Monday, June 16, 2014

graceful review

This book. It could have been written specifically for me. And in some ways, it was. This book is for the "good girl." It is about letting go of your try hard life. Letting go of the fear, the stress, the loneliness, the feeling of unworthiness or a need to always prove yourself and be acceptable to others. 

So if you can relate to any or all of those feelings, you may want to read this book too. (It is for teens and young women though, so if you feel you want an "older" version, there is Grace for the Good Girl.)

It is kind of ridiculous how many pages I marked but I didn't want to forget anything. Here are just some of the quotes that spoke to me and apparently others, because I found these on Google images.

Time for "Maddie getting rather personal and serious" so hold on....

So I have been awakened from my humdrum existence to the fact that God and Jesus Christ are a huge deal and I can't keep on as though they shouldn't be the center of my whole life. And changing the center of your whole life is really hard people. 

So I get a Bible. I read it. I start praying more often. I go to church weekly. I try to keep Him on my mind. But I still feel like I am not really getting it. So now what? What do I have to do? Someone give me a list. Tell me step by step what to do and I will do it! But...... it doesn't really work that way. And that's what Emily P. Freeman was addressing. 

"I said to myself, 'I am not perfect, so I'll try harder. Filled with determination and rules, I was ready to follow step-by-step to get life right, including my relationship with Jesus. I thought for sure I could figure it out if I tried hard enough, like algebra or skiing or driving. If praying to receive Jesus was the starting point and seeing him face-to-face was the end, I wasn't sure what to do in the middle. I prayed. I read my Bible. But what I did best was simply be good. I desperately wanted to experience life with Jesus, but I didn't know  how. I did what I could and hoped for the best."

After reading that quote I kind of just sat there. I mean, that is exactly how I felt and exactly what I was doing. How could she know? And what more did she know? (Cause I was assuming since she was writing this book she had that experience and I had a feeling that she came to that experience through a different channel than she was talking about here.) 

So I read on. And Every chapter she would talk about a different side of me. Some were more central to me than others, but I was all the girls she talked about in some way, whether little or big.

I was the Actress, the Girl Next Door, the Activist, the Heroine, the Bystander, the Judge, the Intellectual, the Dreamer. One second I'd feel like a punctured balloon because even the "good" things I was doing were wrong.... well not always wrong, but for the wrong reasons. 

In essence, I was doing all these good girl things to impress, to live up to, to prove myself. To achieve the expectations I thought God and people had for me and to lead to the acceptance of God the I absolutely .needed. 

Then she introduced me to the concept of Grace. Sure, I had heard of it before, but I really didn't get it. I thought I did, but I was wrong. (Not like that hasn't happened before.. ha)

No matter what I did, I couldn't earn God's grace and love and companionship. When I read this, I freaked out. A lot. WHAT?! But... but..... then what do I do?

And then she dropped a bombshell on me. Since I can't get it by myself, that is why Jesus helped me get it. Through God's grace, he sent his only son to die for me, the sins I should have died for. The pain I should have experienced. The hopelessness I should have felt. I sort of got that but then it was really explained to me. Through Grace, not through anything else, could I receive God's love and acceptance. 

That is kind of freeing and kind of scary,  because if I had steps and rules then I could get it myself. I could achieve, do good deeds, and still have some me time left, preserve some of myself. Realizing it is a gift, I could never repay Him for it. My whole life I must follow him, love him, serve him. No me time. No room for selfish wants and desires. And I am kind of becoming okay with that. 

I don't want to be a selfish human being. I really don't want to live for me. I don't want to be the heroine of the story. I am small, I am a very minor character in the story of Life. But I am loved, accepted, I am unique. 

If I get a failing grade on a science paper, I am not filled with self loathing, believing I have failed, I am stupid, I am no good. The end result is still, the same: I study harder for the next test. But the feelings, the driving force is different. 

I don't know about you, but all this was news to me. So I am working on it. I don't have a step by step list, I sort of have an outline, but mainly I just have a change of thinking and feeling. I have a change of center. 

I am not earning my redemption; I have received it and am trying to live it out.

I can't explain all the wonderfulness and graceful-ness of this book. If you relate to any of this at all, pick up a copy and read it. It is only 157 pages, it won't take too long. But it'll leave you with a lot to think about. 

Not exactly a review, is it? But I think I have told you generally what it was about, what to expect, and what I thought of it. 

Summer is so nice. I feel so unbelievably relaxed and happy.

  How is your summer? What do you think of the ideas I brought up about the book and living a life that is graceful?

Oh, and if you liked that, check out her blog. I think it is pretty great:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Mutual Friend (1998) Review

So it has been a little while since I have seen this. I probably saw it March-April-ish so bear with me.

When I watched Dicken's Our Mutual Friend miniseries, I had not yet read the book, so at first I was really confused. Then as things became more clear I couldn't wait to watch the next episodes.

Our Mutual Friend begins with the death of a wealthy heir, John Harmon, (or whatever his name was at the time, since he changed it a lot. For this review, I am just going to call him John Harmon.) who is sailing to meet his future bride. (The only way he can inherit the fortune is to marry Bella Wilfur.)
What is supposedly his dead body is found in the river by Gaffer Hexam and his daughter Lizzy. Thus begins the intricate plot of Our Mutual Friend. There are the token creepy dudes off to find the Harmon fortune (Silas Wegg and his friend.) There is also Charley Hexam's teacher, who is attracted to Lizzy Hexam. At first I thought maybe those two would work out, but people. He is NUTS. Very weird. Very vindictive and angry. By the end everything he did disgusted me. And he really could not have loved sweet Lizzy or he would have been happy for her instead of ruining all her hopes and dreams.

There are also the Boffins, the faithful servants of old Mr. Harmon and the new heirs to the fortune. Sometimes I liked them and sometimes they were a little weird. But really, their hearts were in the right place. And for all his declared "dimness," Mr. Boffin came up with an ingenious plan to show Bella where her true priorities lay.

Bella was pretty, but selfish and rude. She cared all about herself, she complained often, and was often petulant. I did not like her. How could John have? But he did and she refused him. (I could have told him that would happen. Plus, he was kind of being stalker-ish so I might have been a little worried too if I had been Bella.) Her change was believable though and I really grew to be quite fond of her. How could she be so okay with John lying to her and keeping such a big secret from her? I would have forgiven him, but I would have been mad at first. I mean, lying about your identity is kind of a big deal.... anyway.

Eugene Wrayburn and Mortimer Lightwood were foppish. Mortimer not as much, but still. And they were bored of everything. (though I could rather understand that, "Society" is dreadful company.)

At first I wasn't happy with Eugene liking Lizzy. She kept saying she was beneath him, but honestly? He was beneath her. He put his own needs in front of hers. Except when it really mattered, he tried to do what was best for her. And he married her. What would Society think? Society be dashed! It was a great transformation for him.

Mortimer Lightwood... He finally saw the light and proclaimed the truth to society. BUT he was still back in London society when the show ended, so I am not really sure how well off he was. There was not even a nice girl in the picture. Sad, that.

Anyway, it all works out. The bad guys are punished, the good guys prevail, and the heros and heroines get their happily ever afters. (After a lot of worry and distress and SUCH a complicated plot.)

It was classic Dickens, with lots of characters, sub plots, and everyone was somehow related to everyone else. It was really good, and I enjoyed it. I found it for free on YouTube here.

And now I am going to post a bunch of Bella's dresses 'cause I love 'em. :)