Second Prompt—A Review of Agents of SHIELD

Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger all play important roles in Inside
Out, Pixar’s movie about the emotions inside the head of an 11-year-old girl
named Riley. Now it’s your turn to let one of the emotions have control of the
console.

Write five or six different emotions on little slips of paper and put them in
a bowl. Draw one at random. Write a review of a recent movie or TV show
you’ve seen using only the one emotion you drew.

In the first two episodes of Season 4, it has been easy to tell that the show has turned in a new direction. New elements have been introduced along with new characters. With the introduction of Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider, an edgier element, or one could say an element involving fear, has become a part of the show.

This was evident in Tuesday’s episode entitled Meet the New Boss. As the title suggests, we got to see who the new director was and found out things we weren’t expecting to find out. What was unexpected about the director along with the other parts of the episode added fear which upped the stakes and made the show exciting to watch.

The question could be asked as to why this is, but I think all of us who are consumers of media instinctively know already. Fear, or conflict overall, makes things more interesting. People don’t want to watch or read about people whose lives have nothing wrong in them. They want to know how people get through their problems and resolve whatever’s happening.

This is what makes shows like Agents of SHIELD popular. The people who watch it want to know how Agent May gets over her fear of her colleagues because of the pathogen she’s been infected with. They want to know if people will stop being afraid of the Ghost Rider. They want to know if the ghosts will be cured so people won’t be afraid of them. And finally, they want to know if people are afraid of the new director now because he’s an Inhuman.

So, Tuesday’s episode had more questions than answers. It had the emotion of fear as well as other emotions. But, mainly, it had the conflict that everyone who watches it has come to expect.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Trying Something New

I’ve been wanting to post in this blog more regularly, but have had problems coming up with content. That problem was solved yesterday when I received a free writing prompt book in my email from American Writers and Artists, Inc. It has a month’s worth of prompts, and I’m hoping to get myself in the habit of writing every single day by using it.

Here’s the first prompt.

What was your favorite book as a child? Do you remember? Did you read
it by yourself, or did someone read it to you? Did they do the voices? Were
you tucked up in bed, or curled up in a favorite chair? These days, do you
read to someone else? Do you enjoy acting out the parts while you read?
Today, write about a beloved book and relive your memories of time spent en-
tranced by a wonderful story.

I’m going to answer these questions on behalf of my younger son. He’s 17 now, but I remember well when he was in kindergarten and first grade. One of his favorite books was Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. I read to him and his older brother every night, and when it was his turn to pick, more often than not, he would pick Skippyjon Jones or two of the other books we had by the same author–Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse or Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble. He loved it when someone would make up voices for the characters, and I remember him trying to make up voices himself. These books were the first books he enjoyed reading, and I am grateful that his kindergarten teacher in South Carolina gave him a copy when we moved to Michigan in the middle of his kindergarten year.

Reading out loud to them was a precious time I will always remember. Each boy would usually want to be on one of my knees, and they would want to make sure the book was equally in view of both of them. It was a time my attention was solely focused on them and a time their attention was solely focused on me. I’ve recently become familiar with a song that illustrates how fast this time went for me–a song called Blink by the group Revive.
Here are the lyrics.

“Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

Slow down
Slow down
Before you turn around
And it’s too late

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink”

When we are in the middle of those periods with small children, it seems like they will never end with all the teaching and molding of character, with the preparation and cleaning of meals, with the washing of laundry, with…everything, but in the blink of an eye, they are over, and we don’t know where the time went. In two years, my nest will be empty, and I will be in the next phase of my life. My sons and I still read a book together at Christmas, but it’s different now. They don’t fit in my lap anymore, and I’m the one that’s about to go to bed. They are young men now, and we have a strong bond. A bond was established when they were small children, and we were reading together every night. My fondest hope is they will remember those times when they have children of their own and read to them.

Hope everyone has a great day!

When it seems God isn't Listening

It’s been almost eight weeks since we lost our main form of provision and before this past week, it had been over four weeks since my husband had talked to anyone about  a job. He had been doing his part by looking at the job listings every day and applying for the jobs he was qualified for, but no one had called.

We had also been doing our part by praying about our situation. Praying for God’s will to be done, but nothing had happened. I was starting to think our prayers were hitting the ceiling and was discouraged thinking God wasn’t listening.

There are no pat answers for what to think, say, or do when you think God isn’t listening. For me though, discouragement started to set in. I started to think that what we were praying for wasn’t worthy in God’s eyes; that it wasn’t good enough; that we weren’t good enough. God’s concerns were being taken up by other people who had it much worse off than we did so I thought we had been thrown to the wayside.

That’s a hard place to be in, and I wasn’t sure what to do. We had people who were praying for us and loving on us, but we became cautious and guarded like there was an element of shame of being in a waiting period. This happened despite having referenced verses in Scripture about waiting and knowing it was a normal part of life having been through it several times before. As human beings, none of us like to wait, and we don’t think we should have to wait. We think that when we express a need to God that He should be ready and willing to pick up the mantle and solve it for us.

But, what if God is trying to teach us something through this time of waiting? What if He is trying to teach us about trust and about patience? And this is a big thing for me, what if He is trying to teach us to be transparent and vulnerable in front of our Christian brothers and sisters? No likes to be transparent and vulnerable either, and I had not done the best job of being transparent and vulnerable since this whole thing had started because I was…ashamed.

So, those were the thoughts that were roiling around in my brain last weekend. I felt like I was at a breaking point with everything that was going on and wondering when things were going to change for us. I think God knows when we get to breaking points. After feeling a strong urge to ask people to pray for us last Sunday, I awoke on Monday not expecting a whole lot to be different, but then my husband got a phone call for an interview–the first one in four weeks. He went to that interview on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, he got a phone call saying that the people wanted to see him again. The second interview was this past Friday. I decided to be transparent  in front of people and not worry about what they thought asking for prayers for the interviews both times. And many people responded with prayers and good wishes.

If anyone was not happy with what I shared, they didn’t share it with me. I think that was the point God was trying to make with me. I have more people who will support me than not. And I need to not worry about those that don’t. Somehow, having those thoughts bolstered me, and my spirit was renewed. My faith was strengthened, and I knew what God was calling me to do during this time of waiting–to show my faithfulness and trust in Him while being real and honest about my struggles.

God wants us to be real and honest about our struggles and not be ashamed. I think this will be a lesson I will be working on until I am done with life here, but it is a lesson I am committed to learning. So thankful God doesn’t expect me to be perfect and is always willing to teach me.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

The Breathings of My Heart

When I first get up in the morning, one of my favorite things to do is share the day’s Bible verse on Facebook and look at the different writing memes writing sites or various people have shared overnight. It gives me inspiration for the day to come. I found one of those writing memes last week and thought I would expound on the quote from William Wordsworth which was shared.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

The quote is brief, but it is filled with meaning. For the last few years, I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to get some of my thoughts and feelings on paper. Every word, sentence, or paragraph I’ve seen on paper or on the screen has been a word, sentence, or paragraph that hadn’t stayed inside my heart to poison it. My writing, especially the writing about things that are personal, has helped me to stay healthy through the challenges of life. Every time I see a meme about the ability to write, I realize its message about writing holds truth.

Writing is like breathing for me. Putting words, thoughts, and ideas together helps me to deal with my past, my present, and my future. It helps me to get down to the heart of the matter–away from the fluff, away from the shields and towards the thing that is influencing me at the moment. It is a God-given gift I wish I had used more fully earlier in my life. But, I know I have it now and will continue to use it, nurture it, and refine it so I can share it with the world. In other words, I will let people see the “breathings of my heart”.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Even in the Waiting, God is Able

I was researching a title earlier to make sure I had never written a post with the same title before since I try to be varied and different with my posts. Anyway, the title I was researching brought up three previous posts including one entitled “God is Able” which I posted at the end of 2014. I think God knew I needed to see it. I read through the post and realized I had done or was doing every single thing I had advised against doing back then. I started kicking myself. Maybe my thought life or my faith life wasn’t as good as it needed to be. Scratch that. I know my thought and faith life isn’t as good as it needs to be. I thought about re-posting that post today as it obviously was something I needed to see in print once more. Then I realized I had more to say so this post was born.

We are in a waiting period now for a visible source of provision for our family. It has been an ugly waiting full of tension and discouragement and heartache. As I’ve said in previous posts, I haven’t felt like I was doing a good job of demonstrating my faith in God though I’ve wanted to. I’ve constantly asked people to pray for me and have worried that I’ll wear out my chip with these people. I have hurt and ached for what seems like no reason at various points during my day. In other words, it hasn’t been easy at all for me.

God has been with me though, and today, I know He is able even though we are still waiting. I know this for two reasons. This morning I woke up feeling that the weight I had felt on me for the past several weeks was gone after I had gone to bed last night with a ringing and a buzzing at the back of my head that wouldn’t quit. It had become bad enough for me to have a concern I might need a medication change. But, when I woke up, it was gone. I felt different, and I knew it was from God.

The other reason was because of a quote I saw on Facebook, of all places, by Rick Warren. I know God uses people to bless others, and He knew that these words would encourage me. Here’s the quote.

“When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust, you worship him in the deepest way.”

I thought the feelings I had been having of abandonment had lessened my faith and made God not love me. There was nothing further from the truth. So grateful that God loves me even at my lowest point and that He is able even while we wait!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Honesty

Last week, I was asked if I would be willing to write a devotion for our church’s upcoming capital campaign. Since I write and am always looking for ways to practice and improve my craft, I said yes. I started thinking about my topic yesterday, and I realized there were a few different ways I could approach it one being where I leave my heart and my own personal observations out of it and the other making sure they were included. In other words, being honest with the readers of this devotion.

I had an inner debate about this for several hours. Capital campaigns involve the raising of money, and I wasn’t sure if what I had to say from my heart would be in keeping with what was wanted. Right now, my husband and I don’t have anything to contribute to a capital campaign. We are struggling to  keep our heads above water, and it is hard to not let shame and fear enter our thinking, to not think we don’t have anything to contribute.

It came to me last night though in waves of words. I started thinking about all of the words I had heard from people at my church over the last few weeks. From the person who said, “If people knew what I truly struggled with, they wouldn’t want me anywhere near them.” to the person who wrote words of encouragement on a card to me and my family to the people who have written me words of encouragement in texts. And finally from my Lord and Savior, “Daughter, I have chosen you to be my voice for what is going on in this world. They will not know if you are not honest.”

So, I wrote the words. I put my heart and soul into them, and I pray they reach the people they are supposed to reach.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

When Chaos Comes

Chaos–I had never thought of how similar this word was to all the feelings I’ve been going through until I looked at the definition just now. It is defined as “complete disorder and confusion”. And then the synonyms that go with it–well, all of them are a part of my story right now. Here are some of the most relevant ones. “disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, commotion, disruption, upheaval, uproar, muddle, and mess.” My life is a mess right now. There is disruption, upheaval, and havoc in my life, and there’s nothing I can do about it. No one can do anything about it.

It doesn’t help either that the things we’re going through and I’m going through are things that I was taught were shameful. Things like job loss; things like depression. Yes, I am saying it out loud. I suffer from depression. I have been in the yawing pit so many times it has become second nature. The medicine I take keeps it manageable, but when situations of high stress come along, life becomes more difficult as it has recently.

Jesus has been in the pit with me though. He has always been there even when I haven’t realized it. He is sitting there with me, holding onto me, waiting, until I’m ready to climb. And I do know that. Jesus is with me even when I don’t feel like He is.

What I struggle with is trusting other people with my suffering and asking them to pray for me. When I think the people closest to me are ashamed of me asking for prayer, it makes me not want to ask. I hurt, but I don’t think I’m supposed to tell other people I hurt so I don’t. When people tell me I’m too sensitive about what’s going on, it makes me shut down and not want to talk to people. All in all, I’m just a fragile person who tries to keep her shields up and maybe shares her pain with one or two people.

I realized something today though, from my pastor’s sermon no less. 🙂 God made me, fragile person that I am. And if He made me, He has a purpose for me even though I’m fragile. He wants to live through me, and if I wasn’t the broken person that I am, it would be more difficult for me to let Him in. I cried and cried when I thought of it that way, and I had to sit at the cross for a long time after everyone else had left. I had to ask God the questions that had been gnawing at me. “Is there a point and a purpose to my life? Is there a place for me here? Am I loved here?” The answer to all those questions was yes. It was almost like a renewal of my faith, so to speak, and a sprig of joy began in my soul. I know, for a certainty, where I will go when I die.

But, there is another side. I will still hurt. I will still need to take medicine for this disease I have. My hurt and pain will not be healed in this world. It will not be healed til I see Jesus.

While I’m still here, He wants me to show His love to all I come in contact with, and He wants me to learn how to trust the people around me and to ask them to pray for me and with me when I need prayer. So, local church friends, don’t be surprised if I ask you to pray with me in the days and weeks to come.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Five Years

They say memory is one of the first things to go as you get older. And I will admit there are days I don’t remember what I had for breakfast or what I walked into the room to get or to do. But, I remember exactly where I was five years ago today, and the journey my family was about to finish. We were starting the fourth day of a cross-country journey we had just done four weeks previously. That first time though we were traveling westward, and my husband had no job, while this time, we were traveling eastward with the promise of work in Birmingham, Alabama. I was more relieved than you could possibly know. We were on our own again with the promise of something new around the corner. I just wasn’t sure what that would be.

We were in Fort Smith, Arkansas that morning, and I could tell we were all getting tired. Patience was low, and we were all eager to be done. We made a brief stop at Wal-Mart to get something for the car and then we were off. The day was spent traveling across Arkansas, crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis, Tennessee, and then heading southeast towards Birmingham. We made the obligatory stops for meals and other necessary tasks. By the time we passed the exit for Tupelo, Mississippi, we decided to push and see how fast we could get to Birmingham. It was six-thirty that evening when we approached the outskirts of Birmingham. When we took the turn off the interstate, I remember saying, “Oh, the traffic won’t be that bad. Everybody should already be home from work.”

The four of us looked at the wall of traffic on the road that the sign called 280 and shook our heads in disbelief. It was stop and go. It took us an hour and a half to get from the interstate to our hotel. We found out later that Route 280 was considered one of the major traffic arteries for the area and that there had been a few accidents on that particular evening.

But, we had arrived. We were in Birmingham and ready for our new start. The next morning, my husband went to get the keys for our corporate apartment, and his new work computer was delivered to him. He was excited about starting his new job the day after Labor Day. We spent the weekend becoming acquainted with our new city. The one thing we did which would be the most instrumental in how future events would play out was to go meet a family in person where I had only known the mother online as part of a website for homeschool moms. We hit it off. Their children and my sons were close in age, and everyone spoke enthusiastically as we became acquainted. During the following weeks, we did things as a family and with this other family as we started getting used to being in a new city.

And now, five years later, Birmingham is home. All has not been tea and roses. I lost our third child shortly after we arrived. We’ve dealt with so many difficulties I can almost not name them all, and we are dealing with one now, in particular, that has knocked us off our feet. It is doing a good job of hurting my heart, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

But, our older son has graduated from high school and gone on to college, we’ve made friends, we’ve found a church, and we’ve gained a family. Most importantly, God has come back into my heart and into my home, and even with all the difficulties; I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I’m so grateful for a Lord and Savior who never gave up on me!

God’s blessings on all of you today!