Monday, July 31, 2017

Cake Flavored Tag

Having seen this tag stolen and modified multiple places in the blogosphere (though I saw it here first...), I couldn't help but do the same. Only I'm going to add to the modifications by using foreign TV dramas, instead of books. Which most of you will never have heard of before. But...if I had not seen a few blog posts myself, I'd never have heard of them either. So. XD I mean, I had to read the subtitles, so surely it counts as reading.

If this be treason, make the most of it.

(a dark story you loved)
The Bridal Mask. 
This is a WWII era Korean drama about the Japanese Occupation. Dark barely covers it. By the time family members have destroyed each other, best friends have become bitter enemies, school girls have been shipped off as comfort women, people have ended up torturing their beloveds, and freedom fighters have been practically might have to rethink chocolate being sweet. 
But as a story about redemption, about inspiration, about refusing to give up the fight for truth and freedom, about how one person can inspire others, about how no matter how far one has fallen they can become a new person...this story is incredible. 
Note to all: chocolate cake is the best.
And I dare you to watch this clip and not be moved.

(a light story)

Descendents of the Sun.
Yes, if this is my "light" show, what are the others like...but seriously. This drama gave me the happiest feelings. As a story basically about the romance between a doctor and a soldier, one whose job is to save lives and one whose job is take them (even if in order to protect other lives...), it was a fascinating look at creeds and justifications and motivations, while being an adorable romance set in the middle of dozens of horrible moments of natural and political destruction. And the MC, Shi-jin, is basically the equivalent of taking all my favorite heroes and combining them into one incredibly sweet smart-alec. It was an absolute delight to watch. 
I don't go much for vanilla cake...but DotS fits the description while still being amazing. 

(mixed emotions)
Two Weeks.
This is one of those incredible redemption stories that I adored but that which is slightly harder to recommend to everyone indiscriminately. Basically, the MC made a terrible choice in attempting to protect someone he loved, and his life was destroyed. When the story starts, he is in a very bad place, and the story doesn't shy away from the depths to which he has sunk. When his ex-girlfriend finds him and tells him that she actually had the baby he demanded she abort, and that baby is now a young girl dying of leukemia who needs him donate stem cells...his life takes a different turn. Watching him fight step by step to believe that he can change, that he can become the person those he loves need so desperately, and come to a full understanding of what exactly he has done in the's incredible. {There is a scene where he ends up helping a stranger deliver her baby, and the moment it truly hits him what he almost forced his girlfriend to do and that he might never have met his daughter if his girlfriend had followed through...gah.}
I...actually don't have mixed emotions on red's like somebody took chocolate cake and filled it with red 40. WHY????

(recommend to anyone)
City Hunter.
I do recommend this to anyone. XD It's a story of brotherhood, of fathers and sons, of guilt and love and lies and truth and justice and revenge, and it's completely awesome. It's like The Scarlet Pimpernel crossed with The Count of Monte Christo and it's amazing. While at the same time being cleaner than like 98% of American television. People should just watch it and be introduced to another culture. 
This drama is way better than cheesecake. Just sayin'. And I do like cheesecake.

(started but never finished)
Goodbye, Mr. Black.
This was supposedly meant to be a Korean remake of The Count of Monte Christo. It had three extremely talented main actors, and obviously brilliant source material. 
And it was boring. I saw three episodes and couldn't force myself to watch more. It is an absolute travesty that anyone would dare to have an incredible story and the people to do it amazing justice, and that. Still not over it. 
I do usually finish coffee cake, to be fair to coffee cake. It's very not memorable, however, and therefore surprisingly accurate here. 

(left you wanting more)

Solomon's Perjury.

I have seen the first of two Japanese movies, and then the Korean series, and again, a story about teen suicide, adult betrayal, and the pain of growing up to recognize the two-faced life of those one idolized as a child is not a light thing. But unlike what I've heard about, say, 13 Reasons Why, no matter how dark the subject matter, this story managed to hold to the fight for light, for truth, for love and righteousness both in a beautiful way. In fact, it came so incredibly close to being perfect, I couldn't help but wish for more. A bigger budget, a few more episodes to help with depth, the actors to have just a bit more training, and the truth the story reached to cross the line into clearly spiritual.
Okay, but really, why would someone want more tiramisu? I've had it exactly once in my life, and that was plenty.

(a mini series)
Page Turner.

This is a short and sweet three hour series about a young musician, her most bitter musical rival, and an athlete who saves her life when tragedy strikes them both. It is about dreams and skill and what you do when they are taken away from you, and for as short as it was, it was a delightful story with surprising depth. 
Chocolate cupcakes are best, but I suppose these would be vanilla cupcakes. XD  

(not what you expected)
Ruler: Master of the Mask.

 I expected something incredible from a historical drama starring two of the best young actors/actresses in Korea set in a story where they could use historical gravitas mixed with dramatic license and shades of The Man in the Iron Mask...but so far the only acting skill they've been utilizing is that of crying on command, which is well enough in short doses, but which does not an intense drama make. Here's to hoping it later surprises me, because the world did not need a historical Goodbye, Mr. Black.
I feel about fruitcake rather how I feel about this drama. What is this? WHY is is THIS WAY? 

(favorite short story)

Dong Ju: Portrait of a Poet.
Epic, gorgeous, incredible movie about Yun Dong Ju, a Korean poet who died in a Japanese concentration camp for being involved with the Korean Independence Movement/writing poetry that the Japanese wanted to believe had to do with Independence. Brilliant use of poems, of black and white imagery, of music, of everything...oh, it hurts, but it is truly beautiful. Korean movies can be more on the miss side of hit-and-miss for me, but this was most definitely a hit. Just to the left of my sternum.

Monday, July 24, 2017

to name something is to own it -- Part II

~ Thomas L. Friedman

I already ran through a bunch of character names in the last post...but this time I'm curious about Book Titles. 

I began noticing titles differently when I started watching Korean dramas, whose translated titles range from straightforward (Dr. Frost - about someone named Dr. Frost) to confusing (Missing Noir M - a crime procedural drama) to simply ridiculous (Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo - a historical drama that does involve the moon and a whole lot of scarlet, but still...). One of my favorite titles is Time Between Dog and Wolf - as a drama about identity, the ability to see clearly, how to know those around you, and who is on your side, the title fit perfectly, as well sounding awesome and coming from L'heure entre chien et loup, a French saying about the difficulty of distinguishing dog from wolf at dusk, and referring to knowing friend vs foe. Seeing the odd ones (To the Beautiful You...7th Grade Civil Servant...Who Are You: School 2015...High Kick! The Revenge of the Short Legged) definitely made me look at titles in a whole new way.

One of my earliest novels was titled The Jeweled Dagger {Biblical Fiction}, and, as makes sense, prominently featured a jeweled dagger. Given that the MC was a horrifically scarred slave girl, I'm sure I could up with some more metaphysical meanings to the title...

My faith, hope, & love trilogy worked out decently enough to include Hope Sprang Up (I'm somewhere in the middle of a re-write that makes me happy), And it was Love (I'm less pleased with both title and story, but I think there's enough there that a good rewrite might find something worthwhile...XD),  and Faith Through Flames (partially is the lynchpin and keystone to the trilogy, so I should probably get writing that...). The entire trilogy came from Hope Sprang Up, which title came from the story's heart.

Haunted came from an Emily Dickenson poem that says:
One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place. 
As a story about personal demons and how pasts affect presents, it seemed fitting. 

Imperfecta actually came from osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bone disease. I did not use that disease in the story, but did use several others, along with an entire theme of the beauty of humanity as creations of God, right along with how we have corrupted that beauty and the pain of facing the ugliness, and of feeling utterly imperfect. 

Rule the Whirlwind, that Hebraic/English mix of Chaos's story that is something of alternative history, came straight from Hosea 8:7, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Certain characters are very willing to sow the wind...but they believe that they can rule instead of reap, and the title very perfectly encapsulates their identity and their personality and their goals.

The title of The Sons of Bretton Meyrick (remember that one? XD) was inspired by this song, which is funny when one is from an old Western involving Johnny Cash/John Wayne, and the other is a modern YA involving drugs and crime and a murder mystery...but both are about 4 brothers, and the feel of the song reminds me of certain of the brother's POV.

Inside My Mind, the futuristic sci-fi story inspired by The Phantom of the Opera comes from the particular line from the musical that inspired the entire story.

Cat's Got my Tongue, the futuristic sci-fi story inspired by The Little Mermaid, comes from the mermaid's inability to speak while referencing the feel of my particular retelling. 

The Medusa Maze, the futuristic sci-fi story inspired by, surprise, surprise, the story of Medusa, is kind of obvious, but fits my computer hacker MC quite well. I should maybe try blending it with the story of the Minotaur...oooh...

Contract to Time Travel came from the thing that started the story--Ellian Roya signing a contract to travel time in order to protect his story. Oh, the consequences of that decision...XD

Rebel Queen, CTTT's sequel, switches between Rebel Queen and Queen of Time with some regularity. The story hasn't decided what should be the main theme yet. Understandable, considering I added like 3 new POVs just last week. *AHEM*

This Present Time, the third book in my Time Travel series, was originally titled, Where Past and Future Meet. That was a bit bulky, though...and where past and future meet is obviously right now, in the present. Plus, considering the book's subject matter, Romans 8:18 seemed right on. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. {Eheheheheh...yes, I'm looking at you, people who have read the first book...XD}

Where do you get your book titles?
Thoughts on my titles? 
Do titles make you want to read particular books or do they not make much difference? What titles have caught your attention and did those stories match up to their titles?  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why I am Not a Quivering Daughter

If you haven't figured it out, I was raised conservatively.
ATI, Vision Forum, small Baptist churches, and big homeschool families were all a part of my childhood.

Since then I've seen many "coming-outs" -- mostly women telling stories of the trauma inflicted in their childhood by one or all of the above things -- and it got me thinking.* I have also seen many of my fellow homeschool graduates grow up and systematically do the opposite of everything their parents did, not because of a horrific back-story but nevertheless making a definite statement about how they feel about their upbringing. Despite what you might suspect from the title of this blog post, I'm not here to say HOMESCHOOLING IS THE BEST or to defend or argue certain things. Rather, I want to explain what I've seen that drives people from their background {and many times from Christianity itself}, and why I'm not running, despite what I've seen of these things.

my favorite place in this town...and a place that reminds me of my childhood

*I should probably pause here to say that I/my family personally know several people who say these things, and some of them I believe {because I was there or close during their younger years and what happened is either obvious or clearly hangs together} and some of them I do not believe {because I was there or close during their younger years and their story does not match up with what I know of their life/church/family and, more importantly, does not match up with itself in multiple places}. For those who I do not know, I would similarly never dream of saying their story is not true unless they are caught in a lie in multiple places {the story of Razing Ruth is possibly an example}. 

Starting mom was never afraid of calling the Emporer naked. When the Duggar scandal happened, I was not shocked...we'd seen and discussed an episode once and thought it unwise of any family to so set themselves up for a fall, and while it hurt watching sometimes-verified accusations nearly destroy my own church and then in about one year's time crash through ATI, Vision Forum, and a "high-profile" family like the Duggars, it did not horrify me.

We'd always been taught that putting people on pedestals was asking for disappointment and disillusionment, and searching for truth was far more important. We bought things from Vision Forum -- because who doesn't find dress-up fun? -- and were immediately displeased by their shoddy workmanship. You don't end up respecting people too much when you buy their [very expensive] stuff and it looks terrible when you open it up or falls apart when you first use it. My grandpa {a fairly conservative Christian introduced to homeschooling through our family and then several families at his church} saw some of Vision Forum's teachings and very bluntly called it as he saw it --a business taking advantage of poor families with very expensive teachings that shouldn't have to be bought, i.e. wrong. We got through 3 Elsie Dinsmore books before my mom said This is so stupid and the characters do not make sense. We started going through Wisdom Books and there was the whole "Do the curriculum this way or it will not work" and my mom was like...for dumb. We'll do the parts we want and take what we find interesting out of it. She mentioned to some friends that the teaching we got from ATI was fascinating and could be gotten nowhere else, and those friends said EXACTLY. You can't find that stuff anywhere else, which gave us all another reminder to not embrace it too fully. We went to several Basic Seminars, but when my mom heard about people being sent to work at Headquarters she nearly laughed. Why would she send her children to go work for strangers for free? The idea was ridiculous.

Was I hurt by some of those things? Yes, because for a while I actually believed that the Civil War was completely over States' Rights and slavery was barely part of it...{thankfully my family's focus on going to the source led to reading quite a few original documents and a better understanding of history.} Yes, because I poured over Character Sketches like they were the Bible, and it took me a whole lot of Bible reading later in life to realize that the Bible was misrepresented in quite a few places, and my understanding of several stories had been entirely skewed. Yes, because my understanding of the world was being formed and some things that went over my mom's head stuck in mine and later had to be dealt with, unfortunately. Yes, because I desperately wanted to pretend we had the perfect type of Christian family that was held up before us all the time and I knew we didn't. {And saw repeatedly that being open about hurts, pasts, and realities made other Christians distance themselves from whoever was dumb enough to be vulnerable.} And Yes, because for a while I resented my dad for not being the archetypal VF/ATI father with a home business I could help out with and that he did not have the leadership qualities so praised by so many around me. The fact that he wasn't the type was another protective factor, however, because even though many of his goals created their own set of issues, the fact that he insisted we all attend college and encouraged me to be a doctor {when the "acceptable" after-high-school-paths  for girls around me appeared to be limited to photography, teaching, music, or nursing, despite an incredible lack of any Biblical support for that view} was obviously key.

Also, a huge factor was that we were not raised with the Forbidden Other as a mysterious marvel. Yes, we had restrictions on the books we read, the movies we watched, and the music we listened to, far more than most people we knew -- restrictions which were explained and which loosened as we grew older. I was raised on a steady diet of classical music, hymns, old novels, and an occasional black and white movie -- I never remember feeling deprived that I couldn't watch something my friends were watching. {Except maybe Phantom of the Opera, because my cousin raved about it and because it introduced me to a new type of music. XD Given the movie is a lousy adaptation of that music, I clearly didn't miss much.} We played sports and knew people who weren't homeschooled and got [carefully vetted] jobs in high school -- I saw enough of public school to know early on that I wouldn't enjoy it, and easily saw the problems inherent there. Which isn't to say there weren't issues -- when one of my younger siblings began taking more and more classes at the local high school, my mom was the one to say "I feel like we always hear horrifying stories about trying to work with schools, but these high school counselors are pro-homeschooling and amazing to work with." She definitely felt the one-sidedness of the message we had been receiving. The fact that she clearly didn't listen to it explains a lot. XD That, plus the fact that my dad is rarely convinced of anything with which he doesn't already agree. And of course, my own silent attitude, which led me to refuse to wear a white blouse and blue skirt for years, lest I be mistaken for following ATI dress-code {the whole matching group thing creeped me out just a little as a child}.

There were quite a few years where I felt absolutely rejected by many in the community in which I was raised. In college, nobody understood where I was coming from or why my life and life goals seemed so foreign, while going back home to baby showers and high school graduation parties led to a whole other set of subtle snubs and dislike of me as someone "clearly" stepping outside the bounds of female order and God's will.
These were from outside my family, however, and I was dead-sure that God was calling me to what I was doing -- the rest hurt, but couldn't affect me that much. Rather, it made me search the Scriptures more and become far more wary of ever again putting God in a box.

Basically, my parents did it right, and things that have been blamed for giving a completely warped view of God and His will managed to mostly slide past me.

What good did I get from these things, though? Would I use them in teaching my own children?

I think to start -- I adore homeschooling. I fully understand that there are times and places that it is impossible...but that was why public school was originally invented. {Although, honestly, at this point, I'd think that finding another homeschool family able to teach your children would be better than public school. My grandpa worked in education for years. Both my parents went to public school. I and my siblings have all interacted with the public school system in some way. It's a lousy way to learn for soooo many children.} I loved being home with my family, I have awesome memories of adventures with my siblings, I had opportunities to train horses, to fly airplanes, to work with incredible ski instructors, to make a house-cleaning business in high school, and to read and create and do a million things I never could have done if I had been forced through the ridiculousness of the public school system. I took an AP chemistry class in 11th grade, and while I learned what I needed to and very much enjoyed my teacher {who happened to be a great guy with 7 kids who wrote me an awesome recommendation letter for college}, having to GO TO CLASS EVERY DAY AT THE SAME TIME was torture. XD {The worst of my homeschooling: it prepared me for an alternative lifestyle of not one of being told what to do all the time.} Of course, my view of homeschooling is the end result of educated parents, and an incredibly skilled mother wholly dedicated to us learning everything we could. Yes, in our homeschool, some mornings we did nothing but read the Bible {which actually teaches you a million things, despite what some claim}...and as years went on some of us got through calculus and some of us struggled with algebra...some of us were reading by age 5 and some of us read slowly even in high school...but all of us were easily on track where we should be nationally...and none of us struggled with transitioning to "normal" classrooms when the time came to be a little more in the world without being of it.

Not VF approved, clearly...

I always enjoyed reading through Vision Forum catalogs, looking for books recommendations and costume ideas...I read a ton of Henty books and fell in love with To Have and to Hold {though my ancient copy was definitely not from Vision Forum...}. ATI's focus on character was not a bad thing -- learning character qualities and practicing Wisdom Searches wasn't the end goal it was sometimes treated as, but it was a useful stepping stone. The people who I watched treat it as a stepping stone were the ones who benefited, while those who viewed it as The Way were the ones who got burned. {We only have One Way to follow, and He does not require a stack of workbooks or a chart of rules to follow.}
Would I use ATI materials in home schooling my hypothetical children? Probably not. I think I can take the good I learned from them and apply the good without making my hypothetical children sift through the bad. Which is exactly what my parents tried to do. Will I miss something that will end up negatively affect my hypothetical children in whatever I do choose to use in raising them? I am sure I will, because I am human.

Everyone goes through a growing-up time. {Called growing up.} They adjust what they believe and what they grew up with and how they want to order their future life. I've seen it on both sides of the conservative/liberal spectrum, and found it fascinating how that adjustment plays out.

For every homeschool/conservative upbringing horror story, there are an equivalent number of horror stories from public school/liberal upbringings. {So far, in college/medical school, I have seen multiple instances of absolutely horrendous childhoods, all of which so far have been incredibly worse than the bad childhoods I have since recognized among my homeschooled friends.}
I think the reason people react so violently to ATI/etc in blaming their upbringing is that they can link it to a "movement" or a lifestyle...when something is mainstream {like public school} it's a lot easier to link it to one bad teacher, a terrible school, or a completely dysfunctional parent, rather than to GOTHARDISM as a whole, something that corrupted their parents and destroyed them.

I do not want to minimize the pain that verbal abuse, that a false view of God, that an attitude of constant judgment or a surrounding micro-culture of condemnation will bring to a child, or how that will continue to affect a person's life throughout their entire adulthood. I can't. This is absolutely devastating. I've seen it and I've seen the effects. It destroys. There is little worse than insisting you have light and instead pouring darkness into someone vulnerable. I cannot fault vitriolic backlash when it comes because a person has held themselves up and pretended they are wholly right and stand with God beside them when they are not actually following Him. Do not dare to give God the lie and hurt His children. It has been done, is being done, and it must be condemned. 

But I also have to say that when I am standing over a child's bed in the PICU, watching the machine that is keeping them breathing following their drug overdose, hearing from their weeping parent how this child followed their own footsteps since they went to jail and how the child has been doing meth since barely old enough to read and that this overdose is following a sexual assault two days ago...I see the other kind of damage. I know what my parents wanted to protect me from and I know why I am standing beside that bed and not lying on it. 

As the children of an experiment, we do need to give grace to our parents, to recognize that they were trying something counter-cultural, and to value the good they gave us and what they sacrificed to do so. And, if your parents "did it right" and you got only the good in your have that much more to give. I hope you can recognize others may not have had your experience and not give them more rejection or deny their experience. If your parents didn't and you got only the bad...I hope you can separate it from the truth and find how to change where you are at and meet people who truly walk the talk you may have heard but never seen and who can personify love for you. (And I mean that in the most serious I-hate-what-has-been-done-to-you-and-am-terrified-lest-you-read-what-I-have-written-here-as-condemnation-of-you sense.)

Everyone's parents make mistakes...some of which are far harder for children to deal with than others...and yes, some parents, including those who call themselves Christians, make other than mistakes and willfully damage the souls in their care. Speaking from another angle, one not associated with homeschooling or Christianity, though very much associated with my life, we can all find the pain in our past. We can all blame people for who we are, we can all find an excuse for our personalities, our situations, our issues. 

But that's the thing. They are our lives. I am not going to reject everything in my past over certain pieces. I am not going to blame certain people for who I am {well, maybe I will, but I will also move on and work to change who I am ;) }. This is not their life; it is mine. It is Christ's. 

I am not a quivering daughter because there were people in my life who followed Christ more than man; I am also not a quivering daughter because I am a child of the Healer and He defines me, not any pain of my past.
There is so much damage in the world, so many broken and hurting...we can all focus on our own wounds or we can find someone more wounded and seek to strengthen them and find ourselves strengthened in turn. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

welcome to my home

something living ~ my happy garden....
the view from my balcony

learning to love salad
baking for resident parties
peonies my mom brought me when she visited
flowers outside the Medical Center

living room/bookshelf
{the must-haves; I left a full bookshelf in my parent's house}
guest room & travel center
{stuffed animals & cool things from other countries & exercise stuff here}
my bedroom
{the best; I sleep like a rock for 5 hours here XD}
laundry room/study room
{the quote wall came with me, see}

Bless this house, O Lord we pray
make it safe by night and day
Bless these walls, so firm and stout
keep want and trouble out
Bless the roof and chimney tall
let Thy peace lie over all
Bless the door that it may prove
ever open to joy and love
Bless these windows shining bright
letting in God's heavenly light
Bless the folk who dwell within
keep them pure and free from sin
Bless us that one day we may dwell
O Lord with thee.

Monday, July 3, 2017


I'm not sure what I think of this poem... but there's something intriguing about it. A story behind it.
And northern lights are always cool. ;D

I don't know where this is mine...etc.


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well. 

A people sometimes will step back from war, 
 elect an honest man, decide they care enough, 
that they can't leave some stranger poor. 
 Some men become what they were born for. 

Sometimes our best intentions do not go 
 amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to. 
 The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow 
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you. 

-- Sheenagh Pugh


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