9 Things Wicked Tells Us About Life

Hi everyone! Hope you all have been well and keeping safe, sane, healthy and joyful!

A few months ago, I wrote a post called, “Nine Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life”. It is still my favourite article I have written, If I’m being honest. But then I remembered Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical. The musical that I watched for the first time almost a year ago and enjoyed it to bits. The musical which contained the songs that I sang and listened to 24/7 while my brother begged me to stop. While I haven’t had the pleasure of being a part of this production, the soundtrack is absolutely amazing, just like everything else about it. And then when I was wracking my brain for an article to write, I remember that yes, just like Les Mis, Wicked has some nuggets of truth that ya’ll deserve to hear.

If you are unfamiliar with the musical, a quick little synopsis is down below.

When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire‘s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900.

WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

“Packed with wit, storming songs and beautiful costumes” (The Guardian), WICKED has won more than 100 major international awards, including three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Audience Awards in the UK.

The manipulation of public opinion and those with power dictate how people think and feel

The Wizard of Oz, the ensemble who act as the public, and even Galinda (Glinda) — they all have the power to manipulate the thoughts and actions of others just by looking/sounding/acting/talking like the type of person that people like. One powerful person believes that Galinda is the good one, and the rest believe. One powerful person believes that Elphaba is the wicked one, and the rest believe. Like Galinda says, ‘Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?’

On the other hand, Elphaba is new to the students at Shiz and to the townspeople. She looks like something they don’t like. And this escalates to her behavior becoming something that the public have been manipulated to hate: someone who is taking her chance at flying, freedom, and defying gravity, aka society’s norms. This evident theme in the musical relates even to this day in age when now more than ever, the opinions of the public majority and those with power, have been the ones that are the truth. Those who have a platform to speak out and tell the people what to think are the ones who get believed, not the ones who have actually done the research but don’t have a way of sharing it with the world.

Throughout history it has been this way. The media is also another big thing that people believe. But they have a way of twisting people’s words, and spreading lies just so spread fear so that those with power can come up with solutions to the fear that they created. Think about that for a moment.

Looks can be deceiving

Just like the wizard changed his appearance into something that would be feared or respected, he was able to get the public to believe he was someone that could make all their dreams come true. However, when he steps out from behind his great machine, Elphaba and Galinda see that he is just an ordinary man behind a facade designed to make him look more powerful and greater than he really is.

This is also somewhat true with Galinda. When we first meet her, she is all frills and popularity, and throughout the show she still is, but we get to see a different side to her; beneath all that, is someone who was yearning for an intimate friendship with someone who would encourage her to be herself.

When you justify dehumanizing someone, it becomes easy and it leads to worse things

When Doctor Dillamond is teaching his class, he suddenly finds a hateful message on his blackboard that says, ‘Animals should be seen not heard’. Before this, animals were just seen as part of the community. But as soon as this kind of talk spread around, animals became less and less valuable and less and less like the rest of them when others began to think of them as such and dehumanize them. Eventually, it became true for these animals, and they could no longer speak. Their freedom of speech had been ripped away from them because of what they looked like. The scary truth is, that is the same today. Someone who looks or acts or talks differently gets treated differently than someone who looks like the rest of the 500 people in the room.

When something becomes spoken of more often, it becomes more true. That is just like what happened in the holocaust; one powerful person was all it took to manipulate thousands of people, and he justified dehumanizing the Jews just because they looked different and had different beliefs. But what no one realises, is that everyone looks different, some just in a way that stands out more. Everyone is unique in their own special ways; which is exactly the way God made us; different. No two people are alike. We are all made special in the image of God; which doesn’t mean that we look like God, but it means that God looked at us and said, ‘I’ve created a masterpiece.’

What we believe in is worth fighting for, even when it seems like no one else supports us

Everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone’s voice matters, no matter how small or big. Elphaba decided that her fight for the rights of animals was much more important than what the majority thought. Elphaba saw pain and suffering in the lives of the minorities, and she wanted to do what was right. She saw what no one else saw; beauty in the animals. And she wanted to see equality. What other people saw was rebellion against popular opinion, and that in itself was a crime to them.

Kindness and friendship is more valuable than popularity and fame

At first, Galinda is hateful and mean towards Elphaba, shunning her just like the rest of the school. However, when Galinda chooses kindness over popularity at the party, she finds in intimate and close friendship in Elphaba that we see progress throughout the story. Eventually, we see that things have changed for Galinda when the two sing the beautiful song, ‘For Good’. Popularity and fame doesn’t always bring true friendship. It brings respect and fans, but how often do we share secrets with our fans? Kindness is the one of the most important gifts that we can ever give. Everyone needs someone to lean on; someone to listen to them and someone to listen to. I believe that Galinda truly found herself when she chose kindness over her popularity.

Don’t let yourself be dictated to, and keep getting up when you fall

Elphaba was pushed down so many times, but each time, she got back up. Like she said, ‘everyone deserves a chance to fly.’ Her drive and her strong beliefs is what got her through and it’s what gave her confidence; not the group of people standing with her supporting what she was all for. She is the perfect example of someone who had the support of no one, and yet her confidence in herself brought her to new heights. Confidence is a mindset; it’s an attitude based on belief that gets us through tough times. Negative thoughts and words aimed at ourselves and others have meaning, just like positive words and thoughts do.

Your future is unlimited

Like in the well-known song, Defying Gravity, Elphaba says that hers and Galinda’s futures are unlimited. And that is the same for all of us. Our futures are unlimited, so why restrict ourselves? If we work hard enough and if we believe in ourselves, then we can reach anything we want to. Our pasts cannot and will not dictate our futures unless we let them. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says that he has a great plan for us, to give us a future and a hope. It says nothing about our pasts, only about our futures being amazing. Even when that woman in the bible was being condemned by the people, Jesus had mercy on her, telling her she was forgiven and to let go of her past and move into a brighter future.

Sometimes some people are going to have it easier than others, but that doesn’t mean those who have to work for what they have are any less valuable

Galinda was handed everything and she became Galinda the Good. Just because she was pretty and popular at Shiz, her life was a breeze and when something or someone different came into her life, it was a huge blow for her. Just because she looked different to Elphaba, the wizard assumed that she was not on Elphaba’s side and enlisted her for his team. On the other hand, Elphaba was shunned her entire life by her own father, her sister, the wizard, her school, and everyone else. But she still rose up for what she believed in. She worked hard for what she wanted. But she still earned the name of The Wicked Witch of The West. Elphaba is just proof that sometimes, titles don’t matter. But most of the time, it means everything because the public says so. Elphaba’s heart is the most important thing. Just because no one can see her heart, doesn’t mean it’s evil. Man sees the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. It’s easy to get discouraged from doing what is right, and just doing what is easy and accepted because ‘it doesn’t matter’. But the truth is, it matters. The creator of the universe, the one who made us in his own image sees us, and it all matters to him.

If someone really loves you, they will challenge you to be yourself

When Galinda first becomes friends with Elphaba, she sings ‘Popular’, where she describes how she is going to change Elphaba to become popular. However, as the story progresses, both young women see that to be real friends, they both have to be themselves, and this is truly evident in their songs ‘For Good’ and in ‘Defying Gravity’ when they both go their own ways. However, even if they disagree on certain things and they end up separated, they still love and respect each other, and nothing has changed. They choose to love each other even with their imperfections. We see throughout the show that Galinda doesn’t stop acting perky and wearing beautiful gowns with sparkles and sequins and Elphaba doesn’t stop wearing her black and drab clothes. Even when they sing the song ‘For Good’ and they say they have both changed, their outward appearances are still the same. What is inside is what has truly changed for the better.

Someone who loves you should not try to make you into someone different. They shouldn’t try and change you. Sure, they can be honest with you to a point, but if they are pressuring you to do something you’re not comfortable with, or you feel is wrong, they aren’t true friends and you are better off without their negative impact on your life.

And those are the few nuggets of wisdom that Wicked has to share. I’m sure there are plenty more to share, and if you have seen the musical and I missed something, leave it in a comment below!

Have you seen this musical? What is your favourite song from the musical? Do you agree or disagree with what I wrote?

Stay positive!

‘Welcome to the real world’ they say

Why is it that as soon as we hit a certain age, we are suddenly old enough to be exposed to the ‘world’? ‘You’re already sixteen,’ they say, ‘Just watch it!’ or, ‘Just say it.’ or, ‘Just do it.’ But why is it that age defines what we can and can’t be exposed to? Why does it become so easy? Why does it suddenly become normal to purposefully expose ourselves to bad language or inappropriate movies or books, just because ‘we’re old enough’? Is this something we’ve been waiting for? Does it make us feel more mature?

They say, ‘Welcome to the real world.’ I have always been in the ‘real world’. But what I don’t want to welcome myself to is purposeful exposure to the things that aren’t pure in the eyes of God. The ‘real world’ is not what God had intended. His idea of the ‘real world’ was perfect, pure, and sinless. The fall of man brought sin and darkness into the world and along with it came impurity and peer pressure.

It’s so easy to just follow along because we’re afraid we might get teased or we might be laughed at for ‘acting younger than we are’. But there is a difference between immaturity and being wise. Maturity in general and spiritual maturity is knowing what to stay away from, being discerning and including God in our decisions. What we look at and what we do is between ourselves as individuals and with God. It’s not between us and the world; at least, it shouldn’t be.

But don’t be discouraged; staying away from these things is not immature, and it’s not us being afraid of encountering impurity. There is impurity all around us; always has been and always will be until we are in the presence of God. What I’m talking about is exposing ourselves to it on purpose just because we’re ‘old enough’ in the eyes of men. But in the eyes of God? His perfect idea of good and bad is different to the world’s idea of good and bad. No matter what age we are, he commands us to fill our hearts and our minds with kind, gentle, loving and pure things. (Philippians 4:8) Things that are positive and things that bring glory to God. He commands us to guard our hearts, because what is in our hearts, shows through in our actions and lives. (Proverbs 4:23) 

But what can we do? It’s scary and it’s hard to stay away from it. It’s scary to think that we’re not strong enough to fight it off. Purity requires power. It’s impossible to do it in our own power. But all we have to do is to ask God for his guidance. We only have to abide in him and he will abide in us. All we have to do is lean on him and put our trust and faith in him. He is willing, able and powerful to carry us through; and he can make us strong even when we feel like we’re not strong enough. God isn’t going to abandon us. The times that we are need of his guidance and when we are being tempted are the times that God is the most present and he is working great things for our good.

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: Backround featured image photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Of T-Shirts, Tattoos and Weird Characters {The Real Neat Blog Award}

Hello everyone! I hope you are all staying safe, healthy and enjoying life!

I know that a couple of people have tagged me for tags/awards, but I can’t seem to find them, so if that was you, could you please provide a link if possible? I’m so sorry it’s taken me a long time to do them, I’ve been very busy.

Thank you to Noah@LifeInKyoto for tagging me for the Real Neat Blog Award! I highly recommend you check out Noah’s blog. He posts a ton of cool and interesting things. Go and follow him! You won’t regret it and I’m sure he would appreciate it!

The Rules

1. Display the blog award logo in your blog.

the-real-neat-blog-award_coltonbeckwithrpc-1

2. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.

3. Do not forget to link to their blogging website.

4. Answer all the questions they have given you.

5. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers of your choice.

6. Ask them 7 questions.

The Questions

1. What’s your favorite part about where you live?

Well, I like how it’s pretty chill here down under. And I like the weather, not too cold, not too hot (sometimes). Favourite part about my home on the other hand, is the fact that my family is here. And my bedroom! It’s the warmest place in the house in the Winter and I’m a sucker for the cold.

2. Where is the furthest place you’ve gone from where you live?

I have been to the Philippines twice, once when I was four, and once when I was nine when we stayed there for about 5 months. Such a great experience, and I would love to go again since all of my mom’s family is there!

3. What color is your favorite T-shirt?

I don’t really have a favourite top, but one of my favourites is a mustard yellow colour.

4. When did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in November 2015, but this blog which launched in December 2019 is still quite new.

5. Have you tried lamb meat?

As in just lamb? Well yes, but I don’t like it very much.

5. If you had to have a tattoo, what word would be on your arm?

I’ll extend the question a little. I would have a lion tattooed on me because it reminds me of God (you know, because of Aslan), and if I had a word tattooed on my arm, it would probably be… hope. Or faith. Or love. XD

6. What is your favorite yet weird character in a fiction book?

Hmm… I don’t really have a favourite character. But I really like Beck’s little sister from A Thousand Perfect Notes. She’s cute! My favourite characters depending on the book I’m reading, and A Thousand Perfect Notes was the last book I read. Yes, it was a long time ago. I need new books.

I tag…

Jo

Trudy

Kenechi Duatron

Rhi

Lilia

@Anyone else

My Questions For You

I’ve answered some of the questions just for fun. My answers are in brackets next to the question in italics.

1. Why is your blog called what it is? Or if there is not much of a story, when and why did you start your blog?

2. Which female/male celebrity do you wish you were related to, and which male/female celebrity do you look up to?

3. What is one thing that you own that you should probably get rid of, but just can’t?

4. What would life be like for you if you could become a published author? And what would your bestselling book be about/what genre would it be?

5. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender? (My parents would have named me Uzziah XD)

6. Do you sleep with a nightlight or not and why? (I can’t sleep or function when it is pitch black. It feels so claustrophobic and I feel so enclosed and terrified and it feels as though I can’t breathe. Which is why I don’t like going to camps sometimes because everyone sleeps with all the lights off so they always have to accommodate to me and I feel bad. XD)

7. What is one of the strangest dreams you have had?

I hope you enjoyed my answers, and the questions. If you weren’t tagged or you’d rather not make a blog post about this, feel free to answer the questions I asked (or that Noah asked) in the comment section!

What is your favourite tag that you have done? What are you doing to keep occupied during quarantine?

The questions that I ask at the end of my posts are there because I legitimately would love to have a conversation with you, as I am (usually) a talkative person! I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on what I could do better on my blog for future reference.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S The backround image in the featured image is from Canva.com

The Half-Wyvern by Drake Redwing {Author Interview – by Kirsten J. Foster} {Guest Post}

The Half-Wyvern

The Half-Wyvern Trilogy

A Book Review by Kirsten J. Foster

If you’re like me, books are one of the best things to have taking up space in your house.  You have them sitting on your shelves, on tabletops, in boxes, in bags, and even on your electronic devices (eBooks or audiobooks, anyone?)!

When you have this many books on your shelf (or book bank on your electronic devices), you’re always looking for the next great book to add to it.  You’re looking for that next story that has you on the edge of your seat with bated breath as you watch the characters strive for their goals.  You’re always looking for that next favorite author who writes stories that come alive in your mind or bring you to tears with his or her words.

Today, I would like to share an interview I had with author Drake Redwing as he talks about writing and his book coming out soon.  Here’s a sneak peek:

*~*~*~*

The Half-Wyvern

2020-05-11

(The Half-Wyvern Trilogy)

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, War

Synopsis: In the year 2160, in the remains of the United States of America, a young man named Trevor Ryder, thrust into a life-or-death situation, must lead a rebellion against his corrupt King. With the help of his dragon and his friends, they must battle the evil King Deranth and save their kingdom, but there are far greater things at work in the shadows. And through it all, can Trevor overcome his complacency and grow into a true man?

 

Interview with Drake Redwing

Kirsten: Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Drake:  My name is Keith, known by my penname as Drake Redwing. I’m a 19-year-old author, avid nerd about just about everything, autistic fat kid and a college student. I live in Upstate New York with my parents and my two cats, Piccolo and Greyson—Greyson is also fat. I’m a proud American, follower of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior (to Whom I owe every breath), memer and all around goofball. I’ve been writing since I was the age of about 5—stories of Winnie-The-Pooh characters and whatnot getting into all sorts of mischief. I’ve written several full-length fanfictions first about How To Train Your Dragon and then later Zootopia. But it wasn’t until early last year (Winter-Spring of 2019) that I started taking my original writing very seriously. I planned out over the three years or so of writing my current project, The Half-Wyvern Trilogy, a grand universe spanning all of human history, from Ancient Egypt to mankind’s trevails among the stars.

Kirsten:  What or who inspired you to write seriously? Judging by all of the projects you mentioned writing, you most certainly don’t just do it as a hobby.

Drake:  I believe the first time I actually started to take my writing seriously was when I picked up a copy of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines and read the whole book in two days. Shortly after that, I picked up Wings of Fire and read most of the series in a period of about 6 months. I had written things before then, as I said earlier, but Half-Wyvern is my first original novel. The idea came to me in the midst of a HTTYD fanfic I was doing, and was originally just a generic fantasy thing that turned out to be like a terrible knockoff of LOTR but with HTTYD. I loved the idea of these characters but had no clue how to use them until I started thinking of changing the setting. Instead of having it be a stock fantasy world, why not have it be set in our world, long into the future after a great nuclear war? That was when I hit upon something I knew was going to be big—a post-apocalyptic fantasy story with elements of LOTR, HTTYD, Star Wars, Mortal Engines, Wings of Fire, Ranger’s Apprentice/Brotherband Chronicles, and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet graphic novel series.

Kirsten:  In your own words, what is your latest book, The Half-Wyvern, about?

DrakeThe Half-Wyvern is the start of a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic United States roughly 150 years from now. Humanity could not have risen to its position as of the story without the help of the dragons, who had been exiled deep underground over a thousand years ago, during the Middle Ages. After the nuclear war, the dragons discovered they were free to return to the surface world. When there, the two species helped each other out and slowly began to rebuild society. By the year 2160, humanity has begun to build itself back up again, with technology levels approaching the Wild West era.

Kirsten:  What inspired this book idea?

Drake:  Oooh, good question. I’ve read a lot of fantasy/sci-fi books over the years and have seen many more movies and TV shows. Some of the more broad inspirations I have are Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the videogames Portal and Portal 2, LEGO (specifically Power Miners, a LEGO theme from when I was about 9 years old that got me obsessed with LEGO), Jupiter Ascending, Ranger’s Apprentice, Wings of Fire and Mortal Engines. However, there are more specific inspirations for The Half-Wyvern Trilogy, specifically the latter two in the list above. Wings of Fire and How To Train Your Dragon were the chief inspirations for the sentient dragons in Half-Wyvern and their civilization; Mortal Engines, as well as a movie called War of the Worlds: Goliath, inspired the overall aesthetic of the world and a lot of the machinery. But more interestingly, a lot of these books actually are referenced in Half-Wyvern on a certain character’s bookshelf. The Rebellion in the story, called the Legion of Free Americans, or more simply the Dragonkeepers, are organizing a fight against the villainous King of Andethron (AKA the Eastern Seaboard), so that is obviously inspired by Star Wars. And the magic system and the existence of fantasy creatures like Dragons, Wizards, etc., is a concept from The Lord of the Rings. But most of the inspiration was my own ideas.

For example, some of the warfare concepts include an image I had in my head for a while of dragons with machine guns mounted on their armored helmets engaging in aerial dogfights with enemy aircraft and airships. Another was the idea of a Wizard enchanting a gun to never run out of ammunition in a firefight, and yet another was the idea of sentient dragons with their own culture, language and society. Some of the story elements, such as the complacent hero twist on the Hero’s Journey format, came from my own experiences in life. And still others, such as the idea to set a high fantasy story in the future in a ruined America, came from my desire to put a spin on fantasy that hasn’t been done all that often. I can count one hand the Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy stories that have been successful, among them Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember quartet, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman’s satire Good Omens. All of them are well-known and good books, but no one’s really tried a High Fantasy twist on post-apoc. Most of it is Mad Max, and that franchise is little more than a stereotype these days for post-apocalyptic fiction. I wanted to do something different with both the setting and the narrative to further distinguish myself from all the other J-level fantasy authors.

Another big inspiration was the music of Pink Floyd—who I would argue are the greatest band of the last century—and the overall vibe of old school music. There’s just something timeless about a select few artists from the 1960s to the 1990s that really makes me feel like I’m right there with my characters in the story. But Pink Floyd is the greatest of them all—their albums The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell have given me more life to my inner thoughts about the stories themselves than anything I’ve ever heard before.

Kirsten:  Who inspires you to write better?

Drake:  A lot of people inspire me to write better, but often certain things in my life inspire me too. I look back at how far I’ve come with my writing to see what I can do to improve and what I can do differently. My father inspires me to write the best stories I can, and my mother does much the same—I think of what my friends and family would like to read and then I write it and in the process make it better than they could have ever imagined. And of course, through God’s world, His Word and His gifts, I strive to tell the best possible story I can.

Kirsten:  What is your goal in writing The Half-Wyvern?

Drake:  My goal with The Half-Wyvern is to, I pray, start a business for myself. I have enough material in my head for an entire mythos surrounding this trilogy, taking place both before and after. It spans genres, spans millennia, spans a galaxy, all connected by various threads and things introduced in this trilogy. This is a mere stepping stone to a larger world. My goal is to have this entire trilogy published by the end of the decade, along with various other multimedia projects well underway. I want to be able to create something that will be shared among my generation and beyond for potentially the rest of my life. I want to create something that will last in pop culture, like LOTR, Star Wars or Harry Potter. I want to bring glory to God with my efforts, and I want to bring to life a whole new world for kids and adults to enjoy in a way they never expected. I want to teach kids valuable lessons that they’re likely not going to get in our rather self-centered and toxic society—they need to learn what it means to be human. And that, I believe, is the best possible goal I could ever be a part of.

This book promises to be exciting and filled with action and adventure.  According to the author, if all goes well, the book will be out over Memorial Day Weekend 2020, available as an eBook and in paperback.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment down below.

Signing off for now!

 

A Threefold Chord is Not Quickly Broken {A Guest Post by Kirsten J. Foster}

“Two are better than one.” This comes from a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes, which says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV)

People can do many things better alone – like certain chores and tasks – but teamwork is a better option sometimes.  Have you ever seen a sailor sail a large ship alone? Does a warlord go to conquer a city by himself? How about an organization or ministry director?  Do they do everything alone? Of course not! One person alone would never take a city by himself, a single sailor could never handle such a large ship at sea, and the director would be overwhelmed if he/she tried to handle matters alone.  These things require a team effort.

Imagine you’re hiking through the woods alone, just enjoying yourself and the nature around you.  However, you slip down a steep bank and hurt yourself. First, it is a bad idea to hike by yourself (Ecclesiastes 4:10), and second, you have no one there to assist you or get help!

However, when two or three of your friends join you for this hike, there are many great benefits:

a)     You are safer together

b)     You are less likely to meander off and get lost

c)      If one of you stumbles, the others are there to keep you steady

d)     If you come across danger, you have a better chance at fending it off than if you were alone (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Now you have heard me talk about some of the benefits of the power of companionship, but you are probably thinking, “What does this look like in real life?”  I thought I would take some artistic liberties and give some examples of companionship that I have seen and read in movies and books.  Please note that these ideas are my own and might be different from your views.    

Bonanza’s Cartwright Family 

Stories of love, loyalty, friendship, courage, and family play a major role in this western TV show that aired in the 60’s and 70’s.  In multiple episodes, half-brothers Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe demonstrate sibling troubles, but they also show how teamwork can accomplish more than going alone.

When Little Joe needed help rebuilding a large logging flume that a group of men damaged, his family came alongside and helped him out – and they even completed the project in record time!  If Little Joe chose to work on the project alone, would he ever be able to accomplish that much?  (Fourth season, The Quest)

When Adam did not meet Little Joe at Signal Rock, what did the youngest Cartwright do?  He sent word to his family about the problem at hand, and the three of them set out to find their lot kin.  Together, they could cover more ground and have a better chance at finding Adam rather than if Little Joe searched the desert alone.  (Third season, The Crucible)

When Little Joe did not know how to handle a situation concerning a deaf girl, did he choose to fight his conscience alone?  Instead, he told his problem to Ben, who gave him careful advice on what Little Joe could do. It can be a large burden on a man to deal with stressful problems alone, but when he has a partner to share some of that burden, things usually move along much smoother.  (Second season, Silent Thunder)

Most of the time, when a fist brawl erupts and one of the brothers is in the middle of it, the other two step in.  Most of the time, it is only because the chaos is getting out of hand, but sometimes, the two will do it out of pure protection for their kin.  Three men can overtake a group better than one alone.

The Cartwright family shows us the wholesome values of family and collaboration, which we can apply to our lives.  We may not be wandering deserts in search of lost family, but we can most certainly use the example of teamwork to cover more ground as we do assorted yard work.  Building a flume to get timber down to sawmills may not be our issue, but it is handy to have some extra help when fixing a house or outbuilding. Whatever the case, this family of hard working ranchers show us that collaboration can achieve more than if we’re alone.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

 

Middle-Earth and the fate of all living things depends on a single Hobbit to stop the growing evil in the east that threatens to take over the world.  Throughout all three books, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee go through many challenges and trials that a Hobbit could never imagine! However, through all of it, they remain friends.

Let us take a look at Sam for a moment.  He had the choice to remain in The Shire and continue living a simple life, yet he still decided to venture into the unknown with Frodo.  When things got really hard, and he had the chance to desert Frodo, he chose to keep his promise to Gandalf and remained with his friend.  Because of Sam’s choice, he was able to help protect Frodo from greedy Gollum (The Two Towers) and prevent his friend from slipping the Ring of Power on a few times.

If Frodo were to embark on such a quest alone, who knows what trouble he would run into!  Or what about those times when the ring seemingly called to Frodo, and Sam had to tackle his friend once to prevent him from making a horrible decision? (The Two Towers 2002 movie addition) 

Everything I have said here goes back to that verse in Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one.”  Because Sam went with Frodo, he was able to help his friend prevail in many challenges and keep him accountable with the ring.  Together, the two of them demonstrate deep loyalty and outstanding partnership. 

Kirsten Foster’s Concord Mason and Daniel Roberts

When you live in the wild land of Montana Territory, I would highly recommend buddying up with someone!  Well, these two young men do just that. One being trained to live off the land and fight and the other having the knowledge of books and business, Daniel and Concord both embark on an adventure that neither of them can imagine as they both seek to discover their calling in life.

In this example, the two young men have different skills that can help the other.  If Daniel is facing a mountain lion, then Concord can protect his friend with the help of a rifle. 

On the other hand, let us say someone plans to swindle Concord in a business deal.  In that case, Daniel knows how to sniff these things out and is able to prevent his friend from falling into a troublesome trap.

The two men have very different skills, and they can each use them to help the other.  Together, the two of them stand a better chance in the rough country and lawless towns than if either went alone. 

In addition, they can help encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Concord deals with insecurity in life, and Daniel helps him through his insecurities by sharing encouragement and sticking by his friend’s side.

Daniel, on the other hand, has only ever dealt with an occasional stage hold up and lived in town his entire life, so living in the wilderness with the constant threat of robbers is a fearful experience for him.  However, good ol’ Concord is there to reassure and protect his friend. 

These are all good examples of what collaboration and friendship look like in our world.  However, there is a final example I would like to share. 

As a Christian, each of the three strands mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a part of my life.  Christ is one of those three strands. He is the strongest strand in that threefold cord, so that when the two weaker ones break, He still holds us together.  Though my life may be a wreck and my family a mess, I still have Christ as my stronghold.

In Nahum 1:7, it says, “The Lord is good, a refuge and stronghold in times of trouble.”  Our friends may have walked away from us, and we may feel alone in our sufferings, but the Lord will never leave you.  It may feel like the world is crashing down around us, and we are slipping away with it, but God is holding onto you. He is that strand in the threefold cord that will never break, no matter what.  

The Conclusion 

For Christmas last year, I braided western-looking braids out of hemp cording.  Sure, one strand alone is easy to cut with a pair of scissors, but try cutting the braided cord.  It’s a lot harder, isn’t it? It is the same with companionship and collaboration. When two or three people are battling a dangerous animal, it is most likely that the animal will lose because it is outnumbered (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  Safety in numbers.

On the other hand, think about those times where you feel hurt and lost inside.  Those times where you don’t know what to do. You do not have to hide your feelings from everyone.  It can actually be dangerous sometimes to keep painful feelings bottled inside.

We should not feel like we have to cope with these things alone.  It’s good to have a shoulder to lean and cry on at times, and it feels good to know that there is someone out there who you can talk to and share your burdens with.  It feels good to know we have someone we can depend on to help us. 

Think back to what I said about Little Joe and Ben.  Little Joe could have chosen to try to solve his problems alone concerning the deaf girl, but he admitted his weakness and turned to his father for help.  With a few comforting words and wise advice from Ben, Little Joe found the encouragement and ideas he needed to solve his problem.

The power of love and friendship.

Finally, remember that God is one of those three strands in life.  He’s the strongest one that holds the other two together, even when they break.  He is the one in control and will always be by your side, no matter what.

I challenge you today to remember the amazing power in collaboration.  Sure, there are many things that you can do best alone, but there are just some things that work best when you do it with others.  Besides – it can be a lot of fun to do stuff when you’re not alone!  

And that fantastic article was written my very good friend, Kirsten Foster. I’d like to once again thank her for her contributions to my blog, and I hope you were encouraged and blessed as you read what she had to say. 🙂

The Mystery Blogger Award

Hello everyone!

I’ll try not to make it a habit to post tags too often, but I thought I’d just do this one, just so you all can find out a bit more about me since this blog is still fresh.

Thank you to the lovely Abi Lyn for tagging me for this award! ❤

First up, the rules!
1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
2. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. (This award was created by Okoto Enigmas.)
4. Answer the 5 questions you were asked.
5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
6. You have to nominate 10-20 people.
7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
9. Share a link to your best post(s).

I thought I’d splatter the post with a bunch of corny gifs to spice it up a little. Alrighty, let’s get started then!

Le Questions

1. What is your favorite meal for dinner?

Oh, anything with potatoes in it. Or soup, because weirdly enough, I’m a soup addict. Or rice paper rolls. *licks lips*

Oh look, it’s Michelle!
2. What’s your favorite kind of fruit juice?

I don’t drink juice a lot, but if I had to choose, mango or orange juice is nice.

This is a very dizzying gif…
3. What is your favorite type of music?

I love all kinds of music! It depends what mood I am in. I’m usually listening to contemporary music or songs from musicals, but I love a Capella as well. I’ve currently been obsessed with the Wicked soundtrack and Rachel Platten songs.

4. What is your favorite room in the house and why?

My bedroom, because it’s comfortable and quiet, and I can sing really loud, and because our house doesn’t have a lot of rooms other than other people’s bedrooms. But I also love it in the family room when everyone is there, because it’s cozy and I love spending time with family.

5. If you could become fluent in one language in an instant, what language would it be?

I think I’d pick Tagalog (Filipino), because it’s natural to want to know your own language. If I had a second choice, I would pick French.

3 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. I’m a Hufflepuff. 36% Hufflepuff, 23% Gryffindor, 21% Ravenclaw, and 20% Slytherin.
I thought this was Ricky Gervais for a second

2. I was homeschooled all the way up to grade 10.

3. I’m secretly Hermione Granger even though I’m not really like her, and I only wrote this because I couldn’t think of another fact about me.

I nominate: (apologies if you don’t do tags)

Noah @ Life In Kyoto

Rhi @ Marshmallow Harmonies

Sarah @ Paraphernalia

Jo @ Pananaw

Kenechi Duatron @ Randomgirlsramblings

Trudy @ True Story

I also nominate all the other Hufflepuffs out there, and anyone else who would like to do this award/tag!

My questions for you

  1. What is the strangest story and/or blog post you have ever written?
  2. What is your current favourite book and why?
  3. Are you an extrovert, an ambivert, or an introvert?
  4. Would you rather have one wish granted right now, or three wishes granted five years from now?
  5. What qualities do you look for in a friend?

And last but not least, my favorite post to write was 9 Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life.

I had a lot of fun with this post, so thank you once again, Abi, for nominating me!

| Do you like doing tags? | Which Hogwarts house do you belong to? | Do you like potatoes and soup? | Will you do this tag? |

P.S The backround featured image is from Canva.com

4 Steps to Making Great Goals for 2020

Hello everyone!

During this time of year we’re getting ready to go back to school (well some of us), we’re making new goals and reaching for new stars.

Last week, I took a goal-setting class on The Young Writer’s Workshop. Because of how much it helped me, I wanted to share with you the four steps I learned to setting good goals– condensed into one post. For this class, we were setting goals for our writing journey, fiction of non-fiction. However, you can set goals for anything you would like.

The first step to making great goals is to reflect on the past year.

This is a time to focus on gratitude, milestones (big or small), achievements and anything else you would like to include. Do this in bullet points, or you can even freewrite a messy paragraph if that’s what works for you. If you can’t remember what happened, ask your family members or refer to your journal if you have one. When you’re writing this, some things to remember are:

  • Milestones/achievements
  • Obstacles that didn’t defeat you
  • Paradigm shifts you experienced (a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions– a change in mind, basically)
  • Important decisions you made
  • Key books or resources you completed

After you’ve done this, figure out what worked and what didn’t, so you can block out the unhelpful things, and continue doing the things that benefited you.

Now it’s time to reflect on where you want to be in the future.

This should be a free, one paragraph (or more, I can’t expect writers to keep it to one) reflection on what you want 2020 to look like for you. Write down everything that comes to mind, and don’t be afraid to go wild on this, this is for you, no one else.

Write this in present tense. So instead of, ‘I will wake up early every morning to read my Bible’, it should be ‘I wake up early every morning to read my Bible’. This helps to get you into this positive mindset; it’s as if you are already doing it, and we can envision ourselves already reaching our goals.

Have fun with this step!

The next step is to reflect on your current reality and where you are now in life.

I get that this may be a little discouraging, but this will be very helpful to plan your next steps. I find it helped me to face what I was feeling and allow me to do something about it, or even just realise it. If you’re not comfortable doing this, don’t feel you have to.

This is a time to get brutally honest about your current situation. Where are you now? Maybe you’re dealing with some tough things, or you’re stressed out. Whatever it is, take the time to write it down. After you’ve done this, take some time to write a short reflection on what you learned from this exercise. Maybe you’ve discovered something you’ve been hiding from, or didn’t want to realise.

Refer back to your desired destination in step 2 and use them to help you write down 2-4 big goals for the year.

Ah, here we are. We’ve come to the setting-goals step. The first step, is to make sure these goals are your own and based on your views, values, and ideas; not anyone else’s.

It’s really important to keep your goals minimal, as it can be overwhelming to have a lot of goals. After you have written down your big goals for the year, now is the time to plan out the next achievable and simple step to get you closer to your goal. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

A bad example of a goal would be:

Goal: I’ll get better at blogging.

What exactly does ‘better’ mean for you? What does it look like to ‘get better’? Be specific. It’s not time measurable. Is there a deadline? This might seem obvious to you, but having the deadline right next to your goal — even if it’s just December 31st 2020 — is helpful.

A bad example of a next step would be:

Consistency equals getting better, so I’ll start being consistent on my blog.

Although it is great to be consistent, what does consistency look like for you based on what your schedule is already like? How does one ‘start’ being consistent?

For example, one of my goals is:

Goal 3: Consistently write 1 blog post per week until the end of the year.

Next step: Sit down and write down blog post ideas and based on past postings, find the day that works best for me to post. (My next step could be: make a detailed plan with deadlines as well as plan days to batch create.)

The goal is time measurable, and something that I can achieve if I work at it. The next step will get me one step closer to my goal, and is specific. When you’re setting your next steps, be sure to set ones that you can easily complete so that you can write down your next step after that. Or, ones that will set a chain reaction of consistency and habit are great. But for now, focus on one easy-to-complete next step.

If your goal was ‘Get better at blogging’, you could change it to: Complete and study (book title) on blogging by (date). Your next step could be something like: Go to the library to check for the book, and gather a few friends to study the book with me.

Once you have your goals, well done! If you did this, share your goals down below if you’re comfortable. I would love to read them and cheer you on! All of our goals will look different for each of us. Some of our next steps may include making detailed plans, but some of you might not like rigid plans and are more flexible. Do what works for you, just make sure they follow the S.M.A.R.T plan. 🙂

To review the steps:

1. Reflect on the past year.

2. Reflect on where you want to be in the future.

3. Reflect on where you are now.

4. Make your goals using the S.M.A.R.T plan.

All that said, the process of setting goals should not be stressful or overwhelming; it should be fun and motivating. If it’s starting to overwhelm you, maybe it’s time to take a step back and be kind to yourself. 🙂

I promise this is not a tactic to get you to comment; I genuinely love reading your comments, and I love responding to each and every one of them.

What are your goals and next steps in 2020?

Did you find this post helpful? Will you do these steps?

Anything else you want to comment? Leave it down below! This is a judgement free zone, and your mind is welcome. 😉

 P.S The backround featured image is from Canva.com

In Which I Fangirl Over Beck And August And Joey And Perfect Notes

You’re worth more than a thousand perfect notes.

Yes my darling Beck, yes you are.

OH. MY. WORD. How perfect is this book? I can’t describe all my fuzzy feelings for this awesome book. I read this in a couple hours and I loved every minute of it.

Zielle, you may ask, what’s with the title? Who in the potato is Beck and Joey and August and Perfect Notes? This is a book review by the way. As soon as I finished the book and I scribbled down a messy, jumbled, fan-girly review and posted it on Goodreads. My mum read it and told me not to change it up because it seems natural. Lucky for you, I edited a little bit, just so it’s at least seemingly coherent.

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

|The Style/Writing |

The way C.G Drews presents the story is so real and deep, it reels in the reader and makes it so relatable. I was hooked with every page and devoured the book in a couple hours.

Drews did a fantastic job of weaving in amazing and deep quotes throughout the book; they were so full of wisdom and thoughtfulness; prepare your highlighters, readers!

And let me just say, the style. WOW. The style is so beautiful and it connected with me and penetrated my very soul because it was thoughtful and broken and hurt and confused and amazing and talented, and at this point I’m just talking about Beck Keverick.

|The Charries |

I think cinnamon roll or vegan cake sorry I just had too is the only way to describe Beck. He is the kindest, most caring person ever. He was a character I could really connect with because of the way he was portrayed. His thoughts scattered throughout the book made the reading experience everything. He cares so much for August, although he tries not to show it, and it is so obvious how much he cares for Joey. He is the most gorgeous human bean.

Can I just say how much I love Joey? It breaks my heart to see how broken she is, and how her world slowly changes when she witnesses things a five year old shouldn’t witness.

And August is the sweetest human. I loved her banter, her dialogue, and her personality. And also her parents. How can I not mention her parents?

I think my heart nearly stopped when I read that part about Jan and then realised that he was still a good guy who was on Beck’s side because Beck deserves it. I also just realised that sentence will only make sense to people who have actually read the book. Jan is an amazing addition to the book.

The author crafted these characters so well, although (I know the story is not about Beck’s mother) I wanted to see a bit more layers to his mum. That’s not gonna stop me from giving this book the five stars it deserves, though.

Can you tell I LOVED this book?? Because I do. And did I mention that I love it? There are so many beautiful lines in this book. It’s all so deep and meaningful and everything ties in perfectly together and I didn’t want to put it down.

|Content |

There is a bit of swearing and insults in German and one s**t, and physical and verbal child abuse of my favourite people.

| Overall |

Overall, I totally recommend that you read this book. It’s not a very heavy read and you can finish it fairly quick, but it has some deep messages in it. To me, every sentence in the book had it’s place and purpose. It was all meaningful.

| Will you read A Thousand Perfect Notes? | Have you read this book before? | Who is your favourite character from one of your favourite books? |

Say Hello 2020 | Just some thoughts

Hello future!

2019 has come to a close, and if it had just come to a close, and it was January 1st instead of 12AM on January 4th, this would make more sense. But play along and pretend it’s January 1st.

It’s New Years Eve, (well it was, at the time I started writing this) there will be food, fireworks, noise, family and friends. It’s a small end of year for us this year, no going to visit relatives, and the whole family isn’t here. But that’s okay.

I’ve thought a little bit about 2020. There are a lot of things to add to the list of things that I could do better. A lot of things are changing. I’m moving schools. That is, I’m moving from homeschool to a big VCE public school. That’s crazy! I’ve been thinking about it, and it scares me. It excites me and I’m grateful for this opportunity, but it’s also scary to think about it. It’s a massive school with new people, it’s a different environment, and it’s the last two years of my schooling. I have that nagging thought in the back of my mind that tells me I’ll never be good enough.

This is the time of year where we usually set expectations for ourselves. It’s so great to make goals for ourselves, but this can be a time where we can compare ourselves to others. We plan vigorously for the next year, and we lift the standards for ourselves so high so that we can be better, that we feel discouraged because we can never reach them. We make goals to be like that popular girl who always looks perfect, or that guy who is good at literally everything. Been there, done that.

Maybe the reason we never reach our goals is because we set them too high. Maybe the reason we don’t change is not the fact that we actually don’t change, but we don’t notice the change. We’re too busy shooting for the highest star, that we don’t notice the star we’ve already caught. I’m not saying to shoot high, go for it! But if it’s for the wrong reason, it’s not healthy for us.

In the youth theatre that I am part of, the director always says that she’s not looking for who is the best singer, or the best actress or the best overall performer. She is looking at us as individuals, and if we are making magic to the best of our ability. Not to the ability of the best singer in the room. To the best of our ability. She looks at whether or not we’re doing our best; pouring our heart and soul into what we’re doing. She wants us to reach for OUR star and no one else’s.

I’m still learning to set goals for myself and no one else. I’m learning to set the goals that I want to set, not the goals that I think other people want me to set. I want to be the best I can be. And it’s still a learning process for me. But I’m learning to reflect on myself and what my goals as an individual are.

And I’ll get there someday. And so will you.

P.S the backround featured image is from Canva.com

Nine Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life

Now before we get started,

I know it’s late, but better late than never, yes? I pray that you all had a wonderful time celebrating Jesus and family. 🙂

Over the past year, I had the privilege of performing in the ensemble of Les Miserables with our Youth Theatre. I can safely say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Over the eight shows, we received standing ovations and roaring applause, and tears and laughter. As well as gaining and strengthening some great friendships, I got to see firsthand the ‘behind the scenes’ of it all.

Some musicals are for entertainment purposes only, and while Les Miserables is certainly entertaining, there are powerful themes of love, hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

I have yet to watch Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s Broadway or London West End performance of this musical, but if you have seen any version of it, I can only guess that it touched you. To my great delight, I recently received my DVD of our performance, and I straight away put it onto my laptop and prepared myself for a good laugh and cry.

The scene in which the Bishop shows Valjean mercy and compassion is always a very touching scene for me, embodying the very essence of the production; love. And of course, the young, barricade boys fighting and dying for their freedom always manages to bring the waterworks. Ultimately, the entire musical means a great deal to me, and it will always have a special place in my heart. 

So without further ado, here are nine things that Les Miserables tells us about life.

1. Our pasts do not define us.

We all make mistakes. We’re all human. Sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us, and it’s easy to live in the falsehood that our past defines who we are.

Jean Valjean is the perfect example of this. From the beginning of the story, Valjean is looked down upon by others, especially by Inspector Javert. Valjean is part of the chain gang because he stole a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Because of this, even when he is given a ticket of leave, his papers and his brand always remind both him and society of who he is.

We see a remarkable change in Valjean. Despite his past he is running from, he leads a loving and compassionate life, putting others before himself and lovingly raising his adopted daughter. He embraces who he truly is in God and in himself when he tells Cosette the truth about his past. He is no longer 24601. He is Jean Valjean! 

Because of God’s grace and salvation, we can live with the hope of a better future. What is important is how we live our now in preparation for the great future God has in store for us.

Jean Valjean. And no I don’t have a picture of Hugh Jackman lying around. Aka this is not my photo

2. You can always look to God.

Have you ever felt sad? Happy? I have. So many times in life we can be angry, lonely, depressed, confused, or excited. But I have the encouragement and the promise from God that He will never leave me or forsake me. And that promise is for you as well. 

When Jean Valjean is shown kindness by the Bishop and Valjean gives his life to God, he makes a conscious effort to look to God in all of his circumstances. God has become a big part of his life, especially when he sings ‘Who Am I’ and includes God in his tough decision. Even when he is singing for Marius’ safety in “Bring Him Home,”  his song is a song of prayer to God. In this touching song, he sings:

God on high,

Hear my prayer.

In my need,

You have always been there.

You can take,

You can give,

Let him be,

Let him live.

   

Les Miserables shows us that through it all, we can look to God in the sad and in the happy times.

3. Freedom is worth fighting for.

It’s easy to feel as if hope is lost. That our freedom is out of reach and we can’t do anything about it. And then from there, it’s easy to sit back and ‘wait for it all to blow over’, as Uncle Max from Sound of Music says in submission when the Nazis are taking over Austria.

But the truth is, our freedom is worth fighting for. Our voices are worth being heard, and the truth is worth being told.

The barricade boys including Marius and Enjolras, depict this perfectly. These ‘school boys’ who ‘never held a gun’ fight for their country; their freedom. Although young, inexperienced, and looked down upon by society, they fought, giving their people a hope for a better tomorrow. 

Enjolras and the barricade boys.

4. Love and compassion is the greatest gift.

A huge theme stressed in Les Miserables is love. Victor Hugo, the author of the book, asserts that love and compassion are the greatest gifts one can give another. He says that always showing these qualities should be the most important goal in life, and that love and compassion is infectious, passed on from one person to another.

Through simple acts of kindness, a person’s life can be changed forever. Through one act of kindness shown to Valjean, he passes on the kindness to Fantine. He looks past the situation and sees her dire need of someone to show her love. In doing so, he is able to rescue and adopt Fantine’s young daughter. The trio: Valjean, Fantine, and Eponine sing these words in the Epilogue, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

So what kind thing are you going to do this week? Whether it be smiling at someone, or volunteering at a homeless shelter, our kindness matters. Every smile and act of kindness counts.

5. Even the worst people are worth forgiving.

Oh, how easy it is to hate our enemies and love those who do good to us even though we are supposed to love our enemies. It’s a hard thing to do. But even if we don’t think someone is worth forgiving, ultimately, that decision is God’s, and He says that we are forgiven. How great is that?

Javert has been relentlessly hunting down our hero for eight years. Others may have seen Javert’s cruel acts to Valjean and to the lower class in society (he saw them as the righteous thing to do) as unforgivable, therefore he was not worthy of compassion or mercy as he showed none to others. However, Valjean turns all our expectations around when he shows compassion to Javert.

6. We sometimes make our own images of God.

It can be easy to create our own ideal image of God to fit our comfort zones.

We see this in Javert. He is so deluded by his own belief of God, believing it is his duty to bring Valjean to justice. By twisting up what God’s will for him is, he makes his own version of God that gives him ‘power’. God is just, most certainly, but Javert overlooks the other qualities of God; His kindness, His forgiveness, mercy and grace, and His eternal love for us. By doing so, Javert is able to justify his actions. 

It’s easy to fall into this pit, believe me, I know. Sometimes we don’t even notice we are doing it. This is why walking close with God and learning from Him is vital for us to see who He really is. 

So how can we be sure of who God is? The Bible is full of verses describing God’s greatness. 

Exodus 34:6 says,

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth,”

Among others, he is our redeemer, our rock and our strength, he is everlasting love, he is mercy and grace, he is Prince of Peace!

7. Misuse of power can lead to suffering.

Sometimes when we’re in a position of power, whether it be small or large, we can misuse that power just as Inspector Javert does.

Javert has so much faith in his flawed morality that it leads him astray. In his big song ‘Stars’, he sings these words:

He knows his way in the dark,

Mine is the way of the Lord.

And those who follow the path of the righteous

Shall have their reward.

And if they fall as Lucifer fell?

The flames, the sword!

And so it must be, for so it is written

On the doorway to paradise!

That those who falter and those who fall

Shall pay the price.

In other words, Javert believes it is his duty to thrust his understanding of righteousness on Valjean. He believes that if he fails to do so, he himself will pay the price. He lets his moral beliefs overpower his love for others, creating a twisted view of what justice and righteousness is.

Whether you are in a position of leadership at school, at church, or even at home, approach this God-given ‘authority’ with love and mercy. Because ultimately, God is the one with the power. 

Javert and his hat.

8. When we give ourselves to others, we begin to recognize our own worth.

In Valjean’s soliloquy, he says this: “For I had come to hate the world, this world that always hated me.”

But when this one Bishop shows him kindness by giving him a place to rest and eat, Valjean sees God’s mercy and turns his life around. As mentioned above, kindness is infectious. This rings true with Valjean when he commits acts of kindness without asking anything in return after he is showed compassion.

In ‘Who Am I’, when he faces the dilemma of freedom or a life of guilt knowing he condemned a man to slavery, he says: “My soul belongs to God, I know, I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on…” And from then he makes the decision to tell Javert who he really is.

At the end of the prologue, Valjean sings these words: ‘Jean Valjean is nothing now, another story must begin!’ But when he changes his life for the better, he can now accept who he is. He knows who he is. He is no longer defined by his past. He’s Jean Valjean!

9. What Kind Of Person Am I Going To Be? 

One question is lifted up above all the others in Les Mis: What kind of person am I going to be?

Ask yourself these questions: Who am I going to be defined by? By God? By myself? By my peers? By society? All nine characters are from different walks of life; who I am most like? What type of person do I strive to be? Who am I now?

Jean Valjean, by the grace of God, turns his life around and does not allow it to be defined by his past. Javert, who lets his delusional idea of justice overpower his love. Fantine, all alone, a scorned and desperate mother doing all she can for her young daughter. Cosette, young and innocent, yearning for answers about hers, and her father’s past. The Thenardiers, conniving and sly, taking everything for themselves and trampling all over others. Eponine, chasing after a love she cannot have. Marius, young, and torn between his love for and duty to his country and his love for Cosette. And Enjolras, the young man who leads the barricade boys into a fight for their country and their freedom.

Ultimately, we are being asked what kind of person we are or what kind of person we are going to be. Are we going to try and get everything we want? Are we going to put ourselves above other people and give ourselves power and authority, letting convictions cloud our love for others? Or are we going to live with compassion and kindness like Valjean?

Only we can make that choice. Sure, the seed can be planted, but we choose if we’re going to water it or not. Through God’s saving power, we can be better. 

Only we can decide to leave our past behind and live in the present to build towards the future. Only we choose our own path. 

So which will it be?