say today. Just a (hopefully) amusing story. I probably could have blogged about the British guy who came in for coffee (and a “
biscuit”) the other day, but you really don’t want to hear me go all Britophile on here. It’s so sad. But it did reinforce the daydream I have to move to Scotland one day, and continue my search for Mr. Right on a different continent. One that has British accents. *Ahem!* Anyway, that’s all for now. Go and enjoy life with the wonder of a small child…make someone “guess” something today. 


Turkish Delight

“What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your majesty,” said Edmund.
The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with a green silk ribbon, which, when opened turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight….Edmund had never tasted anything so delicious….and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat….
At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves. …
But he still wanted to taste that Turkish Delight again more than he wanted anything else.

Recently, I had the opportunity to try some Turkish Delight. I found some in a store that carries specialty imported foods. I decided that it would not have been my first choice in that situation, and I would much rather have chocolate or cheesecake.

When I was little, my dad would make his version of Turkish Delight for my brother and I. It was based on something his father called “German” Toast (instead of French Toast)—syrup or honey on toast, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Oh, yeah. We were incorrigible little sweet tooths. Real Turkish Delight is a gelatiny confection usually rose or lemon flavored, and sometimes covered in chocolate, powdered sugar or containing nuts. Needless to say, my brother Kyle was quite disappointed with the genuine article and still maintains that it has messed up his childhood memories.

However, there is one form of Turkish Delight that I absolutely love. In fact, I’m completely addicted. I even crave it. It is…a song by David Crowder Band.

Disney and Walden Media just released a “music inspired by” CD for the upcoming Narnia movie. It is a compilation project by today’s top Christian Artists. Which you might not think I’d go for, but I did. Mostly because it’s Narnia…but also in large part because I was intrigued that DCB did a song on Turkish Delight.

I must confess that a good chunk of the CD disappointed me. You might think that a song “inspired by” Narnia might actually be about Narnia. I did. I was wrong. Many of the songs seem to be more about the artist’s perspective of Narnia, and more about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an allegory than as a story. Which…would be okay…if it was only one or two songs. But several of them don’t seem to be any different than a typical Christian song talking about God and worship. They’re good pieces of music, by my humble standards, but they just don’t seem to have a lot to do with Narnia.

However, there are a few notable exceptions. Nichole Nordeman’s contribution “I Will Believe” is good and has a few really great lines in it; I’m not the biggest tobymac fan but his song “New World” is quite catchy…once you get past the fact that he practically yells “Narnia” in the chorus. My second favorite song on the album is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Remembering You.” I couldn’t figure out why he sang “I wish you could stay,” instead of I wish I could stay, until I remembered that Aslan does leave the children after they are coronated (hope I didn’t spoil anyone!!). It makes me teary-eyed when I hear it…though not in the same way that Annie Lennox’s “Into the West” from “The Return of the King” did. “Remembering You” is both wistful and joyful, with beautiful lilting Celtic pipes (which I just adore!!)

But my absolute favorite song on the album (and I need it after all those other sappy songs start making me cry) is “Turkish Delight” by the David Crowder Band. It is the only song on the album that is from a character’s point of view dealing directly with an event from the story. A few other songs might be from a character’s point of view, like “Remembering You” might be Lucy or Susan (my vote is Lucy), and Kutlass’ “More than it Seems” sounds like it is Peter speaking.

But as you can see from the excerpt above, the DCB song is the only one taken straight from Lewis’ pages. It is soooo good. From the 70’s inspired melody (read: disco-esque) to the nearly perfect lyrics, it is a song that I have been playing over and over and over. I say “nearly perfect” because he calls it a “bit of pie”— which you now know is completely incorrect. I can forgive that, since he only used it to rhyme with “lie.” But with other lyrics like “what I wouldn’t do…it’s all I want…I gotta get another taste…the more I have, the more I want” it makes not only for a great song about the story, but in so doing illustrated the very nature of temptation and addiction in general. I think Lewis would have been pleased with that.

I know I am. (This morning I had it cranked up and was dancing in the kitchen to it. I kid you not, both of my cats came in and started at me like I was crazy. It was great.) I'm enjoying some Turkish Delight right now. 


Nothing is Sound

I got a new CD the other day. I took it home from the store and cut it open to read the lyrics. I was blown away. I put it in the CD player to listen and just continued to play it over and over. I have been listening to it almost constantly.

Now if I was Brianne, you would know what the album was without even asking, since she talks about her passion all the time on her blog.

But this is my blog and therefore you probably want to know what CD I’m referring to. (Unless, of course, you recognized the title.)

I’m talking about Switchfoot’s new album, Nothing is Sound. I first got into Switchfoot with their Beautiful Letdown CD, so it’s not like I’m a long-time, die-hard fan writing here. But I was touched deeply by songs like “Meant to Live,” “This is Your Life,” and “Dare You to Move” (which is probably one of my most favorite songs ever).

So naturally I was drawn to the new CD, despite my brother’s warning that a friend of his hadn’t liked it as much. Well, I like it so much that I’m blogging about it, except I hardly know where to begin.

I guess what hits me most and hardest is the unrelentless honesty of their songs. They are singing about things like brokenness and wounds and what is life all about, anyway? They pick up on the absurd paradoxes and double standards of our culture in a way that keeps form being overly cynical by adding in hope, and they aren’t afraid to humbly admit they are as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

I love it.

The minute I began reading the lyrics, I was hooked. But now I’ve been playing it over and over, and I just went to their website. I read Jon Foreman’s
notes on how the songs came about and what the album is really supposed to be saying. I almost cried. Sometimes I’m afraid that the things I love so swiftly and deeply are things I will regret later. This is probably a lie of the Enemy. I told my family (and Brianne) that it felt like they had read through Ecclesiastes before writing the songs, and Foreman mentioned not only Ecclesiastes, but Psalms as well. He spoke with such honesty about the paradoxes in our world…I don’t know why but it was so refreshing.

This is the kind of CD I could put in at the end of a long, horrible day, when I’m angry with my life or myself or when I just don’t understand what is going on in the world. And it is the kind of CD that would make me feel better. It is like a lament: it starts with questions, with admissions of pain, loneliness, and wounds…and moves into an acknowledgement that there is still hope. It lets you cry, it lets you sing, it lets you breathe.

To keep this from sounding like an ad for Switchfoot, I just want to make it clear why I love it so much. I have felt for a long time that there is something lacking in our culture—and that it has spilled over into the Church. Call it what you want—honesty, openness, authenticity. We are afraid to be ourselves. We are afraid to let others see us struggling. Wait. No. I. I am afraid to let people know when I am hurting. I don’t want people to see me when I am vulnerable. I hate to cry in front of others.

I think the reason for this is that something critical happens when we share the vulnerable broken parts of ourselves with someone else. You can only forge a genuine friendship—or any other kind of ’ship—when you are real with someone else. And if there is one thing our Enemy hates, it is fellowship. He will keep us from being real if it keeps us from being connected.

These songs are about brokenness; they aren’t about how great life is when you become a Christian. They aren’t La-la-la-le-lujah songs. Those have their place, but we’ve made them the center. We have forgotten how to lament.

Sometimes when I walk into church, I want to turn around and walk right back out again. I hear the music: it’ another “It’s a Wonderful Day So Let’s Praise the Lord” song. Are you kidding me? I overslept and missed breakfast and got into fights on the way here. I had a lousy week at my lousy job. The highlight of my week was watching TV. And now I’m supposed to automatically turn on my smile and start singing? I can’t do it. Well, I guess I can…but I don’t like to. I need time and silence to get my heart right with God again.

These songs speak to that need. They speak to that place inside you that wonders while you sing in church, “Am I really satisfied? Am I really as happy in Christ as this song says I should be?” So if you’ve ever felt like something wasn’t right—with you, with the world, with everything—go get this CD. And go
read what they have to say about the songs. And don’t ask me if they are a Christian Band. Listen to it and decide for yourself.

And the next time someone asks how you were doing, before automatically responding, “Fine,” at least consider being honest. 



LOOOSSSSTTT. You have to say it in a dragged-out half-sigh, it is that good. Lahhsst.

I’ve been threatening to write a tribute post about my favorite show, and now I’m doing it. Actually, this will probably end up being more like "LOST, Part 1".... I watched the season premiere the other night…WOW. It’s like, it went away for the summer, and I actually started to forget how completely and utterly addicting it is.

This reaction, I think, alarms some people. Even my family, who all enjoy the show as well. I admit I am perhaps more than a trifle obsessed. I look for clues and hints in everything. But as with all my real “obsessions” there is a good reason for it. I don’t like LOST just because the acting is fabulous, it’s brilliantly written, and the story keeps you desperate for more. It goes deeper than that, I assure you. But I’m warning you, if you want to know, and you continue reading, you are venturing into deep waters. Most people don’t go as deep as I do. But…it’s what I do.

Speaking of that—how I look for meaning in things—I got into an argument with this guy on my art site about this very topic. He was going off about how art doesn’t have meaning, it’s just a display of talent and beauty and stuff like that. He was so arrogant that it really peeved me off. I don’t care if you don’t agree with me, but he had that “well I’m right” attitude. Well, no, he wasn’t. Art in all forms can have meaning. Key word: can. Does all art have a deeper meaning? No, probably not. But sometimes that’s in the eye of the beholder. He even went as far as to say that he just dislikes people who look for deeper meanings. This shouldn’t bug me, because I really couldn't care less whether he like me or not. But on some level, it does irritate me. I’ve just come to realize in the past couple of years that “looking for the deeper meaning” is something I do. Of course that’s going to come under attack, because the deeper meaning I find usually points to God. That’s why I do it. I don’t try to make things fit a theology; I find parallels and illustrations of how life is for us—not unlike how Jesus used parables to teach his followers.

In LOST, it’s been a little harder to find clear cut parallels. In one sense, it’s obvious. We are survivors of a devastating wreck (the Fall) and we are in a hostile and mysterious place that is out of our control. But it’s a little hard to go too far with this line of thinking because we (the viewers) don’t know everything that’s going on yet.

One of my favorite episodes, “White Rabbit,” is about Jack, the reluctant doctor hero and unofficial leader on the island. He has issues with his dad, and in this episode we get flashbacks that show us a little bit of why. The whole plot sounded to me like it had been ripped from the pages of John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart.” Young Jack receives his “father wound” after getting beat up trying to help a friend and his father says “You don’t have what it takes.” Years later, after the crash, everyone is looking to him for direction and guidance and he shrinks back. Why? “I don’t have what it takes,” he tells another castaway, Locke. Locke tells him to finish his journey, his search, because “A leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going.”

With the character of John Locke, there is the potential for a lot of parallels, but I’m just not sure what they’re going to do with him yet. Most people find him creepy, though he is oddly enough my favorite character. He begins a sort of island-worship, treating the place as though it has the power to give and take away. He would know: it gave him back the use of his legs after being in a wheelchair for four years. But whether or not his “island-worship” is a good or bad thing (much debated by fans), everyone on the island is worshipping or trusting something. Jack, the afore-mentioned hero, worships science and logic—a very culturally approved religion, especially for doctors. Most of the other characters rely on themselves so much it could be a form of religion. Others rely on another person so wholly that it ought to be considered worship. This is not so different from us: we all have things we turn to instead of God to see us through—including ourselves and those we love.

Then there is the whole theme of redemption. Essentially everyone is given a clean slate. They all have trouble making use of it and all fall back into old patterns. Kate keeps lying, trying to hide her past, Sawyer keeps conning, Shannon keeps on manipulating the men around her, Hurley begins to sound like an acquaintance from his stay at a mental institution, Charlie looks like he might go back to drugs, even Locke has strong traces of his temper underneath his new shaman-like persona. This is so like us. We have been forgiven and don’t have to be who we were, yet so quickly we go back to the things we used to do. We watch and we say “Why?” just like we do when reading through the history of Israel in the Old Testament, because we don’t realize it is also our story.

There is also a sense of destiny, of purpose to who survived the crash. Locke says plainly that he believes this, and again attributes it to the Island. But beyond that, we have seen glimpses of how each of the character’s lives and back stories connect and cross over. They are interwoven, without them even knowing it, like our lives are. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33)

I could go on, really. Like I said, it’s what I do. When I love something, I like to figure out why. When it’s a good story, I like to look for glimpses of the Real Story in it. Again, you can thank Eldredge for that. But that’s another story for another time. For now, go in anticipation of next week’s episode of LOST. Y
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A Change of Clothes

Every Friday night I go to the Pittsburgh Chinese Church. For the past two years or so I’ve been teaching a class there—no, not English—a Bible class for Kindergarten to Second Graders. They’re good kids. (And, as you can tell, they really like it when I pull out my camera phone.)

The girls are really sweet and affectionate and always want to sit by me. They even went so far as to start bringing water bottles to class because I am notorious for bringing one every where I go.

The boys, on the other hand…I feel like I’m always telling them stop. Stop talking, stop running, stop hitting…you get the idea. It’s not that they’re bad: they’re just really energetic. And I just know that if I could keep their attention for more than thirty seconds, they might learn something. They are very smart. (In all fairness, I have to ask the girls to stop talking just as frequently. They just obey quicker.)

These boys are also really funny. I think some of them have secret aspirations for being stand-up comedians. They each like to try to crack everyone up. And more than once in a while, they end up cracking me up, too.

This week I was giving a lesson on telling the truth and how truth is important. For an illustration, I had a paper doll named “Joe.” On one side, Joe was frowning because he told his mom a lie. To emphasize his sad state, I colored his shirt blue and gray (not that I have anything against those colors; it’s just that sometimes my artsy, symbolic side gets carried away) and gave him green cords. On the other side, Joe is smiling because Jesus has set him free from sin. This time I colored his shirt bright yellow and orange—again, for emphasis—and put him in blue jeans.

Well, when I “freed” Joe (he was stuck in a “sin” envelope) I showed the class the happy side. I asked them why Joe was happy now.

And Andrew (who is in second grade) said: “Because he got a new shirt and new pants.”

Now Andrew is a very smart kid, and I know he knew the “right” answer. But I have to tell you, after a surprised pause, I burst out laughing.

“Well,” Andrew explained, “I like his new clothes better. I don’t really like green pants.” I laughed even harder. I had to borrow a scrap of paper from Joie, the girl next to me, so I could write it down that instant. It may not sound as funny now, but take my word for it. It’s just one of those things that happens in my class.

I shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised when they come out with things like that. I’m not surprised when Andrew gives me the “Sunday School” answer; he goes to a Christian school and Sunday School and his parents are active in the church—in fact, Mandy, his mom, coordinates the Friday evening classes for the kids and teaches as well.

The truth is, though, if you ask kids a question, especially in a bible class they will either give you the “God” answer, or the most obvious answer. Most of my kids know the “Jesus” answers, so I usually try to get them to dig a little deeper and think a little more personally about it. I don’t know that I really succeed; they are, after all, only about six or seven.

I don’t get frustrated with them if they don’t use their reasoning skills. I just try to challenge them. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that not everything is deep. I mean, I’m big into symbolism and meaning, and I’m sure I could use the anecdote for a sermonette about how when we come to Christ, we do in a sense get change of clothes; we are told to put on things like humility and love like garments.

But that’s not what Andrew meant. He was speaking form that gut-level simplicity and honesty that somehow, I find myself admiring. The truth is, I wouldn’t really want to wear bright green pants, either. That’s probably why I found it so funny. He looked past my symbolism and got to what really mattered to him.

I don’t really want to go into the whole “child-like faith” thing. Even though I really believe it and it’s a big part of why I love working with kids, it’s become a bit cliché to bring that up when sharing a funny kid anecdote. That’s not really what this is about, anyway. It’s really about how funny kids are, and how refreshing their simplicity can be. It’s funny because we think we have the world in better perspective when we’re older and understand the “real world.”

I just think that sometimes, maybe it’s the other way around, and kids have the better perspective. Of course something more important happened to Joe than a change of clothes. But come on, now. Would you want to be wearing a blue and gray shirt with kelly
green corduroy pants? Especially after such a special and spiritual experience like Joe’s? I didn’t think so.


Pursuit of the Ideal

L.M. Montgomery (famed author of the “Anne” series) once wrote a short story titled “The Pursuit of the Ideal,” and basically it was about a guy who tells his best girl friend all about his ideal woman (nearly her opposite in every way) but when he meets her, he realizes that it was his good friend who was his ideal all along. Montgomery also wrote a similar plot line with Anne, who aspired to love a dark, melancholy and poetic man, but found that in the end, she preferred Gilbert, who was not melancholy or very poetic, but laughed at her jokes and appreciated her.

The moral obviously is that what we think we want is not always what is best for us, and I think we can see that in almost any area of life.

But what, I wonder, if our ideal is someone who were are friends with, someone with whom we can laugh with, among other things? What if our ideals are things we actually know would be good for us?

In my blog on
Singleness, I mentioned I’ve been single for a long time, and I briefly listed some things I’d (ideally) like in a guy. Having been single so long has a dual effect on me regarding these “ideals”: one is that I feel entitled to at least the majority of them; the other response I have is despair that I will ever find anyone who even remotely matches up.

If I were to list for you the things that I would like in a guy—The Guy—the length and elaborateness would stagger and astound you. It is the result of mentally calculating all the things I ever noticed and liked about guys I have known (whether real or *ahem!* fictional) and things I have observed in relationships. And…probably stuff from sappy chick flicks, too. I know. Shame on me for being out of touch with reality.

And some of the stuff—for example, being able to play the guitar, having an accent of some kind, driving a motorcycle—isn’t really important at all. It’s just fluff. Although…the guitar thing…….no, okay, really, I’m fine. I’m back to reality now. Not important.

Some things are only relatively important, like having the same taste in literature or music or movies. I don’t expect any guy (or anyone, for that matter) to like everything that I like. But at the very least I’d like to think he wouldn’t bash it, to my face, if he knows I love it. It’s okay to disagree on things, to have differing opinions, certainly. Everyone has different tastes. I’m pretty opinionated myself at times. Most times. But for example, tonight a guy was saying some harsh stuff about my
favorite band ever. Ouch. Right after I said they were my favorite band ever. Really ouch. Not scoring any points there. Not that he was trying to. But you get the point.

I have decided, however, that a few things really are important to me. Like, non-negotiable. I know, you’re thinking, he has to be a Christian, right? Yes. Of course. That’s a given. But more than that, I want him to be a deep, strong Christian. A
Ransomed Heart Christian. The kind of guy who’s read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and has already gone on his journey with God to learn who he is as a man.

Why is that an Ideal? you may very well ask. Well, let me just say that Mr. Eldredge’s writings have been extremely meaningful and influential to me and my journey as a Christian, and as a woman. I will save further details for another blog at another time.

One thing I really liked about Wild at Heart (which I am currently re-reading) is that although the book was written primarily to give men permission to be men, in the process, it also gave me permission to be a woman. It told me that it was okay to want a strong guy who would fight for me. More than okay—it said it was good! No one had ever really said that before.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit in today’s culture of strong, feminist, “girl-power” women that I actually would like a guy to fight for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am capable of fighting for myself. But I don’t want to always have to. I like it when chicks kick butt (hello,
Alias?  Princess Leia?) but I also tend to really love the heroes in the story.

Think with me now: William Wallace (Braveheart), Aragorn, Spider-Man, Han Solo…these are men who fight for what they believe in, they fight to free and help people. And they also fight for the woman they love. And deep down, I think every woman longs to truly be fought for—not necessarily in the physical sense, punches being thrown and all that, but to know that she is worth the risk. That’s not an Ideal, that’s a part of being a woman.

I know, this all sounds rather silly and perhaps a bit juvenile. The fancies of a girl who’s lost touch with reality.
Knights in shining armor and all that…who needs it today? Who even really believes it’s possible? Well, I don’t know how possible or probable it is for me…but for right now, all I have is my Ideal. It’ll Have to Do, as Dean Martin sang, Until the Real Thing Comes Along. 


...On Writing

I have to tell you, having this blog makes me feel a little bit like a journalist. I’m always trying to come up with a topic for my “article.” And it has to have a title, and it ahs to be short enough that people won’t despair of getting to the end of it while they’re scrolling down.

Of course, my audience is much smaller than any newspaper or magazine; but I still appreciate you taking the time to read my humble, rambling thoughts. I hope you also know that I LOVE getting comments about what I write, hint hint.

I always like to get feedback on my writing. For one reason, I like to feel connected to my readers, and knowing how people respond helps me to be a better writer. I can only write so much (on one of my twenty ideas) before I make someone read it—usually a member of my family, like my brother
Kyle, or my good friend Brianne.

Right now, however, I have a couple of other people reading my “
Found Phoebe” manuscript. I want to get all the errors caught and confusing parts clarified before it goes to press with Red Lead. I want it to be the best it can be…and I’ve already been revising it for two years. It’s always different, though, when someone else reads your work.

About a week ago, the pastor of
North Park Church came by the house with my dad after lunch. Pastor Hopper mentioned to me that he had read the first chapter of my book online, and that he enjoyed it. He was very encouraging and shared with me some advice from a class he had taken on writing for publication. He told me that his teacher said not to identify too strongly with your writing. Authors who do that have a hard time with criticism because they feel like they themselves are being edited and judged. It’s called “Red Pen Syndrome” or something like that.

I had my first real experience with that (outside of school) earlier this week. A friend of my dad’s is one of the people editing “Phoebe” for me right now. Mr. Lesher sent me the first two parts of “Phoebe” edited in such a way that you can see what was changed as soon as you open the document in word. The changes are marked in red. Naturally. When I opened the document to the first page, all I saw was a mass of red.

Now, I’m not saying that his revisions weren’t helpful; they were. And I really do want my writing to be the best it can be. It’s like…if you watch a craftsman at work—A
potter for example, or a glass blower or metal smith. They take a portion of their material, work it, shape it, and the next thing you know thy destroy it. It is a formless blob again and they are starting the process all over. They saw a flaw that needed to be fixed. It would be silly for one of them to let his pride in his talent keep him from making the best objects he can.

In the same way, I know that the kneading and melting processes are necessary for my work to be its best. Is it hard? Heck yeah. But it’s worth it. 


Simple Pleasures

When I was in high school, my best friend and I bought pins from Claire’s that said: “Of course Blondes have more fun; it takes so little to entertain them.” Melissa and I thought this was hilarious, and we were blondes. Normally I don’t go in for blonde jokes, but it was true: it did take little to amuse me. The fact of the matter is, I’ve always been relatively easy to please.

When I was a young child, before my brother was born (so, zero to four) my parents could leave me alone in my room for hours playing with legos or my stuffed animals and dolls. I would draw and make little booklets, read, and make up my own songs. I could entertain myself very well.

Things haven’t changed that much. In college, I could spend hours with a stack of magazines, a pair of scissors, a roll of tape, and my favorite sappy movies. I did collages and watched videos on my roommate’s TV. (Yes, videos. Believe it or not, DVDs were very rare when I was in college....does that make me old? Wait, don't answer that) I should have been studying, but that’s beside the point. And it wouldn’t have been entertaining or amusing.

Today I am also feeling rather pleased, and it’s not because I spent part of the day on the computer and part of it shopping. It’s because of what I got. Now I know, money can’t buy happiness…but it can buy it for a little while. At least for thirty hours or so, enough time to watch the entire first season of LOST and some of the bonus features available on the DVD. And another twenty some hours to watch the second season of
MacGyver. (*sigh.*)

If being a bit of a Drama Queen means I am sometimes prone to making a big deal out of things that really aren’t so bad once put in perspective, then the flip side is that I also get easily satisfied by small things. New clothes, new haircut, a good book, a good movie, a good song, a purring cat in my lap: all make me happy. I was happy yesterday because my CD player in my car started working again and I got to listen to Nichole Nordeman on the way home from work.

Maybe it’s flippancy; maybe it’s shallowness; maybe it’s being easily content. All I know is I enjoy life’s simple pleasures, and I like that I enjoy them. I’m not saying that anyone should let his or her happiness hang on material goods or their circumstances, but I do think if more people derived happiness from the little things, maybe we’d all be happier more of the time. I know it does sound flippant to be so happy about a TV show, but if you read my post about
Alias, you’d know that at least some of my guilty pleasures have good reasons behind them.

But right now I’m so tired that the thing I’d get the most enjoyment from is going to sleep. G’night.


Creative, or Crazy?

Yesterday I decided to take stock of some of my store of ideas. These are thoughts that have come to me out of the blue, or have been rolling around in my head for a while, that I start to scribble down on scraps of paper. I finally organized these scraps last week into folders for different story ideas.

Yesterday, however, I went through and actually made a list of all the story ideas that are actively floating around in my head at the moment. These are things I think of through out the day and ponder how to expand on, clarify, and complete.

Would you believe my list had twenty items on it??? I was a little shocked. Now, some of them are at most a few lines I jot down to convey the ideas behind the book I intend to one day write. And some are just a few pages or paragraphs to get me started, but still!! Twenty?

As of yet, I have only completed two of those twenty, and yet they are still on my list because I am forever revising them. As for the rest…I’m having trouble prioritizing them. What should I work on today? What should I try to finish next?

Found Phoebe was the first really solid story idea I had, that I was able to see through from beginning to end. And Jagged Edge came next; it was something I had to write. That was one of the ideas that had been rolling around in my head for a while and finally I had an insight on how it could all come together. I barely worked on anything else while I wrote it, because I was so set on getting through it. (I’m now on my second draft. It is a ridiculous 243 pages—the 81/2 x 11 kind, 12 pt. font, single spaced. Whew!)

But now I am starting to wonder if I am creative, or just crazy. How on earth do all these ideas fit in my head? And how am I ever going to get around to all of them? Believe me, I want to! I love telling stories. That is something I am so passionate about. Even if it takes me the rest of my life to get out jut the ideas I have right now, I hope to do it. But I hope to be writing stories for the rest of my life anyway.

And after all, the human brain is an amazing thing. I suppose if I was made in the image of my Creator, who had the ideas for things like giraffes, kangaroos, pandas, mountains, waterfalls, sunsets, stargazer lilies, oak trees, monarch butterflies, Hawaii, Scotland, and, oh yeah, every single human being that has ever lived or ever will live in the history of the planet, then I guess my brain should be able to hold the ideas for a couple dozen books.

But I still don’t know which one I should work on today.

(P.S.:In case you're new, I'd like you to know that I love getting comments. That way I know you've been here.)


Community Worship

Last night a woman asked me for my autograph.

Not because of my writing. Because of my music.

I am not a “musician.” My friend Brianne? She’s a musician. But I like to play the guitar, and I like to sing. And because of those to interests (notice which one came first) I volunteer in my church’s worship band a couple times a month. Sometimes more.

We have a contemporary service on Saturday night called “Community Worship” (link just added on the right). I like being a part of it, getting to teach new songs to the congregation. (After singing and playing them at least once a week for four consecutive years, I am little tired of songs like “Holiness,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” and the especially overplayed “Better is one Day.”)

Anyway, this week, there was a problem with the schedule: a shortage of vocalists. So since I was already scheduled to play guitar, Alycia (the Coordinator of CW schedules and one of the worship leaders) asked me to also be a vocalist. I normally sing when I play; I have a microphone in front of me. But it is harmony. Even when I sing the melody, there are usually at least two other voices singing with me. You can’t really her me. I know this because my family has complained, “We can’t hear you!”

A woman who also plays the bass was going to do vocals as well. But she, too, usually does the harmony part. And we are both altos. So you can see this was going to be tricky. It ended up that we both sang lead on different songs…but I did the majority. At first I was a little annoyed. I like singing harmony. But then I thought, maybe it is a bit too much in my comfort zone.

In practice I was relatively fine. No big. And in my room…well, I usually belt it out there anyway. But it is a completely different thing when there is a microphone in front of you, and a monitor pointed in your direction so you can actually hear yourself, exactly as you sound. Add in an audience and…you get a bundle of nerves. At least, I did. I was a basket case before we started. I’m always a little nervous, because I don’t want to screw up. And just so you know, it takes coordination to sing and play guitar. Rock stars make it look easy, but it’s not.

I think I mentioned earlier that I like to sing. I do. I’m not someone you would hear and go, “Wow! Someone get her a recording contract!” but I’m also not someone you hear and go, “Is a dog dying somewhere nearby?” Still, I had no choice. I had to usher the congregation into worship. I took a breath, closed my eyes, and let it out.

Afterward, I had people tell me we sounded good. Note the “we,” that’s important. A leader without a band is just…lonely. And the woman who asked for my autograph? No, it wasn’t my mom. But it was a friend of mine. And she really did make me sign a piece of paper.

I guess the point could be that it’s good to stretch yourself; that it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Or not to care too much what “everyone” thinks. But actually, there is no moral here. Sorry. I just wanted to tell the story of how I had to sing at CW. That there were people actually listening to my voice and they didn’t boo or leave or throw rotten fruit. You can be told that you’re okay at something, even that you’re good, by people. But when they’re family or friends, I think we all just kinda go “yeah, right” in the back of our minds. Even if the person is a ferociously truthful person. But until you go through a public trial, you never really know.

And so I’m still waiting to be asked for my autograph in my novel.


"Christian" Fiction

I am an aspiring author. That’s what it says in my profile to the right. Basically it means that I really really like to write (hence, the blog that I pound away on for a very small audience) and that I hope one day to be published and recognized as an author. As opposed to a girl who works for a dentist and at a coffee shop and writes in her spare time.

I have actually written a book; I hope to be self-publishing it in the next couple of months. You can read a little more about it on my humble web page, listed under my links to the right. I’m not going to synopize it right here. But if “Found Phoebe” does get taken on by Red Lead Press, you can be assured that I will also add a link to where you can order it online.

A lot of people have asked me, “Is this a Christian book?” The answer is: yes and no. First of all, no, it is not an explicitly Christian book. By this I mean that Phoebe does not go to church, have a conversion experience, nor is there any mention of God. But at the same time, yes, it is a Christian book because I am a Christian, and I am the author. My worldviews are inherent in my writing, just as “The Lord of the Rings” was not an explicitly Christian book, either, yet is loved by many Christians because of the deep theological themes found there. I am not comparing myself to J.R.R. Tolkien; I am just using his work as an illustration. Although my book is not exactly an allegory, there are parallels and Christian themes in the story; furthermore, my book does not endorse any unscriptural activities.

But as a Christian Author, and even just as a Christian Philosopher in college, I have wrestled with this question: what makes something “Christian Art”? I actually took a whole class about it my senior year, thank you, Dr. Wilson.

I think as Christians, we have a tendency to separate ourselves so much from the mainstream culture that we have created our own little bubble of a sub-culture. There was a time in my life when I thought this was good, but I don’t any more. Part of the problem is that the mainstream market has become so liberal that there isn’t a lot of market for Christian religious art. To compensate, we created publishing houses and media companies that would produce Christian art. But to whom? Not to the world, who needs it the most. But to us, so that we could be surrounded only by what is good and theologically sound.

Yes, I know the verse in Philippians where Paul tells us what things we should think on. And I know we are called to be set apart, to live in the world , but not be of it, and certainly not to love the world or anything in it.

But if Christian musicians are just singing about God’s love to Christians, and Christian authors are just writing books about living life as a Christian and selling it only in Christian bookstores, how are we changing the world?

I am not ashamed that my book does not have the plan of salvation in it. I think God uses all things to draw men to him. I think he uses people who don’t even know Him to spread truth, without them even knowing it. I think His truth can be found in very unexpected places, because it is His world, and He is sovereign, and He has put truth in our hearts. I think you can find elements of the gospel everywhere: in movies like Braveheart and Star Wars, in shows like LOST and ALIAS, and in books like Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising Sequence” and yes, dangit, even in the Harry Potter books.

I still haven’t finished “Heaven is Not My Home,” but I do agree with Dr. Paul Marshall that it is our responsibility as Christians to redeem the world, and to bring to light those truths we find. “Found Phoebe” is about fairies and fairy tales. Why? Because fairy tales (as John Eldredge and even C.S. Lewis would say) present a deep view of reality. They show us what is really going on. As does all effective art, Christian or not.



I love Alias. I do. I just bought Season One this weekend—I got it previously viewed from Blockbuster so it was only $25!!! I love bargains!—and I finally watched the first three episodes last night. I really love it. And I think I’ve finally figured out why.

There are many reasons to like Alias. There is Sydney Bristow (played brilliantly by Jennifer Garner) for starters; I’m hard-pressed to think of any guys who don’t like her. Or girls, for that matter, though not quite in the same way—they save that for Michael Vaughn. There’s the action: Sydney is just awesome at kicking butt and not taking crap from anyone. I mean, talk about girl power. There are the very, very cool gadgets, usually provided by the very nerdy but nonetheless adorable and funny Marshall.

There is the music, from J.J. Abram’s opening theme, to the song selections for each episode, to the scoring by the brilliant Michael Giaccino (who also does the fantastic music for LOST). There are the plot lines: not too hard to follow if you keep up, and with enough twists and turn to leave you surprised. Often VERY surprised (Season Four finale, anyone?).

Then there are the characters. They are very complex and fascinating; real, three-dimensional, believable, and sometimes unpredictable. They are strong, smart, funny, snarky, ruthless; you either love or hate them—sometimes both in the same moment—but very rarely do you just not care about a character. They are human; they mess up, make mistakes, fight, and do their best to do what they think is right.

But I think the real reason I love it—along with thousands of other viewers—lies elsewhere. I think it has more to do with…escapism. Or just fantasy-ism in general. I’m talking about a preoccupation with spies that goes back almost to childhood for me. It started with mysteries and sleuths in grade school, like
Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and their ability to sneak around and dig up clues and pay attention to small details. It progressed to shows in my pre and early teen years like Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and my favorites Mission: Impossible and MacGyver (*sigh* who deserves his own blog of tribute). Really, with a background like that, it was only a matter of time before I fell for Alias

It’s perfect, really. For one whole hour every week, I get to be a spy. I get to vicariously live out my secret espionage desires. I get to see the world, kick butt, save lives, and the best part is, I come home without a scratch. Or any bruises. Or the fear of retaliation. Living out as Sydney, I get to imagine what it’s like to be an important part of a critical and covert organization.

I get to pretend for a little while that I have a vital role to play, a job that no one else can do as well as me, a role that no one else can fill, a job that could very well save the world. I get to go behind enemy lines, sneak into their base camp, and steal back valuable items and information, even rescue people.

John Eldredge would probably say that the reason I like Alias so much is that it is a picture of me and my role in the Larger Story—the Story we all are living out every day. He doesn’t normally write about spy stuff—he’s more into epics, fairytales, and war-ridden dramas—so I’m just speculating here. But all that stuff about being behind enemy lines, and going undercover, having a critical role to play—that stuff is so Eldredge.

In his book “Waking the Dead” (in my favorites list, I recommend it to everyone) he outlines three Eternal Truths that we find in stories we love.

  1. Things are not what they seem.
  2. This is a world at war.
  3. You have a crucial role to play.

I can see all of these applying to Alias. Things are not what they seem. No one is what he or she seems. Sydney is not just another pretty face. Her father is not just an aloof airplane parts salesman. Even Vaughn, we learn, is not really Michael Vaughn. (Whatever that means, J.J.!!) SD-6 is not part of the CIA. As far as being at war goes, there are always bad guys to fight, some more prevalent than others. And Sydney, as well as the other main characters like Jack, Vaughn and Marshall all absolutely have a crucial role to play.

And so it relates to us; this is why we love it. Because we know that in our world, also, nothing is ever quite what it seems at first glance. There is conflict going on everyday with everyone. And whether we feel it or not, we each do have an important role to play, something designed just for us in all our uniqueness. Maybe it’s not as dramatic or dangerous as what Sydney does, but…since nothing is what it seems…then again, maybe it is.


Grey Day

Today started off kinda crappy—y’know, the usual: I overslept and had to hustle to work, skipping breakfast in the process. But this was extra bad because I was late for my first day of training at the coffee shop. AND on the way there my CD player started freaking out (it’s still not working) which was a major bummer. Part of what makes driving bearable for me is the opportunity to play my favorite music as loud a I want and sing at the top of my lungs just because I can.

And it’s raining here, and starting to get a little chilly. I actually like when it turns to fall, but the greyness I could do without. Still, it’s been a nice summer so I can’t complain too much. About that.

On the way home I turned the wrong way (yes, I am unbelievably bad with directions and every time I think I’m getting better I go and do something stupid like that) and wasted a good ten minutes at least before I realized it. I got home hungry and tired and slightly cranky still about my CD player. The coffee shop was fine. I didn’t make too many mistakes on the register (I don’t think) but I still have to tackle learning all the different drinks. Coffee people have their own lingo. I feel like I’m learning a new language: mocha, cappuccino, latte, espresso…wait, am I learning Italian?

But when I got home, there were two snuggly kittens waiting for me. I had some lunch, watched some TV (TLC and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and took a nap with a grey ball of purring fluff also napping in my lap. It was just what I needed. I also logged on to the ‘net (obviously) and was notified that there is a brief clip from the season premier of season 2 of LOST. I saw it and OMG. I screamed. (I have a tendency to overreact when it comes to LOST. I am just a trifle obsessed.) Then I worried that I may have alarmed our new neighbors (we're in a townhouse) and they would think I was being murdered or something. But since no policemen came, I guess I'm in the clear. If you want to alarm your own friends, family and neighbors, it’s at the http://www.oceanicflight815.com site, under the explore section, after you click on a bunch of little dots to explore the “hatch” area. If you’re interested. And if you’re not, you should be. Shame on you.

So my day may be grey, but at least it’s ending well. Maybe I’ve got to just stop being such a drama queen and realize that those moments happen. Although, I must admit, being dramatic certainly has its advantages. At the very least it makes life more interesting.



This morning I went to church with my parents. Usually I go on Saturday nights, to Community Worship at Memorial Park. But my dad recently got a job at North park Church, and they wanted to introduce him to the congregation. And he wanted the family to be there. No problem. My brother Kyle and I showed up (thankfully) right on time and took a seat. I was looking kinda cute—at least, I was wearing a blouse, skirt and heels, which is a bit of a stretch for a jeans-and-tee girl like me.

So they go through the announcements and a testimony and a couple of songs and finally ask my parents to go to the front. My dad says he was nervous, but it didn’t show. He was cracking jokes and keeping everyone’s attention. And then he decided to introduce us, his “adult children.” Kyle and I politely stood to say hi to everyone. And then he said it: “And they’re both single.” I sat down immediately. The congregation erupted into laughter.

It’s not that I minded or that I was even mad; it’s more of the label that bothers me. “Single.” Alone. Unpaired. Yeah, okay, so I’m single. Really single.

And if you know me, or if you have read my profile, you know that I’m twenty-six. Twenty-six and single. Is that as depressing as it sounds? I have other friends from college in the same boat. Even a couple that are still living at home, like me. (If you read my earlier posts about jobs it should be abundantly clear that I do not make enough to afford rent and other utilities.)

Most of the time I don’t mind being single. I’ve lived with it for a long time. I like my independence. But I happen to be an incurable romantic. If you look at my favorite movies list, you’ll see a few chick flicks in there. I have more. I am a SAP. When I watch movie and TV shows, I hope that the main characters fall in love and find happiness by then end. I’m a “shipper:” I root for certain couples to get and/or stay together. (Sidebar: some of my favorites include: Sydney and Vaughn from Alias; Bright and Hannah from Everwood; Sun and Jin from Lost; Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter; and Han and Leia from Star Wars.)

The Point: My Independence and my Hopeless Romantic-ness are quite often at odd with each other. Yes, I’d like to find someone and settle down. Yes, I’d like to get married and have a few kids someday. But I’m afraid I have too many unrealistic expectations planted in my head by my favorite sappy movies. I’m also afraid that some of the standards and things I’m looking for in a guy just aren’t ever going to come together. Deep down I think I do believe that there is a guy out there suited for me just as I am for him, whether or not he happens to be a Scottish, guitar-playing, intellectual, funny, adventurous Christian man. But some days it just seems like I’ll be stuck being labeled “single” forever. It wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to me, but it’s not what I’m hoping for.

But don’t you dare recommend E-harmony to me.