May 24, 2018

"We have had the time of our lives"

Guys, a life changing event occurred to me recently. An event I've been planning for awhile, and one I've been thinking about for even longer. 

For the first time in my life, I traveled solo, to a new state to stay with some people I never even met.

Well. Save two people. ;) Would you like to hear from them?



Olivia left, Alyssa center, then yours truly

Hi, fwiends!  This is Olivia.

And I, Natalie, am in blue. :) Well, I guess someone should explain how this grand occasion came about. Anyone volunteer?

I shall try my hand at it.  Alyssa invited us to her house, and we came, and here we are on our last full day together (by the time you read this, the Fellowship will have been broken).

Staaahpppp. *cries* I don't want to leave!!!! *hugs you guys* Alyssa, can I just stay forever?

Can I second that request??????!!!!!!!

Weeeelll...I don't know about forever...

Okay, FINE, then!  Gosh!!

I guess she wants us to get out of her life and shut up.

She must not love us anymore, Natalie. *cries on your shoulder*

Oh really, girls.  You are so over dramatic.  *eye roll* 

*sigh*  Well, whatever.  As we said, this is our last full day together, so we need to go do super-cool things you wouldn't understand--

Government secrets, you know.

Interrupting.  Uh, rude.

As I was going to say, we need to go, but we thought we'd give you some mini (and we mean very mini) reviews of all the cinematic delights in which we've been indulging this past week.

Speaking of indulging....should we mention all the cookies and brownies as well?

Oh, no.  Most assuredly not.  We have our images to keep up.  

He’s confident. | Community Post: 15 Reasons Eric Matthews Was The Real Star Of "Boy Meets World"

Onwards to the movie low-down!

~ Day One ~

- The Donna Reed Show

O:  This was fun!  I should not be sorry to know it better.

A: This is one of my very favorite TV shows! However, I haven't time right now to go into detail on why I like it so much so...that's all for now.  Just watch it sometime and find out for yourself.  ;)

N: We only watched one episode, and Jeff was grown up. I like him better as a little kid, but it was still fun to watch.

This is my favorite moment from the movie Penelope! She really found herself a true gentleman <3
- Penelope

Johhhnnnyyy. And Penelope. and Johnny with Penelope. This movie was ADORABLE. <3

Okay, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie.  I was worried it might be a bit weird for my taste.  But it was actually really fun and the romance was soooooo sweet!!  Yup, I liked it.  :)

This is one of my very favorite movies, so it made me so happy that they liked it, guys.  You don't even know. :')

- Bella 

This was a really sweet movie.  Jose was the BEST!!!  Liked him so much.  


 I adore this movie so much and it made me immensely happy that they loved it, too. (And yes. Jose is the literal best. :) :) :))

~ Day Two ~

- A United Kingdom 

A United Kingdom · Film Review David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike outshine the filmmaking in A United Kingdom · Movie Review · The A.V. Club

Well, not a very productive day movie-wise, I must say. *shakes head*  But I was happy to have gotten to watch this one, since I've been wanting to for a while, and it was new to all of us.  I didn't thoroughly love it, but I have a feeling it might grow on me with a second watching.

This was good, but probably not one I would watch over and over.  I liked the characters, but at the same time I didn't get as emotionally attached to them as I would have liked.  Still good, though.

Same. The couple was adorable and the story very good, but I didn't LOVE this movie or anything. I liked it. (But there was too much confusing political stuff. *cough*) (Or maybe I was just too tired to absorb it. Whatever.)

~ Day Three ~

- BBC Robin Hood 

What I want to know is, if the Sherriff's strong room was that well protected, how did he ever manage to get anything out of it?  ;)

I always love Robin Hood.

We didn't get much of this watched, but it's always good to see my babies again. <333

- This Beautiful Fantastic

*switches intercom on*  "Silence."  I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

I've seen this before, but it was grand seeing it with my fwiends. :D 

I've been wanting to see this ever since Natalie and Olivia reviewed it on their blogs, so it was super fun to be able to watch it with them.  I wouldn't say it made it to my favorites' list, but it was quite good.  (Vernon was my favorite I think.  :))

- Newsies 


*can't decide which lyric to use*  *has identity crisis*  It was so much fun watching this with Natalie and Alyssa. :D

Same.  I had a lot of fun watching this.  It made me want to watch the original movie again though.  

- Napoleon Dynamite

This was gold.  I loved it. xD

This was cheesy.  I hated it.  JUST KIDDING!! It was actually pretty hilarious.  And we've been quoting it ever since.  ;)

I was so afraid of what they'd think of me after watching this movie, so I'm super relieved they enjoyed it. We've been quoting it at each other and even one of Alyssa's brothers who watched it with us. Fun times, y'll.

~ Day Four ~
- Belle 

Belle. One of the very best movies I've seen this year. Loved it! :)

Another good movie.  Man, there's just too many good movies in this world. I could have used more of John and Dido together but I guess you can't have it all. 

Yay, Alyssa finally got to watch this one!! :D

It was such fun watching this one with Olivia again, as it was the first movie I ever watched with blogging friends--her and Éowyn. And now we got to show Alyssa, too. It's such a beautiful, moving story. <3

~ Day Five ~

- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Umm.....I was curious to watch this again, as I've seen it before a long time ago and didn't care for it very much. I liked it slightly better than I did the first time....*hem hem*.

Yeahhhhhhh . . . watching it through someone else's eyes does drive home how truly terrible it is if you take it seriously.  I mean, I still love it dearly, but . . . yeah.  We kept telling Alyssa's little brothers who were watching it with us that Adam is NOT a man to be emulated.  ;) ;)

Yeah, don't take it seriously.  Just don't.  You'll ruin all the fun of it if you do.  ;)

- The Man Who Invented Christmas
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I'd watched this once before, so it was fun watching it again with Natalie and Alyssa and Alyssa's family.  It's really quite an excellent movie, I think.

I've been wanting to see this since it came out, and it was quite enjoyable and quotable and altogether delightful. And Dickens' relationship with his characters was fantastic. "I'm going out.....ALONE." xD (Also, Alyssa's dad has a reproduction copy of the original publication of A Christmas was SO cool to see after watching the movie. It felt like a piece of the movie come to life. :D)

I really enjoyed this movie.  It was surprisingly good, and better than I expected.  Dickens' interaction with his characters was hilarious...and very creative.

- Priceless 

A: Good.

O:  Very good, indeed.  It was pretty intense and kind of difficult to watch, but I'm glad I did.  *has inarticulate, emotional feelings*

N: I've been obsessed with For King and Country lately and just watched Priceless myself for the first time. It's super intense and serious, but I love how the story is told and the hope it offers. I'm really glad those two ^^ like it as well. :) 

-YouTube clips of Jesse and Michelle from Full House
.it was so oblivious that Michele was his favorite- #fullhouse #unclejesse


So adorable!! <3 <3

I'm so glad these two started fangirling over them, too!  I discovered these clips a month or so ago and quietly died from the sheer adorb.  I NEED THIS SHOW IN MY LIFE.  (But my library doesn't have it. *scowls*  What library doesn't have Full House???!!)

~ Day Six * ~

- Sarah Plain and Tall

I always like this movie and it's always good, but I think it was a bit too quiet of a movie for when we watched it, since we were already rather tired. 

It was sweet, but it was a little too much like Love Comes Softly. I was kind of hoping for something different. And, like Olivia said, it kind of put me to sleep. Almost. :P

Like Love Comes Softly, Natalie?  Now, now.  That's going a bit too far, don't you think?!  ;P  Seriously though, I really do like this movie (and I think it's much better than Love Comes Softly...'hem), but I guess I can sort of understand where Natalie's coming from.  And yes, it was rather putting us to sleep that day, I have to admit.  CALEB IS THE CUTEST CHILD THOUGH!  I love him so much!  <3 <3

* We also started watching some Boy Meets World episodes, as well as Doctor Thorne.

~ Day 7 ~

(more Boy Meets World and Jesse + Michelle)

~ Day 8 ~
- Doctor Thorne 

Romantic Moment of the Week: Doctor Thorne – Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne
I really liked this one. I didn't love it--some aspects of the story and characters seemed hard to connect to--but overall it was fun to watch a sweet, new-to-me period drama. Frank and Mary were super sweet and Dr. Thorne was awesome. Can't wait to show this one to my mom. :)

I enjoyed this, though I had some quibbles.  Tom Hollander as Dr. Thorne was probably the best thing about it, but I also enjoyed seeing some other familiar period drama faces and meeting some new ones.  I was a little confused by some of the "artistic choices" -- the costumes were rather weird sometimes (as Alyssa says, "too many flowers" ;)), and some of the actresses' line delivery was weird too, and some other stuff.  BUT, again, I did enjoy it.  

Ditto to a lot of what Olivia said.  It's hard to describe it exactly but there are definitely some things about this film that could have been improved.  Still it was fun watching it together and it's definitely grown on me since the first time I saw it.  (But yeah, seriously.  Too many flowers.  ;))

- Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World is my favorite show, like, ever.

This is pretty much my favorite TV show at the moment, so it was really fun to be able to share it with my friends.  :)

I'm low-key obsessed now. This show is so fun. (Stupid sometimes, yeah.) I can't stop laughing when we watch it. :D 

Love it!  The quotability is strong with this one.

Aside from movies, we've had fun engaging in Many Deep Talks (mostly after midnight *cough cough*), reading each others' writing, singing and playing the piano, playing with Alyssa's little siblings, eating, running thither and yon, attending a dance, attending a Sight & Sound show, taking pictures of ourselves like the vain hussies we are, using far too many Napoleon Dynamite quotes, and, of course, laughing, laughing, laughing.  
*end of what we all wrote together*

There you have it in a very small nutshell. Olivia and Alyssa and I were blessed to be able to arrange a nine day visit together, in which we truly had the time of our lives. I can't even begin to describe how amazing the visit was, and how much if affected me on so many levels. It was wonderful spending so much time with my friends, and Alyssa's family deserves a large round of applause for welcoming Olivia and I into their home. Because she and I are a bit crazy. ;) (heehee) But seriously, we both felt as if we became part of the family during that visit, and we honestly miss everyone now that we're gone. 

Of course, saying goodbye to Alyssa and Olivia was the hardest part for me. These girls are my kindred spirits and the sisters-I-never-had, and the deep talks and support and prayers we shared will stay with me for a long, long time.  I was so abundantly blessed during our visit. And I'm still experiencing the blessings that come with a friendship like ours. 

There's so much more I could tell you—about what we did and about what personal revelations I experienced from this adventure—but I could write ten blog posts and still not cover it all, so I'll end it here.

Girls, till next time. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but we all know it won't be the last time we see each other, Lord willing. :) I'm so grateful and honored to call you my friends. (But know it. ;))

But if it has to end
I'm glad you have been my friend
In the time of our lives
-Tyrone Wells


PS. Figured we needed a little Cory after that sentimental mush, Olivia and Alyssa. ;)

May 10, 2018

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

6388239I just finished reading this book for the second time this month, and I'm determined to review it before the library demands its property back. :P

I grew up hearing about this book. I mean, you know, it's one of those award winning books you see in the children's section at every library ever, but I never looked into it. a) I didn't know anyone who recommended it, and b) it said "witch" in the title, so....I had lots of other things to read that didn't sound iffy.

But when I heard about it via Olivia's lovely post I knew I had to read it. And I don't even think I was half way through reading it when I knew I had found a new favorite book friend. :)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare isn't about a witch at all. It's about a girl whose grandfather dies, leaving her with no alternative but to travel to New England and make a new life for herself with her Puritan relatives, a strict and joyless group of people she finds nearly intolerable to be with.

It's about her friendship with an old woman everyone else would shun, merely because of her Quaker faith.

It's a story about understanding others despite different beliefs, about family and friends, and doing the right thing, even when those closest to you think it's wrong.

From the first, I related to Kit's intense dislike for Puritan behavior. From the minute she sees America for the first time, she is struck by how gray and gloomy the people are, in dress and conduct and manner. When she proves she can swim by rescuing a toy for a crying child, she is instantly thought of as foolish and thoughtless. Her ability to swim—a rare skill in Puritan New England—prompts people to suspect her of more heavy crimes than foolishness: witchcraft.

Of course, Kit is disgusted with this narrow view and so was I. I've always had a hard time being patient with Christians (usually in books or movie, haha, I haven't known many in real life thankfully) who think life should be dull and solemn and that any bit of colorful joy is a probably a sin.

*grits teeth* UGH. No.

Kit further clashes with her new family, especially her stern Uncle Matthew. From the beginning, he is cold and distant and stern with her. He refuses to allow his daughters—Kit's cousins—to accept Kit's gifts of pretty gowns and gloves. He forces Kit to attend Meeting (church), and sneers at her fine clothing, something he sees as nothing but vanity. He begrudges her presence, and treats her with a manner only short of contempt.

Spoiler alert. I was totally prepared to dislike Uncle Matthew throughout the entire story. But this book turned my expectations upside down and taught me, alongside Kit, that there is much more to a person than their initial actions. I actually came away from this story feeling humbled—because as Kit was learning to understand and respect her uncle, (for reasons I won't go into because of spoilers) I was, too. And I found that amazing. A story that can help you see someone else's point of view is rare and special. I still don't agree with everything Matthew Wood supported—but I don't dislike him anymore. I may even consider him a favorite character now.

Thankfully for Kit, she finds like-minded friends to encourage her and lift her up. One of them was Hannah Tupper, an old Quaker woman who dries childrens' tears with blueberry cake and kittens. The other is Nat, a seafaring young man whom she met on her voyage to America.

*smiles and suppresses a squeal*

Nat. NAT. I just....words fail to describe how much I really like Nat. ;)

I found it super cool that there were different guys in Kit's life, all of them gentlemanly and nice and good in their own way. It seems like usually whenever there's a story with "multiple love interest possibilities", one is shown as "ahh so amazing there's not even a choice HE IS THE ONE"....and the rest are shown as jerks. Besides being slightly unrealistic, this also makes the heroine's choice a little less exciting and interesting. :P

But in this story, it's clear that any of the young men Kit knows are nice young men—but all three have startling different personalities. William is staid and steady, John studious and kind, and Nat a bit of an unconventional adventurer. None of the boys are shown as infinitely superior. They all have strengths and failings. But only one is right for Kit.

And that is of course Nat who is the legit best. Yes, I know I just said all the boys are just as good as each other, blah blah, and it's true, but it's also true Nat is the best, so there.

(I never claimed to be logical. :P)

This boy is a bit mocking, a bit standoffish, and unruffled by what others think. But he's got a heart of gold, a determined spirit, and I love him to bits and pieces. I mean, CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HE BRINGS HANNAH CORAL AND MOLASSES AND CUTE FIREWOOD FOR HER AND THATCHES HER ROOF?? *melts*
*end spoilers*
this guy totally reminds me of Nat, sans the medieval armor :P

Anyways.....'hem. Let me talk about Kit's other friend, Hannah Tupper, the "Witch of Blackbird Pond" herself. Hannah is a steadfast, kind old woman who lives alone by Blackbird Pond. She is shunned by nearly everyone in the surrounding area, merely because of her Quaker faith.

Now, I have no clue of what the particulars were that made Puritans and Quakers disagree so strongly. (It probably said it in the book...but now I forget. :P) But whatever their differences, if these two groups are trusting in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their one and only Savior....then they are one in Christ. Everything else doesn't matter compared with that. It reminds me of a saying my dad likes to quote:

"in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

(I tried to google who said it originally, but it seems to be rather unknown. Augustine seems a popular choice, though.)

Yeah. I don't think the people of Wethersfield had heard of that quote. :P

Long story short, it's Hannah who is thought to be a witch, and when illness strikes the town of Wethersfield, a group of angry people look to her as the cause. Kit too is soon drawn into the trouble, due to her unwavering friendship with Hannah and her own involvement in the life of one of the village children, Prudence. She is accused of teaching Prudence witchcraft that she learned from Hannah, when all Kit ever did was befriend the lonely child and teach her to read and write.

Now, my lips are sealed as to the rest of the story. Read it yourself to find out what happens. :) But, before I end this post, let me mention just a few other things...

•The writing style is simple and matter of fact, and yet beautiful phrases line the pages. Behold some of my favorites:

In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.
The girl looked about her. "'Tis a pretty room," she said without thinking, and then wondered how that could be, when it was so plain and bare. Perhaps it was only the sunlight on boards that were scrubbed smooth and white, or perhaps it was the feeling of peace that lay across the room as tangibly as the bar of sunshine.
"...thee has never escaped at all if love is not there."

I loved Kit's methods of teaching school with Mercy, and I was very frustrated that she was chastised by the schoolmaster simply for having the children act out a Bible story. She was bringing the children a new perspective on learning, one of joy and enthusiasm....and then the rigid Puritan rules ruined it. #annoyed

•Referencing the above situation, Kit's patience astounded me. Granted, she had to go cry in the field and meet Hannah to gather the courage to apologize to the schoolmaster. But even before that, she exhibits more patience with her uncle and the other hardened Puritans than I would hope to have. Her self-control is inspiring.

•The way Nat acts like a stranger to Kit whenever she hurts or annoys him didn't fully sink in the first time I read the book, but I'm completely appreciating his passive-aggressive snark this time around. ;)

•Nat's pride in The Dolphin and later The Witch is too sweet. <3

•Speaking of sweet, I need to mention poor little Prudence and awww, her friendship with Kit. *happy feels* ♥♥♥

*The below points are all spoilers*

•A certain love-triangle-catastrophe upset me so much I had to take a break from reading the book for a few hours. You know what I mean.

John was going to ask for Mercy's hand and Judith ruinnnned itttt aghhh.

Actually, I guess if we included everyone who goes through some ups and downs in their romantic lives throughout this book, it'd really be a love hexagaon. Because boy, it gets messy before everything is sorted out at the end. :P (But I love it. The relationships in this story have some difficult moments, but it's presented in such a realistic, heartfelt way. It's not "dramatic" at all.)

•So, since I just mentioned John and Mercy, let's take a moment to *fangirl* because JOHN AND MERCY, GUYS. They are so adorable and perfect for each other ahhhhhhhhh. ♥♥♥
Between his line about "not wanting a wife to wait on him" and being perfectly willing to do for Mercy whatever she can't do herself and her understanding of why he had to go to the militia and their quiet love for each other despite everything being against them.....

And then he returns home and runs straight to her arms and...and..

I just....words fail. THESE TWO ARE SO SWEET AND PRECIOUS. Love without end, amen.

•William and Judith have their problems, but I'm super glad they ended up together. <3

•When Nat shows up at Kit's trial with Prudence. #yesss

•"When I take you on board The Witch, it's going to be for keeps." <3 <3 <3 

*end spoilers*

Weellll, is that it? I suppose it 'tis. ;) My end recommendation? READ THIS BOOK. It's appropriate for any age, is beautiful and powerful and special, and holds an important message for us all.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Have you read The Witch of Blackbird Pond? What did you think of it?
Who are your favorite characters?
What do you think is the message of this story?

May 4, 2018

"take the road less traveled on"

Roads are fascinating. Some are twisty, some are straight as a pin. Some go up over hills, some go between mountains, some cross bodies of water on these death-defying things called bridges. (Seriously though, bridges are kind of scary sometimes.)

Some are quiet. So quiet you could pull your car over to the side of the road, let your windows down and just sit while summery twilight air fills your lungs.

Others are crazy. So crazy they scare you and put that tense feeling between your shoulders as you try to be aware of every car in front of, behind, beside you.

Why am I talking about roads, friends? Because life is a series of roads. (Wow, cliche, right?) (But it's true.)

A lot of new things have happened to me lately. Or are happening to me right now. Or will be happening. One of them is that I'll be starting some college classes this fall (I hope). "What??" you say. "Wasn't this the girl who practically swore off college as 'not for her'? The girl who said, 'who needs it anyways?' 'I want to be independent and unique and go against the grain'?

Yeah. Well. I feel the same way. In a lot of ways, I haven't felt as if I've KNOWN myself lately. Things I used to be adamantly against I'm now open to trying and things I used to want to try now seem unimportant, etc etc.

Being the anxious worrier that I am, I can't help but panic and think that the last two years have been all for naught. Maybe I SHOULD have gone to college right away instead of spending my time trying to start a photography business, working on my writing and keeping up a blog and doing all sorts of odds and ends. I tried a lot. And while some of it is still stuff I am determined to work at, some of it isn't what I want anymore. And I guess that's okay.

Sometimes I fall into seeing life as only straight paths, point a to point b. So when I find myself on paths that have seemingly NOTHING to do with point a or b I get discouraged and think that path was a waste of time.

But I can't help but think that maybe God's way IS the way with the bumpy dirt roads, narrow bicycle paths, and broken asphalt back roads. Because then we see things we'd never see if we hadn't turned down those side roads. We'd never see that field of colorful flowers, we'd never explore a winding trail through the woods where sunlight is sparse and shadows thick, and we'd never pass that beautiful view of the ocean that you'd never find from the expressway.

(I'm just making this all up, I have no particular roads in mind right now haha)

Everyone's path in life is different, and everyone needs to go at a different speed. But personally, I've found that I'm grateful to have taken "the road less traveled". (I don't agree with everything that song says, but the general point matches my post. :P)

If I hadn't, I might not have had to think and ponder and pray about my life so much. But that's the thing. I've learned to trust God and His timing and His plan in ways I'm not sure I'd have learn otherwise. I'm learning to find my purpose in Him. I'm learning to be satisfied by Him. And along His way, He also surprised me with joy and happiness and experiences I never thought possible.

God will teach us what we need to be taught, no matter where we are in life. But I think it's worth remembering (for me, anyways) that no amount of worldly "success" in life compares to experiencing God's love and trust.

Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?
'cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you
-By Your Side, Tenth Avenue North

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The above post you just read was written more than a month ago. Things have changed quite a bit since I wrote it, and yet I felt that I should share this post regardless. Learning to trust God is something I'm always dealing with, so I still wanted to share it with you all. I hope it encourages someone. <3

PS. What think you of my new blog design? (Yes, I know it changes constantly. I just can't figure out what I want my blog's "look" to be.)