Sunday, May 22, 2016

My very long rant about "Me Before You"

*** WARNING. This post contains huge SPOILERS that will most definitely ruin the book and movie for you. I've warned you. Read on if you dare ***
*** Second WARNING. These are all my own thoughts and opinions. I'm writing this post because I have no one to discuss this with. It's summer and all my friends are either scattered around the world or are in the middle of reading the book and/or awaiting the movie. So, please, bear with me and don't get too upset for my thoughts/feelings. If you do feel the need to discuss what I've said below, please be respectful and I shall be respectful back. Also, this was written late at night so I apologize if it doesn't really make sense.. :) ***

It's been FOREVER since I last wrote on here (SORRY!!!!) so I apologize if this was not what you were expecting for my first post back. But I had to get this off my chest and you can't just write this on Facebook because not everyone has read the book or is familiar with the story.

We're (well I am) going to talk about Jojo Moyes' hit romance/drama novel called "Me Before You." The movie is being released pretty soon starring Sam Claflin (the best!) and Emilia Clark.

I'm not really going to go into much detail about the plot because you can look it up on IMDB or Wikipedia but basically, this quirky young woman takes a job as a health care assistant for this very rich, very arrogant, and very depressed quadriplegic  man named Will Traynor. They start out pretty much hating each others' guts but then become used to each others' quirks and personalities and eventually fall in love. However, Will has a dark secret because he can no longer take his life in a wheelchair (so far from his pretty incredible life before) and has made up his mind that he is going to kill himself (in a very "nice" way though. Apparently, there's this place in Switzerland where you can
go for a sort of "assisted suicide" thing.).

So, anyway, there's this really intense scene where Will and Lou have just shared their first kiss and then like two seconds afterwards, Will gives this long speech about no matter how much they love each other and no matter how much care Lou is able to give him as his body fails, she will never be enough for him because he longs for his previous self much more. So, he ends up going to this place in Switzerland and dies with her by his side.

So, naturally, I had a few problems with this book.

1) The Book Mottos/Lesson
"Live Boldly." "Live Well." "Just Live." This is what Will Traynor tells Lou over and over in the book. Why? Because Lou has only held a few jobs, is engaged to this other man who she doesn't really have anything in common left, has never left their quaint little town, is highly intelligent, and doesn't really take risks. The movie's going to push these quotes quite a bit too, I'm sure. Now, I have absolutely no problem with those sayings. In fact, that's a part of the book that I took with me and I do plan to remind myself to live my life BOLDLY and WELL. The problem is that Will telling Lou this makes himself a bit of a hypocrite.

How can he tell Lou to live her life boldly, live her life well, and JUST LIVE when at the same time he is planning on ending his life a few months later? How can you convince someone that they aren't really living just sitting, afraid to take chances and face fears, and afraid to challenge themselves? Will can't stop longing for his life before when he was a business man, a traveler, a risk-taker, and a huge ladies' man! He longs for his old life so much that he is unable to see any purpose in his current state of life so he decides that he needs to just die. No...I'm pretty sure you can't tell the woman that you secretly love to stop settling for less and reach out for more when you're planning to do the opposite.

Believe me, I do understand that he's immensely depressed and that it is REALLY, REALLY hard to be in a wheelchair, especially after such a bad accident and such a seemingly great life beforehand. But especially as a Christian, I know that life is still worth living (kind of like those lyrics to one of Justin Bieber's newest songs. Yup, had to make a JB reference). Being in a wheelchair, or being raped, or being robbed from, or put in prison, or losing a loved one, or failing school DOES NOT define you. It's going to hurt for a long, long time and really affect you but it doesn't mean that you're damaged goods and should just end your life. But even in saying this, I know that it is very hard to believe that for yourself especially when these issues are right in front of you. To quote my all-time favorite movie: "Bad things happen but you can STILL LIVE" (Super 8. Go see it asap).

When you put it like that, these sayings are no longer something you can quote back and forth with your girlfriends as you can with Hazel and Augustus' "Okay? Okay" thing ("Me Before You" has been compared numerous times to "The Fault in Our Stars" by the way..).

2) The Assisted Suicide Theme
You know that something is seriously wrong when a bunch of women ranging from all ages can get through a book like this (with such an incredible love story, mind you) and still be absolutely ok that it's basically condoning suicide. Meanwhile, we're living in a society where there are people ending their lives because of bullying, mental health problems, sexual orientation, religion, finances, etc. How is it ok for Will to do it? And going along with my rant above, how can he do it and at the same time urge someone else to live their life to the fullest no matter what?!

Lou has had it pretty hard. She's living in the shadow of her sister, her dad is always putting her down, she can't hold a job, her fiance is slipping away, was maybe involved in some sort of gang rape (wasn't entirely sure while reading the book) and (not to mention..) she's about to lose the love of her life (*cough* Will Traynor). Should she choose the same path as Will?



Now, you might be wanting to ask...

Am I still going to see this movie in theaters? Probably. Sam Claflin is an amazing actor and he will make the perfect Will Traynor (just see the trailer). And I'm convinced that Emilia Clarke will be an amazing Lou. But I also want to see the movie to see how close it is to the book. And finally, I hope that seeing the movie will help me to further understand why Will decided to make this decision. I'm still completely against it. It angers me  and breaks my heart (as you can see from this very long rant) that someone can get to a point in their life where they no longer see a purpose (just read my other posts. I've written many, many times about bullying and suicide prevention). But there are people in this world like him who feel that there life has no purpose. And I think it's important for us to show some empathy and try to understand where they are coming from. Personally, I hope it will enable me to pray for them better and to help them if I am ever to come into contact with someone feeling the same way.

"Me Before You" was beautifully written. I remember writing on Facebook about 24 pages into the book that I was already in love with the story and hadn't even been introduced to Will Traynor. Jojo Moyes is a great writer (much like John Green) and knows how to pull and tug on her readers' hearts. You can't help but swoon and squeal at the shared wit and sarcasm between Lou and Will. And you can't help but love Lou's dysfunctional family. And I'm sure this is why so many people have fallen in love with the story. But no matter how great the novel, I believe books are meant to teach you something. Sometimes the lessons are sad ones ("The Great Gatsby" for example) and sometimes they're really great ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower"? Or maybe "Paper Towns"? Sorry, it was hard to come up with one since I usually only read dark and somewhat depressing books). And if one of this book's lessons is that assisted suicide is ok then that's really awful (**I'm not actually sure if that was Jojo's intent but that's one thing I personally came away with).

Anyway, it was good to get this rant off my chest and I do hope that you were able to come away with something. Even if you don't agree, I hope it made you think and challenged you.

And once again, please feel free to have a quick chat with me about what I've said. But once again, please be respectful of my thoughts and opinions and I will do the same to you!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wow, I am SUPER sorry for the lack of posts, everyone. Been very busy with college life - studying, time with friends, sleeping, Netflix, God.. you know. But in honor of it being Valentine's Day, here is what I am sending to Jaqueline, Lucy, Eloie, Fady, and Ali!

**Feel free to use this with your own sponsored kids!!

Dear _____,
I pray that God is blessing you and your beautiful family right now. And I also hope that you are having a wonderful day! Today is when parts of the world celebrate Valentine's Day - a day all about showing love to everyone around us. Love can be shown through kindness, caring, prayer, and being there for your friends and family. DO YOU CELEBRATE VALENTINE'S DAY?

I would like to use this day to tell you how much I love you and am so blessed to have you in my life. Because of the love that Jesus has shown for me by dying on the cross and loving me even when I sin, I want to show this same love to you. I love you even though we have never seen each other face to face. I love you because of your _____, your ______, and because you are YOU. You are so special and so lovely. You become even more lovely and beautiful each and every day. This beauty is not just on your face. This love is also inside your heart as you care for your family and friends, learn at school, and go to church. And your strength is not just in your body. It is also in your heart. Why do we love? 1 John 4:19 tells us that "we love because God first loved us." 

Also sponsorship is opportunity. It is an opportunity for me to love you and an opportunity for you to love those around you, whether they are sponsored or not. Because as Christians, our godly love makes us very powerful. And we can either use this powerful love to help others or we can just keep it inside where it will never be used. I pray that you will use it to help others around you. That is what Jesus has done for us. WHAT ARE WAYS THAT YOU CAN SHOW LOVE?

Today, I will be praying for you. Not only will I be asking God to help you show love to everyone but I will also be thanking him for bringing you into my life. You are a blessing and a precious treasure. I love you!

Your sister: Alicia

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Prayers For Justin

What were your first thoughts when you saw the title of this post? Did you really want to click on the link and read this? I wouldn't have blamed you too much if you'd ignored it. But since you clicked on it, please hear me out.

I've been a fan of JB (or as we like to say - a "Belieber") since 8th grade. My friend first introduced me to his music by making me listen to One Time and Baby. From then on, I couldn't get enough of his music, his hair and his adorableness.

After a few years of obsession (you know - posters on my walls, his songs on replay, tears shed over me being in Africa while he was touring in the States . . ) I began to lose interest. I never hated him or his music but I no longer played his songs or kept up with him on Twitter.

Then, as I began to grow closer to God, I realized the importance of praying for people with so much influence. So, I started to pray for Justin. I asked God to keep him safe and healthy, to use him for his glory, to keep his motives and actions pure and occasionally, I would pray for the opportunity to meet him in person. I began listening to his music again. When you pray for someone, you learn to love them in a Christ-like way. I was no longer obsessed but I did find myself caring for him and for his well being. But I shouldn't be talking about the past. Even now, I pray for Justin.

The reason why I'm blogging about this is because, for a while, I honestly felt like the only person on the
planet who prayed for him. I'd never come across someone else who realized the great influence that he has over his fans can and should be used for good. Justin grew up in a Christian home and has a foundation built on Christ but somewhere along, he lost his way and found another path.

However, even though I thought that I was the only one who was praying for Justin, I decided to keep it up but also keep it to myself.

About a year ago I came across a page on Facebook  called Just Pray For Justin Bieber. When I found their page, I told them that they were an answer to prayer. You mean I'm not the only one praying for JUSTIN BIEBER?!?!

Now, I KNOW that Justin has made lots of terrible choices and he's far from being a perfect person. Especially after his "bad year." But just because he's made lots of mistakes does not give us the right to judge him or degrade him. Don't forget that God created him and wants to continue to bless him and his career.

Especially now that it looks like he's turning his life around (just google "Justin Bieber Christianity" and you'll get a bunch of interviews about him talking about his faith. I mean, he even invited a reporter to church. And you can click HERE to see a video of him praying for the recent Paris attacks during one of his shows), it's not the time to beat him down. I do think it's ok to be reluctant about whether or not he's serious (even though I truly believe he is) but stop and think for a second.

As Christians, we know that we have been saved by grace. We know that we're nowhere near perfect and mess up every.single.day. I mean, our sins don't end up on national TV but in God's eyes, they're just as bad as what Justin has done. I honestly know that I have sins that could compare to what he's done. But again, Jesus died for my sins as he did for Justin's.

That's part of the reason why I've been praying for him and follow pages that do as well. And the "Just Pray for Justin Bieber" page has influenced me to create my own page where I can openly share prayers and praises about him too.


The tagline on the Facebook  and the Twitter  pages says: "A page for dedicated believers and Beliebers to come together to pray and support Justin Bieber" because that's what I want to be about.

So yeah, I made the page because I'm still a pretty big fan. I'm obsessed with his new album and I love seeing him on Ellen or Jimmy Fallon. But I also made it because I truly want to pray for him and care about him because I believe that it's one of the ways that God's using me. Honestly. Because when you've got someone who has so much influence over his fans and what they listen to and believe, it's important that they stay rooted in God. And when you have someone so young surrounded by wealth, money, and probably doesn't have many people to trust, it can definitely get depressing. Depression is scary and it's dangerous. So, I've learned to look past the whole "celebrity image" thing and just see people.

And yes, I've already gotten some hate for making this page and for sharing that I pray for Justin. But that's ok because I believe in the power of prayers and I believe that God can do anything. So, who knows what will happen as of a result of these prayers?

Therefore . . .

I would like to ask you guys to please "Like" my page and "Follow" me on Twitter. Please help me get the word out. Maybe other Bieber fans can start to pray for him too. Or maybe people will keep asking me why I pray for Justin and I can share the Gospel with them! I also hope that you will start to pray for him too - even if it's only once a month or even once a year.


#PrayersForJustin


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Meeting Spencer Kane

I'm finally getting around to writing about that day that I went to Benton to help out at Spencer Kane at a concert.

I've been a fan of Spencer Kane for about two years ago (you can read about when I interviewed him for a bully awareness assembly HERE) and back in April/May I joined his street team (click HERE to read about what that all entails).

Part of my responsibilities as a member of Spencer's team (which is made up of about 15-20 teens/young adults around the world) is to help work the merchandise table at concerts if the venues are close to where you live. Obviously, I wasn't able to do that overseas but now that I'm back in the States, I jumped at the opportunity to help out. Siloam Springs is maybe a 4 1/2 hour drive from Benton so I am VERY thankful that my parents were able to drive me. Plus they got to watch the concerts!

So, on August 29th (just a few days after starting my classes at college), I drove with my parents all the way to Benton. Fortunately, I was in contact with Spencer's dad/manager the whole way there so we easily located him when we got to the venue.


By the way, the concert that Spencer was performing at is called Amplify Fest and it's an annual Christian event which I highly recommend. It's also free!!






A couple minutes after I started working the table, Spencer came by to say hi to me and to the fans who were buying CDs and posters. So I got to finally meet him in person (we had corresponded a bit through twitter, Facebook, and Skype)! He's just as sweet, friendly, and funny as he is online and he was also much taller than I thought he was!

Did I also mention that this was my very first concert? I told Papa Kane (what we call Spencer's dad) out of excitement and you know what happened later on right before Spencer performed? I was invited backstage to WATCH THE SHOW!!!!!











It was absolutely incredible. I got to stand backstage by Papa Kane as he managed the show. I knew every word to every song that he sang (Heart Like You, Runway, Speak Love..) and it was really heartwarming watching all the fans react to hearing him sing. 

Spencer was also performing with Abigail Duhon, another talented singer. Her father is also the co-producer of God's Not Dead. It was really nice to meet Abigail and watch her perform as well as meet her dad.

Check my Facebook Page and you can watch some of the videos of Spencer and Abigail performing live. 

After watching Abigail and Spencer, I went back to the merchandise table because after everyone had heard him perform, there was a LOOOONG line of people either wanting to buy his stuff or to get a picture and autograph. 


Spencer and Abigail came over to autograph and to take pictures so I kind of got to work alongside them.

When all the pictures had been taken and every poster and T-shirt had been signed, it was time to all of us to leave. For my work at the merchandise table, Papa Kane gave me one of Spencer's T-shirts (see the gray one on the right?). I also had him autograph it and then got a few pictures with him:






What an awesome day!! It was such a blessing to meet Spencer and his dad and be there to help them out. AND I got to experience my very first concert backstage!


You can check check out Spencer Kane by clicking on the links below:

Be sure to check out Spencer in "God's Not Dead 2" which will be out in theaters April 2016!!





Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sponsorship Saturday: Prayer

So,  a few weeks ago I posted the first two pre-written letters that I have created for my sponsored
kids. I'm starting college soon and knew that I wouldn't have as much time to write 5 letters to my kids each month. So, I've been writing some in advance that I can send when I'm pressed for time.

Dear ____,

Greetings to you and to your family! I hope you are all healthy and safe.

This month, I would like to talk to you about one of my favorite things to do. I LOVE to pray! I love spending time telling God about my day, my problems, and my desires. I also love praising him for all that he has done for me. He is always there to listen and to talk back. DO YOU LIKE TO PRAY?

Prayer isn’t just something that we do before we start activities or eat a meal. We pray to build a relationship with God and to also change our hearts. Just like spending time with our friends we need to spend time with our Savior. Sometimes people tell us that we can only pray for certain things but God wants us to come to him about EVERYTHING! I pray when I’m having a bad day, when I’m really happy, when I’m scared, when I’m feeling silly, and when I’m thankful. WHEN DO YOU PRAY?

Did you know that God also answers prayers? Sometimes it’s hard for us to hear his answers because we expect him to answer in a voice that we can hear with our ears. But he answers us through the Bible, through other people, and even through situations. When I’m worried, sometimes I read a special Bible verse that makes me feel better. I know that God was speaking to me. Another time, I was having a problem and didn’t know what to do and then God sent one of my friends to help me out. Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Always listen for God’s voice and he will be there to answer you. I will especially be praying for your heart to always be ready to hear God’s voice so that he may speak to you. It’s sometimes hard to hear him.

One thing to remember is that God doesn’t always answer our prayers with a “Yes”. Sometimes he says “I have something even better for you!” Continue to trust him no matter what.

I have been praying for you ever since you entered my life. I thank God for you and your family, I thank God for your heart and then I ask him to take care of you. I also ask for him to provide for your future and always keep you close to his heart. HOW DO YOU PRAY?

Tonight, I will be especially praying for you to always talk to God about everything in your life. He is always listening and always caring. Please pray the same for me!


Your sister: Alicia

If you'd like to read the first two letters please click on the links below:

A Knight's Story - How I'm planning to introduce purity and manhood to my 10 year old male sponsored child

A Princess' Story - How I'm planning to introduce purity and being a godly woman to my 4 female sponsored children


Have any ideas on how I can make this letter better? Comment below!

**Picture belongs to Compassion International


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sponsorship Saturday: A Princess' Story

Last week, I wrote this letter from the Knight's point of view and now I would like to share with you the princess'. I wrote this so that it could be sent to my 4 girl sponsored children.

Now, once again, I want my 5 sponsored children to grow in their walks with Christ. My kids aren't even teenagers yet so it may be hard thinking that they'll be able to grasp certain spiritual themes (and to also be challenged). But I know wholeheartedly that they are mature enough and I don't think that you can ever be too young to be challenged in your faith.

Feel free to use the letter below with your own sponsored child and please let me know if you have any ways that I can make this letter even better.

Dear _____,

I hope that you and your family are healthy. This is a special letter that I have written just for you! I would like to tell you a story. A lot of times, we like to tell stories (called “fairytales”) about brave knights and beautiful princesses. The stories usually start with a beautiful princess being locked up in a high tower that is being guarded by an angry dragon. Only the bravest and strongest men with good hearts can save her. The knight defeats dragons, fights through thorns and fires and almost loses his life – all to save this princess. And when he does, she is grateful and they fall in love with each other. Remember this - she is not a weak princess even though she was locked up. After being saved, she helps the knight escape even scarier dangers until they are safe at the castle. And then they are married and live happy together.

It is important to know that even though the story is not real, it has a real meaning. In real life, Jesus Christ is like the knight because he is brave, strong and has a good heart. And we are like the princess because we need to be saved. And when we are found by Jesus and he has rescued us, together we are powerful and live happy in heaven forever.

Why are we like the princess? Maybe we haven’t been locked up in a tower but sometimes sad or scary things happen to us that make us feel alone. But even though we may feel alone, we are not alone just like the princess wasn’t. The knight risked his life to save her just like Jesus gave his life to save us. We are brave and helpful like the princess too. Remember how she helped the knight? We can help Jesus by fighting for him in different ways. We can be brave and talk about our belief in God even when it’s scary. We can be strong and do the right thing even when no one else will. And one day, we may choose to marry and use the beauty of our hearts to raise a family and support our husband. But no matter what, God has a plan for you and he is excited to be in your life. Right now, you can become brave and powerful like the princess by memorizing Bible verses, praying and being loving to the girls and boys around you. And then, you are a princess – a daughter of the King! Isn’t that cool?

Tonight, I will be praying for you as you learn to fight for Jesus. You are brave, beautiful and have been given such a powerful heart, ___. I love you!


Your sister: Alicia

What do you think? Please comment below or on my Facebook page.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Project #TakeYourStand

Hey guys! I just wanted to talk about a new feature and page that I have added to my blog.

If you look above this post at the different pages listed you will see that there is a new one called #TakeYourStand.

While the page is quite new, the idea and issues mentioned have been featured on Desert Violet for a few years now. Every October (during Bullying Prevention Month) when I write about bullying, I've been bringing up this project that I have sort of been involved in.

I won't share what's on the page but I will say that I'd really encourage you to check it out and to really think about joining me. The idea of speaking up and out about bullying and suicide is something that I'm very passionate about, especially with me referring to myself as a "voice for the voiceless."

Now, I call this a project but it's not one that I hope will have an end date. This is something that I would like to be involved in for the rest of my life.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) says

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

ANYONE can be involved in this. It requires you taking the time to search for people who are desperately in need of help (literally in a life or death situation) and to share what's on your heart with them. 

Don't exactly know what I'm talking about? Click on the link above and let me know what you think in the comments below.

#TakeYourStand