Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rapunzel and a Little Girl's Baptism


Today, I attended my sweet friend Sarah's baptism. Sarah is eight years old and loves the Disney princesses, especially Rapunzel. She invited me to talk about the topic of baptism and I decided to compose something special just for her.

I thought some of my blog followers would enjoy the talk & possibly want to tweak it for future use. In parentheses, you will see answers to questions I asked Sarah. Enjoy!

 

Princess Rapunzel & Princess Sarah's Baptism


Once upon a time, there was a princess who had forgotten who she really was.  She was very kind and loved to read and draw. She also did lots of cleaning.  Each year, she stayed up late into the night so she could gaze out her window as thousands of lights filled the sky.

Do you know which princess I’m talking about? (Rapunzel)

Like Rapunzel, we come to Earth and forget who we really are. We see glimpses of our divine potential, but we don’t remember where we came from before we were born.

Daughter of a King

Now, Rapunzel had a father. Do you remember who he was? (The king)

You have a dad here on earth. But did you know you have a father who is a King too? Heavenly Father is a King and you are His daughter. So that makes you a princess, too. And every princess needs something sparkly to wear. (Present sparkly headband)


Cleaning

Do you remember how I said Rapunzel did a lot of cleaning? Today you are going to do a bit of cleaning too.

When Rapunzel cleans her home, she dusts, mops and makes the windows shine. But when you get baptized, something much more important than dust gets cleaned away. What is it? (Your sins).  That’s right. All of the mistakes you’ve made are washed away and you become clean and pure. It’s a beautiful gift from Heavenly Father.

After Rapunzel was reunited with her family, she had to learn to act like a princess. Did you know I met you when you were a little 2 year old toddler? Over the last six years, I’ve watched you learn about Jesus and Heavenly Father and how much they love you. I know your family and church teachers have taught you how to live like a daughter of God, which is another kind of princess.


They’ve taught you:

- to be kind to others

- to read the scriptures

- to pray to Heavenly Father

- to make good choices. 



Today, you’ve made a very good choice that Heavenly Father is very proud of:  to be baptized.

When you are baptized, you promise Heavenly Father that you will follow His commandments. In return, He makes promises to you, too.

He promises to

- always forgive you when you repent

- to give you the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide you

- and that you can return to live with Him forever.


Heavenly Father’s promises are very special. At church, you’ve learned about the things you need to do to return to live with Heavenly Father, Jesus, your family and friends. The opportunity to live together forever is your very own Happily Ever After. The first step to getting your happy ever after is being baptized.

Help Along the Way

Rapunzel has a dream to travel to the kingdom. Why does she want to go there? (To see the lights fill the sky). Is it easy for her to get there? (No).  That’s right. She needs to find people to help her along the way. Like Rapunzel, your life here on Earth won’t be easy. There will be lots of happiness, but there will also be difficult challenges to help you learn and grow—but there will be people who love you very much to help you. Who do you think some of those people might be?

- Parents

- Sisters

- Friends

- Church leaders

- Heavenly Father


Did Rapunzel ever make mistakes? (Yes, she did). Sometimes you will make mistakes too. I’ll tell you a little secret (shh!)—Even though I’m an adult and a mommy, I still make mistakes every day. Right after you’re baptized, you are going to be clean, with no mistakes. But do you think you might make a mistake tomorrow? (Maybe) But if you do, remember that one of the things Heavenly Father promises is that if you repent sincerely, then he will always forgive you. 


In Closing

Do you remember how Rapunzel loved to read? Well, there’s one book you can read that will help you live like a daughter of God. The scriptures. There’s a scripture I love that helps me to remember how to keep my promises so that I can be worthy to receive Heavenly Father’s promises. It’s in John 13:34.

In this verse, Jesus tells us that we should love each other, just like He loves us. I know that if you love others and treat them with kindness, and also love yourself and respect your body as a daughter of God, that you will stay on a good righteous path. 

You are a beautiful daughter of God, Sarah. The things that make you beautiful are your smile, your laughter, your kindness to others, and your love for the gospel. I know that Heavenly Father is so proud of you and loves you very much. Today, I want to share with you that I know the gospel is true. That it can bring you peace, comfort, and joy throughout your life. I’m so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ and that He was willing to both live as an example and also die for us so that we can have the opportunity to live and learn here on Earth and return to live in heaven with our family and friends. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.



 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ultimate Chick Flick Contest Results!


 
The results are in! Check out my hubby John's review of each movie and the ultimate winner below:



As a general rule I don't hate Chick Flicks--I've just learned to approach them with caution. I enjoy watching strong characters tackle difficult problems while trying to build a relationship. I even like the emotional payoff at the end when the girl gets the guy or when a family is reunited.

Still there are a lot of Chick Flicks I just can't stand. My biggest pet peeve is when the female lead is so flawed that I end up wanting to just walk away. The next one is the plot that could be solved by one, simple conversation or a call to the police.

As you can tell, Chick Flicks and I have a bit of a topsy turvy relationship. So with that in mind here are my thoughts about the three movies I watched for this competition.

Notice: Spoilers Ahead

Steel Magnolias

I'd never seen this moving before, so I was looking forward to it. It took me a while to get into the movie, and I always felt a bit off throughout the whole thing. It had great dialog and powerful problems, but it just didn't do much for me.

In fact, I was frustrated at how stupid and two-dimensional every male in the whole movie was portrayed. From the prankster husbands to the responsibility-dodging teens, not one male is portrayed as very useful or helpful.

Then it hit me. The writers did this on purpose. The rest of the drama was so well done, the dialog snappy, and the story flowed even with the jumps in time (It was awesome how they used the holidays like that). The flat male characters were done on purpose. How many times in film have women been portayed this way? I'm not asking for a count but I'm sure is huge. The fact that this movie stood that on it's head was gutsy to say the least.

So I took another look at the film.

It was the Chick-iest of the three. It revolved around strong female leads who struggled through issues that tear at the core of most women: marriage, divorce, being a widow, starting a family, raising children, supporting a husband, correcting a husband, losing a child, wayward children, defining yourself, supporting your girlfriends . . . and for those of your who haven't seen this movie, yes all those topics and more are in here. It's powerful and funny and even though I didn't love the movie I enjoyed it and what it showed me about myself.

Ever After

I know. How can I possibly go from Steel Magnolias to Ever After? They're Chick Flicks on opposite sides of the spectrum. But I'm going to do it anyway. Don't get whiplash.

I enjoy watching Ever After. It's light. It's funny. It's Cinderella-with-a-twist before Cinderalla-with-a-twist was all that and a bag of chips. I'm completely expecting them to remake it as Never After which would be Cinderella-with-zombies. They could even keep the crying Spanish princess and all the scenes in the ruins. There's a part of me who would love to see what Leonardo Da Vinci and Danielle could do against a horde of zombies, but I digress.

I like the movie. I like the character of Danielle, and even though I'm not a fan of the "big lie" plot, this one worked for me. It's a simple, straightforward, comedy romance with a enough jokes and twists to keep me interested.

'nuf said.

Collin Firth (I mean Pride & Prejudice)

I have a confession. I've read Pride & Prejudice and liked it. Jane Austen is a master of dialog. I was amazed at how she could compose words in such a way that I knew exactly who was speaking even in a room full of people. She weaves layer upon layer upon intrigue upon suspicion upon insult upon double-meaning upon completely-innocent-accident upon political-positioning and makes it all work.

And of all the adaptations of the book, I like this version the best. Even at five hours long. It stays fairly close to the original. The costumes, the setting, and the cinematography (although not quite as dramatic as the Keira Knightly version) was all impressive.

I enjoy how the story starts in a small, rural town and then expands out to the surrounding estates, all the way to London, and beyond to Pemberley--the world at our fingers. Then something snaps and the whole story collapses in on itself, characters tumbling together, storylines crashing into each other, condensing, shrinking back to a single manor, a single family, and the great loss for Elizabeth. It's heartbreaking.

Slowly, the story simmers. Letting us feel the ache. Absorb it. Taste it. Only a five-hour movie has enough time to do this justice.

Then the movie leads us out of the darkness only to rub our faces in Lydia's pompous, blissful, ignorance and her Mother's gleeful approval.

But it all turns out in the end, which is a great emotional payoff.

And the Ultimate Chick Flick winner is: 

Jennifer Ehle . . . I mean Pride & Prejudice.

What do you think about my hubby's assessments of the movies? Do you think he chose the best Chick Flick?

The Red Box rental winners are . . . 

Brenda Pitts won 3 free Red Box rentals

and 

Lisa Swinton won 2 free Red Box rentals.

Congrats, ladies! I'll send you the codes via email. And thank you to everyone who nominated movies!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Best-Selling Author Christina Dodd Shares Bit of Wisdom After 23 Years of Writing

Today, I received this awesome newsletter from author Christina Dodd. I love her insights on being an author, and after seeing her note that we could share the newsletter, I knew I absolutely had to post it here for my readers. Enjoy!

 Happy 23rd Publishing Anniversary, Christina!


Today, February 2, 2013 is the twenty-third anniversary of the day I got The Call. In publishing, The Call is when an editor makes an offer to publish your first book. In my case, my first published book was CANDLE IN THE WINDOW, winner of the Golden Heart and RITA awards. Mind you, it wasn’t the first book I ever wrote. In fact, I wrote two complete manuscripts before CANDLE IN THE WINDOW. I learned a lot with those two manuscripts (which will never be published because they’re lousy.)

Six years ago, I wrote a blog detailing everything I’ve learned about writing and pretty much everything I know about life. It’s surprisingly short, and here it is:

Yes, it’s true. On February 2, 1990, I got The Call from my agent. HarperCollins wanted to buy my first book. The time was 3:30pm.

MY TOP TEN POINTS OF WISDOM

10.  After ten years in the business, an author has A Well Established Career. After twenty, an author is an Expert, a Venerable Institution ... a Crone. Pardon me while I go to pluck the stiff white hairs off the chin of my current manuscript.

9.  From my vantage point, everyone in publishing is doing better than I am. From everyone else’s vantage point, I’m doing better than they are. The truth is somewhere in between — and an author who’s published is not going to get any sympathy at all from an unpublished author who’s written for ten years, finished three manuscripts and has twenty-five rejection letters. Believe me. I know. I was that author.

8.  Editors are sometimes right.
7.  How well an autographing goes is not an indicator of how well your career is going. Thank God. (Photo is of my first autographing...I can hear you giggling from here.)

6.  I’ve published forty-nine full-length novels and contributed six stories to anthologies. Some books are hard to write. Some books are easy. Some books are beloved by many. Some books are reviled by the vile. As the author I never have an idea which books will be my most popular. Never. I have to give up trying. Soon.

5.  Some people write mean reviews. I don’t read them.

4.  Some readers don’t like my writing. That’s okay, everyone has their right to their own taste — as long as they don’t write mean reviews about my books.

3.  Some readers love my books. Some of them write good reviews. Some of them write me heartfelt letters of appreciation. Some of them come to meet me and say wonderful things, sometimes with tears in their eyes. Some of them buy my books and never let me know. God bless them every one.

2.  I can’t remember my characters’ names, and I live with them day and night for months while I write their books. So I apologize in advance, but I’m hopeless and I’m never going to remember your name, either.

1.  I am never going to understand what people mean when they say I write funny books. I write serious, meaningful, emotional, sexy books that somehow get translated into funny.

AND THE NUMBER ONE POINT OF WISDOM CHRISTINA DODD HAS TO SHARE IS:

1.  When a Writer/Crone lies about having ten points to make but there are actually more, it’s not a lie. It’s “Fiction.”

MORE NUMBER ONE POINTS:

1.  Nine out of ten people in the U. S. want to write a book. One out of that nine thinks s/he’ll do it “when s/he has a free weekend.” In many states, it’s a misdemeanor to kill this person.

1.  Publishing is divided into two distinct occupations: Writing Books and Being an Author. Writing Books consists of being alone for months on end, creating imaginary people who converse, face challenges, and make love. Being an Author consists of introducing yourself to sometimes incredulous booksellers, talking to total strangers as they enter Wal-mart in the hopes of selling them a book, and interacting with publishers and editors in a manner that will convince them you’re sane enough to write forty-nine more books. This is why all authors are schizophrenic.

1.  It’s well worth pondering that most people don’t have a cool job that consists of being alone for months on end while creating imaginary people who converse, face challenges, and make love. It’s worth the schizophrenia.

1.  The more you write, the faster you write, the more skilled you become.

1.  Spend every last dime of your first advance taking your family to Disneyworld. Especially if you’re poor. Publishing your first book is a life-changing event. Treat it like one.

1.  The best thing a writer can have if she wants to be successful is a mother who believes she’s wonderful. A husband who believes she’s wonderful and supports her for ten years while she tries to get published helps, too. Failing those things, the most important thing an author can have is an absolutely brutish belief in herself and her talent, and she can never ever allow the facts to change that faith.

THE NUMBER ONE NUMBER ONE POINT:

1.  The Girl Scouts have a song with the lyrics that go, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” The Girl Scouts know a lot about publishing. And people. And my friends.

Thank you for a wonderfully fulfilling twenty-three years, and I look forward to writing the next forty-nine books ... for you.

Warmly,

Christina Dodd
Cool Suspense, Hot Romance!
http://www.christinadodd.com

Please feel free to forward this email to your friends who write and your friends who read.

More Blogs of Interest:
How to write a book...
Yes, this really happened. It’s funny ... if you’re not me.

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Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.