To Fear Or Not To Fear…

Fear. That dratted emotion that can get us all wound up and in a messy pit.

See the source imageWouldn’t it be great, if we never experienced fear again, never had to worry over anything? Lived in a world where anxiety was non-existent? I think that would be pretty amazing. 

Unfortunately, we do live in a fallen world, and because of that, can feel fear. Something I have been off and on struggling with, in terms of that, has been fearing what God might ask of me.

It’s funny, because I do want to please God and be used by Him, but somehow, fear sneaks its way in and starts whispering all sorts of silly things. What if He asks you to do something that scares you? What if He tells you to do such and such thing that freaks you out?

This past week, I went to a Bible study, and then afterwards read a devotional. Once I finished reading it, I realized there was something similar in both what the devotion was saying, and a small part of what we had been discussing in the group (just a side note, often times, God will make those sorts of things align like that, because He wants you to pay attention to it or is trying to tell you something). In His Treasure, by Sheri Rose Shepherd, this specific day’s verse was from Ephesians.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” ~ Ephesians 2:10

Of course, my first thought was ok so God is wanting me to do something. OH. GOD IS WANTING ME TO DO SOMETHING. Cue my brain semi-panicking.

blog17Well, I turned to Ephesians, since I like to read the entire chapter of wherever the verse came from…and guess what the title of that section was?

By Grace Through Faith.

By Grace Through Faith. 

Crazy, huh? Here I am, panicking, and then God is like, “LANIE. GRACE.” It’s amazing how patient the Lord is with us, because I know for me, there are so many times that God has shown me grace, and yet, I’m still like grace??? WHAT. Does not compute.

I want y’all to see just how many times grace is mentioned in this passage.

“…by grace you have been saved…”

“…show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus…”

“…For by grace you have been saved through faith…”

Ok. Grace. Right. After noticing this, I went back to verse 10, now trying to remember that God bestows grace on us, as I read it. So, Jesus has created good works for us to do. What does that look like?

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable, which, I believe, gives some insight into this.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master,” ~ Matthew 25:21

I know a lot of times, people focus on the beginning part – the “good and faithful servant.” And while that is definitely a part of this, I want to focus more on the second half of the verse. The last line says, “enter into the joy of your master.” 

Isn’t that beautiful? He has just given his servant a larger assignment, and right after that, says enter into the joy of your master. This is not an assignment to be a burden or cause him to panic – you don’t tell someone, “enter into the joy” if what you are having them do is something that will cause fear, stress, or grief. 

Another way to look at this, is like a job promotion. Imagine you work at a huge company. You’ve been bringing coffee, fetching papers, doing odds and ends. Then one day, you come into work and your boss is there.

~~~

He gives you a grin, takes the coffee out of your hands.

Naturally, you are surprised, a bit confused. Weren’t you supposed to deliver those?

Chuckling, he tells you that you have been such a faithful worker, that he wants to give you a promotion. He’s got a job with you specifically in mind.

His excitement is contagious, and despite your worries over whether or not you will actually be good enough to do this next assignment (you had only been delivering coffee and papers up until now!), you nod your head and follow him to the next floor.

~~~

I love analogies – they always help me to better understand concepts and visualize what that would look like in day-to-day life. How would our lives be different if we could come to God, with no fear of what he might do/what he might ask of us, and just be excited because He wants us to do something more?

Over the past couple of months, I’ve talked to several godly adults, and something that has been common in their responses is this: God has gifted each and every one of His children with specific skill sets. He wants to use those. He gave them to us for a reason.

Yes, He might ask us to do something outside of our comfort zone, but it will be within our skill set. For example, my mom loves God’s Word and she loves to encourage others, but speaking in front of others? No way! And yet, that is what Jesus has her doing. But, do you see my point? It is outside of her comfort zone, but it’s not so far out that it’s in another hemisphere.

It’s easy to say all that of course, and much harder to actually believe. Changing the way you think isn’t easy, but I hope to retrain my mind to stop thinking about God like a drill sergeant, and more as a loving Father, who is eagerly wanting to show me more of the “family business,” and let me have a larger role in it.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: This does not mean that we won’t be challenged when God is asking us to do something, or that we won’t experience difficulties. However, as His children, Jesus is not trying to make us afraid.

 

Your Guide To College Fashion

To any senior who is planning their wardrobe for college, I thought I would offer my two cents on what ACTUAL college students wear during the year. After all, you don’t want to waste any more money than you’re already having to fork out for the university. Ahem 😛 Anyway, without further ado…

*Cue dramatic music*

THE MAJOR FASHION-WEAR FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS ISSSSSS…

………..

t-shirts! exercise pants! nike shorts! tennis shoes! repeat!

Literally, 90% of the time, everyone – including myself – is wearing workout gear to and from classes. The only time I’m not wearing Nike shorts and a t-shirt, well, exercise pants and a long-sleeve now that it’s finally getting chillier, is when I attend church on Sunday. I love dressing up though, so that’s always fun!

Here are some cute t-shirts brands I love!

Southern Shirt Company

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Simply Southern

LS-UNISEX-CRAB-MOONRISE LS-LETALL-MOONRISE

Southern Marsh

Southern Fried Cotton

Welcome Home - Long Sleeve blog4

If you like any of these examples, check out their websites below! You can also find some at Kinnican’s, along with other brands and designs. No need to fret if you don’t have a Kinnican’s in your town, you can find their website at https://www.kinnucans.com/. They have tons of awesome clothing and other cool items! I even found a dress there on sale one time for $15! Can I get an amen from my fellow shopping lovers? 😉

https://southernfriedcotton.com/

https://www.southernmarsh.com/

http://simplysoutherntees.com/

https://www.southernshirt.com/

Those are my suggestions for finding some practical (and stylish!) college clothing. Are there any other stores that y’all love to shop at to find cute active wear? Let me know in the comments!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

The Last Jedi ~ Movie Review

*Cue drumroll*

Pause. Ok, announcement: I AM LATE WITH THIS REVIEW. MY APOLOGIES Y’ALL. Alright, continuing!

*Drumroll resumes*

….

The Last Jedi came out December 15, 2017. I was totally not counting down the days, and absolutely did not look at any Star Wars related content up to its release. Nothing. Nope. Nadaaaaa.

Fine. Y’all caught me. I was 100% counting down the days until it came out, and browsed Star Wars content albeit religiously on social media (read: Instagram). I’m going to be honest here; I have a terrible weakness for spoilers. It’s a bit of a problem. And I was doing so good! I was so proud of myself the week that it was going to be released, because I had resisted the urge to read any spoilers! But the day before I went to go see it, something in my brain *ahem* snapped.

Read it. 

No. Nope! I am going to wait til the movie.

But, IT’S RIGHT THERE. 

I can do this. I have gone almost the entire week without reading spoilers. 

Click. The. Link. 

Well. As I’m sure you can tell, I did not make it without getting some spoilers. Whoops. But hey, I made progress! The next movie I’ll definitely make it the whole way without looking at spoilers.

Anyway, onto the review!

blog16

This review is going to have spoilers in it, so to those who have not seen it – DO NOT SCROLL ANY FARTHER. Be strong (though I’m totally not blaming you if you can’t resist. The struggle is real y’all!).

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

TURN BACK NOW.

SERIOUSLY.

LAST WARNING.

Well, that’s as many warnings as a person can give, so here we go! Gosh, where do I start? So much happened! I will attempt to contain my enthusiasm and – eh, who am I kidding. What fun is a review without some excitement?

Let’s start with a breakdown of how the movie begins.

The Resistance is fleeing the First Order, who is tracking them ruthlessly and not giving them a moment of peace. On the other side of the galaxy, Rey and Chewie have gone to Ahch-To in search of Luke Skywalker, who they feel certain will return with them and help defeat the First Order.

Now that we have the background set, I’m going to dive in to my random thoughts of the movie. First of all, I love love love the character development arcs. My favorite one, in terms of just the over all beginning and ending, would have to be Poe’s.

blog6The way Rian Johnson, the director/writer, constructed it was awesome. We see Poe, who is the best pilot in the Resistance, get some reprimanding from his leader and idol – Leia. When the film first starts, Poe takes some reckless risks and because of them, lives are lost. He ignored Leia’s instruction to turn back, and kept fighting. It becomes clear that Poe is zealous for the Resistance and its cause, and while passion is a key component when battling obstacles, unbridled passion can lead to causalities and ignoring leadership.

blog5Further, when Leia puts someone in charge; Poe completely disobeys Vice Admiral Holdo. To be fair, until we learned the reason behind Holdo’s statements, I was actually on Poe’s side in this instance. It seemed like she was giving up, but as we learn, Holdo actually had good reasons for what she was saying.

Anyway, as the movie continues to progress, Poe starts learning that fighting is not always the answer. You can’t rush into the thick of the battle every single time. When they’re on Crait, we really start to see his growth in becoming a better leader and shaping his passion into something that also takes into account consequences.

Now, onto Luke. There have been mixed reactions about his character in The Last Jedi, and I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that Luke is suffering from depression, and if you think about everything he’s been through, it would be ridiculous to assume that he could come out on the other side, the same boy that left Tattoine. So, I’m not upset that they didn’t portray him as untainted or as enthusiastic as he was in the original trilogy.

On the other hand, I do wish that Rian would have made there be a better reason for Luke to be on the island for so long. Personally, through reading meta and different theories, I always thought that he went to Ahch-To to seek out the first Jedi Temple – to find answers through the Force. In my own mind, I’m still going with that as I think it makes more sense than just saying he isolated himself. Though. To be fair, his two previous mentors exiled themselves to planets, and Yoda going to one without any companions. Who knows! It’s plausible, I suppose, if you look at Yoda and Obi-Wan’s exile choices.

Speaking of Yoda, we got a Force Ghost! I was actually surprised that it was Yoda, not that I’m complaining of course! I thought it was neat that Yoda was the one who was basically saying that it’s time for the past Jedi order to die out (he did burn the whole tree down after all), seeing as how he was a stickler for the Jedi rulebook in the prequel trilogy. I was a little bit disappointed that we did not get Force ghost Anakin though. Here’s to hoping that happens in episode nine! Pretty please Lucasfilm.

I cannot go this far without mentioning my favorite part of the film.

Reylo. Yep. IT HAPPENED PEOPLE. Also, disclaimer here, you’re free to disagree with me, BUT NO HATER COMMENTS. Or they will be deleted. Anyway.

Two years, and people said reylo shippers were crazy (unfortunately, including my own dad and brother *sigh*). Thank you Rian Johnson for doing what we all had theorized and actually making it come to life!

blog9The Force bond is real y’all. And yes, I know Snoke said he created it, but honestly that’s the stupidest statement I’ve ever heard. And I’m not just saying that because I ship reylo. For one, why should we trust anything Snoke says? He is a manipulator, and so of course, he would want to take credit for something that has formed between his apprentice and Rey. Secondly, the major indication that he did not form it, to me, is that after his death, the Force bond did not disappear. It was still there. With that said, I do not think it is too far-fetched to think that Snoke manipulated Kylo’s end of the bond. After all, it is canon that Snoke has been “whispering” and basically in Kylo’s head since he was a child. With his dark knowledge of the Force, he could have manipulated it to suit his own objectives.

Personally, I believe the Force bond was created when Kylo and Rey were in each other’s minds during the interrogation in The Force Awakens. Another theory, that I have seen is that the Force itself bonded them.

blog12With that out of the way, onto the actual Force bond scenes! They were so awesome. Better than I could have ever imagined! It definitely left me wanting more! For starters, I think it was really neat that not only could they see each other’s surroundings, but they could actually feel them (rain with Kylo) and touch. 

Yep. The hand scene. Y’all, like where do I start??? I love it so much. The simplicity and innocence of the entire interaction – how they are both so lonely and desperate for affection and validation, and yet, like the INTIMACY of such a pure, childlike action was crazy!

LOVED. IT.

I can’t even imagine how amazing it is going to be when they finally kiss! And for those of you who doubt that it will happen, I’m just going to point you to something the late Carrie Fischer (RIP) said to Daisy Ridley: “I’m looking forward to your space kiss” (just search Carrie’s name and space kiss and the quote will come up).

Also. THE SCENE IN SNOKE’S CHAMBERS. Ya know, where they are fighting back to back and in complete sync with each other. Where they LET THE OTHER ONE USE THEIR LIGHTSABER (the amount of trust???). Absolutely beautiful. Honestly, it’s the first time since the prequels that I can remember seeing two Force users fighting together – and who doesn’t love that?!

Pure awesomeness.

blog13Alas, with mentioning the throne room scene, I would be a terrible movie reviewer if I skipped over the final moment. The one where the lightsaber breaks in half, and our poor characters hearts shatter. I saw something on Pinterest or Tumblr that really explains this better than I can.

Other moments I loved were where Luke is trying to teach Rey to reach out with the Force. He uses a plant leaf/stem to touch her, and she excitedly thinks that this is the Force! Y’all – SO HILARIOUS. Literally one of the best parts of the movie xD

Being the animal lover that I am, I cannot finish this review without referring to the new creatures! Porgs – ADORABLE FLUFF BALLS, so cute! Ice crystal foxes – visually, completely stunning! Fathier – seriously, do they not have the sweetest face ever??

blog15On the whole, I loved The Last Jedi. There were some parts that I did not like – I thought Luke drinking milk from that creature on the island was super weird, and I also wasn’t completely satisfied with his death. I loved the whole interaction with Leia, that he finally came to his senses and did what needed to be done. However, I’m still not fully convinced that projecting an image like that could drain you enough to kill you. But who knows, maybe I just want to think that because Luke is one of my favorite characters.

I thought Rose’s addition was great. It really gave a perspective of someone who is in the background, and who is dealing with real losses – her sister dying. Up until now, other than Han, our characters haven’t really lost someone close to them, and I think this was a good, grounding addition. War has consequences.

Also, I think she really helped Finn achieve some character growth. He was confronted with someone who looked at him like a hero. Would he rise up to the challenge of being part of the Resistance? Or was he going to run away and save his own skin? Great stuff.

Honestly, there is so much more that I could go on about, but I’m going to try and keep this review at a realistic length xD

If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi, go see it! It’s an amazing film. And if you have watched it, comment below and let me know what you thought! Did you love it? Hate it? Fall somewhere in the middle?

May the Force be with y’all!

~ Southern Dreamer

Undercover Boss

The lights flash overhead – flash flash flash.

See the source image

The crimson curtains fall in perfect line across the stage – swish swish swish.

Center Stage Design Challenge

In the crowd, dozens upon dozens of angels stand transfixed – gaze adoringly focused on their Lord. No sound is made, and yet there is an uncanny sense of destiny and heroism about to be embarked upon. The foreboding aura of – wait. A breeze shifts through the auditorium, whispering to the congregation.

Watch. Listen. Believe. 

Another murmur.

See my Son, unblemished and without fault. He now goes to the world below. Our creation, that became riddled with sin and darkness. So lost and desperate for anything real, blinded by their own brokenness. He will become in likeness with them, transforming to be both God and man, trading the riches of His throne, for the dust of the Earth. 

Eyes were wide in the crowd, silence filling the room.

Through Him, the canyon of sin – the gap that separates our creation from us, will finally be bridged. By His sacrifice, they will have a way to come home. Now, let it begin.

Lightening scintillated in shards of electric light, and the clock of eternity ticked on.

Tick. Tick. Tick. 

~~~

The stage is set; the prologue has been written. What will happen?

In nervous anticipation, the heavenly audience watches from above. There is the birth – raw and painful, yet filled with so much beauty and relief. He’s here! God, in the flesh! The trembling hand of a father, strokes the babe’s cheek – held in his mother’s arm. How is this real?

Oh, but it is real. Very real.

See the source image

The child, Jesus, grows up. People do not know who he is, not really. They say that he is such a wise young boy, always obeying his parents. The years fast-forward and adulthood has come.

Miracles are performed and lives are saved.

The instrumental music’s tempo dramatically increases. Oh! Oh! Now-now there is pain and betrayal – blood seeps His skin, inch deep wounds scar His body, and agony covers the atmosphere in a dark display of thunder and rain.

The audience holds their breath, watching anxiously to see what will happen next.

There is a stone, a grave. Three days. Seventy-two hours. And, then!

Life.

He lives.

~~~

Jesus was the ultimate “Undercover Boss.” If you have never watched the show, the premise of Undercover Boss is the CEO of a business disguises themselves and works several different jobs that are part of their company. They meet different people, those who are struggling and need help. These individuals show them how to work their specific skill, and so the show goes on.

No one knows that this person is the boss. Not, that is, until the very end. During the last portion of the hour, the CEO – now looking like themselves, meets with each of his or her employees that they worked with.

The employees are naturally shocked, surprised! They had no idea!

But the best part is yet to come. Finally, the boss leans forward – grinning, he references their struggles in life, and what they had gone through. “I want to do something,” he says, “I’m giving you a check for $20,000 dollars.”

Instantly, the recipient is in tears – wondering if this is real. Could all of their anxieties really be over? Did someone actually notice them? All they can do is thank the CEO over and over again.

This is what the Holy Spirit revealed to me.

I was sitting in the bed one night, condemning myself for not reading my Bible enough or feeling like just worshipping God was “enough.” Dratted perfectionism y’all!

Anyway, Undercover Boss was on the TV and the Holy Spirit suddenly told me that’s me. I came to Earth and I am your undercover boss. This person offered financial help to these people, they did not expect it and yet, they accept it. Why then, do you continue to try to prove yourself to me, when I have canceled all of your debt. You are debt free. 

WHAT.

Basically my brain xD

So yeah, the CEO gave them thousands of dollars, sent them on vacations, helped them out of whatever problems life had thrown their way. And Jesus? Oh boy, here comes the surprise! Can you feel the tension? The big reveal is here!

~~~

A hush feels the room. Then…

I am offering you a clean slate. Freedom through me. You will have no more sin debt, I have already paid the price for it. I want you to become my heir – royalty. Everything I have is yours: my righteousness for your robe, my divinity for your soul, my love for your spirit. All I ask is that you trust me with your heart, and all this shall be gifted to you. 

There has to be something more, right? It-it can’t be that easy! That simple? Crazy! No one just offers everything to a stranger. No one could possibly want to give someone like me this!

Your flaws and failures do not frighten me away. I see your greatest potential, the best version of yourself. The natural state of your humanity is nothing compared to the magnitude of my love, with which even the darkest of souls can be saved if they only believe. 

But, me?

I have chosen you. You are my chosen one, my treasure.

The question is…

Will you trust me?

See the source image

~ Southern Dreamer

*Scripture references: 1 Peter 2:9, Romans 8:17, 2 Peter 1:4, John 15:16, 1 Corinthians 2:16, Isaiah 61:10, 1 John 4:19, Exodus 19:5

Red ~ A Reylo Songfic

Disclaimer: The song “Red” belongs to Taylor Swift. All characters and the world belong to Star Wars, but the plot and everything else is mine. Please don’t steal my work, and give credit if you decide to post it somewhere else and whatnot. With that said, I hope y’all enjoy it! Oh, and the collages are made by me.

Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street
Faster than the wind, passionate as sin ending so suddenly

His hand hovered over her face, until the black leather touched her cheek in a feathery, soft wisp. She was frozen in place, unable to move. Her hazel eyes locked on his darker ones, knowing she should call out a warning to the Resistance – do anything but stand here in a dreamlike trance.

“Do you even know what you do to me?”

Oh, most certainly. Likely the same horrible, spell-binding pull that seemed to draw them together – always together. Never being able to truly hate one another, always with the longing that they could be something more. Together. As One.

In a sudden burst of movement, he pressed his lips to hers in a passionate kiss full of the ridiculous adoration that he could never stop carrying for this tiny, spitfire of a woman. And to her shame, she found herself responding in equal longing and neediness.

reylo4

Loving him is like trying to change your mind once you’re already flying through the free fall
Like the colors in autumn, so bright just before they lose it all

“Rey.”

She shook her head, already knowing what he was going to say. The hallway of the building was eerily empty save for the presence of two orphaned souls. Turning, she saw her friend’s crestfallen face – sensitive spirit trying to understand why in the universe she would do this. “I’m sorry Finn. I-I can’t change how I feel – it’s beyond my control – the Force…” Her voice trailed off, shoulders sagging wearily. There was no logical explanation for this, nothing she could say that would make him or herself feel any better. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

Rey clung to him tightly, refusing to let go. She would not, would not let him do this. Of course, considering the fact that he was a good foot taller than her and at least physically, much stronger, she knew he could easily pull her off and leave. Leave. “No! I will not allow this! Not after everything, does this mean nothing to you?” She shoved her ring finger in front of his face, tears pooling in her eyes.

Closing his eyes tightly, he rested his forehead against hers – breathing in deeply. “Sweetheart, this-this running from planet to planet is no life for a family. No life for-for you. You deserve better…”

“But what if I don’t want anything better?” came her choked reply.

“I have to do this.”

But loving him was red
Loving him was red

“Don’t be afraid, I feel it too.”

“I need someone to show me my place in all of this.”

Touching him was like realizing all you ever wanted was right there in front of you
Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words to your old favorite song

She staggered backwards, battle wounds causing her vision to swarm. Right before black completely clouded her sight, she thought she saw a worried, anxious face leaning over hers.

When she finally awoke, she wondered where she was, what had happened. Then, she remembered. Luke had sent her on a solo mission to an Outer Rim planet. While there, she had encountered Kylo Ren. So much had happened…strange creatures had attacked, forcing them to become allies out of necessity. Even before that, he had – surprisingly, saved her from drowning.

Looking to her left, she gasped. There lay Kylo Ren, knocked out cold. She shifted slowly, not wanting to disrupt her wounds, but when they did not pain her, she came to the strange conclusion that he had healed her. But is that not a Light Side technique?
Shakily, she crawled over to him, hand trembling as she unconsciously rested it against his scarred face. In his current state, his entire body was relaxed and she almost felt as though she had known him in another life.

Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there’s no right answer
Regretting him was like wishing you never found out that love could be that strong

“It is you.”
“You’re a monster!”

“I can train you! Show you the ways of the Force!”
The Force…
She swung.

Losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark gray all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

She could not stop shaking. Frantically, she reached up and cradled his face in her hands. His face that she knew so well. Subconsciously, she traced every scar that marked him, tenderly brushing her fingers over their surface. “Please,” she begged, voice barely audible. “Please, we can leave now.”

His tortured soul grew more conflicted as his wife lovingly caressed him.

She glanced down at her swelling stomach. Eight months pregnant. “I can’t do this alone. Please, please. We can go – live in some remote planet. I don’t care! Just – ” She broke off in a choked sob.

Overhead, aircraft sounded. It was too late. The Resistance had come for Kylo Ren. Her heart shattered into a thousand pieces, and she could only muster more tears as her love, her soulmate held her tightly.

But loving him was red
Oh red
Burning red

“How can you love me? After everything I’ve done?” He whispered to her, voice broken.
She tilted her head to look at him, noticing the sorrowful, self-hatred emotion that filled his eyes. Shushing him, she rested her head against his chest. It was late at night, they had both been exhausted after numerous death threats throughout the day. Shrugging her shoulders, she yawned sleepily. “Dunno, I guess-I guess I just always saw the good in you. And I blame Snoke for starting you on it. No, no. I know it doesn’t excuse anything, but that-that,” she let out a sharp, insulting curse word for the disgusting creature, “he watched you since you were born. And anyways,” she snuggled against him, “you’re the only one who understands me.”

Emotion filled his throat, and he could do nothing but place the most tender and innocent of kisses on her forehead.

Remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes
Tell myself it’s time now, gotta let go
But moving on from him is impossible
When I still see it all in my head
Burning red
Burning it was red

She awoke with a sweaty gasp, shuddering under the weight of memories. Tears slipped down her cheeks, though she alone saw them in the darkness of night. How much longer could she go on like this?

Oh losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark gray all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met

She wanted so badly to kill every single one of the guards who were holding her husband, her love captive. They had tied his hands together, feet locked in chains. He wore a black cuff on his hand that weakened his contact with the Force. Clenching her fists tightly, fury bubbled up in her as she watched them mockingly parade him around on the platform.

As though sensing her emotion, Ben Solo met her gaze – shaking his head slightly. Somehow she knew what he was saying…no. don’t Rey. I don’t want you to suffer on account of me.

But you’ll die! she shouted through their bond that not even the Force inhibiting cuff could cut off. In some part of her mind, she knew he was right. They had a child, her infant son. She could not leave him without a father and a mother. “I love you,” she whispered, blinking back tears.

He gave her a sad, lopsided smile. “I’ll always love you, sweetheart.”

‘Cause loving him was red
Yeah, yeah red
We’re burning red

As he fell to the ground in a heap, killed by the Resistance in accord with his First Order history, something in her snapped. An unearthly scream escaped her throat, and in some manner, she managed to instantly appear at his fallen side. Cradling his body to her, tears flooded down her cheeks and face.

No, no. This could not be happening! Where there was once his comforting presence in the back of her mind, now there was nothing. Her head spun with the pain of having the one she was bonded with taken from her in so cruel a manner.

A giant wave of the Force erupted from her – freezing everyone in place.

She had lost her lover, part of her soul. All she had left of him was her son, and she would be damned if she let anyone lay a finger on him. Not after losing Ben.

And that’s why he’s spinning ’round in my head
Comes back to me, burning red

“Scavenger.”
“Rey.”
“Sweetheart.”
“Ree.”
Partner.
Soulmate.
Lover.
One.

Yeah, yeah
His love was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street

 

Confessions of a New College Student

I’ve now been at college for about two months, give or take a few days. With everything I have been learning, there are a couple of conclusions I have drawn about college students in general and obviously, myself.

1. You will live at coffee shops

Ok, well. Maybe not literally, but basically – yeah. You might as well consider coffee shops your own personal living room or office. The amount of time I have spent at coffee shops has pretty much tripled, compared to when I was home.

So far, I’ve tried Monarch, O’Henry’s, and Heritage House in Tuscaloosa. They’ve all been really good, and completely different, which is cool! (btw let me know in the comments below if y’all would be interested in hearing my review of various coffee shops, or if that’s a boring/terrible idea. Be honest! Seriously, I won’t be offended – I’m just trying to figure this whole blogg’in thing out haha).

2. Animal desperation reaches a new high

CONFESSION TIME. I am an avid animal lover…and by that, I mean sortofmaybereallyobssessed. Imagine me, who previously lived with two cats and a dog, going to college where the housing staff is all like NO ANIMALS. NONE. ZERO. ZIP. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures y’all.

Not going to lie, today I had a pathetic realization. I was walking to the library and I saw the cutest, tiniest chipmunk scamper over the sidewalk and into the bushes. Its little coppery body with stripes popped into the leaves with one small leap.

“So cute!” said I, having the urge to hold the adorable creature. This, then, transitioned to the natural thought of wanting to take one of these friendly animals back with me as a pet.

Hey, I have had some experience with squirrels and chipmunks: when my brother, next-door neighbors, and I rescued two baby squirrels. Seriously y’all, at least as babies, they are SUPER friendly and SO CUTE.

Anyway. Needless to say, the thought of smuggling a pet into my dorm room has crossed my mind…multiple times. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, ok? This is our little secret. blog3

3. Money disappears

Remember when you were little, and one hundred dollars sounded like a MASSIVE amount of cash?

If only that were the case! In my short time that I have been at college, I have quickly learned how fast money goes! Those $5 coffees add up y’all!

Besides that, I’ve just been doing school and trying to figure out this whole adult thing – which, by the way, IS SO WEIRD TO SAY. I remember when I was younger, and I would look at college students and think, “wow, they’re so grown-up and independent!”

….now I’M in college, and yeah, nope. All of us are basically running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off – I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THIS. WHAT AM I DOING. OHMYWORD I’VE SCREWED UP. I’M RUINED. I’M OFFICIALLY NOT CUT OUT TO BE AN ADULT.

So. There’s that.

Anywayyyyyyyyy, this past weekend I went to the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. Southern Living actually featured this festival in their magazine! I was pretty excited about that, being a good southern girl and all (since Southern Living’s word is law). This morning I took my psychology midterm/test/whatever-you-want-to-call-it – glad to be done with that! 😉

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now y’all!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

Sparks ~ A Reylo One-Shot

Disclaimer: All characters and the world belong to Star Wars, but the plot and everything else is mine. Please don’t steal my work, and give credit if you decide to post it somewhere else and whatnot. With that said, I hope y’all enjoy it! 

She picked up on his scent immediately…it was so, so unmistakably him. He smelled of pain and heartache – agony settling deep into his bones long ago; and yet…there was something else. Something torn and shattered, needing – no, pleading to be made whole again. The tiniest, smallest flicker of hope that continued to give the barest light in his world of darkness.

Against the logic of herself and the rest of the galaxy, she breathed in deeply. The scent of metal, something only a scavenger could appreciate, hit her nose instantly. And then, as she focused, an aroma of leather and spearmint, mixed together in a wonderful abrasion floated through the air. The effect was immediate. Her stiffened shoulders and anxious lines cross-crossing her face relaxed. She couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but there was just something about it that calmed her…made her feel safe and secure.

With a frigid chill, a breeze brushed against her cheek – causing her heart to thump violently. The very air seemed to hum with the Force, thrumming with every vibration and breath. Intangible, yet she could almost touch it. It was right before her, and still farther than a lightyear away. What was this? Who –

Then, she saw him. Almost like a phantom, a ghost who she alone could see. Him with his deep eyes, saying far more than words ever could -an ebony lock drifting over his brow. He moved silently towards her, a beautiful, yet deadly creature – treading the ground with power and strength. Shadows, casted by the twilight in all of it’s romantic mysteriousness, fell over his face…across his left cheek. Unconsciously, her gaze drifted to the scar that would always remain – a reminder, a whisper of falling snow, flashing sabers, and her trembling heart that somehow seemed to beat in sync with his.

“Do you feel it?”

He stood before her, towering over her much smaller frame. His words, betraying the otherwise intimidating demeanor, were tender – an inquiry intended only for her ears to catch. Every logical neuron in her mind, every bit of survivor experience she had gathered from that dust pit screamed against the closeness of the enemy – told her to get away, to move. She closed her eyes briefly, trying to muster up enough strength to take a step in the opposite direction.

“I – ”

She could not. Something-something beyond herself, had her feet glued to the grassy ground. The darkening skies and the dimming sun could not even hold a flame to the phenomenon that seemed to tie her soul with his. What was it?

Suddenly, a rough hand lifted her chin gently. On instinct, she looked up and found herself drowning in his dark eyes, that seemed to pool with every emotion that the universe could offer. Heart pounding, she tried to make some sense of this insanity. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, a single tear escaping. Her senses were overcome. She inhaled sharply.

“Ree,” his deep voice murmured, wiping her tears away. In his own mind, he had always called her this. Perhaps silly, trivial even – and yet, it felt right.

Despite the fact that her throat felt closed off, Rey managed to choke out, “I-I don’t understand!” She did not understand at all. She did not understand why this was happening to her, why in the galaxy the Force decided she should be the one. She did not understand why she did not hate him – why her heart and mind seemed flooded with anything, anything but loathing. She did not understand why every time they drew near to one another, a spark seemed to light within her veins.

In that never-ending way she still did not grasp, somehow he knew the confusion that wrecked through her very being. Rey found herself drawn into a tight embrace, her head buried in his chest and his arms wrapped around her. Tears continued to slip from her hazel eyes. Too many emotions and feelings flooded her. Why was this so confusing? Everything was so much simpler back on Jakku…”I should hate you,” she mumbled against his cloak.

He nodded wordlessly, stroking her hair with the tenderest of touches. “I know.”

Faithful Butterflies

Yesterday, I was walking back to my dorm. My backpack filled with binders and school supplies bounced against my spine, straps secured over my shoulders. The summer heat and classic southern humidity filled the atmosphere, making me hurry towards the air-conditioned building: Ridgecrest South. It loomed in the near distance – students exiting and entering in the always moving throng of a college campus. As my feet transitioned from grass to pavement, a fluttering movement caught my eye. Flitting across the grounds, were tiny, adorable little butterflies. Their cheery neon-yellow color bestowed of their vibrancy for life, drawing a smile onto my face.

I hope the title of this post is beginning to make sense.

Today, it was like all of the things that have occurred – which I will go in more detail to – came together in a perfect masterpiece and a lightbulb hit me. Sometimes in life, changes happen, and you’re thrown into it wondering how am I supposed to do this? That’s sort of the season I’m in now. College is a huge difference, going from a homeschooled-Christian environment to a large, secular university; an introvert entering one of the largest colleges. Kind of crazy.

The past week or so, several events have happened. Little things, that you might not assume were connected if you weren’t looking for it. For me, even though I did not realize it at the time, the connection started one afternoon. I was walking and suddenly, one of my professor’s called my name – saying she wanted to speak with me. She assured me that I was not in trouble, before referencing a piece of work I had done.

“Have you found a church home yet?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m still sort of looking around.”

With my response, she told me about the church she and her husband have been attending for the past few years. “They have a great college program,” she said, suggesting I should come and visit. I thought it was amazing that she was a Christian: even though her class is my hardest, she’s my favorite teacher. After I learned all of this, I instantly knew why she has been my favorite.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” ~ 1 John 4:1

Even though I did not know it at the time, I believe subconsciously the Holy Spirit was telling me that the same spirit that was in me, was in her. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty AMAZING. SO. COOL.

After class, I headed to the Student Center so I could pick up a package. There were a couple of students in front of me, though not many. When my turn came, I handed them my Action Card and signed off on it, during which they went to get my package. They handed the cardboard box, and I walked past the glass doors to where a gray shelf/table jutted out from the wall. Placing the box on it, I grabbed my cellphone and checked Facebook (as every good millennial would do xD). That’s when I saw I had a notification.

Take a wild guess as to what the overall message was about…God’s faithfulness. My friend, Ane, was going to be sharing in my mom’s Bible Study about how God had been so faithful to her (side note: Ane, you seriously need to start a blog! Your story is amazing). Obviously, I’m not in my hometown right now, so I couldn’t be there. I was so glad she had sent what she was going to say to me! As I finished reading it, all the pieces clicked and I realized how faithful and loving God has been to me.

And when God does something like that, you have to tell. I mean, first of all, it’s SO COOL, and secondly, it can help encourage others! Or God can use it to prompt them as Ane did for me 🙂

“I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” ~ Psalm 40:10-11

Where do I start?

This past weekend, I went home. On Sunday, I headed to church (albeit very late SORRY, thank goodness God can work through all of our faults!), and saw Mrs. Jane. I greeted her with a wave and hug, before heading into the sanctuary. When the service was over, she approached me and we started to talk. I told her about college, and some of the changes I was having to get used to. Honestly, I can’t really explain the friendship I have with her. I suppose the simplest way, would be that it is completely brought together by God. He has made us kindred spirits. She prayed with me, before I left.

One of my mom’s friends, Mrs. Elizabeth, has been so sweet to me. This past summer I had the opportunity to house-sit her home and watch her silly, cute pets while she and her family were away. I was really grateful for the chance, and as I’ve started college, she has been faithful in praying for me. Knowing the wisdom she has, I’m so grateful for that! She sent me two packages and a letter, which I was gratefully surprised by! The package I mentioned earlier, was from her and contained beautiful, delicious sugar cookies in the shape of Dogwood blossoms/flowers.

Then there’s the cards from my grandparents and aunt with Starbucks gift cards (I’m pretty sure I live off caffeine nowadays xD) – a wonderful surprise that brightened my day. On Tuesday, I met with my English teacher and she was so encouraging to me! She strongly encouraged me to consider majoring or minoring in creative writing. Yesterday, someone from BamaCru – a Christian organization – texted me, asking if I would like to get lunch or coffee.

Isn’t it amazing, how God orchestrated everything? I’m so humbled that He loves me like that!

If you’re experiencing a time of change or are in a place where you don’t know what you’re doing, I would encourage you to ask God to pray for Him to show His love to you, for you to experience kisses from the Prince of Peace. Sometimes we forget, but as believers, we are His children! He delights in giving us good gifts!

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:11-13

~ Southern Dreamer

Good Guys V.S. Bad Guys

Alright y’all, so I’m not really sure where I’m going with this blog post 😉 I’ve had a couple of ideas and thoughts floating around in my head, and figured I might as well try to put them into a cohesive mix-up of words and phrases. Lord willing, this will come together as some sort of bloggie post that flows and doesn’t sound like a random jumble of mashed-up craziness!

I’ve had some experience babysitting, and there was something interesting I noticed. When I asked the boys, who their favorite characters were, they almost always referred to the “bad guys.” They had the good guys too, but normally, they seemed more drawn to pretend-play with the darker, powerful foes.

This surprised me. I have a brother, and I always remember him loving characters like Luke Skywalker, Spider-Man, and other heroic people/beings. When I came home, I told my mom and asked her what she thought about it. Why did they seem instinctually drawn towards the opposing side? What was it that caused them to be more enthusiastic in that?

Here’s what she said: little boys are often drawn to the darker characters because they are portrayed as powerful and strong. She told me that with Brayden, my younger brother, she always encouraged and pointed him towards the good characters. She would not buy him all of the Darth Vaders, Jokers, or overall villainous toys. She wanted him to strive to be like the heroes. Not perfect, because no one is, but trying their best to follow truth and do what is right.

I know some of y’all are probably thinking I’m going to the extreme end of things. But, I do not believe I am. Because I have a brother, I understand that boys love to play-fight – cowboys and Indians, the Dark Side and the Light Side. There is nothing wrong with that, and I am definitely not against it – nor am I against a child having both the good and bad characters. After all, without an antagonist, victory would not taste quite as sweet and neither would justice be as preciously guarded.

But I believe it is very important for parents to make this distinction: encourage them and point out the cool and awesome qualities in the good guys. Yeah, it might sound silly, but fictional characters – especially for children – are critical. They look to them for inspiration and hope.

Jesus used parables and stories to convey truths. If our Savior did, then does that not show the high value and impact that stories can have?

Children learn through play, and fictional characters are a huge part of that. Rather than consistently being drawn to the powerful yes, but also opposing what is true and good, characters, should we not encourage them to look at the ones seeking after righteousness and truth?

For boys to be brave like Luke Skywalker, loyal like Harry Potter, and compassionate like Aragorn.

For girls to be as loving as Padme Amidala, have faith like Lucy Pevensie, and hard-working like Mulan.

For teens to look at Darth Vader and know that redemption is possible, to remember Natasha Romanoff and how your past does not define you, and to look at Finn from Star Wars, Emma Swan from Once Upon A Time, and remind themselves that even heroes experience fear and doubt their abilities.

Maybe I’m way off the mark here, and this is all just a silly theory running around in my head. Who knows, this could all be mess concocted together late at night.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Whatever you read and watch is bound to have some affect on you. I am not saying that if you watch a TV show with a villain, or read a book with a dark wizard, that you are going to flip a switch and turn evil – FAR FROM IT! Without antagonists, any story would be quite boring and basic. There would be no challenge for our hero. With that said, as I stated earlier, children’s minds are still developing. I’m not a parent, but I have a pretty awesome mom and dad. And they always made sure to make the distinction between enjoying the story, and praising the villain. I can never remember hearing as a child, oh look how cool Palpatine looks with his Force lightning! Isn’t the White Witch’s outfit awesome?

As children grow and mature, then the conversations can obviously go deeper and you can tease, joke, or comment on scenarios that you would not have done when they were little. Like I said, I’m not a parent, but I think encouraging and pointing kids towards healthy, heroic role models whether in fiction or real life, is important.

~ Southern Dreamer

 

What I Learned My First Week of College

Ok. Not going to lie – writing the title of this post was weird.

Me? In college?

Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. Really insane in an odd way. Every freshman (yep, that happened) I’ve talked to agrees that this feels like summer camp. Almost as if we are all going to wake up one day and BAM! – be back home. I’m sure it’ll sink in at some point that this is permanent and real, but right now I’m still in that surreal phase.

For those of you who don’t know, I chose to attend the University of Alabama. I know, I know – what was I thinking? Me. An introverted, Christian, conservative girl attending one of the largest schools in the country…where I know basically nobody. Putting it down in words does make it seem illogical – what could I be thinking?

I don’t really have an answer for you, except that this seems like where God wants me.

For all that, I have survived my first week of college! Can I get a halleluiah? 😉

Alright y’all, I’m going to get real here. The first week of college is kinda insane. Here are some things I learned for those of you headed towards college, or who just want to hear about how I, who pride myself on keeping my iPhone in pristine condition, managed to crack it – cue the tears.

  1. Do not trust the time your app says it takes to get to class

My Alabama app stated it would take a six minute walk to class. Haha…readers, the app’s definition of “walk” and mine are clearly different. I was speed-walking through campus on a mission: get to my first Spanish class in ten minutes. I did have the thought of running, but y’all! I did not want to be that girl.

“Yeah, there she goes. Ran to class on her first day.” Cue shaking head.

Ok, maybe that was semi-dramatic. But the point remains that I refused to make my first impression on campus, in a full-out run to class. By the time I reached the building, I checked my phone and raced up the stairs. For those of you who know me, you will recall that I am not the most coordinated person…and this translated to me tripping on the stairs and dropping my phone.

Crack.

My beautiful iPhone that I had so valiantly tried to keep in perfect condition, now showed a diagonal crack.

2. Driving on campus is a nightmare

One of my classes is pretty far, so I decided to drive to it. I happen to be a bit *ahem* directionally challenged, and some of the people on the roads were not very forgiving to a poor, confused freshman. In answer to your unspoken question, yeah…I got honked at.

But hey, I did eventually make it!

3. Your dorm room will look better than your bedroom at home

This is probably different for guys, at least from what I’ve seen online. But I know from my own experience, that my dorm room is definitely nicer in decorations, interior design, etc than my bedroom. I went on Pinterest for inspiration initially – seriously, whoever created that website/app is AMAZING. I’m only slightly addicted 😉 Home Goods and TJ Maxx were mainly where I purchased most of my dorm room items.

4. Starbucks will save your life

Well, maybe not save your life, but it will certainly make it more bearable. Alabama has a huge Starbucks in the student center – thank heaven. So far, I’ve already been twice, though I’m sure once school picks up speed, I will live and breathe Starbucks.

5. I have more appreciation for the simple things in life

Like bathtubs for instance. I love taking a warm, bubbly bath! Alas, dorm bathrooms lack this vital feature *dramatic sigh* Others include fruits and veggies, eating meals with my family, and having a sweet, furry pet to cuddle with. As they say, you don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it.

Those are a few things I learned my first week of college, along with other random bits and pieces. Such as that my Human Development teacher apparently owns buffalo, cows, horses, and chickens??? (Someone please tell me what one does with a buffalo)? Free food almost always means pizza, and walking through a hallway lined with sitting and standing students will make you feel like you’re in the Hunger Games.

To my fellow freshman, what did y’all learn during your first week in college?

~ Southern Dreamer