Posted in Life

I Did That?

Last summer, for my birthday, I bought myself a copy of the Final Fantasy VII Remake.

I have played and loved the original video game, and I did a fair amount of geeking out just over the cover art.

And that was before I even opened the package.

Then I spent months geeking out as I played. (Props to my friend GG who has never touched either game in her life and kindly listened to all the commentary I had to share with someone.) It’s beautiful. Oh man, is it beautiful. The graphics are just. breathtaking. There are so many scenes and bits of dialogue drawn straight from the original game. Many of the gaming mechanics are the same. But it didn’t feel like just a wooden recreation. There is enough added character development that I came out of it caring about the main character even more than I already did, and I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that possible.

Also, it turns out that at some point I’ve gotten better at this video gaming thing. I got through the final boss and wasn’t ready to be finished and ended up deciding, “Well, I could try hard mode.” That’s not something I’ve ever* bothered with in a game (*I made a brief try once, on a veeeeeeeeery short game, and gave up), but I gave it a shot and found it surprisingly doable? I mean, I died a lot. And did a fair amount of Googling for advice. But I did it.

AND LOOK AT THIS

AND THIS

I COMPLETED ALL OF THE THINGS. ALL OF THEM.

(Yes, these are photos of the TV taken with my phone. I assume there is a way to get nice screenshots, but it’s actually my brother’s PS4 and I don’t know the logistics of that.)

I’ve also never successfully completed everything in a game before. I’m pretty delighted with my accomplishment.

This remake is merely a part one, barely covering the beginning of the original game’s excessively long story. I expect it will be quite a wait for more. But they’re doing good work, and I would rather they take their time and continue to do it well than rush it. But I am eager for part two.

In the meantime, I recently picked up a copy of Final Fantasy VIII from eBay, and that’s the game I want to try out next.

Posted in Christianity

Some Verses I Think Complement Each Other Well

Psalm 69:1-3

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

2 Samuel 22:7-20

In my distress I called upon the Lord
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness canopies around Him,
Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him
Coals of fire were kindled.

The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice.
He sent out arrows and scattered them;
Lightning bolts, and he vanquished them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
At the rebuke of the Lord,
At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.

He sent from above, He took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because he delighted in me.

Posted in Life

Repairs

I’ve been experimenting more with knitting lately. I had a pair of socks I made a long time ago that were on the verge of developing holes, and I decided I wanted to try darning them, just to see if I could. So one night last week, I sat down and gave it a go.

It took a few hours, but it wasn’t too difficult once I got going. And as far as I can tell, it worked.

I am wearing them today.

Posted in Writings

Love Can Pull You In

I went looking through my stories for something easily sharable and found this short, fluffy one-shot about a couple childhood best friends who grow up and fall in love. It’s Christmas-themed, but you know, it’s still winter, and it feels a little relevant for Valentine’s Day month, too. And I like it.

 

Alana approached her house, skipping lightly over the thick snow that coated the ground. It was almost dark already, but the tiny Christmas lights all over the porch clearly showed her Luke waiting there, leaning on the railing. “Luke!” she shouted happily, feeling warm inside when she saw the way he lit up at the sound of her voice. “Wait right there!” she added. But he moved toward the porch steps, and she insisted, “No, right there!”

He backed up and was waiting, bemused but patient, when she joined him on the porch, getting into his personal space. “I don’t know why you put up with me,” she said.

“Loving you makes it easier.”

“But you’ve been putting up with me since long before you loved me.”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Alana, I’ve always loved you.”

She could have quibbled about the specifics of that, but she knew exactly what he meant, so she didn’t.

“So why did you want me to wait right in this exact spot?” Luke asked.

“I think you should take a look around and figure it out.”

He did but remained confused until Alana tilted her chin up. Then he spotted the mistletoe hanging right above their heads. “Oh.”

“It’s my parents’ house, you should have realized the danger.”

“But it was never too relevant to my life until this year, so I didn’t think about it.”

“So what are you going to do?”

He silently stared right into her eyes until Alana suddenly felt shy. She never knew what to do with that feeling, and she ducked her head. Then Luke laughed and tugged her closer until her lips met his, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, ecstatic to finally add this tradition to her Christmases.

Posted in Life

Storytime! III

A couple years back, my friend GG and I were in a corn maze. Fun fact: corn mazes are great for plotting stories. Something about the semi-aimless wandering produces ideas. We’ve been doing this every year for a while now.

This time, we needed a character to go off on a trip and then disappear long enough to worry his friends. We walked around discussing who could potentially detain him and why so he could be missing for a while.

And from the other side of a wall of corn, a sweet, sincere teenage girl’s voice called out, “I hope he doesn’t go missing!”

GG and I walked on until we were hopefully out of earshot before we died laughing. Because how would you even begin to correct that misconception in a shouted conversation with a stranger?

We reference that moment a lot now.

Posted in Christianity, Life

More Yoga

Somehow I’ve been doing yoga for five years now. Who knows how that happened.

I’ve never gone to classes. Instead, I make use of instructional videos on Youtube. There are an abundance. A couple years ago, I shared a few recommendations, and now here I am with a few more. This time they are specifically from teachers who include things like prayers and scripture readings in their classes, something I really appreciate.

 

A lot of morning yoga flows feel very similar, but this one is enjoyably different.

 

This whole series, with each day focused on a different day of creation, is neat.

 

If you’re pondering ways you hope to grow in the new year, this might be a good one to try.

 

This is one of my favorites. It’s a great way to both relax your body before bed and process the day in prayer.

Posted in Christianity, Life

A New Year Project

I have your decrees as a heritage forever;
indeed, they are the joy of my heart.

I am resolved to obey your statutes
to the very end.
– Psalm 119:111-112

I love reading the Bible.

Is every moment exciting? No. Are there days I’m not as attentive as I would like to be? Sure. Do I see immediate changes in myself every day? Definitely not. But overall, I genuinely enjoy it. And I see so much gradual growth in myself as I slowly page through this hefty book year after year, getting David in my bones, Jeremiah in my bloodstream, Paul in my fingertips, and Christ in my heart (Eugene Peterson).

But like any habit, I had to start it at some point. At this time of year when many people are trying to take up new habits, allow me to offer you my virtual Bible reading company:

Some Youtubers make these Read With Me videos where they quietly read a book and you can quietly read your own book while the video plays. They’re so simple, but I love them. They’re pleasant and cozy, and sometimes they’re just the right extra nudge if I’m having trouble focusing. I have decided to make some specifically about Bible reading. I hope to film several of these in different settings throughout the year and add them to this playlist.

If you need a little extra nudge to focus on your Bible reading, I would love to have you join me, and I would love to hear how it goes! And if you don’t already, I pray you’ll grow to love reading the Bible.

Posted in Christianity, Life

Great Books I’ve Read in 2020 – Part 3

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross written by Carl Laferton, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
This is part of the Tales That Tell the Truth series, a set of quality children’s Bible story books. They even have corresponding coloring books. I have read most of them, and I’ve been using them in the Bible class I teach, and this is one of my favorites.
The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross draws a line connecting Eden and the angels put in place to guard it, to the temple and the curtain decorated with angels separating people from the Most Holy Place, to Jesus’ death and the tearing of that curtain. This is a beautiful theme that runs through the Bible, and it’s something I didn’t really grasp until I was an adult, and then from reading books that pointed it out. I LOVE having it presented in a way that’s accessible to children. Given my own experience, I think a lot of adults could learn from this book, too.

27 Essential Principles of Story: Master the Secrets of Storytelling, from Shakespeare to South Park by Daniel Joshua Rubin
For each of his 27 principles, Daniel Rubin gives an overview of what it means, discusses an example of a story that did it well, and offers tips on how to do it yourself. He makes this accessible to any kind of storyteller. This is not a book about writing books or screenplays or anything in particular; if you’re telling a story, you can use this book.
He also draws his examples from stories of all kinds. He talks about Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, classics, Dr. Seuss, plays, TV shows, movies, works originally published in languages other than English, songs. I really appreciated this. It’s great to see someone acknowledge that great storytelling isn’t limited to just classics or just one medium or genre.
The tone of the book can be rather pompous at times. There’s language throughout, and some of the examples covered include very adult themes. So if you’re going to pick it up, be prepared for that.
But I also really appreciated Daniel Rubin’s ability to write respectfully about all sorts of viewpoints. He states explicitly at one point that he’s never been a particularly religious person, and he has some worldviews I disagree with, yet he includes examples and tips with religious themes, and he never comes across as demeaning or like he thinks these subjects are less worthy of consideration or great storytelling than anything else. That is not easy to do, and I applaud him.
I found this book very helpful, especially the section on plot. I’m glad I picked it up; it was worth the read.

That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy
In this graphic novel, Huda Fahmy tells the story of how she met her husband. There’s plenty of drama with nosy extended family members, failed suitors, and wondering if you’ll ever meet anybody you want to marry. There’s a very relatable scene where Huda goes to a series of lectures and tells herself she’s not there to meet a man… “But maybe.” And then she goes to ask a sheikh for help finding a husband. “I got this. I’m 25. I’m strong. I’m secure. I can go ask a sheikh for help. No biggie. I am the essence of grace and will handle this with class and eloquence.” And the next page is her standing next to the sheikh just shouting, “ME WANT MAN.”
That Can Be Arranged is a cute, quick, fun read. I enjoyed it a lot.

Swashby and the Sea written by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Swashby is a retired sea captain. He lives in a cottage by the sea, alone and happy to be a hermit. Until a little girl and her grandmother move into the cottage next door and try to befriend him. He’s grouchy and uninterested, and he leaves unfriendly messages in the sand. The sea interferes, changing up his messages, and in the end he gives in and grows fond of his new neighbors.
It’s SWEET and ADORABLE and beautifully illustrated and I love everything about it. One of my favorite picture books I’ve ever read.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This was a reread, but it had apparently been seven years since the last time I picked it up. That’s too long.
The Screwtape Letters is a series of letters written by a senior devil to a subordinate, giving him advice on how to tempt and corrupt the human in his charge.
Obviously that’s a somewhat fantastical setup, and everything is backwards coming from the perspective of a devil, but there’s so much wisdom to be found here. C.S. Lewis’ understanding of humans shines through so brightly. Every time I read it, I come away with new helpful insights. It’s short and easy to read, but there’s far too much excellent stuff to absorb it all at once. Hopefully I will read it again before another seven years goes by.

For more book recommendations, click here.