Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Oh my! This movie was a big surprise to me. First, in the opening credits it said that it was based on the Grimms' version of the fairy tale, unlike Cinderella which said it was based on Perrault's. This is an important difference in how the fairy tales are told; had Cinderella been based on the Grimms' version, her stepsisters would have been cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit them in the glass slippers (no, really; if you didn't know that, I apologize for the gross detail). So, I was surprised by that. And then as I was watching it, it was so creepy!! The magic mirror? The forest? The order to cut out the princess's heart and bring it to the queen in a box? The apple..."her breath will still, her blood congeal" in "the Sleeping Death" made in a laboratory where there are skulls and stuff? Honestly, I would have found it terrifying when I was little.

Also, I had heard "Someday my Prince will come" criticized as an attitude, but in the actual context, which I was unclear on before, it didn't seem like such a bad thing. As long as we all just accept that falling in love at first duet is a standard issue fairy-tale suspension-of-disbelief thing that need not resemble real life, that is. Other than that, well, she was singing about an actual specific prince that she had met, who had declared his love to her in a serious way, who was actually riding around seeking to be reunited with her. And, she was not idle, even as she was singing the song, but was actively making life brighter for those who were actually around her and were helping her.

I enjoyed the dwarves and how sweet and funny they were, especially Grumpy. Animated proof, if you will, that one must sometimes look beyond the obvious to see what people are really like. He was grumpy, he seemed mean and unfriendly, but he was a big softy underneath all that.

And Snow White said her prayers before she went to bed.

Godly Sorrow

"For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."

The difference between a godly sorrow and a worldly sorrow is important. I have heard it described as the difference between being sorry you did something wrong and being sorry about getting caught or receiving consequences, but in my experience there is more to the story than that.

When I do something wrong, or, more often, when I omit doing something that I should do, or I live in a way that is less than full and complete, when I fail to try my best, I often feel genuinely sorrowful or regretful or guilty about it, but in a completely unhelpful way. When I feel down on myself or useless or discouraged in a way that only leads me to go further down the same path, it's not a godly sorrow. If I feel bad about being unproductive and it makes me procrastinate even more, it really is the action (or lack of action) that I feel bad about, not the consequences, but instead of motivating me those feelings are de-motivating me, making me retreat further and further from the real world and the things that I should be doing and facing and thinking about and deciding and pursuing.

So when I think about the difference between a godly sorrow and a worldly sorrow I think of what direction it propels someone in--towards salvation without regret, or towards death?

A godly sorrow about a situation, an action, an inaction, an attitude, or a habit leads to genuine attempts to remedy what is wrong, genuine turning away from the wrong or harmful things, and to genuine prayer for divine assistance towards looking at one's life in the right way.

If I have a prayer right now, it is that God give me a godly sorrow about my fears and inactions, so that I may be empowered to fight them instead of allowing them to increase their hold on me.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More on Cinderella: Faith

Something I forgot to mention yesterday that I found admirable about the character of Cinderella: she had faith and hope that her life was going somewhere better, that her dreams could come true. She certainly didn't have much external reason to believe that, but she did. And when the fairy godmother appeared, she said to Cinderella that she couldn't have lost faith entirely, or she wouldn't have been able to appear to her! Faith is not an excuse to be lazy or to do nothing towards a dream (but Cinderella wasn't doing nothing: she was a hard worker!), but it is important. There is a truth to the picture of the miracles coming in to Cinderella's life because of her faith. The Gospels report that in some towns Jesus was not able to perform many miracles because of the people's lack of faith!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Trusting in Promises and Plans

I've been wanting to write about this for awhile, and I'm not sure I know where to start.

There is something that I feel God has promised me. Something more specific, that is, on top of that which He promises in His word (but not super specific). And, relatedly (almost the same thing), something that I just feel I am in many ways terribly suited for, there are so many things about me that I feel are saying that that is how I would be happiest and what I would be best at.

Yet this same thing is something that my real life has never come very close to including, and that far too often makes me feel sad and doubtful that it ever will include, even angry. I turn to God and say things like, why would You make me like this if this isn't going to happen? Why would You give me this and then not let me use it?

Then one day--probably weeks or months ago now--I've really been putting off trying to write about it--I read a story about someone who had been promised something by God and who spent years by turns waiting and hoping and expecting and giving up on getting this thing, and eventually the promise was fulfilled, although in a way different than they were expecting.

I really felt God speaking to me that day, reprimanding me (gently!) for not trusting Him more.

Stop doubting whether I am going to keep my promise to you. It may not happen how you are expecting, and it may not happen when you are expecting, but it is going to happen. Stop accusing Me of giving you gifts and then wasting them. I made you this way and I AM going to use those things. I know exactly what you have been made for. Stop accusing Me of giving you a desire for something, dangling it in your face, and refusing it to you. That is not what I am doing and it is not Who I AM.

Reflections on Disney's Cinderella

Having not watched many of the well-known Disney movies as a child, I am currently on a quest to continue my cultural education and amuse myself by watching them now. I started with Cinderella.

First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. But, watching it as an adult, I thought it was pretty, sweet, and funny but also thought about what it represented as being good and worthy of a reward (ie, what the differences between Cinderella and her stepfamily were).

Cinderella was kind and thoughtful, in general, and patient with her stepfamily. Specifically, though, what I noticed most was that she was kind and considerate towards those around her who could be considered less important or inferior (such as the mice). To throw in a Harry Potter reference (sorry to any who are not fans), Sirius Black once said to Harry that the best way to get the real measure of a man is to see how he treats those he considers his inferiors. For instance, if Cinderella had only been kind and gentle with her stepfamily, who were more powerful than she, it could have been because she hoped to get something for it. Feeding and clothing and befriending the little creatures around her is something that means she was willing to be kind and generous even if she had no reason to expect a reward. Of course she did end up being rewarded for it, but the point is that that wasn't the reason she was being kind.

On a more aesthetic level, it was interesting to me to see the artwork, hear the music, and hear Cinderella's singing voice, it really made it clear to me just how old the movie is and how much tastes in things change over time (something that's going to be quite interesting to me as I keep watching these).

My one complaint? The prince got zero characterization. Romance is a lot more interesting when both of the people seem like people. Girls, be sure to marry the first guy you meet who immediately starts singing a duet with you and has a lovely voice! (kidding) (though the prince did have a lovely voice)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy I Love Yarn Day!

In honor of I Love Yarn Day, which is a nifty idea, and also in honor of my fiftieth blog post (OK, that part is a coincidence, but still), this blog is taking a break from deep thinking to say: oooh look at all the pretty colors! and it feels so nice! About, well, yarn. This picture (sorry if the quality is not very good, I'm not much of a photographer) is of a blanket that I am making in KnitPicks Swish DK in (listing them becuse color names are awesome): sugarplum, big sky, lotus, bark, gulfstream, amethyst, hollyberry, jade, and dusk: 

The edging isn't finished yet, and I have some ends left to weave in, but it's mostly finished.

So yes . . . I love yarn. I love the feel of nice soft yarn on my fingers, I love looking at and choosing and working with colors, I love picking pretty patterns and watching them get turned into reality with my fingers and a crochet hook and time . . . time during which I might be drinking tea and other comfortingly hot things, or listening to music, or watching something, or even just sitting and crocheting to relax.

That is all I have to say just now. Have a lovely Friday night, whether your idea of that includes yarn or not!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Promise of Resurrection

At a camp I was at this summer, there was a lake. One night there was worship music by the lake after dark. In the dark, the lake frightened me, it looked like such a big empty expanse of black. And, for various reasons right then, I felt like I was about to get pushed into that frightening empty darkness. So I prayed, and God spoke to me. He did not say that I wouldn't go into that place, that it wouldn't hurt or be scary or surround me and take me back to a state of mind I was in once and never wanted to return to. But He did say that, if that happened, if I fell into that lake and drowned in it (figuratively), then He would pull me back out of that lake and He would bring me back to life.

And I cling to that promise. I can try not to fall in, I can try not to go to that place in myself again, and I am trying. But the thing that comforts me most is not my efforts not to go there, but God's promise that He will rescue and resurrect me regardless. That He who has brought me out of the darkness before has the power to do so again.

Now, go read Ezekiel 37:1-14.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thy will be done

Imagine that, for the purposes of an analogy, you've lived all your life knowing that what you want more than anything in the world is a teapot. (Remember, this is only for an analogy; for the best reading experience, insert your own deepest desire in your head every time I write "teapot".) You've daydreamed about teapots and tried to imagine what the best possible teapot for you would be like, but because you don't have a lot of experience with good teapots, these daydreams are pretty limited. Still, you've wanted a teapot a lot for a long time, and you've never had one; you're waiting to find that teapot that is going to be the perfect teapot for you.

So one day you're in a store with your dad and you see it. You were never sure exactly what the teapot of your dreams would be like, but once you see this one, you quickly become convinced that it has everything you ever wanted in a teapot and more. So you beg your dad to buy it for you, or let you buy it yourself, and He doesn't. You beg Him at least to promise that He's going to get you that teapot later and tell you when, and He doesn't.

And this is where we get to the point of the story. The teapot analogy is about something in particular to me, but the point that I'm trying to get to is about more than that in my life. The teapot-wanting-person (me) in this situation could blatantly disobey, or I could trust that Dad has a reason for saying no and not worry about it. Unfortunately, I could also outwardly obey, and trust part of the time, but deep down, for a long time, I might resent my Father for it and fight Him on it. Until I finally realize that I've been struggling against the wrong thing.

So the question really is, in those moments (of which there are bound to be plenty) when the will of God and the will of Hannah are in conflict, who or what does Hannah struggle against harder? Does she fight God about His will and how cruel and wrong He must be? Or does she fight her own will, her own desires, her own feelings, trying to bring them in line with His will? Does she resent God or does she say what Jesus said in the garden of Gethsemane, when He clearly did not exactly desire to go and be crucified: "Not my will but Thine be done."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seasons, Living, and Gratitude

Here I am. Not quite where I want to be, but living, existing, using time, passing time, wasting time, or watching time float by me, allowing a section of my life to be spent--in whatever way I choose to spend today, this week, this month, this year.

A few months ago I was complaining to a friend about how I was not looking forward to the next year or so of my life and various things that come with it. "It's only a season," she said. O friend who I'm sure is reading this, I know that was meant to be a comfort and a reminder that it is not permanent, and it certainly sparked a train of thought about this time of my life that has been helpful, but in a fundamental way it is not comforting. Because, sure, it's not permanent, not going to be this way forever, but this is still a part of my life that I must live through and can't skip over.

And I am realizing that how I choose to approach a time of my life that I feel this way about matters, a lot. For one thing, if I'm not choosing to live in a manner and with an attitude that I would want to live in, and with making good choices in any area it is possible for me to make good choices in--if I'm not doing that now, who's to say that I ever will? It's not that I believe that every habit I set right now will be permanent and unchangeable, but, today I am given today in which to live, and if I'm not living now, I may reach the next year and the things that I hope it will bring and find that I have forgotten how to live and enjoy and be grateful.

Be grateful! Even as I type it I fight the attitude that the phrase requires. But I came to a realization recently that EVERY section of my life has its own opportunities that the next might not have . . . even this one. And so, I am trying to live and to take advantage of those opportunities, and be grateful for them.

At least, some days I am trying and succeeding, some days I am trying and failing, and some days I am not really trying (and therefore failing by default).

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Picture of Trust*

I'm standing. I don't understand how I got here. I don't understand what's going on. I'm uncomfortable with the situation in more than one way. What's going on hurts me both physically and emotionally. Except that it doesn't, because I am looking in the eyes of my beautiful Master, who is standing right beside me. He understands what is going on, even though I don't. He has power over the situation, even though I don't. And above the intellectual comfort of that is a simple joy and assurance at His presence. This Master who I love so much, who holds my heart in His hands, who has been with me in every moment of pain and confusion and who never deserts me even when I doubt Him. And the joy and assurance that floods through makes the physical and emotional discomfort of the situation literally fade to nothing and seem irrelevant to me.
*from a dream

Sunday, April 15, 2012


"Trust in God," I'm told.
"It will all work out . . . "
"He has a plan . . . "
"He knows what He's doing . . . "
Unfortunately, as long as these phrases come to me in the songs or from the writings of someone who I perceive in certain ways, I don't listen, at all. I think, "Oh sure! Easy for you to say. Look where you are in your life! You know what you're doing! You already have everything I want! Where was that statement when you were struggling? Did you think that then too?"
A completely ungracious thought, I know. And I know that just because someone's circumstances look awesome to me that doesn't mean they don't still have struggles. And I know that these things are being said out of a desire to comfort with wisdom that comes from experience. Even knowing that, I still don't get the comfort that I should from that song (I am writing this mostly about my recent reactions to a particular song, which I am neither directly quoting nor crediting due to the ungracious nature of what I am saying combined with the fact that I actually really like and respect the artist).
Thankfully, comfort has come from another place. I'm reading through the Bible according to a plan that is supposed to be in chronological order, and at the moment I'm in 1 Samuel and Psalms, reading about David. And I never really thought much before about the correlation between David's Psalms and where he was in his life when he wrote them, but now I am.

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!"
Psalm 27:13-14
"For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for Your name's sake You lead me and guide me"
"I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love,
because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the distress of my soul"
"Oh, how abundant is Your goodness,
which You have stored up for those who fear You
and worked for those who take refuge in You,
in the sight of the children of mankind!"
"Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!"
Psalm 31:3,7,19,24
"...I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
I will thank You forever,
because You have done it.
I will wait for Your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly."
Psalm 52:8,9
These things were not written while David was the crowned King and had defeated Saul and had all the Israelites on his side. They were written while he was on the run with his band of outcasts, while his life was being sought by those to whom he had done no harm. Which is exactly what I wanted to hear, because if David can write these things in those circumstances, then God is just as trustworthy in the seasons of life where you DON'T have things figured out and have what you want is He is in those where you DO. (Kinda the definition of trustworthy, anyway, I know.) In other words, if David can trust in those circumstances, then I certainly can in mine! I don't have to wait until things actually work out to be able to proclaim God's faithfulness!
So, thank You, God, for being truly trustworthy and faithful; and thank you, David, for waxing poetic about it while hiding in caves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What I Do Have

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This is an issue I have become increasingly aware of in the past few months or so. That innocent and poor human beings, some very young, all vulnerable, are tricked, coerced, and held against their will, in order that someone else may make money out of the labor of their hands or the sexual sale of their bodies. 

Did not He who made me in the womb make him?
And did not One fashion us in the womb?
Job 31:15

This is verse is from a really interesting chapter of Job (I recommend going and reading the whole thing), where he catalogues a very specific definition of righteousness. In the section of this particular verse, he is discussing the way he has treated the people who work under him, that he has not ignored their complaints or mistreated them--and this is his reason--do we not each have the same Creator?

Should we not all have this same level of respect for our fellow human beings? Should we not be--I was about to say outraged--and outrage is an appropriate response--but it is not my response. I don't get angry very much. But when I think of what little I know about this particular thing that goes wrong in the world, I am sad. And I want to do something. I want to take the helpless ones in my arms and offer them some comfort. I want to give them a chance to live the free life that is all I have known.

I don't really have money that is mine to give (not in a dependable regular way; I'm not saying I never give any) at this stage of my life, and I do not have the tongue or the boldness to go around telling people about these things, and I do not yet have a path clear to what my mission in life is or how I should be seeking it. But what I do have I give to God to use: I have my heart and prayers, I have my pen (or keyboard, more literally in this case), and I have my musicianship. I don't know how to incorporate these things into God's mission, and I don't know what jobs He may have for me, but I offer what I do have, for Him to use as He sees fit.

But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"
Acts 3:6
For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 8:12

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Friend

My own words are not equal to the task I am setting them. How can I say with what comfort I now am looking back on this past year? How can I say that none of the disappointments, frustrations, confusions and worries can outweigh the sense of assurance that overwhelmed me this morning?

I was sitting and thinking about the old year, and how badly I want the new one to be different, only somehow, what God spoke into my heart was not a promise about what will happen, but a reminder about what has happened.

I don't need to explain to Jesus what I am feeling now. I don't need to tell Him about the things that have happened, about the mind games that I play with myself, about the feelings that threaten to pull me into a spiral of nothing, away from the work and fellowship that help.

He was there every day, every hour, every minute of this past year. He shared each moment with me, in all its joys, all its hurts, in every up and down, in all the reverses and unexpected things which I hate so much for their very unexpectedness . . . He has walked with me. He knows my heart.

He will walk with me through this next year as He has with the past one.

But now thus says the Lord,
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I 
    will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall
    not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall
    not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:1-2

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:3-4

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Psalm 139:1-6