A Mother’s Day Follow-Up

imagesLast Monday, I shared an article about my happy and sad thoughts concerning Mother’s Day. Not only was it one of the most well received articles I’ve ever written, but the outpouring of love, prayer, support, and encouragement from other women astounded me. To all of you who are praying for me and my husband, thank you! To all of you who took time to read my article and share it, thank you! To all of you who found it encouraging, I’m humbled and grateful I was able to help you. It has not been an easy road to walk. It has taken years for me to be at peace with where I’m at in my life. God has shown Himself trustworthy through it all. He is very longsuffering with me as I try to leave this world behind and live by faith instead of sight.

As a plethora of notes poured down around me last week, I realized that article was the first time many of my friends and family have heard me talk about not having children. I realized how much I needed their encouragement and support. I realized I only received it when I shared my trials and struggles.

Dear brothers and sisters, fellow believers, learn from my experience. Share your burdens with one another. Do not hide away in a pew watching others smile, laugh, and cry, wishing and wanting someone to smile, laugh, and cry with you.

Beloved, if you wish to have friends, be a friend.be-a-friend

The lesson I learned, yet again, from my Mother’s Day experience, was that I can’t expect people to understand me via osmosis. I must open myself up, share myself, and talk with other people. Scary thought. I must do the hard work of awkwardness, stilted conversation, and even move far outside my comfort zone, to get help. Help doesn’t come by hiding. Help comes by reaching out.

We live in a culture that has taken self-actualization to a destructive level. We think it’s all about us. That if I’m an introvert, you extroverts need to understand me. If you don’t make me happy, I get to abandon you. If my dreams don’t match up with yours, I’m outta here. Beware, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, the lies of the world. You are not at church to be served, but to serve. You are not here to wait for others to come talk with you, but to go talk to them. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have a hard time talking to others. Honestly, I’d rather sit in a corner and write than be with people. But that’s not good for me.

It’s selfish.

Life, the Christian life, is not about fulfilling your dreams here on earth. It is about becoming more Christ-like here on earth. This is not going to be easy. It is not going to be fun or even that happy. Why? Because the longer you walk with Christ the more aware of your own sin you become. It’s not pretty. The longer you walk with Christ, the less you are like this world. You give up your dreams for Christ’s sake. The world thinks that’s dumb. It’s not pretty. The longer you walk with Christ, the more you seek to serve your local church. The world thinks it’s a waste of time to spend your life quietly serving your church. It’s not pretty.

I’m preaching to myself here. I’m gently begging and pleading, praying and trusting that you will be encouraged to yet again go into the battle against yourself. You’re happiness and comfort aren’t what is important in this life. The sooner you learn this the better you will be at serving. Don’t give into the temptation of waiting to be served, go out and serve. Don’t wait for a friend to magically appear. Go be a friend. If you see others who are popular and you envy them . . . try getting to know them. You may find that they get nervous every Sunday cause they have to talk to people. You may find that that popular person has just as many scars as you do.

Just a word of caution: I’Band_of_Brothers_by_qchangyaom not suggesting we all start gossiping. Sharing your sin can be just as much gossip as sharing the sins of others. It can be just as addictive, like a psychological cutting of yourself instead of a physical. I’m also not negating the benefit of understanding the difference between how introverts and extroverts communicate. This can be very helpful. What I am saying is that we need to stop waiting around for friends to understand us. We need to go be an understanding friend. The world is full of lies and selfishness that we must battle every day. My recent experience with sharing a very personal struggle has only solidified in my mind how important it is that we reach out to one another, and not wait for others to reach out to us.

Go to your local church this Sunday, and instead of focusing on all the ways no one is paying attention to you, go pay attention to someone else. Invite someone from your church over, or out for coffee. Schedule regular get-togethers. If you take your eyes off yourself, and focus on your family, your real family, you will find yourself blessed and encouraged. How do I know? Well I once considered myself on the fringe of my church, sorely misunderstood. What that really was was selfishness. Now, I have, by God’s grace alone, been changed in my attitude and I seek to serve my church like I was commanded to. I’ve been blessed beyond belief. I haven’t made lots of money. I haven’t suddenly found myself in the upper circles of society. I have had to give up on some very clung to dreams. But in all this, I have found Christ to be sufficient and my local church to be the dearest of families.

God is good.

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12: 46-50

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Slice of Life: Silly Songs are Important

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

So, this is a slice of life, random sort of article that jumped in my head and decided to shove its way through the line of other blogs waiting patiently to be written. I only have a small window of opportunity to write this morning because a group of lovely women are about to descend on my house to share their stories and let me share mine. (Insert happy squeal here!) (Also this happened on a Thursday, but I’m posting it on a Monday.)

I tend to have vivid dreams. Often I wake up disconcerted, emotional, and sometimes freaked out. Twice, I have literally dreamed a serial killer was in my house. I woke up screaming when he touched my arm. I dreamed once that policemen came, arrested my husband, and threw him in jail for 13 years. I might need to watch how often I read about Christians persecuted in other countries. Or, what I’ll do is keep muscling through it no matter how many bad dreams it gives me cause I need to know. I don’t need to stop having bad dreams. They won’t ultimately hurt me. I do need to know what my brothers and sisters in Christ face on a daily basis. That’s more important than comfortable dreams.

This morning, I woke up feeling very ‘misunderstood’. Ha. Looking back, the dream was so stupid, but as dreams often go, it was more about the emotion involved than it was the events. My husband, one of my sisters, and I were trapped somewhere and none of our friends could come pick us up. I think we were near the ocean or something. I remember water and tree branches. For some reason, my husband and my sister were being mean to me. I don’t remember anything specific other than my husband handing my sister his phone to give directions instead of me. I do remember an overwhelming sense of being upset and them not caring. We finally reached a friend who headed over to pick us up along with all our stuff, while also planning a Dungeons and Dragons game for us to play. (Remember, this was a dream.) Again, I cried and screamed while my husband and sister made fun of me or just totally ignored me—they would never ever do that in real life. It was so silly.

It made me think of a song my mom taught me: “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms.”

(Just picture five children chanting this song over and over. Not creepy at all.)

In today’s world, my mom might be considered a bad mom. She did things like spank us, make us clean our plates, learn to play together, let us  ride our bikes without helmets, hike for hours on end all over creation, shoot guns, and other things like that. She also taught us that song.

And boy, am I glad she did.

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Looking back, we sang the song cause we thought it was funny and gross. (We were and still are into gross. We enjoyed the song about never laughing when the hearse goes by, too. ) We learned from that song that there are times when you will feel like everyone hates you. You will be tempted to put on the airs of a martyr and sulk because nobody is doing anything like you want them to. No one is paying any attention to you. Nobody loves you. We all experience points in our lives where we feel that way, but very often it’s about as realistic as eating worms. See, I woke up feeling rotten. I felt like my husband didn’t care one bit if I was upset, and that my sister didn’t care either. I woke up feeling ignored. That’s a horrible feeling.

Did I wallow in that feeling? No. I held it up against reality and realized my husband, even when he is super busy, cares about me. My sister, either of them, would never ignore me if I was crying, even if I was crying in a childish, pouting sort of way. It was only an emotion, and a passing one at that.

It’s important to teach kids how to judge their emotions. Why? Emotions lie. Emotions aren’t the epitome of humanity. They lie. When we indulge in them, we end up with kids who are out of control and just looking for the next emotional high. We have bullies and the bullied. See the bully is getting an emotional kick out of hurting others. No one is demanding self-control from him. The bullied is also getting an emotional kick out of sulking around feeling bullied. When I was a kid, my parents taught me not only that my martyr feeling was only good for worm eating, but that you stood up to bullies and you stood up for the weak. My parents taught me to defend others and myself. They taught me self-control so that I could withstand the lies of my own emotions and not follow their whims. They protected me, not from the dangers of zero trophies on my wall, but the dangers of my own heart. They protected me from the real dragons, not the made up ones.

Emotions are to be enjoyed, but not worshipped and not trusted. They flit and fade just like my dream did as soon as I opened my email and realized I have things to do, a house to clean, writers to encourage, and a husband who is happy to come home.

Quote of the Weekend

There once was a handsome man.
His name was Price.
He had a very lovely woman.
She was his wife.

Her name was Abby.
Her name was Abby.

They lived together happily.
They lived ever after.
Poetry he spoke sappily.
Merrily married together.

Happily ever after.
Happily ever after.

– R. Price Jones

(A little bit of romantic prose from my hubby.  Made me smile and I had to share. )

A Texas Cousins Adventure: A Bad Case of the Whys

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Aunt Abby lay in the hammock on Grammie and Grandpa’s porch listening to the sound of the spring rain. It poured down on dry Texas dirt feeding the grass, trees, and bluebonnets. Bruce wrenched open the front door, hurried down the steps, stopped, hurried back up the steps, shut the front door, and hurried back down the steps.

“When will they get here?” he asked letting Aunt Abby help him up on the hammock.

“I don’t know. Soon I hope.”

“Why?”

“Why what? Why don’t I know?”

“Yes,” Bruce said with a mischievous smile.

“Cause I don’t know everything.”

“Why?”

“Cause I’m not God.”

“Why?”

“Cause I’m too little,” Aunt Abby said tickling Bruce. He howled with laughter, rolling on the hammock. “You have a bad case of the whys, don’t you?”

“No I don’t.”

The rain spilled off the roof of Grammie and Grandpa’s house and splashed on the steps. It made tempting puddles here and there perfect for little feet.

A car pulled in the driveway.

“They’re here!”

“Get your boots!”

“Why?”

“So you’re feet don’t get wet.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

603259_10200172434341529_1472686940_nBruce and Aunt Abby slipped on their waterproof boots and went to welcome the rest of the cousins. First, Jules came with her red ladybug umbrella. Bruce joined her in puddle jumping. Ellie followed right behind insisting she could jump in puddles too. Over dashed Constance with her green umbrella, but now the puddle was full of feet. Constance hurried over to another one. Joshua wouldn’t be left out of Texas puddle jumping. He raced over to one bigger than the others and plunged in feet first. A wave of water soaked him. Imogene chewed on her spoon and squinted up at the water falling from the sky. She wasn’t so sure about this rain stuff. Jude lifted one eyebrow and watched with serious blue eyes.

65033_857061347054_559755682_nAunt Abby scooped up each of the kids, hugging and kissing them. Grammie and Grandpa waited on the porch to welcome less than dry children.

“Come on,” Aunt Abby said. “Let’s go in and have some raisins and a story.”

“Why?” Bruce asked soaking Jules with a big splash.

“Cause it’s raining,” Aunt Abby said.

“Why?” Bruce said.

“You have a bad case of the whys, don’t you,” Aunt Abby said.

“Is he sick?” Jules said.

“Aunt Abby, watch!” yelled Constance. She leapt in the air and splashed down in a small pond forming in the driveway.

Aunt Abby clapped. “Come on, everyone!” They all rushed to the big puddle, and splashed and splashed until they were soaked through and through. Grammie brought out a pile of towels. Once the puddle was thoroughly splashed, Aunt Abby herded cousins to Grammie and dried them all off.

“Grammie? Can I have some raisins?” Bruce asked.

“You’ll have to ask your Grandpa.”

“Why?”

“Because,” Jules said, wrinkling her nose. “They’re in his office.”

“Why?” Bruce said.

“Cause that’s where they belong.”

“Why?” Bruce said.

Grammie ruffled Bruce’s hair. “Someone has a bad case of the whys.”

“Is he sick?” Constance asked.

“No,” Grammie laughed. “He’s just extra curious about everything.”

“I’m curious,” Joshua said.

“Do you have a bad case of the whys?” Jules turned to him.

“Yes!” Constance said waving her green umbrella and getting everyone wet again.

“No I don’t!” Joshua said with a frown.

“Why?” said Ellie.

“Oh no!” Jules said. “Now Ellie’s got it.”

“What?” Ellie said.

Imogene, still holding a spoon, turned to Jude. Jude raised one eyebrow. Imogene coughed a laugh. Jude did it again. Imogene held out her spoon to him. The whys and whats were unimportant to her. Spoons and mommies were what mattered.

“A bad case of the whys,” Aunt Abby said kissing Ellie.

“Why does she have it now?” Bruce said.

“Cause y’all keep asking why!” Aunt Abby said. She took Jude in her arms and kissed Imogene, glad not everyone asked why all the time.

“Yes, but how do you fix it?” Jules said.

“I think we could fix it with a cup of hot chocolate and a story.”

“Why!?” said Bruce, Constance, Ellie, Joshua and Jules.

“Oh no! It looks like we all have it!” Jules said.

“Why?” Aunt Abby said.

“Even Aunt Abby has it!” Bruce said.

“Hot chocolate for everyone!” Grammie said.

Inside they went, the seven cousins, some with spoons and some with whys, to crowd the kitchen while the water warmed. Out of the rain, they soon dried off and asked more whys. Crowded together, they ate raisins, seven cousins all curious and curious-er.

(L-R: Joshua, Jules with her arm around Ellie, Constance, and Bruce.)

(L-R: Joshua, Jules with her arm around Ellie, Constance, and Bruce.)

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Imogene!

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Jude and his happy big brother, Bruce!

Writing Journal: Now what?

fairy_tale_comes_to_life_by_chervona-d66vqmkI’m writing this having been sick for almost two weeks. By the time it gets posted and you’re reading it, I hope I’m a bit better. For the first week, I could do nothing more than lay on the couch and watch movies, sometimes read. For the second week, as long as I stayed on the couch, I felt relatively okay. Even long, drawn out conversations or facebooking left me feeling exhausted. But, at least during this second week I’ve been able to write. And write I did. I’ve tried to get some blog post going. I’ve thought about all the blog posting that needs to be done. But mostly I’ve worked on my fairy tale. I’m not up to my normal typing speed just yet, and I feel like I have more blog post to write than I can ever find time to write. But at least I’m feeling well enough to get something done.

And something is what I did. I got my fairy tale to the point of well . . . I’m not really sure. I have five main story lines. I’ve been working for weeks to get three of those five story lines together. And Eureka! It happened. I got everyone where they needed to be! Yes! As soon as I did, my brain just fizzled out. I know what I want the end result to be. I know where, far in the future, I want them to be, but I pushed so hard to get three of the lines together, that now I’m not sure what happens next, as in the next few hours.

imagesIt’s like braiding or weaving. You have five different colored strands draped over your fingers. One by one, you fold them over and under one another to create a beautiful image. Three of the colors create this perfect pattern in your mind. So you work and you work and you work those colors. Suddenly, their pattern is complete! Now, it’s time to weave the other two colors back in before you can move forward.

After puzzling over my fairy tale for a while, I realized I couldn’t move the story forward until I went back, found the other two story lines, and got them caught up. I’m still feeling a bit fizzled, but I know where I’m going. That helps. I’m still feeling stumped. But, I think once I get this person and that person caught up with the rest of the gang, things will become clear.

One of the advantages to doing something for a long time, over 10 years now, is gaining a bit of confidence. I’m confident that if I just leave the fizzled part alone, watch a few movies, read a few books, work on the other story lines, the fizzle will bloom into a glowing firefly. How do I know that? How do I know that I just haven’t reached the sad end to a short fairy tale? Cause I’ve had fizzles before and I’ve worked through them. Now off to read and feed the muse! Off to weave with different colored threads!

Any excuse to talk about fireflies or firefly...I'm taking!

Any excuse to talk about fireflies or firefly…I’m taking!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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This is both a happy and sad article, so I apologize.

First, I just want to say that I love Mother’s day because I have the two best moms in the world. They aren’t just my moms. They are very dear and special friends. My own mom is on my speed dial even as a thirty-four-year-old when I need a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in the seat of the pants. I’m old enough to know that having a friend who will kick you in the pant seat is valuable beyond gold or silver. My mom inspires me, reminds me to do what’s right, shares her wine, and opens her heart and home to me at any day or time. Honestly, I love my mom cause she always makes me feel wanted, valued, and like a friend who she doesn’t get to see enough. I feel that way about her and she often tells me the same thing. I would kill off more fictional people if I thought it would give me more time with her. On top of all this, my Mom has her own business, keeps up with my dad, our church, all of us kids, all the grandkids, her own parents, and takes care of my Dad’s Mom. She amazes me! She would tell you she feels stretched, maybe like butter spread over too much bread, but she does a wonderful job. My mom is one of the main reasons I love to write and read. That is a gift I can never repay.

My extra mom is not just my mother-in-law, she is also one of my dearest friends. She is supportive, engaged, and has an open door policy, which I indulge in quite regularly. She has always treated me more as a prize than as an extra child in the family. What girl doesn’t love that? My extra mom is the most amazing cook I’ve ever known. We all crowd in her small kitchen on family days cause it’s the best place to be. She also has the most beautiful yard you’ve ever seen. I love our long talks when I go over to work out. I love the plant advice, which saves me hours of online research, and I love a fellow movie/TV nut to discuss the latest show with. Having a good relationship with the person who raised your husband is rare, so I’m fortunate to have not just a mom-in-law, but a true and real extra mom.

If I can have a home as comforting and welcoming as these two women, I’ll have reached a certain level of success in my life as a housewife. Other than my own home, I can think of no two places I’d rather be than one of my moms’ homes. I love you both dearly!

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This is the part I love about Mother’s Day. I love getting an extra chance to tell two women how much they mean to me. But there is a part about Mother’s Day that gets harder with each passing year. For those of you without children or who have lost children, you know what I’m talking about.

When I was a young lady and Mother’s Day rolled around, I would dream about someday being honored by my husband and my children. I would smile and laugh at all the things done for mothers and wonder what my own husband and children would do to surprise me on this day. (Thank you Hallmark.)

I don’t have kids.

I’m still young enough, I tell myself daily, that I still hope to have children. I squeeze as much hope as possible out of every story about women who have children after they’re 35 or 40…or even 50. I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of why we don’t have kids. Sorry. It’s not anyone’s business but my husband’s and mine. Just know that we want children, but we don’t have any.

So, each year Mother’s Day rolls around and I dream less and less about my own future time to celebrate. More and more, I just try to keep my head down, my heart in control, and think about the women I love who are mothers. And ladies, all of you moms that I know, I pray for you all the time. The older, and more tired, I get the more and more I pray for you. You have the most important task before you. You are molding and shaping the next generation and I don’t think it’s going to be an easy time to grow up. Keep at it. Enjoy this holiday set aside for you, dear moms. I pray for you!

For me, this holiday which was once looked forward to, is now almost dreaded. It is a big billboard of what I long for but don’t have and may never have. But! I do have hope. I have hope that Christ knows this desire. I have hope because I’m not alone in this desire. Many women have had this prayer answered in the positive by the Lord: Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Sampson’s Mother. And I have hope that He is good. If He answers this prayer with a no, I can lean and trust in Him. In the meantime, I can pour out my heart and mind for my church and my family. I can love on my nieces and nephews. I can love a holiday for the opportunity to tell my Moms how much they mean to me. I can switch my focus from what I don’t have to what Christ has secured for me. I can set my eyes on heaven and know that even if I don’t have children here on this earth, my hope is in what Christ has done for me. I, by His grace alone, will not waste this life pining for something I don’t yet have. I will use it to serve my church in every way possible.

I’m thankful for all you moms at church who take time out of your busy lives to text me, call me, facebook me, join me for coffee, tell me when you need help, and read my random blog posts. It’s a scary thing to reach a point in your life where you realize you may never have children, but you ladies let me be a part of your lives and so in a way I have many many children who I love.

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. (Is 54:1)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 2)

SpecialAgents

“Did you hear?” Sam Mortimer asked as the elevator came to a wobbly stop and opened to a long cold tunnel.

“We just got here,” Lauren said. “What do you think?”

“Hi Janis,” Rachel said.

“Hi Janis,” Lauren and Sam both said. They walked towards the imposing women with the eye patch and a gray wispy bun. She nodded to all three of them from behind her desk.

“Sign in, young’ins,” she growled.

“I already did,” Sam said.

Janis nodded. Rachel and Lauren hurried up to the desk, stood on their tiptoes, and signed in on Janis ledger. She harrumphed at them taking the ledger back.

“Well, don’t stand around like wet cheese, get to the meeting. Agent Carmichael’s waiting for you.”

All three kids scurried off.

“I don’t like her,” Lauren said. “She’s not very nice.”

“She’s scary,” Rachel said.

“How do you think she got that eye patch?” Sam whispered.

“I heard she smokes a pipe when she’s on break,” Lauren said.

“I heard it was cigars,” Rachel added.

“Either way, she’s strange,” Lauren said, tugging at her hat.

“Yes, but how do you think she got the eye patch?” Sam said.

The three agents argued over the finer points of earning an eye patch while they hurried down the long tunnel leading to the warren of offices, shooting galleries, test rooms, and developmental stations. A thick carpet lined the hall Janis guarded with one wary eye. It muffled some of the echo produced by the reinforced steel walls and curved ceiling of the underground headquarters. Grommets marched in straight lines from floor up over their heads and down to the floor again keeping the steel paneling held securely in place.

“I still think she got poked,” Sam muttered as he pulled open the door to Carmichael’s office for the twins.

“Of course she got poked,” Rachel said with a sigh.

“She is missing her eye,” Lauren added.

“Agents!” Carmichael snapped.

They hurried into the room and seated themselves at Carmichael’s large desk situating their tool belts so they could sit more comfortably and not on various sharp or lumpy objects.

“Agents,” Carmichael said leaning across his desk. “We have a problem. There are monsters under the beds.”

“NO!” gasped Rachel.

“It can’t be,” Lauren said.

Sam hunched his shoulders and slipped down in his chair.

“It is and it can,” Carmichael said. “We have the three houses mapped out. You will go exterminate the monsters as a unit, girls. Sam, I want you there to back them up and see if you can catch one. We don’t know if this is an outbreak yet or . . .”

“Her,” whispered Rachel.

“Exactly,” Carmichael said. “So gear up. Jane’s got some new toys for you to try, and watch your backs.”

The three agents slipped out of their chairs, gave Carmichael a salute, and left the room.

Back in the hall, Sam dropped against the wall.

“I can’t believe . . . I never would have thought . . . do you think she’s back?”

“Maybe it’s just a few we didn’t catch last time,” Rachel said.

“We’ll take care of them this time,” Lauren said.

She grabbed Sam by the arm. Rachel grabbed him up by his other arm and the bustled him off down the hall to Jane. Twisting and turning down one hall or another, following the red and green line for new toys, they soon reached Jane’s door. Rachel hauled it open. A thick white cloud of smoke billowed out the door. Jane tumbled out after it coughing and wheezing.

“Goggles on,” she said. “That stuff will poke your eye out.”

With a gasp, all three agents slipped their goggles on.

To be Continued . . .

 

How did Janis loose her eye?

How did Janis loose her eye?

(To Read Part 1 Click Here)

Books and Movies

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Your favorite book now a major motion picture.

I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of turning books into movies. When one of my favorite books is slated to become a movie, I tend to be excited and antsy. I search the cast list for any resemblance to the people I love. I watch trailers looking for that moment that was personally pivotal to me in the book. I read articles to discern the director’s depth of understanding of his material. When Peter Jackson first announced plans to make Lord of the Rings, I obsessed to a degree that was beyond fan girl. Way beyond fan girl. Why? Because Lord of the Rings is my favorite, not-the-Bible book of all time. Favorite.

But this isn’t an article about Lord of the Rings. This is an observation about translating books into movies, and how movies have changed our writing. I want to explore this idea by comparing The Hobbit, Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game. I’ve read and enjoyed all three books and all three movies. I hope they make an interesting comparison study.

Tolkien penned The Hobbit long before fantasy-type books became movies every summer. I can’t imagine Tolkien IMDB-ing actors to see if Martin Freeman would make a good Bilbo. When Card wrote Ender’s Game having a book turned into a movie was more likely, but still a shot in the dark. Then we come to The Hunger Games. It was almost a guarantee that if the book had any success, it would be made into a movie. Suzanne Collins worked in the TV business, writing shows for children. I can’t imagine her writing The Hunger Games without a movie in the back of her mind. How do I know that? Because I do the same thing. I grew up with movies and I can’t help but think of them when I write.

We have one book with no thoughts for a movie, one with a little thought, and one heavily influenced.

And their movies? (Please remember this is just my opinion.)

The Hunger Games was a great movie that followed the book closely adjusting pacing as needed for a film. My husband, who isn’t a fiction reader, really loved it.

Ender’s Game followed the book closely, as far as I can remember, but with more concern for the book’s fans than movie goers. My husband found it boring and a bit confusing. I didn’t feel as into the movie as I was the book. It came across as choppy, and poorly paced. I should note that it’s been many years since I read the book.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYThe Hobbit was so different from the book. In fact, I hated the movie when I first saw it. Right after watching it, my husband and I dove into the book and found the movie to be surprisingly accurate, all things considered. Of the three, this was the only one that my husband had read both the book and seen the movie.

I think it would have been impossible for Peter Jackson to follow the Hobbit as it was written. The barrel scene? Twelve dwarves floating down a river in closed barrels as river elves pushed them along: worked in the book, boring on the screen. In a book, the author can give the reader a brief sentence saying the town chief is gross and greedy. A reader has no problem accepting that a moving on. In a movie, you have to show it and establish it. It can’t be tacked on somewhere.

In fact, as I refreshed my view of the Hobbit, I became more pleased at what Peter Jackson preserved that he could have left out. There are writing tools you can manipulate in a book that you just can’t spring on people in a movie. The odd part is that even when I acknowledge the good things Peter Jackson did, I still don’t really like the Desolation of Smug taken in the broader context of all the movies. It’s pacing seems really off.

enders_game_2013_movie-wideIn Ender’s Game, I think they stuck so close to the book that that became more of a concern than making a good movie. If they focused on making a good movie, I think it would have been better. Instead, it felt confusing and emotionally unrelatable unless you’d read the book.

Hunger Games had no problem going from book to screen. The book just adds and develops the characters a bit more, but you get a good sense of the story and characters from the movie.

Has the silver screen changed how we write? Has it changed how we write scenes? Probably. I think this may be why the concept of Showing instead of Telling has gained such ground. If you read older work, they do an extensive amount of telling prior to showing. Older books also spend less time explaining battles, or fight scenes, if they even have them. Older works don’t seem as focused on character descriptions, partially, maybe, because they weren’t thinking about the actor who might be selected to play them.

The-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-soundtrack-608x608Is this bad? No, not necessarily. I enjoy a book with a lot of showing instead of telling. I enjoy books with masterful battle scenes. But, I also think it opens the door to a lot of bad writing. (This is not the only day and age with bad writing, but it does seem easier to find than it used to be.) I think writers can focus too much on character description instead of just character. I can’t stand a novel that gives me a character’s measurements as if that is going to help me picture him better in my mind. I want to get to know this person, not that he’s 6′ 4″. Some people write scenes totally based on what they’ve seen in movies. Maybe they should just be a screen writer, instead of a novelist. I’ve had to tell new writers that they can’t write slo-mo action scenes. It doesn’t work when you’re reading. Matrix styled fighting and good cop/bad cop only work if you’re a really great writer. The rest of us just need to do more research until we find something based in reality that we can use.

I’m a product of my time. I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend I live in a different time…unless I’m writing a period piece…which I’m not. I always have a ‘cast’ file. It’s filled with pictures of actors that I have in mind for the characters. Some of the actors aren’t alive anymore because I’m looking for a match to my imagination, not hoping to submit it to Hollywood. I don’t anticipate my books every becoming movies, thought I’ve daydreamed about it. Generally it ends up with me shuddering cause I don’t really like Hollywood that much and don’t want to get caught up in that world in any way, shape, or form. Besides, they wouldn’t like me. I’m too conservative, too Christian. It wouldn’t happen.

All that to say, yes, movies affect how we write. We don’t live in bubbles. We probably all write as if we were watching a film and just reporting on what we were seeing. I even refer to different parts in my book as scenes, as if I was directing a film. But, writing is so much richer and deeper than a movie. Writing let’s you escape to a whole new world in a way movies never can. You get to be in a new place and in a new person. Through the journey, you often learn more about yourself than you ever could watching a movie. Movies are wonderful, but books are often better. Don’t stop writing. Enjoy the gifts of the silver screen, but don’t rely on them.