Happy is as happy does.

I notice that I talk about problems a lot on this blog, and not a lot of solutions. I know I didn’t start off that way. I used to blog about mostly positive stuff.

And I notice more people read my blog since the change happened.

It’s a simple fact that negativity sells.

Not that that’s why I write about it, that’s just what’s on my mind a lot. But I do wonder if it’s quite healthy.

I think about how in past centuries, or even decades, there’s been plenty of hardship to go around, and there were people then who couldn’t say enough about it.

It’s not like venting, where after two or three times (or if you’re more mild than me, once,) you  can move on, get over it. Be cheerful again.

No, nay saying and foreboding is never satisfied. We’ve all met that cynical person, a lot of us live with one, you know the type, they can never stop talking about what’s wrong with people, the world, the country, etc.

And it’s a bit of a downer to say the least, but it’s even worse if you start thinking “I’ turning into that person.”

That’s the last thing I want.

You see, my siblings and I, we have a thing where if someone in a story morphs into a villain, or is defeated in a deeper way than just losing their live or health, we say they gave in to the darkness. They lost to it. Most often this means they turned evil, but it can just mean they gave up the fight.

And when this happens, we feel as if they died. More than we’d feel it if they really had. Death isn’t really just the end of life, it’s the end of vitality in life. IF that makes sense.

And we all have our personal battles with this type of loss. It is recoverable from, but it’s difficult if you’ve let yourself get to that point to even want to come back.

It’s like C. S. Lewis said, some people like happiness, and others, for some reason, don’t.

And the thing I notice is that cynics, they really don’t like feeling happy. They don’t trust it. If they feel glad for a day or two, or an hour, they always find something that will put them out of sorts again, and they go back to comfortable pessimism.

People who like happiness, on the other hand, may go through times where they emotionally can’t feel it, but they will push through that until they find it again. PR they’ll adjust until it’s not so hard. There is a downside to this, they may be more focused on happiness that on doing what’s right (ultimately compromising their own goal) but overall, I think they are more satisfied than the other type.

A person who likes happiness can forgive themselves quicker than someone who doesn’t, because they don’t want to feel down about something for too long. I notice that the ones who don’t like happiness tend to dwell on their own faults, and on rectifying them.

They will perhaps say that they don’t deserve happiness, but it really it  because they don’t trust it that they avoid it. Human beings really have no trouble accepting what they don’t deserve.

Which is fine, I think God made us that way so we could receive his gifts, no gift is given because it is deserved, then it would be a prize.

And Christians who don’t like happiness will always, always, treat salvation like it’s a prize instead of a gift. Trust me, if you’ve known any one of these folks, it’s part of the reason people don’t like Christians as a whole. Not the main reason, but part of it.

Like Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy) says of the townspeople in Footloose, these are the kinds who have sticks up their rear ends. They can’t have fun.

I knew how to have fun once, I still have it every now and then, but I don’t have it often enough I think. It’s mor ein my nature to be happy, or at least ot want ot be and not ignore it, but often the people I’m surrounded by and the circumstances I’m in seem to prevent it.

Which isn’t right, I ought to rise above such things. But it is difficult.

Misery loves company.

I know that I’m more cynical than I used to be, it seems to happen with age, and with the knowledge of more and more problems that you will have to deal with as you get older. Like taxes; ageing; and voting; to name a few.

And the amount of things that just tick me off about this culture.

But all that is temporary after all, and happiness can’t really be built off those things.

It works like this, if it’s foolish to build your happiness upon something, like money, or fame, or even family and friends, then it it foolish to lose your happiness over that thing. Permanently. Grief is fine to feel for a time, but not the hill you want to die on, if you get my mixed metaphor.

As this song goes:

I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation. And I will put my trust in You, oh Lord, and I will not be shaken.

Love is the only things worth building your life on, and with love, truth. Those things never change, and never will. They can’t be taken away by our culture, or the people around us, not unless you let them take it.

And he is a fool who lets that happen. (We all do it though, so we’re all fools together, but it’s more important who ceases to be a fool than who starts off as one.)

Those are my thoughts for now, until next time–Natasha.

The Lord of the Fantasy.

Yesterday I saw “The Fellowship of the Ring.” For the first time.

I know, Christian; millennial; homeschooled; how is it possible I’ve never seen it before?

I haven’t read the books either (gasp.)

Honestly, the story just didn’t appeal to me. The ring creeped me out, and there weren’t a lot of girls in the story. Up until recently, I really didn’t have an interest in any story without girls in it. Girl Power and all that.

I’m sure some of you haven’t seen or read the series either, but I’m  not going to recap, I’d never fit all that into one post, or two.

The point is, now that I’ve seen it, do I like it?

Sort of. I actually only decided to finally take an interest because I’ve been reading a lot of J. R. R. Tolkien, and what better way to understand a writer than through his material?

but reading about his creative process is very interesting. Did you know he never knew much about what would happen in the legend before it actually did happen? HE always had  a sense of the story being given to him, not imagined.

And knowing some of it, I completely agree that no one could make that up. It really happened.

No, I don’t mean I think it actually did, (though If I were told it had historical base, I might,) but it would make you think so.

Genius.

And it just the thing to make you feel how little you actually know about writing.

I can easily feel smug about my talent when I compare it to most modern authors, who don’t know how to really write. If I have even an inkling more than they, I’m ahead. But next to real genius, my efforts still look like child’s play.

Nothing wrong with that of course. Plenty of good books are written n that way, and it’s not a reason to stop. But it is a reason to be more humble.

I think we get lied to a lot about our abilities. Not everything we crate is beautiful just because we created it. Being unique does not equal beauty. Some of the ugliest and most disturbing art I have seen was unique, because it was unhealthy.

See, rarity works both ways. It can either mean you have an incredible gift and are using it well, or that you are creating something horrid, that only people who have a flaw in their soul will like.

That is not an exaggeration. It is hard truth.

Now, it may be a rare person who will create such bad art, but it’s not so rare as it was, because we’ve started letting them off the hook by saying they are expressing themselves. (As if any of us would want to know the self they are expressing, if that was the case.)

But this is not a post about that, I think I’ve made my point.

But most art is on better footing. Not all of it is about pleasant subjects, but it will at least be making a healthy point about the sadness of a more tragic subject.

Tolkien’s work is very much a blending of both, and a skillful blending because he does it without shifting the overall tone of the story.

No one should read fantasy without considering its tone, and its message. Anyone who thinks fantasy is for pure entertainment and has no real life point, is reading it wrong and does not understand the genre.

See, if I may wax Tolkien-like for a moment, fantasy is far closer to real life than we think. But because we have no guard against it, we accept truth in fantasy easier than we will in real life.

Think of you favorite books, mine are all fantasy or fiction, and I know that the truth I learned from them became a part of me because it was ins tory form, and that was much easier to take in and retain than any “real” lesson would be.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus constantly used stories, known as parables, to teach the people. But only to his disciples would he explain the full meaning.

The reason he gave was that it was for his disciples to know the things of the Kingdom, but he people had shut their ears, and eyes, and hearts.

This makes more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. Someone recently expounded on it, saying that the stories were so even the people could understand the way to have an abundant life. (I paraphrase.)

As we all know, many people consider Jesus to be a moral teacher but not the Son of God, and that being the case, they will only accept his teachings on that basis, so the stories are an effective way to convey that.

In this case, the motivations of Jesus and of fantasy writers is the same. Both wish that the people would understand them if they spoke plainly, but people don’t like that for the most part, so in order to get their message out, they use stories. Because they want people to have a better life, even if they stubbornly refuse to have the best life.

You might compare it to how, in stories, the heroes will have the best life (if they win) but the people who helped them along the way will still have a better life than otherwise. No good author likes making everyone in their story miserable just because they aren’t the hero. (Not that some don’t do it. Check out Les Miserables, though I don’t know if Victor Hugo liked it, so much as though he needed it.)

So, the first thing fantasy teaches us is that if we want to be happy, we have to be good. That is the foundation of all healthy fantasy, because any that says otherwise is lying, the real world will prove that.

There’s plenty more about this subject to be delved into, but for now, I’ll sign off.

Until next time–Natasha.

Sick day

So, I’m not feeling so hot, well actually I do feel hot. I’ve been fighting a lot of allergy symptoms and even a slight fever yesterday.

I don’t even know why.

To be honest, I hate allergies. They are your body’s reaction to a perceived threat, like a toxin, only without the threat being real.

See, a real threat like smoke, requires a reaction to get it out of your system; but something like pollen, or dog hair, or peanuts, those aren’t toxic, but foe some reason your body thinks they are.

In my case it’s hereditary. Some people develop food allergies because they were fed whole foods too early in their infancy.

It’s just something you deal with, you don’t really have an explanation.

But it was kind of a big week for me and getting sick was not on the agenda.

Of course, I know things happen unexpectedly. I know you can’t control life. But knowing that can make it frustrating. The temptation is to blame God, or life, r chance, or your own poor luck, for dumping these problems on you that you weren’t ready for and couldn’t prevent.

Or maybe you could have, and then you start blaming yourself for being so stupid.

The thing is, I am way healthier than most of the people I know. No one in my house has serious health issues, that can’t be managed easily at least.

But if all I have is allergies and an occasional cold and once in along while the flu or some other unexplained minor illness, I’m doing pretty well.

Still no one likes it, whatever they have.

But I do have a lot to be thankful for. I can be thankful that this only happens every so often. I can be thankful that I no longer get migraines or bad eye headaches on a frequent basis. I can be glad that I don’t have asthma or any lingering heart problems from when I was a baby.

Sure, I’m miserable, but I’m not dying. And I can do stuff, it’s just a matter of how comfortably I can do it.

I get a few minutes of relief every now and then thanks to medicine, which I have access too.

Much as I’d rather complain, I know it could be so much worse. Also, complaining makes you unhealthy, it’s a proven fact.

So this isn’t an in depth post about a movie (though I did just re–watch the original Karate Kid) or about a social problem. But it’s about my personal life.

And my faith is involved. I know better than to wallow in self pity. I do look forward to the day when my health will not even be a matter of caution, but in the meantime, God doesn’t promise perfect health all the time. Just that He will give you enough strength for whatever you need to do, sometimes more, sometimes not.

I believe in healing, but I know it doesn’t always happen, and not always when we want it to. I also know sometimes we have to deal with other issues before we can be healed.

Most of all, I know that the best testament to the power of faith is being able to smile even when you feel bad. A real smile. I

I

m still getting there, and some days I get close than others, but the point is, I at least have that option now.

That in itself is enough to be a miracle.

I remember, sometime last year, I had a night where I was throwing up at least three times, and again the next morning, and though I was tired and miserable and thinking I had eaten the wrong thing; for awhile at least I was able to praise God even while sitting next to the toilet. (And if you’ve done it you know how uncomfortable and lonely that is.) IT didn’t stop the throwing up, but it did give me peace. And that’s more than I used to have.

So, it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come.

This isn’t just another happy–slappy testimony about how God brought me through something, it’s about how HE’s bringing me through it. Even while I’m still suffering. I hope that count s for something more than the normally criticized too–happy–to–be–relate-able stories.

Maybe you have a similar experience, or you’re going through something rough yourself, I hope this post was a slight encouragement then, until next time–Natasha.

Hinds feet on High Places.

I like to talk about movies a lot on this blog. It’s fun, people have watched them so they know what I’m talking about, and I learn from them.

But if there’s one thing that’s been even more important to my spiritual learning process than movies, it’s books.

There was one book in particular that shaped my life in a huge way, and it’s not very well known.

That book was Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds feet on High places.”  The title is taken from a verse in Habakkuk, “He maketh my feet like hind’s feet and setteth them upon mine high places.” That’s the whole premise of the story. The main character must travel to the High Places and develop hind’s feet.

The first thing to know about this book is that it is an allegory. The backdrop of the story is purely spiritual. Mountains; deserts; the ocean; the meadows; the valleys, every place people use when they are being metaphorical. And why not? It is an unabashed allegory.

In case you don’t know what an allegory is (and I didn’t till I read this) it’s a story about inward realities, but told like a regular fiction story. But all the places and people are symbolic. They have names like “Much Afraid” “Mrs. Valiant,” and of course “The Shepherd.” The most famous allegory is “The Pilgrims’ Progress.” I’ve never been able to get through that book all the way, even I have a limit for old English speech. But the book I’m talking about has very quaint and simple language. Easy to read and entertaining.

But the most important thing about it is that the main character, Much Afraid, was me. Literally, if I had been called by a name depicting my inward state, Much Afraid would have been the perfect fit. If you’ve read any of my posts about Frozen maybe you know this. Let’s just say Elsa would have identified with this book.

Much Afraid is one of the Fearing clan, and she has fearing in the blood, as we are told. And only the Shepherd can really help her. Much Afraid is also disfigured. She has a crooked mouth and crooked feet. She can only limp along painfully and she is ugly. But it is her fears that are her real trouble.

We are not told exactly what she fears except for pain and her relatives. Who bully her and plague her and try to kidnap her. She is weak, and they are all cowards. Much Afraid needs no object, she just fears period.

How well I know the feeling. Well, I can’t tell the whole story here, but after the Shepherd offers to take her to the High Places where she can be cleansed of her imperfections, Much afraid accepts, and even allow shim to plant the seed of Love in her heart. Though it hurts. Immediately she feels different.

When I read this the first time, I was not yet a Christian, though I believed in it. I have never not believed it was true. That was why the book made so much sense to me. Everyone in that book knows who the shepherd is. Some of them hate him, others love him. But they all believe, in that sense, that he is who he is. No one at any point denies that the Shepherd is real. Because everyone can see him.

That was how I grew up. There was no question of whether God was real, or whether Jesus was, but of where I stood with them.

That’s the only real question when it comes down to it.

Anyway, so I read the book and honestly, I did not understand it. Oh, I got the point about overcoming fear, but I had never felt real love, or been free from fear for longer than a few hours for most of my life. But Much Afraid has the same experience. She feels bold for a short time, and then she is ambushed by all her relatives and in the end faints dead away. To make a long story short, she is still able to go with the Shepherd, and she sets out, with his two helpers Sorrow and Suffering as her companions. They undergo many obstacles, dangers, and attacks from her enemies, and at the very end of their journey Much Afraid is asked to give up what she ahs staked her whole hope and life on, the promise she was given about having new feet and a new heart. And she asked to give up her human love that is in her heart like a weed, its roots going deep into her soul.

Much Afraid can hardly believe it, but in the end she does as she is told. After both these things are removed and burned on an altar, she faints and wakes up feeling different. Then she washes in a stream and discovers all her blemishes have been removed. Then the Shepherd calls her and she bounds up, with her new feet, and joins him.

More stuff happens, but I’ll stop there. When I first read this, I didn’t know you had to surrender your will to God. Maybe I had heard it, but I hadn’t made the connections. My fear was a terrible thing, but I still chose it over God so I could protect myself from having to do things I didn’t want to do. Fear was an excuse.

It was really to the point where I had no will at all except to resist God. I couldn’t resist fear. I was foolish, as everyone is with their besetting sin, but I didn’t know it. I wanted to be free but I didn’t want to pay the price.

God will set you free, but He demands that you give up your chains, and yourself. and give it all to Him. The reason people hate that idea is because they want control. Fear is a huge problem for all of us. I count myself fortunate that I at least knew it was my problem, many of us don’t.

I didn’t really become saved till I laid down my will to God. And I only knew to do that because I had read this book. To this day I still learn new things from it.

I know it wouldn’t mean as much to anyone else, but it would still mean something, so I recommend checking it out.

Until next time–Natasha.

National Women’s Day.

A while ago, the women here in America celebrated this “holiday” by boycotting work and going on marches.

And I didn’t even know there was a national holiday dedicated to women.

Of course, I didn’t celebrate, but I got to thinking, maybe a day to celebrate being a woman isn’t such a bad idea. Or a day to celebrate being a man.

But I’d do it a bit differently.

I think celebrating womanhood should look less like one big hate letter to the male population and more like one big love letter to the people around us.

On that day, a woman would make it a point to either dress up or dress down, depending on what makes her feel more comfortable with herself. (Personally, dressing up does that for me.) She’d either do her make up or not do it, whichever makes her feel confident and pretty.

A woman would spend the day, not protesting that she was a victim, but taking control of her time and spending it doing things that she feels really matter. Which could be hanging out with her kids, cleaning up a park, volunteering for a charitable organization, or visiting her family, or going out with her other female friends for a girls day.

Then she should do something fun, like go on a date, or if she’s single, do one of her favorite things.

The perfect day would include the kinds of talks that women love to have, and the kind of peace that they love feeling when they feel loved and cherished.

A strong woman does not need a man’s permission to be feminine; she would celebrate whether anyone else did or not.

I’d put hearing my favorite songs; eating assorted chocolates; watching a good movie or reading a god book; and hanging out with people I care about in a relaxing place; all on my list of things that make up a perfect day. Not to mention feeling close to God.

How men would treat women on this day would just be to say the things they should say all the time. To admit that they need women in their lives. And to be equally proud to be men.

Because when both men and women are glad to be what they are, it’s an irresistable combination. People like to see it.

Which is not to say all the problems between men and women would be fixed in one day, or even that everyone would celebrate. But the point is, if you will celebrate, really celebrate.

I just don’t see the joy in ranting and raving about injustice on the one day you get to be celebrated on. Which goes for any holiday. Who celebrates Christmas by protesting all the people who don’t get of give gifts? Or don’t go to church, or don’t celebrate at all, no one does that. (If they do I feel sorry for them.) What people do instead is they give to someone who has nothing, or they invite someone to go with them, and take someone in.

Celebration is about joy, and sharing that joy with other people. There will always be those who’d rather be miserable and gloomy, or who will focus on the wrong thing. but no one should pay them any mind except to help them.

That’s what I’d call celebrating my womanhood.

If nothing else, just taking a minute to be glad for what you have is celebration. We have so much in America, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a lot more in your hands than many people will ever get to see in their lifetime.

Let’s not complain so much.

Until next post–Natasha.

Running away from Sadness.

Continuing from my previous post…

Now that I have defined Joy and explained how we find it, I need to expound upon it.

This, more than any other topic, is a Church related one, because it’s in the Church that the word is mainly used; and many people are frustrated that they can’t find it.

If it were as simple as I made it sound, than more people would have joy. Because accepting sadness is totally simple…right?

Wrong is probably what you all thought, but actually, it is simple. It’s just not easy.

We run from sadness. From our own and other people’s.

I know people who will cry over nearly every movie they watch, but they don’t talk about what’s going on in their life so much.

I also know people who seem to be perpetually depressed, and by choice, not medical condition; it offends these people if you tell them to cheer up.

You know, Pollyanna actually had a sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, and in that sequel Pollyanna tells her friend Jimmy about a man she heard say that every time someone said to be glad, he just wanted to go out and shoot someone.

A rather extreme way of reacting, but how many of us have wanted to scream when someone makes light of our sorrow?

Which is the last thing I want to do, I’ve had sorrow too, and I’d be a horrid hypocrite if I pretended it was minor.

I handle sorrow in an unusual way, when I experience real loss, I am oddly unshaken by it. I am sad, but it is not crushing. I suppose it is because I have never lost anyone close to me. Another thing is I constantly hear false alarms, one side of my family is always having one problem or another health wise, but they get over it.

but when I have relational pain, it can be very depressing to me.

I think because all our self worth issues get mixed up in that sort of pain.

I won’t say either type of pain is less selfish, or better than the other, but it is true that the latter often makes us act very selfishly.

The worst is when we don’t feel the pain, but it remains there, undealt with, and affects all our behavior.

Which, if I go back to Inside Out, is what happens to Riley. Though she can’t feel her pain any more, it remains there, buried or lost in the subconscious.

Years of living like this are what make people develop neurosis and sometimes psychosis; it is also the source of anger issues, difficulty in committing, and submitting to abuse because one feel like they deserve it. Pain turned to hate against ourselves is lethal.

And it turns to self hate when we neglect is.

But there is hope. Through counseling, or our own personal journey, we can go back and grieve over what we have lost.

After that process, or even during it, comes the time to have joy again.

There is always a reason to be glad, no matter how bad things are, they are never without some silver lining, but it’s hard to find. Plus that is not exactly joy.

Joy is, as I said before, bittersweet, when it first starts. It begins as the feeling of peace after sorrow, or during sorrow. after you have stopped running from it and have chosen to embrace it.

But one cannot live in sorrow, Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3 that there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, there is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to laugh and a time to weep.

I can’t really explain how you know when the time of mourning is over, I think it comes if you are waiting for it but not rushing it, you just know.

When this time comes, you put away your mourning clothes, so to speak, and you start enjoying things on purpose. You open your heart to new love, you might start a new hobby, or devote more time to an important person in your life. You move on.

It’s okay if it takes a year or two to completely move on, sometimes it takes longer, the idea is never to stay in one place too long, but to keep growing.

I think it has been said that the joy is in the journey, and I think that is true. Joy can be present when you stand still, but usually you need to be in motion.

That’s why joyful people dance, sing, paint, and write; or do whatever they do to express themselves, joy wants to be shared.

In fact if you are hogging your happiness, that’s a sure sign it’s not joy.

We will all run into sadness, but the key is to then run out of it, and leave it far behind. Though we will not forget, nor should we, because the sadness will eventually turn to joy if we are willing.

Those are my thoughts for now, stay joyful–Natasha.

Running after Joy.

I thought I’d do a different style of post today, I wouldn’t want to get entrenched in the same subjects all the time.

I want to talk about that elusive quality known as Joy.

I say known as, but if you google it, look it up in the dictionary or read about it, you’ll find that no two definitions of joy seem to be exactly the same.

C. S. Lewis thought Joy was a longing, or that a longing was how we experienced joy in this world.

Most people think of joy as some type of ecstasy.

The more practical of us think it is just another word for being contented with your life and your work and your family. (I am not using practical as a good thing in this instance.)

My guess is most of us don’t think about it at all, or not frequently if we do. I myself don’t give it as much consideration as I could.

To many people e, and I have felt this myself, joy seems to be a joke. Something people talk about but no one has found. If anyone claims they have, they are delusional. Maybe, we think, joy is just a delusion. Which is worse than an illusion.

We think joy only comes when we can forget our troubles, which we can’t, and that it is fleeting. Maybe we felt it at one time. It’s odd how it is such a strong feeling while it lasts, but it is so easy to forget once it’s gone.

It’s not like we’re left alone once the euphoria we think of as joy dies away. Trouble inevitably comes.

Now if you’re a Disney fan, perhaps your mind immediately went to Inside Out when I brought up Joy. I watched that movie once or twice, I had to give it credit for doing a good job of explaining joy and sadness. I’m gong to reference it in a second.

If there was no trouble in the world, we suppose, perhaps everyone could be joyful. Or I could be, but who can be happy knowing there is so much wrong going on.

The truly sad thing is most of us aren’t unhappy because of the sufferings of others, but because of our own problems. We could ignore the rest of the world if our world was fine. But the rest of the world affects our own, whether we like it or not.

In A Walk to Remember, the movie, Landon, when still pessimistic and bitter over his dad leaving, tells Jamie he has no faith because “There’s too much bad — in this world.” Jamie replies “Without suffering there would be no compassion.” Landon says “Tell that to those who suffer.” Jamie looks away. We later find out Jamie suffers plenty, and tries to stay cheerful and kind despite that.

However, I’ve never really bought that line that we need suffering for compassion, or rather, that we need to have compassion anyway, because if no one suffered, compassion would be useless. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe compassion is very important, but it is the compensation for suffering, not the reason for it.

The reason I went off about suffering is because there will be no discussion of joy if suffering is not dealt with too, even if I tried to leave it out, everyone would think of it anyway.

As is pointed out in both the book and the movie Pollyanna, the Lord tells us to rejoice over 800 times in his word. It would be hard to find a book of the bile where rejoicing was not mentioned in some form.

It’s a saying in the Church, though no any I’ve been to in my memory, that God wants you happy.

Many people have attacked this phrase because it’s used as an excuse to do whatever stupid thing you want in the name of happiness. Which it shouldn’t be.

But though God does not always want you happy, in the way you think of it, He does always want you to rejoice. He says so.

This is where we get to the big difference between joy and happiness.

In Inside Out, Joy starts off as what I would call happiness, a positive attitude, fun loving, goofy character who keeps all other emotions in check. Joy also avoids Sadness like the plague and always feels like Sadness is intruding on her turf, and complicating things. Sadness feel bad, but can’t seem to help herself, she knows that Riley needs her, but she doesn’t know for what .

But after some really sad stuff happens to their kid, Riley, Joy finds it harder and harder to keep control, and eventually she ends up lost, along with Sadness. Sending Riley into a crisis.

The big moment at the end of the movie is where Joy finally feels sad, which seems oxymoronic, but it helps her to see what she needs to do. Sadness finally is able to help Riley, and a new kind of feeling if forged, the bittersweet sort, Joy and Sadness mingled.

Which is the type of feeling C. S. Lewis called Joy. A deep sadness that it is happy to feel. Another oxymoron.

True Joy comes only when happiness has been baptized in sadness. Bapitized is kind of a religious word, but it means a thing has to be purified, usually be dying to itself, and then being reborn as a newer, better version of itself. (Basically what the idea of reincarnation tries to accomplish and fails because it uses the wrong kind of dying and rebirth.)

In other words, you will not have joy until you have accepted sadness and grief and allowed them to make you a bigger, better, kinder person; because let’s be honest, we all know people who won’t ever cry or admit they’re not dong so hot, and they are often the least compassionate people of all.

Or we may be that person, and that’s what bothers us.

The heart of Joy is to overcome suffering. Not sorrow, which is where we get confused, sorrow is good in the right amounts, but suffering if only good when we treat it properly, and that involves pursuing joy even through suffering.

I can get more into this in my next post, until then–Natasha.

I really Lived.

I have heard many times that we need to live life to the full. We just need to live. Period. I may actually be sick of hearing this message. The reason is , no matter how often I hear it, I never know quite how to apply it.

I want to live well, to use my time wisely, but how? How do I know what’s worthwhile?

And even if I know, what if I don’t want to do it?

And even if I want to do it, what if I can’t?

Why does this have to be so hard?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it just seems hard because we make it so. That’s probably not news to you.

There’s this song that I happen to really like, and it’s not a Disney sequel one. This one is by One Republic is I am not confusing my band names. Perhaps you’ve heard it, it’s called “I lived.” I read on Wikipedia that one of the band member wrote this song for his son, and such songs are typically the best, because though we don’t know what we want, we have much clearer vision for what we want our children to have. (Even if they aren’t our children, but just children we care about.)

But I love this song because of what it exhorts the listener to do.

Hope when you take that jump, you won’t feel the fall.

Hope when the water rises, you built a wall.

Hope when that crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name.

Hope if everybody runs, you’ll choose to stay.

Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad, the only way you can know is give it all you have.

And I hope that you don’t suffer, but take the pain.

Hope when your moment comes you’ll say: “I, I did it all. I, I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. And with every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

I literally get chills just typing these words out, they are so good.

There’s a verse in the Bible that has been made into a song, (as many of them have) but also expanded upon. It goes like this “Teach us  to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The song tweaks it to “Teach me to number my days, and count every moment, before it slips away. To take in all the color, before they fade to gray. I don’t want to miss, even just a second more of this.”

What these two songs are telling us is very true. And the reason they use the analogies they do is because we understand better that way.

The first song is talking about how we need to live. We need to take jumps of faith, and if our faith is in the right thing, we won’t feel the fall. We need to face the storms of life and build walls to protect ourselves and those close to us. Now, the crowd screaming your name thing can be see many ways, but the best light to put it in, is that we will do so much good that we will be cheered on.

It is so important to me that the writer of the song used the word hope. No parents can make their child do any of these things, they all involve wisdom on the child’s part, and courage, and faith. But it is what a parent should want and prepare their child for. But it get even better.

To hope that falling in love will hurt sounds strange, but it is wisdom. Love, when it is purest, strongest, and most unfailing, hurts the lover. It won’t hurt all the time, but the ability to love so much that it hurts is the ability to have perhaps the highest human connection. I speak of true love, not the pain of unmet desire, that is something else entirely. That kind of love requires you giving it all you have, and that is a great thing.

To stay when everyone else runs, to not suffer, but to view it as taking the pain. Why, that is encouraging bravery, and not being the victim but the hero.

Seriously, I love this father’s prayer. It is like a prayer.

In the chorus of the song we get to the end goal, that the child will one day look back on their life and say “I lived.”

There’s a movie “Secondhand Lions,” which I recommend. It tells the story of two men who had an  amazing life, and passed on what they learned form it to their nephew, Walter. At the end of the movie, the grandchildren of one of the two uncles old foes, a wealthy sheik, show up at their house, and one of them says to Walter. “So those two men form Grandpa’s stories, they really lived?” And Walter says the most powerful line of the movie “Yeah, they really lived.”

I hope that will be said of me when I am gone. Or that I will be able to say it of myself.

It’s not what you do so much as how you do it. If you put your whole heart into it, that is living.

But there is the possibility of living for the wrong thing, and that is where the second song comes in. We only live for a short time. And even if we have good motives, we can easily direct them into the wrong pursuit.

That’s why it’s so important for the Christian to live for God. To do what is right, and what is helpful, not just what we enjoy. I maybe just lost you there. “Another message about how I can’t do what I want, yada, yada, yada.” Well, sorry. I don’t pretend never to struggle with this myself.

But I think that is because I forget the message of these two songs, (and every other form I’ve been told it in.) You don’t give your life meaning, but you can make it meaningful.

See, God gives life. He gives it meaning. But what you do with it, that may be left up to you.

“I lived” get to this as well.

Hope that you spend your days, so they all add up.

And when that sun goes down, I hope you raise your cup.

I wish that I could witness, all of your joy, and all of your pain. But until my moment comes I’ll say…

When all your days add up it should amount to something. Read that again.

Let me repeat, God gives your life meaning, you make it meaningful. That is not saying you have to make an effort to be important. You already are important, and many of us actually wish we weren’t because we see how we negatively affect other people without intending to do so.

No, what I’m saying is, you can pursue worthwhile things, like making other people’s lives better, and even more crucially, worshipping God; or, you can live your life like it was a credit card given to you with no max. You may use it all up on conveniences, but in the end the credit means nothing because there is no such thing as infinite provision without you working for it somehow. You’ll only run up a debt of time.

If you owe something your time, and don’t pay up, you lose your soul. That’s because time is the medium through which we even come to know and grow our soul, it is what God has given us to use for this purpose.

We, as the songs say, need to allot time for many things. For love; for adventure; for serving others; for Faith, foremost of all; and for enjoyment; and for taking in the colors, the rich beauty around us, if we only have eyes to see it.

“That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Yes, if we realize how our time is precious to us, we gain wisdom. I don’t know about you, gut that’s a kind of wisdom I’m still acquiring, I don’t think I have it yet. But I hope I will continue to learn it.

Maybe there will be some broken bones along the way, I am positive there will be broken hearts, but those can heal. So, when the moment comes when you’ll look back on your life, I  hope you’ll say “I really lived.”

–Natasha.

Why a DP movie is my favorite part 2

In part one, I had just said that I felt cursed, as a child, with fear. The troll tells Elsa “Fear will be your enemy.”

When this happens, Elsa is at most 8 years old. I was younger than that when I realized fear was a problem. But like Elsa, I did not start off that way. I was a kid who liked to feel tough. I wasn’t afraid of trying things. I had my first debate about Christianity when I was four, people, I kid you not, (Four or five.) I knew my stuff too. How did Fear enter the equation?

Like with Elsa, except mine took more steps. When I was little, the idea that fear could control me, could make me feel ill and ruin my day, that was introduced through a seemingly insignificant incident, but it lasted. But the experience more akin to Elsa’s traumatic one came when I was 11. Basically it happened to me in reverse order. But what followed was the same. Except, my parents did not tell me to hide, and they did not die (thankfully.) Elsa has that to herself.

But I digress, I spent years learning how to hide, like Elsa; I became an expert at it. Like her, I developed tricks to keep my mind occupied, to cover up. She used gloves, I used books. If I were a different person, the similarities between us would have been scary. As I watched Elsa’s behavior more carefully, I saw the same looks in her eyes I used to feel in my own. Her hands shook under tension, and I used to become shaky whenever I had to sit through an experience that terrified me, which I had to do nearly every week. But after it was over I could act relatively calm, as Elsa does at the party, up until Anna pushes her, And if anyone pushed me, I would have the same kind of meltdown.

I can’t say for sure with Elsa, but I would always feel very sick, I’d go warm and cold, I’d tremble, I would want to curl into a corner and not be seen or talked to. If I couldn’t do that outside, I’d do it inside.

I can remember it all now, though it was awful, it got worse.

Elsa’s story really starts when she runs away, she is not running from her duties, as many have said, but from her fears. Seriously, how did that responsibility idea ever get started? You can see the fear in her eyes; in her ice and snow; she yells “Stay away from me!” Duh. She’s running from herself. But, as that Switchfoot song says, “Where can you run to escape from yourself?”

This of course, was my life. My whole life was trying to run from myself. Every waking moment. You think I exaggerate, I don’t.

But like Elsa, I had moment or two of peace along the way. It never lasted longer than a day. And come to think of it, her time of peace after her song lasts a day total. She begins at dawn, Anna shows up at dusk. The monster of fear can lose its grip for a short time. But the same thing that triggers Elsa back into it was what would trigger me.

I only needed to be reminded of it. this could be something someone said, or it could just hit me out of nowhere. In Elsa’s case, Anna shows up and Elsa holds out for like two seconds against fear, then it grabs her again.

I am now going to hurry through the rest of the movie until the climax. Anna and Elsa argue, as you know, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna deeply, though Anna tries to convince herself it was nothing. Elsa drives them away, (even the terms are symbolic.) They find out Anna is dying, and go back to Hans. He turns out to be a total jerk. And unbeknownst to them, he has already captured Elsa and thrown her in the dungeon. As the villains will do.

A word on Hans. There are two villains in this story, Fear, and the people who help it along. Hans and the Duke of Weasletown are really two sides of the same coin, the difference being Hans is obviously the head and the Duke the tail. So everything Hans does plays off people’s fears. Anna is afraid of not being loved, Elsa is afraid of herself, the people are afraid of, well, freezing to death.  The Duke also plays off the people’s fear, or at least feeds it. He and Hans both want Elsa dead. The Duke is still the lesser villain, being selfish but not intentionally evil. Hans is knowingly the villain.

I had my Hans too, but I always knew it was Fear itself. The spirit of it.

So, the climax. I have told this so many times, I am not sure what the best way is. But you have probably all seen or heard of it, so I’ll keep it short.

Even though True Love has been mentioned a few times, mainly by Anna, and Kristoff, and Granpabby, no one has actually defined it… until Olaf does. This is one of the many reasons I love the movie, it took the comic relief, and without changing his character at all, it made him on of the heroes. Just by knowing what love was. Olaf’s character it so in line with that message that it seems only fitting he would explain it.

I believe in my earliest posts “The Quest” series, part seven dealt with Love, and I talked about Anna’s journey with it. So I’ll just briefly recap: she didn’t know what love was, Olaf told her, but she only got it when she had to make the choice herself.

Anna saves Elsa. “In every way a person can be saved.” She saves her life, she saves her from being sentenced to death unjustly, she saves her from fear.

When I watched this, I was already saved. Honestly, if I hadn’t been, I couldn’t have understood what happened in the space of thirty seconds. The movie itself doesn’t try to explain it, either you understand the miracle, or you don’t. Most of us don’t.

Truthfully, it is not the people’s fault that they don’t get it. I considered myself fortunate to get a peek into the real meaning of what happened. But it has to have happened to you, or you have to be told by someone who had the experience.

Once I realized this, I could forgive the haters. I can even forgive the people who like this movie for the wrong reasons. They just don’t know. They don’t know that I lived that story. And I continue to live it.

Frozen doesn’t end where the movie ends. As the months of hype over it have clearly shown. I think my tone must show how entirely serious I am about this. I relive the story every time I encounter a new challenge in my life.  I call it my movie, because it is, in almost every sense, mine.

This is long enough.  I think I have explained it thoroughly. If you read this far, thank you, I appreciate it. Until next time–Natasha.

Why a DP movie is my favorite.

So, I mentioned doing a post about Frozen a few articles back. Though I am still not sure anyone but me is interested, I still wanted to do it because, frankly, I’ve wanted to do it since starting this blog.

With that pity plea out of the way, I shall begin. (Seriously, don’t keep reading if you really don’t want to, I get it.)

As everyone already knows the movie was a huge hit and after the first six months or so, people really started laying on the hate. Some of them were frustrated parents, most of the ones I knew were boys who hadn’t ever actually sat through the movie, a few were girls who hated the Disney princess image in general, or else just didn’t get Frozen and were tired of hearing how awesome it was.

I cannot change any of this with a post that will reach only a few people, comparatively, but I do have an interesting story to tell.

When I first saw posters and advertisements for the movie, I rolled my eyes, like many others. I thought “Here we go, another cliché Disney Princess movie with stupid jokes and a story I’ve heard a dozen times.” At this point in my life, I had not been often watching said Disney Princess movies. I will say, Frozen was the most poorly advertised DP movie I’ve seen up to date. But my sister checked it out, and practically forced me to listen to the song “Let it Go.” I almost didn’t bite, but when I heard the line “The cold never bothered me anyway.” And saw the ending with the castle, I was hooked. Even at this point, I only gave this song a B+ and possibly the movie. But I started watching clips, then more clips, and more, and basically, I saw the whole thing in clips multiple times before I ever saw it as a movie.

Though I liked Elsa, the movie didn’t really grab me until I saw the scene that made it iconic. My other sister and I remember this differently, but according to her, once Anna got frozen solid, I went upstairs in a huff. I think I probably just didn’t know what clip to watch to find out what happened next, but my sister found it in no time and I saw what happened. I was hooked before, now I was really in deep.

I became obsessed (see my post “Good Obsession” for how this happens to me.) When this happened I had just been reading a book about finding oneself (for lack of a better term for it. Captivating was the title.) and I soon saw the Frozen could have been made as a dramatization of the book’s message, but even more than that, Frozen was my life.

I am not kidding. Frozen was a movie version of my life story. In fiction form, which is my favorite, so it only gained points there. now, it rarely goes well when I tell people this, I suppose they don’t know how to react to someone claiming to be the subject of this film. Plus, a lot of girls felt that way, so what is my special claim?

Well, I’ve never met anyone yet who had quite the experience I had with Frozen. I have shared before how I used to be a very fear-bound person. Right off the bat, Elsa and I had that in common. But it was more.

Elsa had no common fear of being herself, she had the fear of herself. It is the crucial point that most  people missed when they watched it, and it changes how you perceive everything in the movie.

Fear is portrayed not as Elsa’s gift, but as the corruption of it, a very important distinction. Every time she is afraid, her ice and snow darken, and twist into ugly shapes, or else sharp spikes. But something I noticed at length was how, as the story progresses, the fear becomes less and less subtle. The spikes start to point at Elsa herself, they try to trap Anna inside the castle even when Elsa is no longer in it herself and would personally have no reason to trap anyone, and her storm starts to blind her as well as everyone else.

Fear is the monster in this film. But what does Elsa think? That the monster is her.

I think of what Mrs. Valiant says in “Hinds Feet on High Places.” “She is a Fearing herself, and has Fearing in the blood, and when the enemy is in you that is a very hard thing.” There is a difference from a having fear inside you and being the thing to be afraid of, but it is not a difference people know by instinct.

C. S. Lewis called the fear of oneself the worst fear of all. He was right. I used to have it, I was afraid, literally, to look in the mirror. There is only one point in the movie that Elsa looks at her own reflection, it is when she and Anna are arguing about whether or not she can fix the Winter. Do you know what Elsa says as she looks at herself? “There’s so much fear.”

Mirroring plays a huge role in that story. When we see Anna’s reflection, Anna is always singing or talking about love and being there for Elsa. When we see Hans’es reflection, he reveals his true colors. Hans himself is a mirror for everyone’s worst fears or most vulnerable emotions. (I have to give SuperCarlinBrothers the credit for clueing me into this, they are a YouTube Channel.)

Elsa is never once unaware of her problem. from her childhood she is told “Fear will be your enemy.” And I was, I felt, cursed with the same thing as a child. No one told me it had to be that way, but I kept being told I was worrying too much. I was being a worrier. I was shy.

I am going to continue this in the next post, this is long enough. Until next time–Natasha.