The Passing of a Man I Loved

One of my favorite stories has the line in it, “Everybody dies alone.” I’ve always loved the brutal honesty of that statement. That no matter what, no matter who you are with, no matter who you are, you face death alone. We live in a world where honesty about death is hard to come by. We work out, eat right, and do plastic surgery to avoid it. We take drug after drug after drug to keep it at bay. And when we must face it, we sanitize it, cover it up, and hide it. Yet, we’re all going to die, each and every one of us. That’s the horror of this life. That’s its curse. We’re going to die. This life ends.

About three weeks ago, a man I loved died.

“Had he been sick, or was his death unexpected?” The first time someone asked me that I just stood there, trapped between both yes and no. Yes, my dear extra father had been sick for a very long time, and had given us some good scares, but that’s just it. He’d been sick for so long, we just kinda expected him to keep plugging along, or for the downhill spiral to be more gradual. So yes, he’d been sick for years, and yes his death was unexpected. I had just seen him. I knew he wasn’t doing well, but I kept telling myself, “The doctors aren’t panicked, so I’m not gonna panic.”

The next morning he died.

It wasn’t a ‘peaceful’ death like Harry’s, surrounded by saints singing, holding his hand, praying, reading scripture, and doing their duty to the end. It wasn’t like what I’d heard of Glenn’s, where he was able to give his children marching orders before he passed. It was a cold dark morning with EMT’s and doctors struggling, fighting to find a pulse, find a breath, bring him back. It was a police officer taking us away from him to give them room to work. It was us huddled in the emergency room hallway trying to reach our siblings, knowing, having to decide this was the end.

For me, the next few days were busy. Planning a Memorial Service is like planning a wedding, on the fly, in four days. There were lots of tears as we started to put my extra Dad’s life together one last time. There was laughter as we shared stories. Both good things, but for me there was also a layer horror hidden under it all. A profound sense of unrest. I’m not even sure what I was reacting too. I just felt disturbed.

So, I preached to myself. Over and over and over, I recited the truth to my unhappy heart. I knew that my extra Dad had died, but I also knew where he was. I knew that he wasn’t in some void, that he wasn’t lost forever. I know, I know that I will see him again. In fact, the first thought I had was that my extra Dad was now up in heaven with my Yankee Dad. They are up there and someday I’ll be with them. I’ll shed this mortal life with all its temporary, yet heavy burdens, and I’ll join them at Christ’s feet for all eternity. Oh happy thought.

I knew the truth, but the sense of horror didn’t ease up. It just didn’t go away.

What was creeping me out so much?

The Sunday after his Memorial Service we gathered in our normal spots in the church building. That was hard, being there without him. Not hearing his voice while I was singing. Not hearing his ridiculously loud whispers to Wanda during the service. Seeing my husband try to stay emotionally in control. Hearing my extra Mom cry. It was all hard, hard, but good. Then we took the Lord’s Supper. I’m not exactly sure what Jarrett said, but I’m sure it was something about Vidal being with the Lord now, while we’re all still “in remembrance of” Christ. That’s when it hit me: Vidal did not die alone. Not everybody dies alone. There are a few, a happy few, we band of brothers, who do not ever die alone. Christ was with Vidal every step, by horrible step. When we weren’t there, Christ was there. Vidal didn’t die alone. I can’t think of a more beautiful or wonderful thought. Christ, the one who took on death for us, was with Vidal at the end, just like He was through all of Vidal’s Christian life. The Holy Spirit was with Vidal at the end, just like He was through all of Vidal’s Christian life. He was there to help him across the dark waters to the Celestial City, where Vidal is now perfect with no sin. He has seen Christ, his only hope. He is at rest. Vidal is more alive than all of us. He has left the Shadow Lands. He has finished the race, finished the war, found his hope.

The sense of horror slipped away.

Peace has followed me every day since.

I miss the old guy. I miss his love. I miss his support. I miss him being proud of me. I miss him being proud of his son, my husband. I miss his stories. I miss his generosity. I miss him. I will miss him until I join him, but I know he’s safe and so am I. I know that my missing of him is temporary.

It’s strange to lose a parent. It’s strange to face life without them. It’s strange to realize you are going to finish the rest of this life, possibly forty years or more, without them. You can’t share with them and they aren’t there to support you anymore. It’s a strange feeling. Yet there is peace. “Our Father in heaven…” Our Father. We have a forever parent. One who can’t be taken from us, and one who will not leave. He won’t abandon us. He won’t fail us. He won’t exasperate us. He won’t disappoint us. He won’t die. We have a heavenly Father who loves us in the most perfect way of a father with his child.

Here is hope. Here is hope in death. Here is hope in the loss of a man you loved and have loved for years.

Not everybody dies alone, not everybody.

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Birthday Week Day 2

Day made by my bestie Liz!  Presents, Starbucks, Christmas music, and Donuts!  Plus, a Hobbit gift from me to my nieces. The rest of the day was pretty low key.

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Starbucks!

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Hobbit gift for my nieces cause it's my birthday!

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I'm the crazy aunt!

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She knows me to well: quill and Serenity.

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"You can't take the sky from me. "

Thank you Liz,  Imogene,  and Remi for a beautiful morning,  wonderful gifts that make me smile,  and even better,  just getting to be with y’all. I’m totally spoiled!

Writing Lesson: Food

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

– Psalm 104: 14-15

Writing Lesson: Food

Food is one of my favorite elements in fantasy writing. I love long-winded descriptions of feasts and holidays. I love celebrations around the table, snacks, the stopping of the story to eat. I love the names of food used to set the stage for betrayal or friendship. I love that food eaten for enjoyment is a Biblical concept. Food isn’t there just to fuel our bodies and keep us healthy, though it does do that, but for our souls. Look at the richness of God! It makes our hearts glad, our faces shine, and gives us strength. Bring on the comfort foods!

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“Where there is cake, there is hope. And there is always cake.”
― Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy

There are a few books that stand out in my mind as having excellent food moments. Life Expectancy is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. It focuses on a cook/baker in love with a girl and hunted by a clown. Not a Steven King clown like It, but a real life circus clown. Many of the intense scenes are broken up by great culinary descriptions of the family gathered around a meal. You will salivate while you read. Since the book is all about family, these delicious dinners bind you in with them as if you sat at their table and shared their supper.

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“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
―Brian Jacques, Taggerung

(You would not believe how hard it is to find one of his food quotes! But trust me, they’re amazing.)

Discovering Brian Jacques when I was in my early teens was like an oasis in the desert of teen drama passed off as literature. His stories of brave forest creatures, heroes, battles, and feast triggered my imagination and brought hours of joy to my heart. And yes, his feasts. They are amazing. He focuses in on things forest animals would eat and fills the menu with fantastical dishes that pull you into his world. I even got together with a friend and tried to cook some of them. They never turned out quiet like we hoped, but proved that a good story invades your life.

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“Ah! Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I’m afraid I’ve rather lost my liking for them — but I think I’ll be safe with a nice toffee, don’t you?”
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth.
“Alas! Ear wax!”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Food should play an important role in your story. It can be used to unite characters, heal characters, snag readers, and flesh out the setting. Especially in fantasy, where so much of the world is unique and different, food can function as an ambassador. Food in Harry Potter has a distinctly British feel to it, mixed with just a hint of magic. I love how you can imagine what a Butterbeer taste like, along with Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans and all the other magical food. Do you see how a completely made up candy keeps the world consistent? Harry Potter would lose much of its child-like glee if Harry bought regular Jelly Belly’s instead of ear-wax flavored beans. Rowling used the food to flesh out the setting of her stories. She also used it to tie us to Harry early on by describing the difference between how Dudley eats and the leftovers tossed to Harry. We instantly pity him. When he’s able to eat as much as he wants, we rejoice with him.

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“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
―J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Tolkien, on the other hand, used familiar foods to root his story in the nostalgic and familiar. Beer, bread, sausages, and potatoes are all comfort foods reminding us of home as we travel far into the unknown with the fellowship. Dinner with Farmer Maggot and his family is a place of rest after the fear of black riders. This use of food ties the everyday reader to the Hobbits giving us a warm spot to cling to. We can all sympathize with being the small person caught up in events much large than us. Tolkien uses food to further instill this feeling creating a race of quiet people that make us all want to go back home. No matter the danger, Hobbits always think about food first. For this reason, we all love them.

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To switch from books, the TV show Firefly helps explain its Space Western setting when it has Shepherd Book pay for passage on Serenity with food. This helps the viewer understand that fresh fruits and vegetables are so rare on the outer planets that they can be used as currency. We now have a subconscious grasp on the situation. We can see that life is hard, dangerous, and dirty by looking at the setting, but Kaylee’s face when she eats the strawberry drives these points home in a far more personal way. The times that the crew gather together to eat are used by Whedon to deepen the sense of family: the true magic of Firefly.

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Should your characters eat? Should you worry about food in your story? I hope you’ve seen the important roll food and eating can play. It can confirm a familiar setting or round out an unfamiliar one. It can bring unrelated people together as a family. It can serve as a moments rest, a time to heal, or a celebration. However you use it, food should play a role in your work. Settings can take on the roles of secondary characters. Think about Hogwarts, Hobbiton, the Enterprise, Serenity, and Red Wall. These places aren’t just where things happen, but characters in their own right. They are familiar and beloved. Food can do the same thing a ship can. It can give you a nest to put your characters in and push them, challenge them, create conflict, or beauty. Food can be another tool in your tool-kit just like a building, car, road, or city. Don’t discount it. We all love food. We all need to eat. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Use it in your story!


Life Expectancy: R

Red Wall: PG

Harry Potter: PG

Fellowship of the Ring: PG

Firefly: PG-13

Writing Journal: Introducing Sisterhood

492599If you follow me around in real life, on FaceBook, and or read my Blog, you will quickly realize that one of my favorite concepts in stories—right after the idea of the Undeserved Rescue—is Brotherhood. I love action flicks with a core group that would kill for each other. I love stories about enemies becoming inseparable friends. I love stories about cops and their partners. I love war stories because of the brotherhood concept. Band of Brothers is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but I feel like you see this same idea play out, to lesser degrees, in StarTrek: NG, Firefly, Sherlock, and Chuck. It’s all about the person next to you. It’s all about the guy willing to spill blood to defend you, even his own. It’s what I love about Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It is what I love about Lord of the Rings.

With all that said, it’s not surprising that my Fairytale has at least two brotherhoods forming in Book 1. I’m diligently working on a brotherhood within the antagonist’s army and a brotherhood centered around my protagonists. Since brotherhoods tend to form in the middle of intense situations like combat, and since I’m a bit conservative and think combat should be left to men, and since it typically has been left to men so men are the ones forming these brotherhoods, my protagonist is a male. In fact, most of the books I’ve written have a male protagonist.

Why?

Most of the books I enjoy reading have male protagonist. It’s not that there aren’t books with lead females out there. It’s not that women don’t have adventures. It’s just that I never find books and stories with lead females as interesting or as fun as I do the ones with lead males. This started back when I had a choice between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Can you guess which one I picked? (If you guess Nancy Drew you need to start this article over and try again. 🙂 )

Why is this?

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I’ll be honest, and a bit hard on my own sex, I find stories with lead females a bit annoying. Either the woman is doing something completely ridiculous in some vain attempt to prove that she’s just as big and bad as the guys are, or she’s standing in a corner screaming with a phaser not three inches from her hand while her man gets beat to death, or she’s eye candy. There are very few stories where the woman is a woman. And the ones where she is being a woman can be a bit harder to make interesting because they can end up catty, manipulative, and self focused. I just don’t think they’re as fun as male driven stories. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was a Tomboy growing up.) What it really came down to was boys had adventures and girls had boyfriends. I would rather have an adventure.

Me and my Bestie!

Me and my Bestie!

Then, a dear friend laid down a challenge. She pointed out the many wonderful relationships I have with other women. I’ve been blessed with a wise mother and extra mother, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-Christ, wise older women, and a very dear best friend, and many nieces. I have more dear women than I can possibly name in my life right now. I have women who are going before me into old age and widowhood, I have young women coming up behind me into marriage, life, and adulthood. I wouldn’t trade these women for the world. I love each and every one of them. My dear friend, who is a woman, asked me why I don’t have more of those types of female relationships in my books? They are some of the best friendships I’ve had, why don’t I mirror the brotherhood concept with a sisterhood concept? If I hated women being written just to have boyfriends, why was I doing the same thing. (Don’t read this the wrong way, I think loving a man and being loved by him, being married, is one of the most wonderful and rewarding relationships you can have.)

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I was floored. I couldn’t believe how long I’d missed the opportunity to share something that has always been a part of my life. Facepalm.

Again, I find myself beholden to a woman while I write about a man. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be: Women supporting women who are helping men? So now I’m weaving women together. I have a mother and now I have a GateKeeper and a few elements who are women, plus some other girls. I’m shooting for a story that has brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and also some marriages.

I hope to show the positive sides of women and sisterhoods without reducing them down to catty relationships. One of the things I hated most about the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan was his sisterhoods. Every woman in the book constantly manipulated the men around them for their own ends. It grew very frustrating. It was like watching all that is the worst part of you instead of being encouraged to be better. I want to have a story more like Lord of the Rings that makes you want to be a better person when you finish reading it.

With this challenge accepted, I will be working on my female characters. I will be exploring what makes women and men different and how those things compliment each other. I have some good books to read, good movies to watch, and of course some interesting personal experiences to draw from. Plus, I have a whole host of Godly women ready to help me! I’m gearing up and ready to go!

 

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!

Data and Love

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I’m a huge Star Trek: Next Generation fan.  I spent many Saturday nights, freshly showered, forbidden from doing anything which might get me dirty, eating popcorn, apples, and cheese while watching ST:NG.   It was a family tradition for years.  Watching them now is like going home for an hour.  The show has retained its value over the years.  The characters are rich, the stories unique, interesting, and heartfelt.  The setting, while becoming a bit dated as we have similar technologies now, isn’t a hindrance to enjoying the show.  The nice part about it is it’s relatively clean, with pretty descent morals.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I personally think what sells this show and shows like Firefly, Chuck, Band of Brothers, and Sherlock is the personal friendships behind the scenes.  You can’t create chemistry like that.  This isn’t romance, which does create powerful stories, but something more subtle and longer lasting.  This is friendship.  When you watch ST:NG you can sense that the main crew doesn’t just work together.  They have a unique bond behind and beyond the camera.  This is what I love so much about the show.

But, I’m not here to talk about one of my favorite themes: friendship.  I’m here to talk about something I noticed in Episode 25 of Season 4: In Theory.

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ST: NG has a standard storytelling outline.  You have the main plot, generally scientific, and then you have the sub plot, generally human relations.  Once in a while, they swap them.  In Theory was just such an episode.  The focus of the episode was Data’s first girlfriend while the scientific danger functioned as the subplot.  Data, the emotionless android, has his first romantic relationship.  Here’s the question posed: Can you have a relationship, a meaningful love relationship, without emotion?

ST:NG’s answer: No.

The show postulates that due to Data’s inability to ‘feel’ love for someone, he is incapable of being in a meaningful relationship with a woman.

I found this odd and disturbing.  Data has a wonderful friendship with Geordi throughout the entire show.  They’re best friends.  But it’s not just Geordi.  Data is a part, a very important part, of the entire crew.  The crew accepts him, helps him, protects him, defends his rights, and in no way seem inhibited in their expressions of love for him because he’s incapable of feeling emotions.  In the movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, Data gives his life for Picard.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. – John 15:13

How much more could Data love or be loved?

Over and over again, the show works to develop Data’s humanity.  It surrounds him with acts of love expressed through friendship and family all the time.  If you think about it too long, like I have, you begin to realize that what Data is incapable of feeling is not love, commitment, belonging, familiarity, or anything along that line, but romance.  It is the bubbly warmth of romance Data is incapable of feeling.  Does that mean he’s doomed to a life without a woman at his side?

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Show of hands.  Is your husband romantic all the time?  Do you refuse to be around him when he’s not being romantic?  Are you romantic all the time?  Is your life just one big montage of romance?  Is Nicholas Sparks whispering in your ear?

Please!

If marriage depended on any of us feeling love every waking moment it would quickly end in divorce…oh.  Oh.  Oh foolish world, look at what we’ve done.

We’ve filled our children’s heads, and our own, with the evil lie that love is an emotion.  Love is a feeling.  You can’t control your feelings, thus you can’t control your love.  Love is a feeling.  A warm fuzzy – I learned that on Sesame Street.  And when that warm fuzzy is gone?  When the person you married wakes up and isn’t looking so super-model-ish?  Then it’s over.  You’re done.  Just get a divorce and move on to the next warm fuzzy.  Why do you think so many movies and shows stop before everyone gets married?  Because true love, real love, love that will last you all your life isn’t a warm fuzzy.  It’s an act.  It’s a daily act of self-sacrifice, of giving.  (That’s one of the reasons I love the show Chuck.  They didn’t stop at the ‘I Do’ moment, and they didn’t trash their marriage afterwards.)

Guess where warm fuzzies mistaken for love leads as a whole?  Not just to a high divorce rate.  They also leads to a ridiculous monster called tolerance.  Do you know why someone making a statement and me disagreeing with them is considered mean?  Do you know why we no longer view an honest and wise statement as loving, but as bigoted, racist, and hateful?  Because love is a warm fuzzy and you just busted mine.  How dare you?  How dare you bust my bubble of warm happiness with your cold logic or your rigid belief system?  You need to tolerate me.  My warm fuzzy!

If love is an emotion and not an act, we become a nation of weak, whining children pouting over all our assumed emotional injuries.  Real emotional injuries and abuse gets lost and tangled up in our worship of emotions.  Healing gets pushed aside.  We no longer recognize real love when we see it.

Back to the Data episode.  Date rewrites his personal program for his new girlfriend.  He asks her what he can do to be a better boyfriend.  He goes way out of his normal programming to accommodate her.  In the end, she rejects him because he can’t feel romance.  She lumps Data with her other ex-boyfriends who were just selfish.  As a long time Data fan, it was frustrating in a silly way.  How could she reject him?  As a thinking Christian, it was sad and scary.

We can’t trust our emotions.  They are a gift from God, a beautiful gift, and one I’ll be the first to admit I’m very thankful for.  But I don’t trust them.  I don’t follow my heart.  I guard it.  It’s a wayward lying thing.  If I don’t guard what I watch, read, and hear, it will believe anything that gives it a warm fuzzy.  Put some sappy music behind it and a wide-eyed child or puppy and I’m already crying.  If I don’t guard it, I’ll read into my husband’s actions things he never ever intended and he’ll do the same to me.  If I don’t guard it, I’ll destroy every relationship around me as one by one they stop exciting me and start requiring real work.

Love is not an emotion.  It’s an act.  Believing otherwise is dangerous, unhealthy, and following a lie.  Our country believes and has believed for a long time that emotions are our guiding star and we are reaping what we have sown: a high divorce rate, bullying in the name of tolerance, an inability to practice common sense, exultation of youth, and an elitist mentality.

Guard your heart.

I Corinthians 13: 4-13:

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Chuck

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Recently some people we thought were dear friends inflicted Chuck on us via massive arm-twisting and emotional evangelizing.  My husband and I are both busy people, we have a wonderful evening entertainment routine which includes Rhett and Link’s Good Mythical Morning, and we really didn’t have time for another TV Show.

They applied the pressure. (We’re so glad they did.)

Hesitantly, we started season one in early February.  And once you start…you’re doomed.  In about four weeks, we devoured all five seasons becoming Chuck-evangelists ourselves.

This show is the Get Smart of my generation.  It’s very specifically geared towards those of us fortunate enough to be born in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  It is brilliant.  It now occupies a slot in my Favorite TV Show List alongside Star Trek:NG, Firefly, Band of Brothers, Sherlock and 24.  Chuck is funny, cute, intense, heart-warming, relatively clean, and relatively moral.  The jokes are both nerdy and geeky, and cover everything from Court Jester, Terminator, Final Fantasy, Cobra, Batman, Tron and so much more.

The real beauty of this show, though, is not the jokes only my generation will get, it’s the characters.  The main characters all grow, but don’t change.  They all mature without losing the core that made you love them in the first place.  Each season they add important layers to the main characters that give them an unusual amount of depth for such a fun show.

Normally, I don’t enjoy shows with a lead female who can fight her way out of any situation, especially against bigger men.  I think it’s unrealistic to the point of being patronizing and insulting.  Strength is not always how much butt you can kick.  I really hate it, generally, when they pair a strong, cold female with a wimpy guy.  I just don’t find the ‘I can be as strong as him’ plot point satisfying.  Call me old school, but I enjoy the strong guy who saves the girl far more than the strong girl who saves the guy.  All this was true until I watched Chuck.  Chuck’s saving grace, his strength, is his moral compass.  He never strays from it.  He always does the right thing no matter what national secrets are on the line.  It’s why you love him.  It is why Sarah loves him.  And while Sarah is saving Chuck physically – she protects him – Chuck is saving her spiritually and emotionally.  Chuck gives her something to live for, not only because she loves him, but also because he’s good.  She wants to be a better person because she loves him.  They play this theme out dimensionally with the other characters.  The hardened John Casey is not immune to Chuck’s good nature.  I think, ultimately, Casey is my favorite character.  He starts out easily mistaken for cardboard.  He grunts, shoots, and has no emotion.  By the end of the show, he’s part of the family, willing to do anything for his team.  Casey becomes human because of Chuck.

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I loved Chuck’s use of marriage.  In many stories once you have the lead male and female marry, the spark is gone.  They fight.  They cheat and lie.  They lose everything about them that you once loved.  Not Chuck.  Chuck and Sarah’s marriage only strengthens their bond.  They have a greater depth of character as a unit and as individuals once they’re married.  I loved the power it gave their characters when they no longer protected their boyfriend or girlfriend but their husband or wife.  Even the side characters, Awesome and Ellie, have a good marriage.  Marriage is not treated as the end of romance, but as the beginning.

There are many heartwarming themes running through this show.   Loyalty to friends and family is at the forefront.  My husband and I have a close-knit family.  We spend a lot of time together.  We’re loyal to each other.  I love this show for honoring that.  It was also nice not to feel like the political punching bag.  If you’re conservative in any way, you know what I’m talking about.  Chuck, probably due to Adam Baldwin’s influence, makes conservative jokes that don’t poke fun at us as stupid but as strong.  Casey has a picture of Ronald Reagan in his house, Rush Limbaugh is mentioned, and guns are used regularly.  Chuck’s personal aversion to guns isn’t touted as the next step in human enlightenment, but only part of his character, making it less annoying.  This is one of the few shows where the wife chooses to be at home with her child.  How often does that happen?  Never.  But Ellie admits she wants to be with her daughter and Awesome sacrifices what he wants for her.  It’s great.

So, this show is one of the few shows that made me laugh like a geek, satisfied my courage/loyalty loves, and didn’t trample my conservative belief system.  On top of all that, it had layers of depth, twists and turns, intense moments, and I cried.  I cried like wake-up-the-next-day-with-sandpaper-eyes through the last three episodes.  As soon as it was over, I wanted to start it again.  I watched much of this show with the similar intensity as 24: just one more episode, one more.

This picture brings on the tears!

This picture brings on the tears.

Parental Warning:  I would rate Chuck PG-13.  It is a feel good, relatively clean show, without too much language or violence, but seduction is part of the spy game.  And as nice as it is to conservatives, it’s not based on firm Christian values.