When we first began the movie Trolls, and I came to understand the plot for the first time, I was slightly put off. It is cringe-worthy. It is a truly evil and morbid concept, that the characters we love are hunted for eating. The Bergens are possibly some of the most evil and most misunderstood villains I have ever seen in a children's movie.
They are miserable, and they believe that the only way to be happy is once a year when they have a feast of Trolls. The consumption of the Trolls is where they believe their happiness lies.
The final scene of the film, when Poppy is trying to get them to recognize happiness, is one of the most spiritually poignant scenes of the film, in my opinion.
Chef, the very one in charge of cooking and serving up the trolls, becomes concerned with losing her job. She has convinced the Bergens that the only way they can be happy is by eating a Troll. They are brainwashed to believe this. As Poppy begins to tell them that happiness isn't something they put into their bodies, but rather something they already have within themselves, the Bergens begin to question what they've been taught. Shouts of, "I want to be happy! Can I be happy too?" are heard throughout the room, and Chef tells the king, "There is only one thing that will ever make you happy, and only one Bergen who can provide it!"
Similarly, Satan wishes to make us believe that he is the key to happiness and all our earthly desires.
Satan desires to control this earth, and he will try to do so through each and every one of us. It is up to us to pray for discernment. Don't allow Satan to convince you of something that can make you happy, or something that can immediately satisfy. It is temporary, not long lasting. It is instant gratification, but of no fulfilling substance or value. It will only leave you longing for more; much, much more.
One of my very favorite characters in Trolls is a Bergen named Bridget. From the first time we meet her, it is obvious that there is something different about her, a softness the other Bergens do not have, and as we come to know her, we see that deep down she knows there is something more to life, and she's searching for it.
She has hope!
Meanwhile, Poppy took extreme and dangerous measures to reach these Bergens and change their hearts. She saw the evil darkness they were living in, and the lies they lived by, for what they were, and when she reached out in love, she was able to cause some questioning that led to a revolution. She was able to discern the truth behind the evil, and the sadness that lurked there. And she rescued much more than her nearly eaten friends that day. She rescued her very enemies from the depths of miserable despair.
Be the troll. Do not conform to the evil the world has for you. It may come at you in disguise. You may think it is happiness, but pray for discernment, that you would see through the evil, and be a beacon of light in the darkness.
Last week, we talked about faith, and the message our children can learn from Poppy's almost indestructible faith.
This week, I'd like to talk about what happens when that indestructible faith gets broken down, or at least, what happened in Poppy's case.
In our introduction to Poppy, her personality quickly shines. She has a real gift for lifting people up. Even Branch, who thinks she is ridiculous, we later discover has saved every party invitation she has ever given him, even though he never goes.
She is an encouraging spirit, who sees the best in others. We watch as she exhibits faith in unlikely characters such as Branch, the realist who reminds her of all the ways she could fail, and Bridget, a Bergen who is put in charge of getting the Trolls ready for a dinner in which they are the main course.
We see this behavior throughout the whole story. Poppy is even so encouraging to Bridget, that something big changes in Bridget's heart, but we'll get to that later.
What is important to take notice of occurs at the end, when Poppy loses the faith and hope that has been driving her throughout this journey. She becomes exhausted, drained of all her bubbly energy that was keeping her spirits alive.
What happens here? Those that she has been building up all along, encouraging in faith and hope, turn to rally around her. They lift her up, led by her biggest skeptic, Branch himself. They remind her of who she is, and that there is always hope.
To me, this speaks to the importance of fellowship. We are not always going to exude love, faith, and all things good. We are not always going to be at our best. But it is important, that when we fall, when we're hurting, when we don't even feel like getting back up; we know that we are not in this alone. Poppy made even the loneliest of loners feel like he was a part of something, inviting him to every party, knowing he wouldn't attend. And when she fell apart, he was there to remind her of all the reasons there are to be happy, and that she had taught him that.
In a spiritual sense, every now and then we all need a little reminding of who we are in Christ. When you do, it is nice to be surrounded by those who know your heart and your gifts best. Life does not always work out as it does in a well rounded, tied up in a neat little bow, film. This we know, but fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is super important, through the great, and the not so great. If we build each other up and pray for one another, we give each other strength in the Lord. And you never know when you might find yourself needing that strength more than ever.
Last week, I found myself in a very awkward (to me) situation, with friends of mine from church offering to come clean my house. Now, the short back story to this, is that two weeks prior, I ended up in the hospital with crippling back pain because of cleaning the bathrooms. That's right. My injuries are now the result of housework, instead of fun sports. But I digress.
We had Charlotte's family birthday party coming up, and I just couldn't clean everything the way I wanted. I hadn't even asked for help (which I am learning there isn't shame in), but these sweet friends offered sincerely, and I awkwardly accepted. They were such a wonderful blessing to me and my family, and a true testament to fellowship in all it's forms. We turned up some music, I did what I could above waist level, and even the kids pitched in, confused though they were as to why our friends were cleaning for us.
It was a lesson in humility, fellowship, love, and service, and taught my whole family what it truly means to serve others with a loving heart.
Who are you building up? Who are you lifting up in prayer? Who are you connecting with and building relationships with? What are the words you are feeding others, as well as yourself? Be the troll. Build people up with encouragement, prayer, and joy. In turn, allow yourself to be built up by others when you need it. This sort of fellowship creates a powerful team to battle the ever growing opposition in this world.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'" ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I happened upon this quote while this week's Monday Message was rattling around in my head, and thought it appropriate.
What do you most fear? What fears prevent you from moving forward? From following dreams?
I am really scared of spiders, but that's not really the kind of fear I'm talking about today. I'm talking about the kind of fear that keeps you at a stand-still in life, the kind of fear that keeps your feet firmly planted in your comfort zone, the kind of fear that prevents you from your God-given purpose in life.
This month, I would like to focus my Monday Messages on lessons and dialogues that I've been able to have with the kids based on a new movie that they love. See, we recently watched the movie Trolls...10 times. And I am not complaining. This movie makes me happy, makes me want to dance, makes me want to change the world.
Trolls have such a bad rep! We go around insulting people, "Don't be such a troll," as though trolls are hateful, internet bullies, sitting like cowards behind a computer screen. Thankfully, this movie is trying to eradicate the offensive stereotyping of these happy, sparkly trolls.
I will be writing up 4 different ministry topics from this movie alone throughout the month, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, spoilers are ahead!
Princess Poppy of the Trolls goes on a mission to save her friends from the Bergens, giant monsters who are perpetually unhappy, and believe the only way to be happy is to eat a troll. Poppy faces her fear on this impossible rescue, armed with more hope and faith than any normal person would have, and she learns something that changes everything. She discovers that the Bergens can be happy, and teaches them that it isn't about what you put in your body, but what is already within you. She believed in them, in this mission, when everyone else thought it was futile.
Poppy faced fear of the unknown, worse than the unknown really, but certain death, and she changed not only her story, but the story of those she feared most. She couldn't even really explain why she believed her friends were safe, or why she believed the lives of the Bergens could be changed. She just did. And she acted on it.
I know it's a kids' movie, but isn't that what is great about it? That a movie my children want to watch over and over and over again, could carry such a powerful message, and encourage such meaningful dialogue, feels like a blessing to me.
I can't claim to know what my God-given purpose is, fully, but I do believe the more I pray about it, and the more I seek Him, the more He reveals to me. I have believed, for a long time now, that this blog, is a stepping stone to a big dream He has for me, but it was scary to begin it. It sometimes still is! Doubts would creep in about keeping up with the writing, keeping it current, staying on task, on schedule. On occasion, I would think to myself that I must be setting myself up for failure. But I decided to have faith, and believe in what I could not see. It is still a lesson in faith every day, and maybe I'm not facing giants who are trying to eat me, but in one month since launching the site, I have written more blogs and more crochet patterns than I did in all of 2016. To God be the glory!
Are you walking by faith? Are you facing giants? Be the troll. That strength, courage, and confidence you gain with each experience; let it be in the Lord, and face those fears with so much faith and hope that people call you crazy. That's exactly the kind of crazy I want to be.
Have you ever struggled, wondering what you should be praying of your children? Me too! There are the obvious things, of course, such as their general health and well being, but I often struggle with the specifics of their futures. I don't want to pray for things for them that God does not want for them. I might want my son to be a basketball superstar, and it might even give him a great platform for ministry and serving, but I don't want that for him if it is not part of God's plan. I have found that doing things outside of God's plan for you can lead to a lot of heartache and difficulty!
Then, a few weeks ago, I overheard part of a conversation between my 4 year old son and my dad, his Pop Pop.
I didn't catch all of what my dad was saying. I have no idea what prompted it, but I turned to see Isaac with his hand over his heart as he said, "Jesus loves me, because he gave me a special heart."
And my own heart turned to a puddle.
I hope and pray that he always knows this to be true. I hope all of my children do. I hope that they always know this to be true about others as well, encouraging their friends and family members in their gifts and callings from God.
You see, because they may not always be the same. Each one of my four children might have a heart led in a different direction by God. Each one of them may have a heart for a different service. Each one of them may be called into something the others don't fully understand, but I hope and I pray that they each follow their own callings, guided by God's wisdom, and without opposition or criticism from the others. They will receive enough of that from the rest of the world.
And then I found this verse.
They each do have special hearts. It is our job to nurture and encourage those hearts, in following God and loving others. But what is important to note in this verse is that it isn't about us. My prayer for my children's futures, isn't for them to be wildly successful and wealthy. As much as I'd love them to be, acknowledging how much easier that would make their lives, that is not my prayer. My prayer is that they allow God to mold and sculpt their hearts into those that serve and love others the way that God would want them to.
Those hearts are special, and it is all too easy to allow the world to shape them. My prayer is that God's hands are the only ones doing the shaping, and that their gifts are used for His glory.
What are some verses you pray over your children? Please share! I'd love to hear them!
Today's Monday Message happens to fall on my grandfather's 93rd birthday, and first birthday in Heaven, so I would be remiss if I didn't talk about him today.
Regretfully, I was not as close to him as I would have liked. Just the result of geography more than anything. But he was still a powerful figure in my life. He was a man of few words, and a man I sought to impress.
When I was very young, I took a great interest in basketball. My grandparents, products of the Great Depression, thought it somewhat ludicrous that my dad and I were so invested in a silly game. I had lofty goals. I wanted to play Division 1 college basketball. I wanted to play in the Olympics, and I wanted to play professionally, and I was only 7. All grandpa could do was shake his head.
But one day, when we headed out on the 3 hour drive to visit them, my dad packed my basketballs (yes, all three of them). When we got there, he said, "Hey Dad. Erin would like to show you some of the things she's been working on."
With hesitation, but love, grandpa sat down, and I proceeded to put on a ball handling show, worthy of YouTube fanfare of today, in my grandmother's floral, spotless, prim and proper kitchen. One ball, then two, and then three, going all at the same time. My grandpa's eyes were wide, and I will never forget what he said, "Fred, she just might do it."
He was, of course, referring to my lofty goals, but that was it. That's all he said. And that's all I needed. He never again expressed a concern about it. I had gotten the endorsement of one of our toughest critics.
I didn't achieve all of my lofty goals. I played Division 1 college basketball, and got injured. My grandpa never made it to a college game, but he told his friends about me, and when my college team played out in Ohio, near one of them, he told him he should go see me play...and he did.
My grandpa, in his own way, taught me much about the wisdom of listening. His words were few, but direct. I also learned from him, the power in acknowledging when you might be wrong, and the loving effect that has on the people around you.
My grandfather was not a perfect man. In his later years, in several conversations with my dad, he expressed regret over times he was quick to anger or said things he shouldn't have said; moments that (I think) all parents have had. Yet this verse still reminds me of him.
I never knew my grandpa's political leanings or beliefs, and I didn't need to. These days we tend to put a lot of stock into those things, to form our opinion of a person, but he had fought in a war, maintained a loving marriage for over 65 years, raised 5 successful children, and owned and worked at his own business into his 80s. His political opinions couldn't have changed the fact that he was a wise, hard-working man, deserving of respect, even if we had disagreed.
Be slow to speak and slow to become angry with your friends and family. Don't allow their opinions (or yours!) to be a hindrance to your relationship. It shouldn't change the person you know them to be!
As I look at my most worn book of my Bible, at the introduction page, it says that James is a great book to turn to if you are looking for practical ways to live as a Christian. Practical.
The practical and applicable life lessons passed down by my grandfather resonate with me today, as I read these words. And I hope he's having a great birthday.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.