I Can’t Fix Everything

I have come to realize one of my biggest flaws. I run. I have lost so many friends in my life because I wasn’t enough, that my first instinct when I start to become close to someone is to run, to stop the friendship so that I don’t get hurt and so that they aren’t trapped with someone who isn’t good enough for them.

My self esteem level is pretty bad, and while it’s been better for the most part, some aspects of college life have messed it up again. And that is why I came to this realization.

A few days ago, I hurt someone I cared about. For multiple reasons, I felt like it was God’s will, I didn’t want them to be stuck with me in their life, and because I thought it would be best for both of us. But the truth is, my biggest reason for doing it was because I was scared. Scared to be hurt again, scared to experience the pain of being abandoned again, scared that someday I wouldn’t be enough, just like every time before.

And in doing so, I created a self-fulfilling prophecy. My fear of losing this person was so great, that I actually lost them because of it. I haven’t spoken to them in a few days, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be happening for a while. I never realized how much I depended on this person until now. I guess the saying is true: You never know what you have until it’s gone”.

I’m not doing well. I am emotionally drained, physically exhausted, and on the verge of getting sick. I keep going back over what I said, and wondering why I said what I said. I keep questioning how well they seemed to take it, and wondering what they are feeling.

I have been getting my relationship with God back on track, and that has been my biggest comfort. Spending time in His word is probably the only thing keeping me from driving myself crazy. I have friends praying for me, and I am in constant prayer for the person I hurt, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have to remind myself that I can’t fix everything.

I know that if I keep running in every relationship, both current and future, it’s not going to end well. I know that only God can help me conquer my fears. But it’s actually letting Him do it that’s the problem.

Book Review – “Taken” by Dee Henderson

An investigator who knows tragic loss firsthand,
and his new client, missing far too long…

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets

*Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

I have tried reading Dee Henderson’s books before, and while I enjoyed “Full Disclosure”, I have struggled to get into her other books. However, this book proved to be enjoyable and a good read for summer!

The plot was great, especially for me since I LOVE intricate plotlines and such. The pace was kept pretty steady throughout the book. Never too fast and never too slow. I particularly loved how we didn’t get Shannon’s story all at once. It kept me reading because I just needed to know what we would discover next! And when I finally put all the pieces together, it was a very exciting moment for me.

I loved the characters, especially since a lot of them were from other books by Dee Henderson. I might have squealed a little when I realized that Paul and Ann from “Full Disclosure” were in it. As for Shannon, I thought she was a really well thought out character, especially considering how hard it is to accurately portray what life is like for victims of abduction once they make it back into the world. I felt so much sympathy and compassion for her, and I loved seeing all the different facets of her character come out throughout the book. Matthew was a great character, and different from males in most crime novels. I felt like his approach was a little less clinical and a little more personal.

That being said, there was one little thing about the story that threw me off. There is a pretty major age gap between Matthew and Shannon, and while I am not the type to say that people with large age differences can’t be in a relationship, I felt a little weird about the whole thing. Especially because he had been married in the past.

As for content, this book was pretty clean. If you have read other Christian novels along this vein, then you pretty much know what to expect. And despite all of what was going on in the story, the message came through loud and clear. Overall, this book is a fantastic read for anyone who enjoys crime novels, and I would recommend it for 16 and up!

(Oh, did I mention how much I love the cover, because I think it looks totally awesome!)

Things Everyone Should Rememer When They’re In the Grocery Store

In my time as a cashier, I have seen the best and worst in people. Best being the kind, considerate customers who want to make their experience, and the experiences of those around them, excellent ones. Worst has a wide range. From customers who treat me like a robot with no feelings, to people who leave packages of raw meat sitting in the dog food aisle, to people who call other cashiers dumb as you check them out. Everything I’ve seen so far has taught me some valuable lessons about customer service, and some important things about being a good customer.

1: Treat other customers as you want to be treated. There are tons of situations that I could apply this to, so I’ll just be general. Be gracious. Don’t behave as if you are somehow entitled to a better spot in line, a certain food item, or anything in general. Show patience with other shoppers, especially elderly customers. I will never forget one night when a sweet elderly lady was in my line. She was writing a check, but her hands were shaky and she was struggling. There was a man in line behind her, who had already sighed very loudly multiple times and given me several dirty looks. Finally he picked up his 3 grocery items, cussed very loudly, and moved to another lane. That is not gracious or kind or thoughtful.

2: All grocery store staff are more than happy to help you (at least I should hope so). However, if they are in the middle of a transaction, it is extremely rude to interrupt and demand that they assist you. Patience is key. And it is also important to understand that while we are there to serve you, that doesn’t mean that we can do anything and everything. Sometimes there is nothing we can do when an item is out of stock. Sometimes you may have to wait several minutes for someone to help you when the store is busy. We will do everything we can to help you, but we are not miracle workers.

3: When you are using coupons or buying an item on sale, please Please PLEASE read the fine print and PAY ATTENTION. Coupons are usually very specific on item size and brand, sometimes even variety. And we can’t make exceptions. Example: If a coupon is for a 12 oz. Item, we can’t apply it to a 16 oz. Item. And when items are on sale, they usually have specifics on the signs or in the ad. In the store I work in, most sales are on Bonus Card items. If you don’t have the card, then you can’t get the sale price, unless I call a manager to my register to use the supervisor card. And on some products, when the sale is Buy One Get One, we can’t give you the discount unless you actually buy two.

4: Be aware of what’s going on around you. Now this might seem like a strange one, but allow me to clarify. Often times, I have been on break or off duty completely, and been asked to put something away that a customer decides they don’t want. I’ve even had customers demand that I open a register, despite my repeatedly telling them that I am off the clock and despite the obvious signs that I am on break (such as me holding my purse, with groceries in my hands, etc.). Another way to apply this one is when it comes to the checkout lanes. Most stores have “Express” lanes, where customers with fewer items can come through without having to wait in long lines. At my grocery store, there are big green signs over the express lanes, and many customers, some who have shopped there for years, choose to ignore the signs and bring overflowing buggies of groceries into the lane. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to serve everyone, but it makes the customers behind very very unhappy and grumpy. Basically, pay attention to what I like to call indicators. Like, if a light on a specific lane is off, and there is one customer left, and that cashier does not invite you into their lane, it usually means that the cashier is preparing to close that register.

5: We don’t make the prices, so please don’t shout at us like we do. This one is especially for the cashiers. I remember far too many times when a customer has come into my lane and complained about the price of an item, and told me that “You shouldn’t charge so much”. I usually tell them that I have no control of the prices, and that if it is that big of an issue they should speak to a manager. However, managers usually have very little control, unless they work in a local “Mom and Pop” store. In chain stores, the corporations make the prices, we just sell items at the price they set.

6: Don’t assume that everyone in the store knows everything about the store. As a cashier, I can usually tell you whereabouts you might find an item, and I can definitely direct you to it. However, I, as a cashier, cannot tell you about the inner workings of the frozen department, or the meat department. And people who work in the deli might not be able to explain the workings of the produce section. If there is a problem with a cut of meat you have, or if you believe the price is wrong on your deli meal, I am more than happy to call up someone from the meat department or deli to help sort things out. But understand that I cannot actually do anything personally about it until I have spoken with someone who knows far more than I do about the situation.

7: Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has bad days. Occasionally, I will mess up someone’s transaction. I might forget to scan their rewards card or scan an item more than once without realizing it. I’ve dropped items before. I’ve forgotten to print the right amount on a check before. And while many of my customers are gracious and patient, I have often had customers who became impatient. I’ve even had a customer call another cashier an idiot as I checked him out, because she made a mistake when she checked him out. While all cashiers and anyone who works in a store should make every effort to do things right, it’s important that customers remember that they are only human. If the mistake is something easily remedied, then what’s the use getting angry about it?

I guess my point is this, we should all strive to make shopping a better experience. And it’s not just customers, all retail workers should do their very best to do their jobs well, and make customers’ experiences great. And if we all do our part, maybe people won’t dread going to the grocery store anymore.

*Disclaimer: I love my job. Despite how hard it is, and how exhausted I am at the end of the day, and the way the music runs through my head all the time, I love it. And one of the reasons I do is the people I work with. I have the best group of coworkers and managers in the world. It’s like working in a big family, and I couldn’t love it more.

When I Look Back

So… I am officially graduated! Yup. It happened on Saturday. I was surrounded by a small crowd of some of the people who have been most important to me (though some were sadly missing). And I spent a lot of that day thinking about all that has happened in these last several years of my life, and how God has worked in them. My “theme verse” so to speak, is Romans 8:28.

“For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.”

And despite some rough times, heartache, and general rough spots, I can honestly say that the verse is true. God has worked for good in some of the toughest situations. And I think it is important to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned through it all.

People are going to hurt you, but you can’t blame yourself when things fall apart. I have definitely known my fair share of hurt, especially in the last several months. I have lost friends, been called horrible names, even had to walk away from people I cared about because of it. I spent so much time blaming myself that I began to think that I deserved what they said and did. I have often felt alone and ostracized, even by the people whom one would think would be the most caring. I know now that I can’t always blame myself for every bad thing that happens. People will hurt you, people won’t always be kind, and sometimes things happen to people you care about. But blaming yourself, blaming anyone for that matter, only makes things worse.

New things aren’t something to be scared of, they can make you into a better person. I have been through plenty of change, and I have lots of experience with having to try new things. Especially in the last few years. Changing friendships, new places, and new jobs and roles to play. I used to hate change. I wanted everything to stay the same. But the changes that have happened lately have ultimately been for the better. Changing friendships? I have been strengthened and encouraged by the amazing friends I have now through some of the toughest times in my life. New places? Heading to a new church a couple of years ago was something I dreaded, but I ended up growing spiritually in ways I never imagined before. Leading a small group on Wednesdays? I have become so much better at communication… And crowd control. Singing in the praise team, I have become so much more confident in using my voice to glorify God. Becoming a cashier at the local grocery store? I have gained so many awesome experiences and new friends. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:

“There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven.”

Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard, even when your opinion is unpopular. I have always been super opinionated, which probably why I want to be a journalist. But I have learned over the years that not everyone is going to like my thoughts on things. But I have learned that you can’t let that stop you from letting your voice be heard. This blog is one way of doing that for me (though I haven’t been very opinionated on here lately). My worldview often runs completely opposite to what everyone else thinks, and sometimes that means losing friends. But I have also found that when I speak my mind in a respectful and educated manner, I also gain people’s respect and trust. A good example: I have very strong views about homosexuality. I cannot bring myself to agree with it, because the Bible says it is wrong. However, I have had friends who are homosexual, and despite our differences, I have found that speaking my mind in the way I do has actually gained the trust and respect of a few of them. One of my friends opened up to me at church one day, and I was touched by her trust despite our differences. I guess the point is this: It’s ok to have a different opinion from others. When you are honest but also kind and thoughtful in your responses, you can actually gain respect from others, even those who don’t agree.

You don’t need the approval of others to be happy. Be who God made you to be and be proud of it. So many of my early teen years were spent trying to make everyone happy. Don’t talk too much. Talk more often. Keep my opinion to myself. Dress less “frumpily”. And so on. I was always picked on for my way of thinking, way of dressing, and my media choices. I spent a lot of time trying to please the people who said these things. I was miserable. But at some point, God reminded me of something important. He made me beautiful. He made me to be unique. Yes, I talk too much. I’m totally a nerd. I definitely have a strange fashion sense. I might seem to be “uptight”. But that’s ok. It’s who I am. And the true friends are the ones who will love me for it.

I could name plenty more, but I’m running out of time to crank this out. This has been a crazy time in my life, especially the last year. School, college prep, summer camps and missions trips, new friends, church, 4-H, and my new job. I am thankful that unlike many of my friends, I don’t have the added stress of keeping up a relationship at this point in my life. These last few months in particular have been incredible. I was accepted into college and started a job back in November. The job in particular has been amazing. Yes, I get stressed and sometimes panic when I feel the equivalent of an asthma attack coming on. And yes, I see the worst in humanity sometimes. But I have been very blessed as well. My coworkers in particular are pretty awesome (though they do call me names and drive me insane) (you know who you are…).

But in all of the craziness, God has been faithful. He has taught me patience and kindness, and the value of waiting on His timing. The future is so often uncertain, but I can have peace knowing that He is guiding my every step.

“The Avengers: Age of Ultron” – My Thoughts

As the MARVEL fanfare played, and the logo flashed across the screen, all of my excitement that had been building over the last few months came to a head. This was it. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had finally come. And while I was sad to see it alone, that did nothing to quench my excitement and high expectations. After reading various negative review from critics, I had decided to form my own opinion and enjoy the film for what it was. And I was not disappointed.

In terms of the plot, I could find only one flaw (which I will get to in a moment). I know many critics were calling the film “overstuffed”, but I enjoyed the fast pace and various storylines that ran through the film. Were there a ton of battle scenes? You bet. But they were fantastic, and with the excellent dialogue woven throughout, they seemed less like battles. The film hit the ground running from the get go, and wasted no time introducing us to new characters and new plotlines.

And this is where my one issue with the plot came in. One of the new characters, Wanda Maximoff (or Scarlet Witch), has powers that enable her to plant images and visions in peoples minds. While most of these visions were actually pretty interesting and revealing, the one that did not seem to fit was Thor’s. His involved Asgard of course, but included a strange sequence of Heimdall and something about being dead? And then Thor leaves to search for answers. The entire thing seemed extremely out of place.

But now for the most important part: The characters. Tony was self absorbed as always, but his character went through some important growth throughout the film. I think he learned a lot about teamwork and personal responsibility in this movie, and by the end, I think he accepted that maybe he isn’t perfect. Steve was the driving force behind the team as always, and I found it to be very interesting that he was the first one to see some goodness in Pietro and Wanda. Bruce was lovable as always, and still hadn’t come to terms with his Hulk side. There was a surprise twist at the end of the film (but I won’t spoil it for you). Natasha turned out to be one of my favorites this time, particularly once I knew her heartbreaking backstory. And when it came to the “HulkTasha” romance that they had going, I actually was able to get behind it. I never thought I would like it at all, but they worked so perfectly together. It was awesome to finally see Clint get some character development and background, without being controlled by someone. Several things were revealed about his character that put him in a whole new light. Thor was fun as always, and it was cool to see him adjusting to life on earth, even donning… A HOODIE?

As for the new characters, it will be hard to express my feelings about them without making this post way longer than it should be. Pietro and Wanda were everything I hoped they would be, and from the moment they appeared on screen I loved them. As siblings, they naturally share a bond, but as twins, they have a bond that runs deeper than most people can understand. And yet they both are so unique. Wanda is a very stable, grounded person, whose powers are beyond amazing. Pietro is quick thinking and constantly moving. And at several points in the film we see him filling the role as the older twin and brother, caring for her, even as she does her best to guide him and keep him grounded. Ultron was the perfect villain. A robot he may be, but his mannerisms were so humanlike, that I often forgot that he wasn’t human. His snark and quick wit was a good balance against the Avengers, and while his mission wouldn’t have made sense from a human, it worked perfectly for him. While not as compelling as Loki, or chill inducing as Red Skull, Ultron has certainly found his place in the world of Marvel villains.

The one real “wild card” so to speak, was definitely the mysterious individual known as “The Vision”. Leading up to the film’s release, he wasn’t even featured in most of the trailers, with one exception. He was scene from a distance on most of the posters, until a poster with only him was released to the public, as well as a clip. So when the film finally came out, nobody really knew what to expect, and I know that I was unsure as to what his role would be. However, it turns out that Vision is now one of my favorite Marvel characters to date. He is weird, but in an awesome way. Graceful, powerful, and wise beyond the scope of most humans, he is unlike anything we’ve seen so far. He is the perfect opposite to Ultron. While Ultron sees man and wishes to destroy it and is disgusted by human kind, Vision sees humanity and sees the beauty in it, even beneath the failures of the human race. Which lead to an exchange between the two that has some very deep spiritual undertones, and leaves us with something to chew on once the credits roll. While Ultron goes on and on about humanity and it’s failures, and how it can never last forever, Vision quietly intones: “There is grace in their failings, I think you missed that.”

That line struck a chord. As a Christian, I know that I fail God every single day. I also know that we as a people have failed Him over and over again. And yet, time after time, God gives us grace in the midst of our failures. And He grants us the ability to learn from our mistakes and grow, and become more like Him every day. I highly doubt that Joss Whedon was thinking of that when he wrote that line, but even in the entire movie, there seems to be a message about human kind. That while we ultimately fail and do the wrong thing, there is still something in us worth saving.

Of course, on the flip side, some Christians might take issue with Ultron tossing out Biblical references, though I don’t believe for a moment that they were intended to be offensive. Some have also expressed concern that Vision was meant to be the “savior” of the film, and I don’t believe that either. Vision was, however, the thing that ultimately drew the Avengers together. And it is interesting to note that when he is asked whose side he is on, Vision says that he is on neither side, he simply says “I am…”

In terms of the content, cussing will be the biggest concern here. Near the beginning of the film, Tony blurts out the “S” word, causing Steve to reprimand him. This becomes a running gag throughout the film (though the word is never used again). A few uses of the “B” words and some other minor cussing also pop up. Sexual content is nothing too concerning, though we are served a couple of innuendos that actually flew over my head for a second when I saw the movie. Most kids won’t get it fortunately. As mentioned, Natasha and Bruce do have a relationship, which as far as we know hasn’t gone any farther than a kiss. They do, however, talk of showering together. Violence was actually at a minimum, which is surprising considering the scope of this film. Most of the “death” we see is robots being destroyed in various ways, so no blood there. There is a major character death that left me in tears, and though it isn’t gory, we do see gunshot wounds and a little blood. Other than that, most of the violence is mild, with only a little blood here and there. There is one bit where a man’s arm is violently removed, but it is fleeting, and the worst is off camera.

Overall, Age of Ultron was a fantastic film. A wild ride full of laughter, craziness, and some tears. This film made it clear that the Marvel Universe is entering a new phase, with new Avengers coming on scene and some character departures. And once the credits roll, we even get a taste of what’s ahead in the mid-credit’s scene. And when the screen went dark and the rest of the credits began to play, we are left with a lot to ponder, more than we are usually treated to.

So I am giving “Avengers: Age of Ultron” 4 ½ out of 5 stars, the extra half being taken off for those content issues. I would definitely recommend this film for teens over the age of 13!

Book Review – “From the Start” (Melissa Tagg)

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays… until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Green is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lifes, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

I will make a confession to you guys. I don’t really do contemporary Christian fiction. Especially contemporary Christian romances. I hate them. Historical fiction, fantasy, those I could read all day, but for some reason I just cannot stomach this kind of fiction. I only like contemporary Christian fiction if it happens to be a mystery novel or thriller. But when Bethany House released their blogger review options, all of the choices were contemporary, so I decided to give it a shot. The premise of the story sounded nice, if a little cliche (trust me, Karen Kingsbury wrote some very similar stuff, and I somewhat enjoyed her books), and I liked the simplicity of the cover.

However, I am sad to say that this book did little to change my opinions. While I thought the characters were pretty nice, I did not like the story or the writing style. In fact, I think the writing style is what sucks away at this story. However, I want to mention what I did like about the book, before I say anything else negative.

I liked Kate, and related to her in a lot of ways. Her desire to write something that makes a difference really spoke to me, as I often find myself thinking something very similar as I write my stories. And her fiery spirit (one of the scenes I loved was when she got home and thought Colton was a thief) was fun. Colton was also a pretty good character, if slightly wooden and unimaginative. Of course, by the end, he had really become a character I could enjoy reading about.
Sadly, that was about all I liked about this book. The writing style bothered me. I felt like the story become very… wordy at many points. I felt like the author was trying too hard to describe everything. And the way the characters talked often seemed slightly unrealistic. It really took me out of the story.

In terms of content, the story was pretty clean. I wouldn’t recommend this to younger teens, simply because I feel like it would be hard for them to relate and understand. So unfortunately, I am giving “From the Start” 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

(I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

“Once Upon a Time” Episode Review – “Darkness on the Edge of Town”

After a couple of months of hiatus, OUAT finally returned on Sunday, starting off the second half of the season with a nice, easy opener. Despite complaints from fans that “everyone was out of character” or that “the villains are lame”, this did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of the episode.

There were three main plotlines going on. The first was about how Rumplestiltskin first met the Queens of Darkness, aka. Maleficient, Ursula, and Cruella De Vil. This plotline revealed some crucial backstory on why the Queens are not much inclined to like Rumple, but also reveals just a bit of their varied powers. The second plotline involved Rumple’s ongoing mission to return to Storybrooke and get his happy ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this plotline, because it was clear that for once, Rumple wasn’t the big man on campus. At first, Ursula seemed to be the boss, but once Cruella popped up, it was clear that she was the boss of this group. And can I just say that Cruella was PERFECT. She is my favorite so far! The third plotline (which was kind of several little plots in one), revolved around the citizens of Storybrooke and their various doings. Hook and Belle’s search for the fairies, Regina’s search for the author, etc.

The episode did a fine job of meshing the plotlines, and bringing it all together by the end. I particularly loved the first look at Storybrooke, watching the characters going about their daily lives. (Hook buying Emma coffee? SO CUTE!) And by the end of the episode, we had several new questions. What is the big secret that Snow and Charming are keeping? How will Rumple bring Maleficient back? And the most burning: Why did the beast go after Emma? Is it possible that Emma has more potential for Darkness in her heart than even Regina?

One thing I would like to bring up after seeing some complaints from fans, is the scene between Belle and Hook in the library. A lot of people were whining, saying that he had tried to murder her twice (which is true) and yet she trusted his, while she banished Rumple for lying to her once. While I understand where people are coming from, I think you have to understand something. Hook has TRULY changed. Anyone with eyes can see that. And Belle knows that. But with Rumple, you can never be sure. He might put on a nice appearance and say that he’s changed, but the evidence kind of spoke for itself in this case. And to the people calling Belle selfish? You have to understand two things: One, Belle send Rumple away, not only because he hurt her, but because she knew that as long as he was in town, Storybrooke wasn’t truly safe. The other thing is this: Belle still cares about him. The tears in her eyes when she told Hook: “I just hope he’s found whatever it is he was looking for”, tells us that she still misses him, and that she wants him to be happy.

Content wise, this episode was pretty good. a bit of cussing as per usual, and some deep cleavage from the Queens of Darkness. But nothing too crazy.

So overall, I enjoyed the opening to Season 4b. I think having something slow and steady is better than jolting the viewers with action everywhere. And if you haven’t caught up on the first half of the season, now is the time to do it! 😀

TV Review – “Agent Carter” (My final thoughts)

With the finale airing this past Tuesday, I thought I would give my thoughts on it, and the series as a whole. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that we will get a regular TV series soon, maybe to air during the breaks in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A lot happened between episode 4 and the finale. Lots of crazy stuff was revealed about different character, battles were fought, Peggy went through some pretty terrible stuff, and by the time the credits rolled in the finale, I was truly sad to say goodbye to this incredible roller coaster ride of a series. Episode 5 was full of excitement as Peggy traveled with Jack to Russia, where they met up with the Howling Commandos. Episode 6 was a nail biter as Peggy ended up on the run, her mission to prove Howard Stark’s innocence unveiled. Episode 7 was full of me yelling at characters as Peggy tried her best to convince her friends that she was not a traitor. The episode included a horrible death that I was not expecting to have such an impact on me.

The finale was the kicker. Everything we had been seeing throughout the series came down to this episode. Peggy, now free since her friends have realized the truth, uncovers Leviathan’s plot alongside Jack and Daniel. Of course, Howard Stark shows up just in time, and is his usual jerkface self. Kidnappings, poisonous gas, unexpected feels, and an epic showdown between Peggy and Dottie are just a few of the things we encountered in this episode. We were treated to a strong dose of Captain America feels and tears by the end of the episode. And everything was wrapped up nicely with a bow on top… right? RIGHT?

Not right. Several loose ends were left, possible setting up for a season two? One of the baddies escapes (I honestly don’t understand how), and the other ends up in prison with a very familiar figure. After hearing the doctor talk to him about Peggy will never see him the way she saw Steve, Daniel finally gets up the nerve to ask Peggy out (*cheers and squealing*), only for her to turn him down because she has to meet Angie (*angry punching of couch and flinging phone across room*). However, when his back was turned, Peggy smiled in a way that tells me that she might just have a thing for Daniel herself.

But we did get some moments of closure. Jarvis made the decision to give Peggy the vial of Steve’s blood, believing that only she knew what to do with it. And in a tear inducing scene, after a year of mourning Steve, Peggy finally lets go, pouring the blood into the river and telling him goodbye. (Right in the feels MARVEL, right in the feels…)

So what did I dislike about this series? There was some cussing, which was probably my biggest overall problem. The violence could be a bit problematic for some people, though it’s really no worse than what you would see in any other MARVEL franchise. The one thing that I absolutely could not handle was a scene where Dottie puts on some of Peggy’s knockout lipstick, and uses it on Peggy. Yup. While I understood the purpose behind it, I think there were other ways for this to work.

But overall, Agent Carter has been a wonderful, action packed offering from MARVEL, who continues to reign as king of the Superhero franchise. And the best thing? Peggy, Daniel, Jack, Jarvis, and the other characters? They aren’t even superheroes! They are ordinary people, with regular gifts and fairly normal lives. They don’t  have super strength, hammers, or iron suits to help them along. Jack is a man with scars from his past, but with a gift of leadership. Daniel may have a crutch to walk, but he is of sharp mind, and is a good friend. Jarvis might be just a butler, but his heart and his caring spirit make him one of the best characters on the show. And Peggy might be “just a girl”, but she chooses to be who she is, regardless of what others say about her. I loved the scene where Jack was receiving all the credit for stopping Leviathan, and Daniel indignantly says that he is going to tell those people what really happened. Peggy just tells him that her value isn’t bound to what men think of her, or what people in general think. She knows who she is, and that’s enough. Peggy is an example of what we should all do. When haters get us down, when people tell us what we can’t do, we stand tall with our heads held high and say “Yes I can”, and then go and do exactly what they said we couldn’t.

Agent Carter is one of the best TV series I have ever seen. It blends history, mystery, action, comedy, and heart so well. I have personally sent an email to ABC, asking them to renew Agent Carter for a full season. Overall, I give Agent Carter 4 stars content wise, but 5 STARS overall. I highly recommend this for teens, especially girls, who will find a great role model in Peggy.

Book Review – “Steadfast Heart” by Tracie Peterson

Despite her spoiled upbringing, twenty-year-old Lenore Fulcher isn’t pretentious. She simply believes a marriage should be built on true love. Her father, however, thinks she’s wasted enough time searching for the perfect husband. He wants to marry her off to one of his business partners–who is seventeen years her senior–an idea that is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a young lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister, who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms into the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn’t there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out…

I had already tried reading another one of Tracy Peterson’s books from a review program, and was generally disappointed. I decided to give her another try with this book, but unfortunately, I liked this one even less. I couldn’t even finish this book because it failed to hold my interest.

However, I will start out with the positives. I did enjoy Lenore and Abrianna, her best friend. Lenore was thoughtful and kind, and I appreciated her strength of character and belief that marriage should be built on more than a business arrangement. And Abrianna was like my spirit animal. Awkward, a little hard to understand, but at heart a wonderful and charming person. I hope that the next book is about her. And the premise of the book was certainly interesting, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought it would.

However, I disliked Kolbein. I couldn’t really put finger on why, but as I read the book, I really disliked him. Maybe it was his impatience. But I just could not get behind his character.

And as I mentioned earlier, the plot failed to draw me in. I enjoyed the first few chapters, but by the time I was halfway through the book, I couldn’t read any further. I think part of the problem were the little subplots. They added unnecessary padding to the story, and I felt like the whole issue with Abrianna’s suitor could have been settled in a later book. The plot moved VERY slowly, and I felt like Mrs. Peterson could have cut out some of the padding to make it a bit easier to read.

Content-wise, I could find little fault with the story, outside of some mentions of murder and such. However, this did little to change my thoughts on the story. So unfortunately, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to 16 and up.

*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

The Problem with “50 Shades of Grey” – Part 2

Over this weekend, thousands of people around the globe will flock to the their local theaters to view what some are saying is the most highly anticipated film of this year. It’s not a family film, it’s not a superhero film, a chick flick, or a teen fiction film. It is “50 Shades of Grey”. Touted by its supporters as a unique, raw romance, the book has sold millions of copies around the world. I did a post a while back on this, and I thought I would amend it with the release of the film.

And why should this concern us? Because there are many Christians who will be supporting this film. This story that is filled with sex, violence, abuse, and immorality, will be viewed by the same people who say that they agree with the Bible. This should concern us greatly. PluggedIn.com did a review of this film, and I could only skim over it. However, the film is not something that I, or any Christian, could possible support in good conscience. It isn’t just the obvious problems, like sex, nakedness, swearing, and such. The bigger issue with this film is the lifestyle and morals it is portraying as right.

First and foremost, this film is telling us that premarital sex is ok. That should be a major red light if the other issues weren’t. There isn’t much to elaborate on here. The main reason I take issue with this is because it is so easy to become desensitized to this sin through stories like this one.

The second, and probably the most important to me, is that this story makes abuse look good. Now, I know that what goes on in the relationship between the characters is often called innocent, but the reviews I have read tell me a different story. Christian Grey hits Ana(The female main character) because he is angry with her. Now try and tell me that this isn’t abuse. He stalks her. He wants to control every aspect of her life. I have spoken with several women who have been in abusive relationships, and the ones who have read this story talk about the horrible similarities to their own experiences in the story. And that is one of the most horrible things about this story. It glorifies abuse. And women like it. I know many women who talk about wanting their own “Christian Grey”. REALLY? You want a man who will control, manipulate, and abuse you for his own personal gain? Not only does this sicken me, it breaks my heart. It hurts to think that our culture has drifted so far.

And the last reason, which I discussed in an earlier post, is this: “50 Shades” twists God’s beautiful design for intimacy. Call what happens in the story what you will, but God never intended for intimacy to be what the story makes it. Fear, pain, and not born in the least out of love. I have read several reviews discussing the fact that the main character often states that he does not do what he does out of love. And that is even worse.

What I am trying to say is this: Our culture has drifted so far from the truth and wisdom of God’s word, but even further from basic moral decency. You want to promote porn? That’s bad enough. But porn that makes abuse seem attractive? That is pretty much the lowest a person could stoop without actually participating in abuse or porn. So why do so many Christian women read this book, and excitedly await their turn at the movies? Some of them are single, some are married. I know some teens who read the books. Is it our sin nature? Or is it something deeper? I fear that little by little, Satan has crept into the minds of Christians, whispering things like: “It’s not really porn…” “It won’t hurt just this once…” “But look how good this makes it look!”.

And when there are believers who are bold enough to speak out against this film, you know what happens? They are immediately called out for “judging” and “trying to take God’s place”. And I think this quote sums it up perfectly: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

And I know that we all want a good romance on Valentines day, but I don’t an abusive sex fest counts. So might I suggest some far cleaner (and I believe, more entertaining and far deeper) alternatives? Anything by Jane Austen (book or film, you choose) is certainly a good choice, as well as “Jane Eyre”, and “North and South”. Or if you’re not a regency kind of person, there are plenty of great Hallmark films out there. Or might I suggest a good ole’ “Lord of the Rings” marathon? I myself will likely be on a “date” with my favorite Jane Austen characters (probably Mr. Darcy and the Bennets). There is also a lovely sounding film in theaters called “Old Fashioned”, and if it were showing in my town, I would definitely see it!

Well, this turned into more of a rant than I planned, but I needed to say what has been on my heart for a while. And if this post offended you because you enjoy these stories, I would ask that you consider this: What is this story doing to your heart? Your mind? Your spiritual life? And if you happen to be married: Your marriage? Remember, Satan works through the seemingly minor things, and he slips through the cracks in our spiritual armor almost undetected. Take some time to consider it, and consider spending your hard earned money on something much more meaningful and pure.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.” Phillipians 4:8

“I will not set anything Godless before my eyes. I hate the doing of transgression, it will not cling to me.” Psalm 101:3

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