Rebels Rebelling Against the Rebellion
The climax of the movie Rogue One (yes, I've been involved in a Star Wars marathon, you?) involves a group of rebel fighters who have now technically rebelled against the rebellion to complete a secret mission to retrieve plans for the Death Star (a big planet burning cannon) that could exploit the Star’s fatal weakness. Wow. Can I take a breath after that explanation?
Each of the fighters has a part to play in this attack. Some of them fight on the beach. Some hang out inside the ship, trying to get the technology up and running (unfortunately working with a cable that is too short). Still others break inside the station itself to smuggle the plans out.
Chirrut Imwe (I probably haven’t spelled his name right, I tried, okay?) is on the beach.
It’s interesting that he’s there at all, mainly because he’s blind. (Proof that a disability does not slow a person down). This Jedi has to rely completely on his instincts (which are very good, by the way), and usually he fights better than anyone else on the team.
At one point in the conflict, the Station Rebels need the Beach Rebels to flip some sort of command switch to allow the satellite to send the plans back to the Rebellion. Multiple people try and fail to reach the command switch in many different ways.
Then Chirrut Imwe steps out from the rubble he’d taken shelter behind and steps towards the switch.
Right out in the open. With blaster fire on every side.
Whispering, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.”
Life Isn’t a Battle But It Kinda Is
This is my favorite scene in Rogue One. Because it kind of illustrates life.
To be clear, I’m not saying life is just a battle, so expect horrible things, and be intense and serious and as gloomy as possible all the time. If that’s how I’m living, then I’m setting myself up to lose.
But sometimes it seems like a lot of horrible fiery things whiz past us—far too close for comfort. The pressure to get everything on a list done and make everyone happy. The loss of someone or something important to you. An underlying struggle that no one knows about because they’re not listening. Abuse—whether physical or emotional—from someone you trusted.
It can be a hard world to live in.
But we have the Force with us. And not in the Star Wars sense of the word, as in, we have the only single Force in our universe that can be stopped by nothing. (Regardless of your feelings about the Force in Star Wars, you have to admit, the correlation is strong with this one.)
And because Jesus didn’t stay dead, because He rose again and defeated anything that might have a hold on us, we have the Force. We are one with the Force—we’re His sons and daughters actually—and the Force is with us.
That means everything that whizzes past us whizzes past Him too.
The Force is With Me
Looking at it in this light, I completely understand why Chirrut Imwe didn’t hesitate to step out from behind the ship. If I had something on my side that could defeat anything life threw at me, why on earth would spend it huddled behind a ship?
But I do. So often I do.
Life may be a blaster field. Just because Chirrut had the force didn’t mean the blasts stopped coming. If you’ve seen Rogue One, you know how this scene ends, and it’s not altogether happily for Chirrut Imwe. (Or does it?)
It hurts to live out here sometimes.
But because God is with us, the hurt we feel isn’t unheard, unseen, or unfelt by someone else. And we don’t have to let that hurt stop us from being where we were meant to be, fulfilling the purpose He gave to us.
I am with the Force. And the Force is with me.
*What did you think of Rogue One? Where are you in the battle--still in the ship? In the direct line of fire? With the Force? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
Can't imagine why I thought of this meme when I was thinking of Rogue One . . .
Today, I have the honor of sharing a post from R. M. Archer. You may have seen her posts on her blog or on Kingdom Pen (which have been so helpful and have taught me so much). She is sharing about why she chose indie publishing. (And keep watch on her blog later today as I share about why I chose traditional publishing!) This post really clarified indie publishing for me, and I hope it does the same for you!
Thanks for having me, Rachel!
Today I’m super excited to talk about some of the reasons I chose indie publishing—and why I plan to continue indie publishing for the foreseeable future.
Really, creative freedom is the underpinning for most of my points. I love being able to have the final say over everything from what I write about to who I write it for, to what it looks like when all is said and done, to who I work with. Maybe that just means I have too strong a need to be in control, lol. But I love being involved in the whole process and getting to execute the stories I’ve been given in exactly the way I want.
Indie publishing is also more flexible when it comes to writing across genres. If I really wanted to, I could write high fantasy, dystopian sci-fi, contemporary short stories, and gothic horror all under the same name; no looking for different publishers or flipping my whole brand on its head.
Writing for a Specific Audience
Indie publishing allows me to write for a specific audience, whether or not that audience is the majority that traditional publishers are writing to. I’m not tied to the current popular trends (which is good, because I can’t write fast enough to keep up anyway, lol). On occasion, there’s a happy accident and I end up publishing something in a year it’s really popular (Asian-inspired fantasy is really popular this year, and the book I’m releasing this summer happens to fall under that umbrella also), but I don’t have to plan to write something according to the current trends.
This allows me to cater to more niche (small and specific) audiences: fans of slow-paced fantasy, Christian YA readers, sci-fi readers who prefer high-tech Earth to space, etc. As an indie author, I’m able to write for these readers even in seasons when traditional publishers are writing for someone else.
A Flexible Schedule
I’m a pretty slow writer. Some of my first drafts go quickly, but I take a long time to edit and produce finished books. I’m pretty sure I’d bomb if I needed to have a book ready on an externally-imposed deadline. While other authors are able to crank out 1-8 books per year (kudos to them!) I’m lucky if I can hit that one-per-year “minimum.” Which is why I appreciate being able to work at my own pace as an indie author.
Indie publishing allows me to take what time I need on a book—whether that means finishing two short story collections in a year or spending two years on one novel. I can work as quickly or as slowly as I need for a project, and I can be as consistent or as varied as I need with my release schedule.
A Custom Team
As an indie author, I’m responsible for all the “hats”: writing, editing, formatting, marketing, etc. But I can pass out those hats as I see fit (aside from writing, obviously). If I love the writing and editing processes, I can handle those myself and then hire someone else to do the formatting that makes me want to yank my hair out. I can do all of my own marketing, or I can hire a virtual assistant to help streamline the process.
And what I love most is not that I can get someone to do the things I don’t have the time/energy/interest for, but that I can hire anyone. I get to choose my own team and work with other creators that I know, trust, and want to support. My favorite part of releasing my current book has been getting to work with so many awesome creatives that I’ve known for ages but not had the opportunity to work with before!
I love the indie author community. Not only do I get to hang out with them as fellow authors, but indie authors have amazing opportunities to support each other! Some of those creatives I’ve worked with? Fellow indie authors.
Because indie authors don’t have as much reach with their books off the bat as traditional publishing houses can offer, it makes the need to support each other and share each other’s books even greater. Collaborations, book promotions, resource-sharing, etc. abound in the indie author community, and I love getting to be a part of it.
In putting forth these positives, I don’t intend to deny that indie publishing has its own challenges, nor do I intend to suggest that traditional publishing lacks all of these elements! These are just a few reasons I’ve chosen indie publishing, and why I love it. If you’re trying to decide which publishing path is best for you, I hope this helps!
See? Didn't she explain that so well? Check out the second half of the swap here: https://rmarcher.com/
Have you seen Disney’s Encanto yet? Over Christmas break, I watched it with a friend of mine, and then quickly anticipated the movie’s release on DVD so I could share it with my family.
Every member of the Madrigal family has a unique gift—a magical power that they use to help others in their village. Even their house is magical—with doors, drawers, and floors that open or shift at will. Every Madrigal has their own unique room, given to them when they receive their gift at the age of five.
Every Madrigal . . . except Mirabel.
When Mirabel stepped up for her gift ceremony, her door dissolved. And she’s been stuck giftless in the nursery for the ten years since.
Many members of her family try. They really do. But when it comes to things like family portraits at her younger cousin’s gift ceremony, well, sometimes Mirabel gets left behind.
Naturally, however, Mirabel is the only one who can see that their magical house might not be as strong as they think it to be. Maybe it’s even . . . cracking?
(Spoilers for Encanto to follow.)
The Real Miracle
At the helm of all this is Mirabel’s Abuela. She suffered a huge loss in her past. And at that loss she received the candle that keeps the magic going. Since then, her life has been wrapped around the miracle they somehow received and keeping that miracle perfect and pristine. Which means that Mirabel and all her attempts to be good enough must go.
It’s not just Mirabel, though. Luisa is convinced she has to be strong enough to protect everyone. Isabella believes no one will love her if she’s not perfect. Camilo has no idea who he is, shifting into whoever might fit the situation best and covering it with his humor. Pepa’s emotions come and go as quickly as the weather. Dolores has a lot of things she's not telling anybody. Agustin and Felix grapple with being gift-less outsiders. And Julieta is just trying to keep everybody sane.
That’s a lot of drama. For a long time.
And finally Mirabel can’t take it anymore.
“I’ll never be good enough for you.”
Mirabel says all the things that have been boiling inside for a long time. And those angry words—piled upon all of Abuela’s expectation and the tension that has already been damaging the house—are what finally collapsed the casita.
The candle—the miracle goes out.
Or does it?
Abuela eventually finds Mirabel out at the river. “I’m sorry.” Mirabel swipes her hand across her eyes. “I didn’t mean to hurt us. I just wanted to be something I’m not.”
And finally Abuela opens her eyes. Maybe it was something Mirabel said in that argument. Or maybe it was something in the memories. Or maybe she just really saw Mirabel for the first time.
And she says one of my favorite lines in the movie. Even as their house has crumbled and their gifts have vanished, she says, “The miracle’s not some magic that we’ve got. The miracle is you. All of you.”
When the family worked together, even without their gifts, just valuing what made each of them the miracle they were—that was what brought the candle and the casita back.
Not because they were perfect.
Not because they were strong enough.
Not because they had some gift that proved they were special.
Just because they were . . . them.
Their gifts were wonderful. But they didn’t need them. They were a gift, a miracle, all on their own. Just the way they were.
And it was the most unlikely member of their family that showed them that.
This world constantly wants more. We’re supposed to have it all together all the time. We’re supposed to make everyone proud.
And when we don’t, sometimes we get left behind. Whether by accident or by the purposeful actions of people who are choosing to let their own insecurities keep them captive.
But to the One Who has the final say, it’s not what we can do that’s the gift. It’s not what we can be that’s the gift. Sure, we’ve been given gifts that we can use to serve others and glorify Him. I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if it weren’t.
But if all those gifts and abilities were stripped away, we would still matter.
It’s just us. The one He made us to be.
That’s the miracle. That’s the gift.
You. All of you.
*Christmas is over? Says who! Welcome to the holiday blog tour. You can enjoy my post on the tour below, then catch the previous stop here: https://wanderinginkwells.wordpress.com/2022/01/27/holiday-blog-tour-top-ten-family-favorite-holiday-movies/!*
If you had asked me only about two years ago which Christmas song I hated the most, I would have said Feliz Navidad.
Many factors contributed to this tragedy.
Factor Number One—my siblings and I had an ill-fated recording of Larry the Cucumber singing Feliz Navidad. Complete with a tuba section and the chicken dance. (If you grew up on VeggieTales, you probably know what I’m talking about. :)) As if that was not traumatizing enough, one year, one of my siblings developed an unhealthy obsession with it and would listen to Larry singing Feliz Navidad on repeat for hours. Which meant all of my family listened to it on repeat.
Opening my inner wounds here, guys.
Factor Number Two—not too many years later, Feliz Navidad became that Christmas song that followed me around for the season. You know, that song that somehow is playing in every store and on every station whenever you turn on the radio?
Therefore, my Grinch-like hatred of Feliz Navidad.
I had a case. I mean, I don’t even speak Spanish, so I don’t know what they’re saying. In my experience, if you don’t know what the lyrics mean, you don’t sing them. Most people who record it don’t even know the words—they just kind of mumble their way through the line until they get to “I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS.”
This year, however, I heard Feliz Navidad many times.
But I never felt annoyed.
I started working at an elementary school with many Spanish-speaking students.
Some of these students come into our school having never spoken English before.
I think of one boy who came into our school in the middle of first grade and didn’t even know his alphabet. This year, he read a part in his grade’s reader’s theatre without any help.
I think of one girl who came into kindergarten and cried every day at lunch for the first two weeks. She only spoke to her teacher when asked a question or taking a test. This year, she finally spoke to me at recess.
I think of a new kindergartener this year. While she gives everyone the most beautiful smiles, she still hasn’t spoken even to her teacher.
It’s overwhelming. It’s tear-inducing. These kids work so hard to learn. They want it so badly.
I can’t imagine going to school every day and not understanding anything anyone is saying.
When all your teachers and friends speak another language . . . even the simplest phrases mean a lot.
I’ve seen these students’ faces light up when their EL teacher speaks to them in Spanish. Or when a teacher uses even the simplest Spanish phrase, whether or not they say it right. Or when a para tries to pronounce their name correctly (even if said para—ME—fails every time).
This year, our office staff decorated the right side doors with the words “Merry Christmas.” On the other side, they decorated it with the words “Feliz Navidad.”
Even though those Spanish words don’t mean much to me right now, they do to these kids.
Because Christmas is for everyone.
One thing that’s really struck me this Christmas is how Jesus came for everyone. All nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities. Every personality—the shy to the outgoing. The sweet and the annoying. He even came for the ones that He knew wouldn’t believe in Him.
He cares about each person individually, and He did when he came at Christmas. He speaks the simple phrases that mean the most to each of us.
He came for me. He came for you. He came for your classmates. For your family. For the ones who annoy you most.
For overwhelmed Spanish students at an elementary school.
Feliz Navidad means Christmas to students who might not hear it any other way. And Jesus means Christmas to all of us.
And who knows? Maybe by next year, I’ll have learned Spanish and will actually know what those lyrics mean. If I find out, I’ll tell you.
Catch the next holiday blog post here! https://annakatewrites.wordpress.com/2022/01/29/christmas-the-everlasting-joy/
Catch the previous one here (seriously, you should check it out): https://wanderinginkwells.wordpress.com/2022/01/27/holiday-blog-tour-top-ten-family-favorite-holiday-movies/
My all-time favorite Pixar movie is Up. (Fun fact. Save that for surprise trivia later.)
The whole movies centers on Carl Fredericksen, who just wants to be left alone to grieve his wife’s death. His house and everything are exactly the same as they were the minute she died. Except a bustling city has sprung up around said house. And the construction company in charge of that city would dearly love to have Carl’s little piece of land.
When push (a cement mixer that squashes the mailbox he and Ellie painted together) comes to shove (Carl whacks a construction worker over the head with his cane), Carl finds himself ordered out of his house by the judge.
So he does what any normal guy would do.
He ties a gazillion balloons to his house and flies his house to South America to fulfill his wife’s dream. After all, a promise is a promise, right? (He CROSSED HIS HEART.)
Just Carl and Ellie. Heading to Paradise Falls. Alone.
But there was this kid named Russell who was looking for a snipe under his porch. And there was this dog named Dug who’s convinced Carl is his master. And there was this bird named Kevin, who was, well, Kevin. (As if Kevin wasn’t enough, Kevin also happens to be an extremely rare creature being hunted by Carl’s childhood hero.)
Adulting. Need I Say More?
When I graduated from high school, I was extremely introverted and socially anxious. I hadn't had a lot of interaction with kids my age or people outside my family in general due to circumstances outside my control. Just the idea of having to make eye contact with the clerk at Walmart made my heart pick up the pace a little.
Ever since I was little, I craved routine. I wanted the same things to happen at the same time every day.
I hated the unknown. If I had no prior experience with something, fun or not, it was immediately subject to careful inspection.
Which didn’t cause too many problems as a homeschooled high-schooler. I could curl up in my Carl-like world, safe and mostly content.
But then I graduated. And I had to get a job. And a driver’s license. And make conversation with other people without my family around.
There was this job at an elementary school. And there was this young adult gathering at church. And there was . . . ADULTING.
It was awful. For a few days, anyway. I was overwhelmed and frustrated and anxious. I didn’t even talk about my coworkers for almost a year because I was still so nervous every time they tried to even say good morning. True story.
Then something strange happened.
So Many Doors I Never Knew Existed
I discovered I wasn’t as shy as I thought.
Once I had the chance to get out and experience life, I realized my coworkers were very different than I am, but pretty fun. I learned I liked meeting friends for chai or going over to their house to watch a movie (and actually picking out the movie on my own!).
There still were the matters of driving places I’d never gone before, going to appointments alone, and shopping on my own. But even they weren’t quite so bad as I had imagined. (Google Maps helped.)
I still love and need my quiet time at home. But so many doors I never knew existed stood wide open before me.
I smiled looking back at my goals for 2021. I had written that I wanted to become more confident. That’s exactly what happened. And it wouldn’t have happened unless I’d taken a few risks and a few chances.
I can’t imagine what life would be like now if I hadn’t taken any of those adventures, unexpected though they were.
Life doesn’t go the way we plan. Carl’s didn’t. Mine didn’t. 2021 didn’t. 2022 won’t.
And maybe that is a fantastic thing.
Whether or not these unexpected adventures feel wonderful at the time—some do, some don’t—they will lead us somewhere wonderful.
Know how I know? Because God’s steering the ship, and He told me so. “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
So go tie balloons to your house. (Or don’t, on second thought, that could be a safety hazard. Some things in Pixar just don't work out real well in real life.) Don’t overthink it. Take the doors that God opens for you.
Who knows where you’ll go?
*What unexpected adventures did 2021 bring you? What are your hopes for 2022? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
I somehow made it through my childhood without seeing The Polar Express. It’s one of my new favorites (although A Charlie Brown Christmas is still tops).
The Polar Express is an odd little movie—from the groundbreaking visuals to the whimsical storyline to the fact that Tom Hanks somehow manages to do half the voices. (I’m still trying to figure that one out.)
It’s a little bit of a mystical tale for children. Or maybe it’s children who understand it perfectly and me who doesn’t understand.
The journey begins with a boy just on the verge of not believing in Santa anymore. We don’t know his name or where exactly he lives. He could be anyone.
That night, a train shows up in his yard, tracks and all. “All aboard!”
He follows the call outside into the snow, where he meets the conductor of the mysterious train. But no matter what that conductor says, nothing can convince the boy to climb on. So finally, the conductor shrugs, adds “Suit yourself”, and leaves him to it.
But as the train pulls away, something clicks into place. The boy runs through the snow, grabs hold of the bar on the side of the train, and climbs on.
That’s only the start of the adventure.
The boy at last returns home—after traveling through forests, up mountains, and over poles, and to the North Pole—with the word “Believe” punched into his train ticket.
“Just remember,” the conductor says as the train vanishes into the snow, “the funny thing about trains—it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”
And then he and the Polar Express are gone, with one final call of “Merry Christmas.”
We can take this scene one of two ways. We can do the decidedly adult route and get all up in arms about how yes, it is very important to know where your “train” is going.
And it is. Not knocking that. It’s very important to know where you’re going in life and after.
But if we were to take that route, we’d have to ignore the fact that these kids knew exactly where they were going. They were going to the North Pole. And they knew that because the conductor told them so.
None of these kids had ever seen the North Pole before. They didn’t know what it was like. They didn’t know if it was all they dreamed of. They didn’t know how to get there.
But none of that mattered.
They decided to get on.
And that mattered more than knowing every last detail of where they were going.
It Doesn’t Matter Where You’re Going . . .
We’re on a train of our own, too—a little thing called life. Sometimes that train brings us hot chocolate or trips to the North Pole, sometimes it brings us steep hills and cracking ice.
We know where we’re going, don’t we? It’s the whole reason we celebrate Christmas. God sent the Person dearest to Him to feel everything we feel. More than that, to suffer beyond imagination and rise again. So we could know where we were going. And so we could know it’s a wonderful place.
Even though we know where we’re going, we’ve never seen it before. We get little tastes of it here (and hint, you get more tastes of it the closer you stay to your Conductor), but at the same time, we know the joy coming is something entirely different than anything we’ve ever expected.
What if it’s not real? What if it’s not all we hoped for? What if we’re ruining everything here?
Sometimes we forget Jesus also came to help us climb aboard the train.
What Matters is Deciding to Get On.
Sometimes we forget that the journey matters just as much as the destination.
Even though I don’t know where it’s going. Even though I don’t have all the details. Even though the tracks are treacherous. Even though it hurts.
And I can get on.
Sometimes Christmas hurts. Hard years make it hard to believe, hard to find wonder in this season we all love so much.
Get on anyways. Hang on for dear life if you have to. Because sometimes the scary roads lead to the most joyful moments.
It’s okay if it takes some time for you to get used to it all--to let go of the bar, come inside the train, even to sit with others in the main compartment. But little by little, you’ll find the more you leave it to the Conductor Who is never late to get you where you need to be, the more those snowflakes of joy blow into your life. And snowflakes add up to a snowfall as we give the hope and joy that we’ve received to others as well.
Like mysterious bells that only ring for those who believe. Does the bell still ring for you? Even if it doesn’t now, it can again.
Heaven is here. Christmas is here. God is here.
So it doesn’t matter where you’re going.
What matters is deciding to get on.
*What’s your favorite Christmas movie? What do you think of The Polar Express? What does your Christmas look like this year? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
*Why are there so many cute and funny puppy Christmas memes? I forced myself to limit it to one.*
Luca Paguro isn’t so different from other twelve-year-olds in 1950’s Italy. He’s curious and loves learning about everything he can get his hands on. He can often be spotted training on his bicycle for the local Portorosso Cup race. And he’s obsessed with Vespas—whether that means trying to save money for one of his own or helping his best friend, Alberto, build one in the meantime.
Not so different from other kids at all.
Oh, and he also never gets wet. No rain. No swimming. Not even a spilled water glass.
Because if he did, everyone would see that he’s actually a sea monster. (Albeit one with a remarkable ability to look human when he dries out.)
I’ve been excited for Pixar’s Luca since the trailers launched. (You may not have known this, but I’m a bit of a Pixar nerd.)
However, a lot of my peers said it didn’t quite have the sparkle of a Pixar movie. That it didn’t quite have that feel.
I watched it anyway and loved it. (I thought it very much seemed like a Pixar movie.)
One of my favorite scenes is the “silenzio Bruno!” scene. Slices of it were used in trailers and other marketing. You can watch the full scene below.
It seems cute enough (if not deadly) in that clip. And sometimes it is just little irrational fears that tug at us.
Not that “I was just thinking maybe I might die” is an irrational fear.
And for the record, if Bruno is telling you not to put something in your mouth, you might want to listen. Good? Good.
What were we talking about?
Right. Then there are the bigger fears. As we see in Luca, often the biggest struggles hide behind carefree faces. Without giving too much away, the kids in Luca are dealing with some big problems: bullying, parents’ separation, and abandonment by a parent, for starters.
Can we really silence our inner doubts when we’re stuck in the middle of those big things? Can we silence Bruno when it hurts?
You Have More Reason Than Anyone Else To Say It
Once again, for the record, sometimes we do need to listen to Bruno. Sometimes he’s warning us and/or leading us towards a good change.
But more often than not, Bruno wants us to doubt ourselves.
You’re not good enough.
And worse, he wants us to doubt the One Who cares for us.
You are a child of God. A child of the true King, the Leader of angel armies. And it’s that Father Who stands by you in every fear you face, big or small. He doesn’t leave when the crisis is over, either. He stays with you in every aspect of your life, the mundane and the insane.
He has a plan in all this. And it doesn’t feel good at the time. But because He is good, because He’s been good for a million other people a million times before, we know His plan is good.
He’s the reason that you’re good enough, because His sacrifice made you worthy.
He’s the reason you can, because He gives His power to you.
You can go to that youth group and meet others your age.
You can be gracious and merciful to the cruel person in your life.
You can bear up under abuse or bullying, always knowing where your worth is.
With Someone like that on our side, why on earth should we listen to Bruno?
So I don’t care what you say to him, or why his name is Bruno. Just shut him up.
Because you have a reason that you can say, “Silenzio Bruno.”
*What is your Bruno? Have you seen Pixar's Luca? What did you think of it? Share your adventures in the comments!*
I remember watching Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. with my younger siblings for the first time. While it had been a movie I loved when I was younger, I had actually worn out the DVD with how often I watched it, and it just never got replaced.
We had told my younger siblings about this, and they all settled in on the couch or the floor, excited to see what might follow.
Once we sat through the (INCREDIBLY LONG) (but there was a catchy song, so it was okay) opening credits, the screen lit up with a picture of an average child’s bedroom.
Mom said goodnight.
The lights went out.
That’s when the terror began.
A slimy tentacle draped over a chair. Curtains rustling in the wind. And a pair of slanted red eyes glaring from beneath the bed.
By this point—not even five minutes into the movie unless you count those opening credits—one of my elementary-aged brothers, who had struggled with night terrors for years when he was younger, was cowered behind the couch pillows, peeking across to the rest of us, probably trying to figure out what exactly he’d signed on for. (“Watch Monsters, Inc. they said. It will be fun, they said.”)
The enormous monster loomed over the bed. The child screamed.
And, uh, so did the monster.
And before we knew it, said monster was skidding across the floor into a pile of jacks. (Punctuated by said brother’s hysterical cackles in the background.) Then the wall lifted to reveal it was all a simulation.
It’s October. Some great things happen in October. Fall decorations start popping up everywhere. Pumpkin spice dominates each and every restaurant. I went to my first For King and Country concert.
But the majority of the month is dedicated to celebrating fear.
October is a month where storytellers go to great lengths to come up with the darkest and scariest stories they can. (Something I never saw much point in. Who wants to be scared all the time? We get enough of that in real life.)
October’s festivities aside, fear permeates our culture now, especially since the 2020 lockdown. (Should I capitalize lockdown? Is it that serious?) It reminded us that our world—and all the things we thought were untouchable—can change in an instant. And with that reminder came fear.
No need to wait until October. Fear is alive and well all year round.
Fear is power.
In the context of Monsters, Inc., the ones who harness fear’s power are a group of colorful and quirky monsters who really just need kids’ screams so they can start their car in the morning.
In real life, though? There’s nothing quirky or colorful about the one who wants to use our fear to power his empire.
Fear is powerful. It holds us back from the things we love the best. It shuts us down and keeps us in a dark place. It overwhelms us.
But as I watched Monsters, Inc. with a boy who used to refuse to go into any room of the house after dark without a light, who used to never spend the night in his own bed, who used to leave the room over visuals in even G-rated movies—as I watched him laugh his way through the film, I realized something alongside those quirky and colorful monsters.
Joy is more powerful than fear.
Why write stories of fear and despair when we can celebrate joy? When we can point to the pinprick of Light shattering the inky dark? When we can break free of the black prisons that we cower oh-so-comfortably in? When we run outside into the light and discover both new things and old things that truly don’t change when the whole world is flipped upside down?
It’s hard to uncurl from that ball and take a step outside. But maybe this October, we’ll find ourselves celebrating the power of joy—not fear.
(P.S. That boy I mentioned? He hasn’t scurried out of his room at night for years.)
“Women have no place to speak.”
“Your book will find a niche market and stay there.”
"Young people are stupid."
“All fiction writers are liars.”
All of those things have been said to my face.
You could add many, many more, I’m sure. We’ve all had hurtful words tear us down. We’ve all been told we’re not good enough. We’ve all been left speechless, had our voice stolen, been told we do not deserve to be heard.
We all know what it’s like to be speechless.
A Time to Speak
There is a time to speak. You were created with a voice for a reason. God thinks you are worthy of being heard—He wants to hear you. He gave you the words and the story that burn inside you.
If you’re alive and breathing, then you have something to say, something the world needs to hear, something only you can say. Your story has a place in this world. A perfect place for it. It’s not just words filling empty air. It matters. And if you don’t say it, something will be missing from this world.
If anyone ever says otherwise, they’re dead wrong. Don’t ever let a mere person silence you. They don’t get to call the shots on a gift this wonderful. Neither do we for that matter. The only One who does is the One who gave it to you.
A Time to be Silent
There are times, however, when we need to be silent. Not because we aren’t worthy of a voice, but because everyone else is, too. We cannot use our voice to steal someone else’s.
When we’re younger, we’re told, “If you don’t have anything kind to say, then don’t say it.” Why do we forget that as adults?
The hurtful comments I listed above were said to me anywhere from one year ago to four years ago. I’ve never forgotten them, can tell you exactly where I was when they were said to me. Words last forever. And their power never lessens or dies.
The destruction words can have is unimaginable. My preferences aren’t worth tearing someone else down. Even if I’m talking to someone using their words for cruelty, I never want to resort to those tricks. I never want to stoop that low. I don’t want to play their game.
Words also have the unimaginable potential to bring good. To encourage someone. To keep someone going. To brighten someone’s day. To remind them someone cares. To save a life.
For every unkind thing someone has said to me, I have a million kind words to match it.
Words matter. Words last.
There’s a lot of wrong things going on. A lot of people using their words to destroy. Taking the voice and the story that mattered so much and twisting it into something cruel. Those are times when I need to stand up. When I need to speak up. To say it’s not okay. I won’t help anyone by being silent.
But I will by speaking words of life and kindness. By telling the story I was made to tell and ignoring all the voices that tell me I can’t. By saying what God gives me to say.
I refuse to be speechless. What about you?
*What do you think? Share your adventures—and your words—in the comments below!*
And now, maybe a few words that will make you smile. :)
One of my most recent movie forays was Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon. While the setting, characters, and story were all brilliant and unique, the theme and emotion were what really blew me away.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya is a former princess who now roams the various countries of Kumandra (Heart, Spine, Talon, Fang, and Tail) in hopes of piecing together the legendary Dragon Gem. That Gem was also destroyed at what was supposed to be a peaceful event. When the five countries realized where the Gem was, they accused Heart of hoarding all its benefits. In the rush to all claim it, it fell and shattered.
And when it shattered, so did Kumandra.
Giant purple shadow monsters (Druun) rage unchecked without the Gem’s powers to protect their country. And anyone they come across, they turn to stone.
Raya’s peace-hoping dad among them.
So now Raya’s hoping maybe a magical dragon from the past—Sisu—could bring her Ba back.
I mean, it really is understandable that Raya has some trust issues. Especially a girl she’d befriended was the one to lead the invasion for the Dragon Gem. And there is the fact that the same girl (Namaari) hunts Raya to this day.
But in order to get all the gem pieces, she’ll have to take a few chances.
Three, to be exact, which lead her to assemble quite the misfit crew.
The Great Sisu Debate
There’s been quite the debate as to what this movie was trying to say, and I had a lot of fun discussing it with some of my writer friends.
Sisu, the hilarious yet wise dragon, advocates giving everyone a chance. But in real life, we can’t just walk up to a random person on the street and ask for help. We can’t go to someone who has seriously hurt us and give them a gift and make everything better.
Raya, on the other hand, trusts no one. And we see throughout the movie that her way doesn’t work either. We can’t do everything ourselves (and I would highly suggest you not try drying your own food unless you know how).
So what are we to do?
I think the answer lies in the scene when Raya and Sisu confront Namaari. (And we’re preparing for a whole lot of spoilers, so be warned.)
Namaari—whom Sisu believes can be trusted—turns a crossbow on them both and demands they hand themselves and the Gem over. Despite this turn in plans, Sisu continues to assure Raya it’s alright.
Raya draws her sword anyway. Hurls it at Namaari. Namaari’s finger slips on the trigger.
And Sisu dies.
This is where a lot of the debate begins. Were they saying Raya should have blindly trusted Namaari and none of this would happened?
Or was it not really about Namaari at all?
Backing up the tape—Sisu was the one who assured Raya it was alright. Sisu had proven herself trustworthy over and over again throughout the movie (if not a bit scatter-brained at times). Even Raya trusted her by seeking her help in the first place.
Raya couldn’t see past her own hurt with one person to trust someone who truly did care about her and whom she truly could trust.
Taking the First Step
Why is this all so important to me? Because I see this a lot. In myself. In others. In the stories I write. We’ve been hurt over and over again, sometimes by people we trusted very deeply. So we hide away in a little ball (not unlike Tuk-Tuk, really), shielding ourselves from everyone and everything.
We don’t ask for help, because it’s safer to do it ourselves.
Even from God.
But Raya got a second chance. A chance to trust former enemies as they put the Dragon Gem back together. Even when it all seems to go wrong and she’s turned to stone.
She took the first step. (Thanks for the line, Sisu.)
There is still hope. There is still light. There is still Someone far more trustworthy than any dragon.
And because of that, we can take the first step.
Although it may not be giving a gift to someone who wants to kill you . . . it may just look more like the quiet acceptance of Someone you know can be trusted.
When Raya took the first step, the Druun were destroyed. All those who turned to stone were restored. Sisu and the dragons returned. But most importantly, Kumandra was united again.
Who can tell what might happen if we take the first step?
*Have you seen Raya and the Last Dragon? What did you think of it? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!