Thursday, December 19, 2013

Snow White, Rapunzel, and Jesus (Part Two)

This is the second part of a story I broke into two posts, so start here, or you're really going to be confused.

Okay, folks.  When last we were together, I was just getting ready to tell you why I don't worry about the "Disney princess" syndrome anymore.  (You really need to read part one first to have this make any sense at all.)  I'm going to have to go way off track of where I left you at the end of part one, but I promise I do have a point.

In the early morning hours of the day, long before Sweet E and I were singing together, many hours before this idea hit me, I was reading from the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 2 to be exact.  The following verses were the focus of my study today:

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 

These are familiar verses to me; maybe they are to you, as well.  But this morning, something in the notes of my Bible stopped me in my tracks.  In verse 10, the angel tells the shepherd that this good news of great joy was for all the people.  "Of course our Savior's birth was good news of great joy for all the people," I thought.  However, the notes mention that what the author (Luke) most likely meant by "all the people" was all of Israel.  At first, I was a bit huffy after reading that.  I pouted, "It was good news of great joy just for Israel?"  Well, yes, they were God's chosen people, but gee whiz...  What about us Gentiles?  For a split second, that kind of put a damper on this verse that I had always loved.  Then, as I thought it through some more, I realized that even though the announcement of His birth may not have brought joy to the Gentiles then (since they hadn't received the prophecies and the promises of this Savior), it certainly does now.  The birth of Jesus is a wonderful thing for us to celebrate, but the joy I have didn't begin and end with his birth.  The joy I have comes from His birth and life and sacrificial death and resurrection.  It comes from His willingness to come here to save me, to rescue me.  And so I finished my time of study, grateful for being rescued and grateful for the Rescuer.

Fast forward several hours: Sweet E and I are in the kitchen singing with the newest Disney soundtrack.  I am having that creeping feeling of doubt that always comes with Disney and princesses and girls needing rescued.  And suddenly it clicks...girls do need to be rescued...along with boys and men and women.  All of us need it.  It isn't wrong for my daughter to hear this message.  It is right.  It is exactly what she needs to hear; what we all need to hear.  No, she doesn't need to learn that she needs a man to make her life complete, or that a man will come along to pull her out of terrible situations.  But, she (along with the rest of us) do need to hear that there is a God-Man that did come.  And His birth, His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection did make her complete and perfect and pulled her out of the most terrible situation she could ever be in.  Jesus came and He rescued her.  And now what I see in the epic stories and the valiant heroes and even the fluffiest tale of damsels in distress are echoes of Him.  May you see it, too, friends.

Merry Christmas! 

Snow White, Rapunzel, and Jesus (Part One)

This morning, I had a thought.  That in itself is not unusual.  I am one of those people who spends a lot of time in my own head.  Analyzing, contemplating, planning, wondering, hoping; just a lot of thinking going on, in general.  I feel pretty confident that most of my thoughts are not unique to me, but there are times when a thought gets stuck in my head that is counter to the message at large.  In those moments, I feel compelled to get it out of my head and on paper.  Even if no one else ever reads it, I feel an actual physical relief at getting that thought fully formed and written down in some sort of coherent form.

Back to this morning: it was a normal Christmas break kind of morning.  The boys were playing with their new toys, and Sweet E and I were working on making some Christmas treats while listening to the soundtrack of the latest animated Disney movie.  Since two of the main characters are sisters, Sweet E and I each picked a sister and were going through the songs singing the correct parts.  It was silly and relaxing and just plain fun.  Until...

See, this is where all this thinking of mine gets me into trouble.  It was all fun and games this morning...until the evils of the "Disney princess" syndrome crept into my mind.  You know,  the "we're doing our daughters a disservice by letting them watch movies where the princess is always saved by a prince" argument.  When I first read about this several years ago, I have to admit that I took the bait.  I clamped onto this idea like my youngest does an Oreo cookie.  There was no way I was letting go of it, no matter how much I loved the movies.  My daughter was not going to grow up thinking she needed a man to save her.

Time passed and my resolve started to soften, for some good and some not so good reasons.  The inescapable marketing of each new Disney princess movie reached my young girl and pulled her in.  She was so excited.  How could I say no?  (Don't judge.  I was young and didn't know any better!)  At the same time, I started rethinking the whole thing.  Why was it that I didn't want her to watch these movies again?  As a young girl myself, I loved it when I found a book or movie where a girl was the strong and brave character.  But, I equally loved the stories of valiant rescuers, epic battles, and the damsel needing to be saved by someone stronger.  Watching every Disney movie ever made, I didn't turn out thinking a man would solve all of my problems.  So, why had I thought that these narratives would ruin my daughter?  Disney had even turned the tide a bit and had started making their female characters strong and brave.  Was this even a real issue anymore?  A quick Google search told me that it was still an issue for a lot of moms, but being the mature (young) parent that I was, I said "Whatever!" and dove whole-heartedly with my kids into enjoying the beautiful music and epic stories of Disney movies, old and new.  And we loved it.

My daughter is 10 years old now, and with each new movie, there has still been a seed of doubt.  I reanalyzed my decision with every movie that came out.  I wondered if this was the one that was going to send my daughter off the deep end and cause her to turn into some girly-girl who did nothing but sit around and sigh and wait for her prince to come.  I second-guessed my decision everyday...until today, that is.  Now, readers, I have to ask you to hold on for a minute.  Partly because my kids are starving and waiting for me to make them lunch.  But also because this is turning into a way bigger post than I had intended, and I don't want to lose anyone before we get to the good part.  It is just around the bend, I promise.  Stick around for part two!

Part Two

Monday, December 16, 2013


The beginning of our new year celebrations really begins today.  No, we aren't huge party animals that need a full two and a half weeks to ring in the new year.  We just happened to get married on this December day, that is so close to the end of the calendar year.  So, while most people are thinking of wrapping the year up, of things coming to an end, and closing the books on 2013, we are doing the opposite.  We are celebrating a new beginning; the beginning of 13.  

Thirteen years ago today, we promised that out lives would forever be joined.  I didn't understand what I was saying, but I think 13 years later, I understand it now.  And it is good; so, so good.  Better than my silly 20-year-old self ever thought it could be.  And it is hard; oh, so hard.    Harder than my 20-year-old self ever imagined it would be.  But the hard parts of life don't scare me so much anymore.  I've been told that if it is easy, it just might not be worth your time.  At the beginning of our thirteenth year of marriage, I think I'm starting to agree.

Both of us knew, from a very early point in our dating, that we had found the person we wanted to marry.  We didn't share that with each other at the time, of course.  (We didn't want to scare the other person off, you know!)  This led to a fierce commitment to each other that many of our peers didn't understand.  Okay, not just peers.  Many older adults in our lives didn't understand either.  Okay, let's be honest.  Nobody understood how we could know at 20 and 22 that we were sure we wanted to commit the rest of our lives to each other.  Not even us.  We didn't understand it, we just knew it to be true.  

The fierce commitment that earned us a lot of teasing and a good many lectures has served us well.  It has gotten us through the darker times, and made the light-filled times even brighter.  As in all marriages, many things have fought to pull us apart.  But unlike many marriages, we have been blessed with this gift of seeing our commitment through.  We have stayed: through richer and poorer; through times of sickness and times of health; through good times and bad.  We are, for better or for worse, two stubborn people, who, by the grace of God, now know exactly what we meant when we said, "I do."

Happy anniversary, Big D.

Love always,