Thursday, December 31, 2015

Suplots and Storylines - December (and 2015 summary)

How is it the end of December already? I feel like I just wrote November's S&S post.

This month opened with my brother's birthday. He did not just become a legal adult. No, he did not. I refuse to believe it.

The store I work at was positively buzzing with activity this month, and I was shocked (though I shouldn't have been) over how many people procrastinate with their Christmas shopping. Seriously, people. Christmas is on the same day every year. You know it's coming. And you know your size 4XL father-in-law is hard to find clothes for. Yet you expect to find something in his size two days before the 25th?!

Speaking of work, early in the month we had a Pajama Day. A day on which I wore PJs. To work. It felt completely weird to leave the house in pajama pants instead of jeans, drive to work, and actually . . . work . . . dressed like that. Customers gave me odd looks until I explained the reason for my unprofessional attire (and, like a good employee, took the opportunity to talk up the PJ sales).

We babysat my cousin's four children, ages 3-9 one evening. I adore those kids.

A stunningly beautiful piano/violin duet visited my church and played along during praise and worship, then performed a few carols on their own. Swoon.

I spent an evening with my mom, littlest sister, and aunt browsing a cutesy little shop in town, then having chai white hot chocolates together.

Christmas festivities sprinkled the entire month in good cheer, from decorating the tree, to two family gatherings (with another yet to come), to shopping for my parents' stocking stuffers, wrapping gifts, listening to Christmas music, etc. I worked Christmas Eve, which meant that I got the following four days off! Hallelujah! It was so good to have a little break. To spend time with my family, no interruptions or calls or places to be. My homebody, hobbit-y side rejoiced.

As per request, I have a few pictures of our traditional Lego building on Boxing Day!

I realized later that we don't look particularly happy here.
Forgive us. We're all concentrating.

my "Battle of the Five Armies" set
(an eagle and Bard and Legolas and Azog and awesomeness!)

my "Attack on Lake-town" set
(yay Tauriel! and Bain!)
You know those minifigure series that come in individual packages, and you never know which one is inside? We've been finding those little packages tucked into our usual Christmas presents the past few years, hidden in sweater pockets, DVD cases, socks, etc. Below are some of my favorites this Christmas.

from left to right: a king, a fire wizard, a phantom thing, a stone
gargoyle, and a banshee

Since my dad was not featured in the first Lego picture (he was my photographer), here's what he built last year. He hasn't started this year's set just yet . . . it's rather large, and from the Technic series (meaning it's complicated and intricate and not quite my cup of tea). He'll build it later on, when he can have the whole kitchen table to himself. Anyway. As I said: last year's epic build . . .

Metalbeard's ship

December's movies

Last month I only watched one; this month I saw four (plus TV episodes).

Maleficent (rewatch): I loooove this one! It had been a really long time since I'd first seen it, so watching it for the second time 'twas fun. I hold a deep dislike for Stefan, and a deep fondness for Diaval.

Rise of the Guardians (rewatch): Again, I hadn't seen it in quite a while. Rewatching it reminded me why I love it so much. The characters are awesome, and the film itself helped put me in the Christmas spirit this year.

The Song: Starring Alan Powell of the band Anthem Lights! I watched this just with my parents, as it's not a family-friendly flick. (I would recommend checking reviews like the one on Plugged In before watching.) The story is a modern day retelling of King Solomon, so as you can probably imagine, it's not pleasant. The main character, Jed King (Powell), is not a likable man for much of the story. Perhaps that's why I didn't enjoy it quite as much as expected? As a cautionary tale, it's great. But if you're wanting a character to love and root for, side with his wife.

Ant-Man: I didn't know what to expect going into it, but it was definitely a worthy addition to the Marvel library! The humor was great, the visual effects of Ant-Man's shrinking were awesome, and the pacing was different from your typical superhero movie. I really enjoyed it.

Minions: While it offered some funny moments, this movie ultimately fell flat. Despicable Me (1 and 2) were much better.

7 episodes of Once Upon a Time, season 2: Guess what entered the house on Christmas day? Once Upon a Time seasons 2-4! So of course my sisters and I dove right into it. You need only know this: Hook is awesome. Mulan is awesome. Everyone is awesome. And I have already flailed and shrieked and analyzed the storylines more than my sisters think is necessary.

December's books

You've already seen the list in my Books of 2015 post, but here are some brief thoughts.

The Choosing - Rachelle Dekker
I tried not to compare her to her dad, Ted Dekker, but I needn't have worried. This gal can hold her own in the realm of storytelling. The intensity and deep nature of her themes are like a feminine slant of her father's, yet the dystopian flavor is very much her own. Carrington is a relatable main character, and Remko--a CityWatch guard with an endearing stutter--is just AMAZING. Can't forget about Aaron. He was one of the best Jesus figures I've read about.

Rachelle used a lot of sensory 'showing' phrases (she saw, she heard, she felt, etc.), which rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. But the characters were special enough that I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

A.D. 30 - Ted Dekker
One Dekker book after another! This one took me a while to get through, which is little fault of the book itself. I was simply busy at the time. It is a meatier, somewhat slower, read; involving political subplots and historical depth. The story follows Maviah, a Bedu woman born into the most dishonorable circumstances, as she sets out to save her people . . . and meets Yeshua along the way. Some powerful scenes in this novel, that's for sure.

Angels Walking - Karen Kingsbury
So I'm technically not quite done yet, and probably won't be before midnight either. (Nevertheless, I'm cheating by counting it a December 2015 read.) Anyway, it fulfills all the usual Kingsbury requirements: touching messages, heartwarming character arcs, and an easy, faith-filled, feel-good aspect. The story involves a supernatural element--angels are sent to earth to aid the characters. It's not 100% accurate in that regard (but then, how should I know?), but the human side of the drama gets a lot more page-time and is definitely engaging.

Life Is ___ - Judah Smith
Again, I'm a chapter away from finishing, but this one I plan to complete tonight. Judah Smith has such a great voice. Humorous, simple, engaging. It's like reading a book-length blog post, or chatting in the living room over coffee. The book is divided into four parts. Life is: to be loved and to love; to trust God in every moment; to be at peace with God and yourself; and to enjoy God. I found those reminders to be rather timely.

December's writing

Due to the social nature of the Christmas season, I didn't accomplish much in the writing department. Most of what I did do was in the first half of the month, too, so I feel like I've done very little writing lately. (January, I have high hopes for you!)
  • Read over The Brightest Thread one last time, and sent it off to the judges on December 7th! Now we wait . . .
  • Read over and edited five chapters of book 1. I was able to cross off one or two things on my editing list. And a discussion with my brother relieved my mind over a really Big Thing further down that list, leaving me feeling a lot better about the whole matter.
  • Spontaneously decided to line edit for a friend whose story I was beta reading. I thought I was crazy to even volunteer during such a busy month, but it actually didn't take long at all, and I had so much fun doing it!
Well, that was December! It was an overflowing sort of month, as one day spilled into the next, and as life plunged headlong toward Christmas . . . and then kind of sat back, sighed happily, and continued on as normal.

As for 2015 in general?

I went from unemployed to working a temporary job at a jewelry store for a month, to unemployed again (oh, the dreaded job hunt), to working part-time at a clothing retailer. I've been there eight months now, two and a half of which were full-time. I started out coming home exhausted after each shift, tired of people in general. Since then, my capacity has grown so much, and talking to strangers on a regular basis is becoming much more natural.

I cleaned up a number of editing issues in book 1, including a stylistic edit. I engaged in 'masterminding' for the series' storyworld and fleshed out a number of previously vague elements. I started this blog and discovered how much I love it. I read over the horrid old draft of book 2 and laughed at my younger self, then proceeded to outline the new and improved book 2. Progress on this series halted when the Five Magic Spindles contest was announced. This led to the writing of The Brightest Thread . . . and the subsequent squishing down of a 30,000 word novella into a 20,000 word novella. I assisted my brother in editing his entry, edited book 1 some more, and then concluded my year of writing with the aforementioned line edit for a friend.

Far more important than the writing and the working, though, are the signs of growth I've seen in myself. Painful growth, but important. And all of it is still very much a work in progress. I feel as if I've made few forward strides--but at least the truth is working roots into my heart. Truth about my identity, and how it's not linked to my performance. Truth about God's faithfulness. Truth about the unpraised glory of the little moments of life and the importance of sandpaper days.

The tension between my dreams and my reality has perhaps never been stronger. But this season of life is a training ground. A chapter of preparation for, I believe, great things. 2016, no matter what you hold, I'm deciding that you're going to be the best year yet.

Now that I've blabbed on about myself, tell me something about your year!


  1. It looks like you had a great Christmas! I never really liked building with Legos when I was little and I'm still not very into it, but my brother and dad like building different sets together. I guess that's kind of weird for someone who wants to be an engineer, but I really was much more into crafty things and Littlest Pet Shops than Legos. Anyways, my brother got a Star Wars lego set for Christmas and he LOVES it. I think it's wonderful that you can actually recognize the growth within yourself as this new year rolls around.Good for you! And have a happy New Year!

    1. I did, and I hope you did as well! =) Lego's not for everyone, and I'm a bit of an oddball with my siblings because I enjoy the building but not the playing. I don't think I *remember* how to play with toys anymore. XD

      Littlest Pet Shop is adorable, and crafty things are such fun!

      Thank you, Ana. <3 Happy New Year to you too!!

  2. I love those lego sets! Metalbeard's ship, wow. How long did that take?
    At midnight I complained that I didn't want 2015 to end yet. I say that every year, but there did seem something special about this year.

    Happy New Year, may 2016 be a year of wonder for you!

    1. Haha, thanks! I don't know exactly how long it took him . . . a number of hours, over several days.

      Aww, that's so great that 2015 was special for you. May 2016 be even better! :D Happy New Year!

  3. That is such an awesome idea to get and build Lego sets for Christmas. You have such a cute family. The friend you did the line edit for is incredibly grateful. I hope 2016 is good to you.

    1. It's a ton of fun, that's for sure. LOL, thank you. XD
      *hugs* I'm so glad! I hope your 2016 is beyond amazing!

  4. Whew, it's been quite a year, hasn't it?

    They made you go to work in your PJs? Whoa. That's weird. I don't know if I'd be able to do it. I don't even like being in my PJs during the day at home. XD

    All the happy Christmas things! Oh, oh, I adore these pics. It looks like such a special time. (And I'm drooling at all that snow in your yard. O.O) You made an BotFA scene! SO COOL. And that ship. You guys are talented!

    YOU GOT OUAT SEASONS??? AAAAHHHHH!!!!! SO EXCITED!!!! And yes, HOOOOK. <333 August is still my favorite, but Hook is rudely trying to became number one in my heart. >.>

    Wait, wait, wait. You've been at your job for EIGHT months?? It feels like just yesterday you were telling my you got the job! Good gracious, this year flew. O_O I'm so glad you've settled into it.

    You got so much done this year! And isn't it beautiful, seeing how God grows us each year?

    I hope you have an absolutely beautiful 2016! Happy New Year! <333

    1. It HAS. Quite the year indeed.

      Well, I don't know if I'd say they 'made' me do it. Strongly encouraged, maybe? XD Wearing a sports jersey was another option, but I didn't have any, and PJ pants ARE comfy, so.

      Thank you! (Pfft, that little dusting of snow on the tree? There's a lot more where that came from. I should post a real picture of my backyard sometime.)

      I DID, I DID, NOW I CAN CATCH UP! Speaking of those particular characters, am I sensing a love triangle coming on? Maybe? If that ever happens, I don't know what I'll do. Hook and August are both awesome.

      I know, it doesn't feel that long! (I felt the same when you mentioned in your year summary post how long you've been at the bookstore. Crazy!)

      It's beautiful and humbling and exciting to see His hand in our lives!

      Thank you, Christine! Happy New Year to you too! May your year be the best yet. <333

  5. Good luck with "The Brightest Thread"! (I hate the phrase 'good luck,'but I can't think of a good alternative - some writer I am right now, lol!)

    Hook is my favorite character from OUAT, period. He just cracks me up.

    I know what you mean about jobs (and honestly, there are plenty of days that I still go home and don't want to even think the word 'people'), and job hunting is a dreadful thing.

    YOUR LEGO PICS THOUGH! Those are so cool. You guys are good :)

    Happy New Year! May God bless you richly and prosper your ways :)

    1. Thanks, Rebekah! (I'm not a huge fan of the phrase either, but in some situations, what else are you supposed to say, right?? XD) I'm somewhat torn about what I'm hoping for in that regard. Suffice it to say, whatever the results, it'll be amazing.

      My sisters and I were cracking up too, especially in the "Tallahassee" episode . . . his conversations with Emma were hilarious.

      Heh. People. Do I really have to talk to them? XD Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels like that some days. (What sort of job do you work? I can't remember if I've already seen anything about that on your blog.)

      Thanks muchly! We sure love Lego in my house. :)

      Oh, same to you! I hope your 2016 is abundantly beautiful.

  6. Your Lego sets are awesomeness. I LOVE the Hobbit ones :D.

    Ooo, you re-watched Maleficent? I seriously need to watch this movie. And OUAT sounds really good, from everything I've heard :).

    My year consisted of a lot of school (I have learned that high school is hard), fawning over my new little sister, hanging out with family and friends, and writing a lot. Of course, that's only barely scratching the surface of stuff that happened this year :D.

    I'm SO glad you were able to enter The Brightest Thread, your story sounds so good! I got my story (The Faerie's Revenge) sent in about 4 hours before the deadline :P. If that's not last minute, I don't know what is!

    1. Thanks! I love any medieval Lego sets, so. ^_^

      You haven't seen Maleficent? It's so good! So is OUaT, though there's the occasional iffy bit. Still, the intricacy of the plot and depth of characters is SO well done.

      Sounds like you had a wonderful year! A new sister--how sweet! And yes, high school is definitely not always easy.

      Thanks so much! Ahhh, The Faerie's Revenge sounds epic! I wish you all the best in the contest. (Hey, 4 hours before the deadline is light years better than 4 hours after, right?)

  7. Woo hoo for Legos! And The Hobbit Legos! I remember wishing so much as a kid for there to be Lord of the Rings/Hobbit legos. I love them even as an adult, but I haven't built with them in so long. It looked like you had so much fun! And you had a productive writing year!

    1. It's the best! I myself have always wished for Narnia Lego sets, but I doubt that'll ever happen. :P (I once tried making my own. Aslan was terrible.)
      Thanks! From the sounds of things, you've also had a great writing year! :D

  8. Whew, it's been so long since I've been on your beautiful blog! But I couldn't resist commenting because THOSE LEGO PICS OH MY GOODNESSSSSS!!!!! I am in love with The Hobbit sets that you own! (You actually have pretty much all my favorite characters. Legolas, Bard, Bain? What else do you even need? XD) I tried looking for those sets online, but they were all sold out :/

    Ooh, a piano and violin duet! I adore music, particularly those two instruments, so I'm sure it was quite lovely.

    Hmmm...chai white hot chocolate sounds quite interesting. I've had this hot chocolate called arctic white hot chocolate that was really good, but I've never had the chai kind.

    So good to be back "home"! I feel like your blog is a home away from home of sorts <333 And I had to tell you a BIG announcement! Today I started my blog!!!!! I'm sooooo excited, even though I am literally walking into this blind. XD You shall have to give me some pointers so my blog doesn't stay horrendous for long :) Here's the link in case you want to see it.

    1. Haha, thanks! Lego is pretty fun. I love building it, and looking at it, but I seem to have forgotten how to play with it. (As a child, I swore I would never become a boring adult and forget how to play. Oops.) Legolas, Bard, and Bain are fantastic, yes. Aww, the sets are sold out already?? That's unfortunate. I don't think there are many LOTR or Hobbit sets still being made...

      It was indeed. ^_^

      Ooh, that sounds yummy. If you've ever had a chai latte, a chai white hot chocolate tastes similar. (Both amazing!)

      Awww, that's one of the sweetest comments ever! <333 Thank you!
      *gasp* *BIGGER GASP* You started a blog!!! Oh my goodness, how exciting! I'll definitely come and stalk it. Well, stalking would imply sneakiness and silence, which would be inaccurate. I will be a noisy and rambunctious stalker who leaves long comments, probably. :D