The Purest Love

For those of y’all who didn’t realize it, American Idol started back this past Sunday! This year the judges are Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, and of course, with Ryan Seacrest as the host.

As I was watching the second night, the very last audition shown caught my attention – and maybe, not for the reason that one would first think. If you haven’t watched it, I would encourage you to check out the clip below:

David Francisco auditions for them, and when he first walks in, you notice the braces that are helping to support his arms and weight. Like they do with many of the auditions, they explain the history of the person, and David was no different. In 2016, he moved to Nashville for the purpose of pursuing music, and in a tragic turn of events, was hit by a distracted driver who ran a red light. A bike offers no protection in the case of an accident, and this situation caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down at only twenty-three years old.

A friend wrote him a letter to encourage him not to give up, and long story short, that friend – Christie – is now his fiancé.

For his audition, David sang “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder.

As he is singing, you can see that Katy Perry starts to really tear up and get emotional. I couldn’t find the exact clip – this video doesn’t show it, but after they walk out of the audition room, you can hear Katy say, “It’s the purest kind of love” referring to the couple.

When I was talking about it with my mom, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t his story in and of itself that brought her to tears. It was the fact that he and his fiancé were so in love, despite all of the difficulties that life had thrown at them. How Christie, chose to stay by his side and love him through everything, even when he could not walk or dance or do all the activities that you would normally find a couple doing. She could have easily decided to leave him and find someone else, someone who was completely healthy – but she did not. Christie stayed by his side.

And most of Hollywood does not have that.

They have cheapened romance and love, thrown commitment out the window – made having affairs something to be admired and sought after. There is no depth, no lasting promise to stay with someone forever – even when you disagree, argue.

random by southern-dreams on Polyvore featuring artWhere are the stories like Jack and Rose from the Titanic, how he would rather die than see her perish? Or The Princess Bride with Buttercup and Wesley, the loyalty and willingness to not care whether they were poor on the farm or living in the grandest castle? What about the comical adventures of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, from I Love Lucy, who were committed and enjoyed the journey of life together?

The amount of classic, appropriate romances coming out of Hollywood, that actually have depth and commitment, are unfortunately not many. This is why, I believe, Katy Perry became so emotional watching David singing, and Christie lovingly waiting on the sidelines.

She does not see that in her day-to-day life. Most people, especially in the stardom industry, could care less about keeping vows that you make to someone – if they even manage to become committed enough for marriage!

It is truly sad how far our society has gone, and the relationships and family unit that have suffered as a result. Divorce? Cheating, affairs? Far more common than it should be. And what really gets me angry, and stumped if I’m being honest, is how people can cheat on their spouses when they have children?! The notion that having an affair and then divorcing because of that or because you do not want to have to do the hard work in a relationship, the idea that this does not affect the children is absolutely ridiculous.

As a society, we need to start taking back these things. Why should we let how Hollywood and the media portrays relationships, love, and sex dictate our actions? We are better than that – we need to be better than not.

I’m not so naïve to think that this is easy. We are all sinners, who unfortunately struggle with sin. Nothing good ever came easy, but for heaven’s sake, let’s start doing something about it. 

If we fail, well, there’s the next day to try again. But we a society, we need to start redefining romance and love to what it is actually meant to be…sincere, loyal, committed, respectful.

Let’s stop lowering our expectations with these “celebrate a one month anniversary” for dating. Yeah, that’s great that you’ve been dating for one month! Exciting, fun. But in my opinion, one month is just getting to know someone – it is not even a true test of commitment yet. What we should be celebrating and encouraging others to do, is for someone who is resisting the temptation to sin in a relationship – cheer them on! Encourage them. What we should be making a big deal of, is for those who get through the first year of marriage, for those who have been married for ten years, twenty years, fifty years. For the people that say we are going to stay together and work through these issues in our relationship. For the couples that decide to be committed and not leave the other, even when hard times hit.

Faithfulness is such an important component in life. No one would ever abandon a pet, or decide after two weeks of working at a job they had dreamed about for their entire life to quit – most people wouldn’t that is…then why do we treat relationships any differently?

Both sets of my grandparents, and my own mom and dad, have demonstrated what it looks like to be faithful even in the midst of hardships. Being faithful doesn’t mean you always agree with the other person, or even like them very much at some particular moment, but it does mean that you stick with them through thick and thin.

And honestly, I think that’s why having faith in Jesus as a part of a marriage is so important. When you have Jesus, then you have a higher loyalty – so even on the days when you want to give up, you can remind yourself of the promise you made to God. Not only that, but looking at the example of Jesus. He loved us even when we did not love him back, and he continues to love us even when we blatantly oppose his authority and sin.

In conclusion, I hope that Hollywood will create more films like The Greatest Showman that show love with depth, sincerity, and commitment, and as a society, I pray that we will start reclaiming the true definition of love and not let it be changed to something that is cheapened.

~ Southern Dreamer

 

 

Love – An Acrostic Prayer Poem

For my Creative Writing class, I had to write an acrostic prayer poem about a topic talked about in the Bible. I chose ‘love’ and this is what I came up with. I hope y’all like it! 🙂

Love is miraculous, amazing in all of its mysterious glory.

Astounding in its selfless passion.

Never abandoning in its constant flow of affection.

It is the tender whispers from the Holy Spirit.

Emotion overflowing as my heart reads the words of His wooing.

Devotion so clear – the sacrifice, the pain, the grace.

Esteeming me to be worthy of respect and fondness.

Always there, love embodies the trinity of God as constant as the saltiness of the sea.

Nothing can disintegrate this love, it is eternal – forever.

Prison of Fear

Everyone has fears. Some are small, others are big, and then, there are those that completely and totally overwhelm us.

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Fear is a tricky thing. It can creep up slowly and over time; perhaps subconsciously, until it rears its ugly head in our face. In other cases, it can come suddenly and without announcement. Maybe you’ve been through something traumatic and suddenly things that you did not fear before, are now quite terrifying.

I think, sometimes, we visualize fear in a one dimensional picture: snakes, the dark, experiencing change. But fear can also be the root cause of other issues in our life. Perfectionism (I fall into this category :p): fearing that you must be perfect, fearing the punishment or reaction if you are not. Being a people-pleaser: fearing that you have to make everyone happy, fearing the reaction of others if you say something that contradicts their own beliefs.

In the Bible, there are over a 100 references where it says, “fear not” or “do not be afraid” (http://www.openbible.info/topics/living_life_to_the_fullest). By that sheer number, it’s apparent that Jesus knew we were going to have fear – BUT, that we do not have to be afraid.

John 10:10 says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

God wants us to live life in the freedom of our salvation. He does not want fear to keep us from experiencing the blessings He offers. Of course, this is easier said than done. I know in my own life, its very easy to say, ‘oh, I’m not going to be afraid. I’m going to give this to the Lord,’ but quite another to actually follow through with it.

2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Yet as the verse above says, God has given us a spirit full of power, love, and self-control. All components that help to combat fear.

Power is the Holy Spirit. If you really desire to be free from fear, this is where everything starts. The others are important too, but without the Holy Spirit, we’re trying to drive a car without gas.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Think of a time when you felt completely safe and secure. Was it when you were wrapped in the arms of your father or mother? Watching a movie in bed with your brother or sister? Similarly, God’s love is our security. We do not have to worry whether or not He will love us one moment and stop the next. His love is perfect, unfailing, and encompassing. Jesus demonstrated the greatest form of love there is: dying for us when we were still stuck in the mud of sin and unrighteousness. His love overcomes fear

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Jeremiah 31:3 and Proverbs 8:35

 

Self-control is the last one mentioned in 2 Timothy. This is where our ‘homework’ comes into play. You have to want to be free from fear and be willing to do the necessary work. Self-control does not include only physical actions, but the discipline of the mind – which can be harder in many ways since it is not a tangible thing.

And Jesus does not expect us to fight our fears or anxiety alone! Sometimes I completely forget that I can ask Him to help me to not be afraid; I’m so set on how can I solve this or how I can work through this, that I neglect the one being who can help me through anything.

Being willing to ask for help – tell a close family member or friend. Expose light onto the fear so it cannot continue to ravage around in your mind, rely on God, and put in the effort are all important parts of overcoming fear. Fear doesn’t go away on its own. It must be a conscious decision to defeat it.

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Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

~ Southern Dreamer

The Selection: Book Review

35 GIRLS. 1 CROWN.

THE COMPETITION OF A LIFETIME.

My best friend has been begging me to read The Selection series by Kiera Cass for quite some time. So, when I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday, I knew I had to buy them.

To condense the lengths of these posts, I’m going to divide the books in The Selection series up into an individual review for each. This one, of course, will be for the first book – called ironically, The Selection.

the selection

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Within the very first page, the reader already gets a sense of the main character – America Singer – being very much different than the average girl.

“I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One. I didn’t even want to try.”

Being in caste five – there being eight castes in total, this is surprising considering the fact that she is only three castes away from being homeless. And America is not so far above as to not have experienced real, true hunger.

As the beginning of the story unfolds, the reader learns exactly what those three earlier statements meant. The Selection, a competition, recruits girls all across their country of Illéa. One girl from each province. And for once, the caste you are does not matter.

“If your eligible daughter, sister, or charge is interested in possibly becoming the bride of Prince Maxon and the adored princess of Illéa, please fill out the enclosed form and return it to your local Province Services Office.”

And America Singer’s mother is adamant that her daughter fill out the application to have a chance of being in it.

But America has a secret – one that no one knows about. She is in love with a Six – Aspen. In their society, this is very rare: why would anyone want to marry down a caste? And then be transferred into a much harder one? This doesn’t bother America though. And this is also why she does not want to enter The Selection.

Aspen and America both love each other – despite all of the stigmas against them. Yet, for some odd reason, Aspen asks America to enter, for him. And because America would never do anything to hurt him, she agrees. It helps, naturally, that her mother wasn’t aware of this and so used a bit of money bribery.

After the submission, America sneaks out at midnight – like every night – to meet Aspen. Meeting together is risky, especially since if they were ever discovered, they would be in major trouble with the government.

She’s excited and gets there early. America has been saving the money her mother has been giving her as part of the bribe, and she plans to give it to Aspen. As a Six, his financial situation is much more dire.

Yet, Aspen is upset. Not with her, but at the fact that he doesn’t feel, he is providing for her. He suddenly says that its over. He can’t put her through being cold, hungry, and tired all the time: what being a Six would entitle. America tries to reason with him, but he leaves – after kissing her one last time.

America is heartbroken, yet has to try and not completely loose it since that would give away their secret. She comes back into the house and sometime soon after, the announcements for the thirty-five girls picked comes on.

What are the chances that she would be the one chosen from her province, Carolina? Out of hundreds of other girls?

“Miss America Singer of Carolina, Five.”

She gets picked.

Humor, romance, and conflict fill the remaining pages of the book as America tries to navigate the waters of being in The Selection. Being her unconventional self, she informs Prince Maxon up straight that she was not here to fall in love with him.

“I need to be here. My family needs me to be here. Even if you could let me stay for a week, that would be a blessing for them.”

“You mean you need the money?”

“Yes.”

Prince Maxon agrees to let her stay as long as he can. Because of her upfront honesty, America and the young royal become good friends…and as the story progresses, perhaps, something more.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: This is a romantic series and as such there is kissing and physical contact. One or two scenes verges on being inappropriate but overall, it is clean.

Romantically Inclined

As I sat reading through a romantic book one warm, summer day, I began to wonder…what is it about these stories that causes us to love them so? It could not be the plot…for a plot in itself does not serve to penetrate your soul. Though characters quickly become memorable, they could not be the single reason either – for standing alone the most they can do is amuse our mind and heart.

I cannot believe it has taken so long to create this show. It is absolutely incredible and creative and I'm addicted ..:

Perhaps it’s the setting. But then again, a setting’s purpose is to accentuate…not only to be read as a place. Similar to spices, description and detail are tools a writer can use to give their story that final pizzazz. There are many building blocks in a well-written tale that one could argue are the bottom, corner-stone of why so many people enjoy romance novels. I would wager, however, that the true reason is much deeper than that.

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I believe, in every woman’s heart, there is a great desire to be adored, loved, and sought after. I think so many, if not all, of us long to be treated as a treasure – one which has an immeasurable amount of value. And it saddens me readers, truly it does, how far the world has gone to completely disintegrate this picture and the value that is a human being. The majority of movies that flood out of Hollywood and other massive, secular companies scream the components of lowly conduct and behavior…and neglect to follow up with the consequences of such actions. They muddle together the belief that women are strong and equal, by pairing it with sexual scenes and conduct. How much lower can your value go, than when you are so desperate for appreciation and affection, you are willing to be an object of use rather than what was meant to be a beautiful act? It has warped this until so many no longer question it.

Women are strong and on equal standing with men…yet, I feel sometimes in our world today there is an extremists view of this. They do not seem to believe that it is acceptable for a woman to be protected or sought after. Why has the storyline of the prince rescuing the princess commonly turned into one that is not ‘modern’ or ‘equal’. Where is the wrong in someone loving you so much that they will do anything and everything to get you back? I do not understand where the view has come from that this is weakness. It is anything but. I do not see it as the man thinking he is better, I see it as a person who is so totally in love with his girl that he will scale any walls, fight off dragons, or even take the brunt of the spear because he values her life to that degree.

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This is not to say that women cannot defend themselves, but I find it purely rubbish when people take it to the extreme. If they do not have a problem with a woman rescuing a man, then please enlighten me why they have an issue with a man rescuing a woman? Quite ironic, apparently.

And I believe that the Lord has put in our hearts, a desire to be chased after and adored. He is, after all, the most profound example of action determined by love. He has said,

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” ~ Deuteronomy 20:4

“I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep water and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!” ~ Isaiah 43:1-2

Above all, He gave his own life for us, knowing that he would be rejected and despised. If that is not love, then I don’t know what is.

I believe, we read romance novels and books then, because the imagery of someone truly, completely loving us – faults and all, so appeals to our hearts that we are desperate to have more. We feel the need to have that hope, that there really are knights in shining armor and princes in disguise. That true, committed love is still alive amidst all of the turmoil that comes with separated families, divorce, and cheating. We need to know that and so we read continually of the love between two broken souls and how they come together as man and wife.

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And the truth of the matter is, there is someone who has perfect, unfailing love. The kind that doesn’t shy away when trials or hardships come (thank heaven!). I mentioned Him earlier – Jesus, and it is completely remarkable that He loves such beings as us.

~ Southern Dreamer