Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eclipse Movie Review

Okay – it’s not even midnight yet, and I just got done watching Eclipse.

Safe to say – I’m super jazzed. So this may not end up being the most level-headed review ever written. But what can I say? I’m a fan.

I will, however start out with what I didn’t like about the third installment of the Twilight Saga via film.

The trailer revealed too many of the intense sequences.

The newborn army had little screen time and could have been utilized better.

The director chose to shoot up-close shots of everything, and sometimes I would have liked to see the bigger picture.

Story flow was a little disjointed. I mean, it felt like flipping to the next chapter instead of smoothly going from one scene to the next in a script. But that might be because I anticipated scenes, knowing what would happen next, listening for favorite lines and critiquing how the cast pulled them off. In some cases, I’m sad to say, I was disappointed.

One example: since I’ve recently read the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, I looked forward to seeing the end of the fight between the werewolves/Cullens and the new vampire army because Bree’s point of view was so vivid in my mind. In both the novel Eclipse and the new novella about her, Bree makes a huge impression because of her typical new vampire characteristics and her vocal, torturous desire for Bella’s blood. In the movie, she doesn’t even give Bella a glance. Sure, this is a minor detail, but it plays an important role in Bella’s mind as she progresses in her life heading toward becoming a newborn vampire herself. So I thought a portion of the story’s integrity lacked in that and other similar regards.

Also, although they did a commendable job on the tent scene, they omitted one of my favorite exchanges between Edward and Jacob – “But,” Edward went on, “if I had been able to take your place last night, it would not have made the top ten of the best nights of my life. Dream about that.” That and a few other faves from that scene got crunched into a shorter, summed up conversation that telegraphed the gist, but kept some of the best zingers out. Too bad for those only seeing the movie.

One other irritation – Bella’s soliloquy at the end. Meshed with some of the dialogue from the book, her ad-on speech portrayed this girl-power, self-esteem assertion that seemed totally un-Bella-like to me. Don’t know what that was all about. Hollywood forcing an interpretation just to make sure her reasoning and thought process about marrying Edward didn’t sound too old fashioned or conservative?

But enough complaining.

Of course, I loved Eclipse.

Edward, aside from his acting improving, looked amazing, much more alluring than in either the first two films. His formal proposal rocked. His taunting and battle with Victoria rocked. And the tent scene, despite the beefs I mentioned above, managed to rock also.

I enjoyed the quick flashbacks relaying the past lives of Rosalie and Jasper.

Of course, Charlie always entertains me, and he had a couple of good eye-rolls and quips.

Even though my imagination runs wild when I’m reading a book, especially ones I love as much as the Twilight Saga, I love getting to see them on screen, to see someone else’s interpretation, to watch the characters I’ve grown to love come alive before my eyes. Book-to-movie transition is never perfect, and so dialogue I would choose to include will inevitably be replaced with dialogue the director or screenwriter deems more worthy. Yes, I’m making excuses, but then I was nit-picking earlier. As far as number three in the Saga goes, Eclipse wins. Again, fans will be thrilled. And we’ll all bite at the bit until November 2011 roles around so we can continue the obsession with the first installment of the split-in-two fourth novel, Breaking Dawn.

Bottom line, lovers will love it. Haters will hate it – or the hype around it since they won’t bother seeing it. So it’s win/win.

Thanks for joining me this month for my Twilight Saga-inspired series, How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More About Faith. I hope that as you enjoy the Twilight books, you’ll consider the illustrations I’ve drawn and allow your faith to be strengthened in your Perfect Lover, Jesus.

See you Friday!

(click for first chapter: How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More About Faith)

(click for first chapter: How Reading a Vampire Book Brought Me Closer to Jesus)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Light in the Darkness - How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More About Faith - Take the Plunge

What about marriage frightened Bella?
After falling in love with a vampire and running with werewolves, what about the big plunge caused her to behave like a scared rabbit?
Well, besides her heart’s indecision and Jacob’s stake in her affections despite loving Edward, the experience of her parents’ relationship sullied her view on marriage.
It only takes one bad experience to alter our thinking or call truth into doubt.

Even though her relationship didn’t resemble her parents’ in the least, except for her youth, even though her mother was happily remarried, and even though she and Edward faced trials together and survived, even though she loved him almost to death and he proved likewise for her, her one experience of growing up in a broken home was enough to prevent her from having faith in the institution and benefits of covenant marriage.
Funny how one experience can stand up so strongly against an army of facts. Experience is a powerful force, a memorable teacher, an effective warning. The problem is that it has everything to do with senses. And we’re called to walk by faith, not by sight.
Faith is risky. They don’t call it a “leap” for nothing.

But putting faith into any and everything is unwise. Jumping off every bridge will cause damage. The pivotal point of faith is in Whom or What we’re entrusting our faith. The key is the faithfulness of object of our faith.
In marriage, the risk lies in trusting the other to be faithful. The security comes in your own commitment to be faithful. It takes both to succeed. Sadly, humans don’t always do their part, and relationships suffer. We live in a broken world and only through faith in God can our human relationships survive and prosper.
But when we’re talking marriage to our Perfect Lover, there’s nothing to fear because He is 100% faithful, actually incapable of breaking faith with us. He is truth and love and perfection. His faithfulness and love endure forever.
We have to believe that before accepting His proposal, or else the trials and wilderness journeys and hot spots of life won’t make sense, feel more like betrayal. But if we believe with all our heart that Jesus truly is faithful, then we’ll press into Him for comfort instead of deny His embrace in bitterness.
Yes, human experience plants doubt, if seen from the world’s point of view. Again, it’s a choice. But why would you not want to choose hope? The promise of joy and protection and love? The fear of disappointment robs a soul of life. Conquering that fear, with Jesus’ help, will produce the freedom needed for abundant life.
By the end of New Moon when Edward proposes, Bella already loves him and accepts now that he loves her too. Love is not in question. Trust has been re-established, faith has been strengthened. Commitment is the issue. He’s asking a lot, she’s asking a lot. She doesn’t realize what unexplored and wonderful depths of relationship remain on the other side of covenant.

In chapter 15, when Bella’s on the top of the cliff, toeing the edge, looking down in the swirling waters far below, she experiences fear. She takes a leap of faith, completely unsure what will happen when she hits the water. When she surfaces, she’s surprised to feel exhilaration. She’s survived! And she’s glad that she jumped. Sure, there’s an undertow – no relationship experience will be free of all danger. But taking the plunge set into motion everything that brought her back to her Perfect Lover.
This amazing song from Sidewalk Prophets explains it better than I can. Here are the words, because each one (in my opinion) is so important. I hope you take a minute to listen by CLICKING HERE then clicking “iLike” at the top of the search. (Sorry no video. But you can follow along to the words!)
If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams
Would I love You enough to let go?
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life?
When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me, You can have me.
If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering
I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give You my life
I give You my life.
I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart.
Well, Wednesday is the big day!!! Read my Eclipse review right here on Dry Ground! See you then!
(click for Eclipse movie review)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - The Final Leap: A Formal Proposal

(click for previous chapter - Re-establishing Trust)

It’s no secret, even to those who have not read the Twilight books but have only seen the movie, that Edward proposes marriage to Bella at the end of New Moon. What you don’t get in the movie version, however, is her answer.

Does it surprise you to find out that she says no?

Maybe I’m too sappy, too much of a romantic, but when I read the books the first time and found out that she refused Edward’s proposal, I about threw the book across the room! Your Perfect Lover just asked you to marry him and you said no??? Are you certifiably in sane, Bella? After all they’d been through, after all her moping around while he was gone, after all her declarations of love and devotion, she says no? And then for her reason being that her mom would think she was crazy? What? Honey, you landed in crazy town a long time ago!

Okay, so that was my first and emotional response. J Once I started thinking about it, especially in the context of comparing it to our relationship with Jesus, I discovered some things that made it make sense.

The mom excuse was just that, an excuse. The real reason was that part of her heart still belonged to Jacob. Yes, most of her heart belonged to Edward, but not all. New Moon only set Jacob up as a contender for Bella’s affections. Eclipse is the story of choice, the real battleground for Bella’s once-and-for-all decisions.

Wait, you say. Bella badgered the entire Cullen family, even put them to a vote, about making her a vampire. She seems ready to jump head-first into eternal life, into Edward’s arms, the whole package.

But her refusal of Edward’s proposal speaks volumes. He even made it (in part) as a bargaining chip for her to get what she really wants – for him to be the one to change her into a vampire - something he’s very much against, or cautious of, because of the price he knows she’ll have to pay. Yet, that he makes the offer at all only accentuates his desire to be united with her in the ultimate expression of unfailing love.

She still says no.

Her answer proves she’s not really sold out. To be so, she’d have to relinquish control, and one thing Bella’s consistently prone to is leaning on her own understanding.

She’s already made a plan outside of Edward’s wishes. She’s going to become a vampire whether he likes it or not. She’s not waiting another year before that happens. And, she’s going to be friends with Jacob no matter Edward’s opinion. Yes, she wants Edward to be the one to change her, but she’ll give that up to keep control and still end up pretty much where she wants to be.

What she’s saying is – I want you, Edward, but only on my terms. Oh, and by the way, I think your condition is stupid.

What a … loving?… response… to the love of your life.

Throughout the Bible, the relationship God forged with His creation is compared to the marriage relationship. Paul says in Ephesians, plain as day, that marriage is an illustration of the way Christ and the Church are one. (Eph. 5:32) In the first book of the Bible, God institutes marriage, instructing that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife – meaning, the bond between husband and wife is top priority, that spouses should be sold out 100% to each other. That’s why they take vows, the meaning of the word indicating a pledge that cannot and should not under any circumstances be broken or betrayed, and symbolically become one person. To enter into such a covenant requires trust, faith, faithfulness and love.

Being a Christian is like that.


Jesus introduces Himself, Hello. I’m Jesus Christ. I’ve been watching you for some time now, and I think you’re amazing. Can we get to know each other?

You think I’m amazing? Okay, let’s talk.

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…

You love me?

…that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. (Jn. 3:16)

Hmmmm… living forever. Cool. How does that work?

Marry Me. (Rev. 19:7)

Umm… wow. What all does that entail?

Nothing, except everything. (Matt. 10:39)

Oh. What?

Promise to love Me in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, forsaking all others and believing that even death could never part us. (Rom. 8:38-39)

So this is all or nothing, huh? See, because I have this friend, and although I don’t love him as much as I love You, I’d like to keep being friends with him…

Trust in My death and resurrection for the atonement of your sins, and repent – meaning, don’t sin any more because it hurts My heart and inflicts injuries on you I don’t want you to bear. (Acts 3:19)

Well, that part makes sense. I’m pretty good anyway. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, kill…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. (Matt. 22:37)


And love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39)

Oh… hold up. Love my neighbor. Um, Jesus? Do you… know… my neighbor? Because he’s a piece of work. I can’t stand that guy! This one time, he-

Love your enemies. (Matt. 5:43-44)

Really? That seems… unnecessary…

Don’t lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge Me. I’ll make your path straight, even if at certain points you can’t even see around the corner. Have faith in Me. (Prov. 3:5-6)

Faith? What’s that?

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)

Whew. This is starting to sound like a lot of work.

Every relationship requires sacrifice.

Sacrifice? Ew. I mean, I liked it back when You talked about living forever in the light of Your love and grace, and it got a little harry there when You mentioned repentance, but um… I want You, Jesus, really I do. I just think there’s an easier way-

Nothing of great value or worth comes easily. Measure the cost. (Luke 14:26-28)

You mean, consider what I’ll lose if I refuse Your proposal.

I love you. Forget not all the benefits of that Perfect Love. (Psalm 103)

Oh. Yea, I know. But, if You already love me, why all this marriage talk, vow taking thing? Can’t we leave it as is? I mean, I acknowledge You as God, I love You. Cool?

I want to make an everlasting covenant with you. But it has to be Your choice.

And these are Your conditions?


What happens if I mess up?

A smile. I’ve already forgiven you.


So, what would you say?

Hold tenaciously to your control, your world, and your understanding, telling your Perfect Lover, “Your conditions are stupid. I’ll do it my way.” (and die in the process).


Take the leap of faith into His faithful, solid, secure, absolute and loving arms shouting, “YES! I’ll marry you!”

And then forever.

(click for next chapter: Take the Plunge)

(photos by

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Re-Establishing Trust

(Click for previous chapter: Attacks from Within)

Throughout the Twilight Saga, Bella displays a worshipful attitude toward Edward. Whether she’s mad, glad, thrilled, or broken, she values him above all else, even herself. At her darkest hour, even in the dangerous bowels of the vampire kingdom, Volterra, she sees him as her everything, the reason for living and fighting and surviving. She’s not completely whole without him, and no substitute fully satisfies her. He is her all in all.

However, after they escape Volterra and go home to Forks together, after she wakes up and he’s still there holding her hand… she does not trust him.

She loves him, wants him, idolizes him, would do anything for him, but she has yet to believe he won’t leave her again. She doesn’t trust.

Seems warranted, after all, he left her cold turkey in the forest with the declaration that he didn’t want her any more.

Okay, I can see how she might be hesitant.

Problem is, everything that happened was based on a wrong belief.

So what does it take for Bella to regain trust in her perfect lover?

The first words Edward said after Bella slammed into him keeping him from stepping out into the sunlight in Volterra, the first thing he said when she’s in his arms again was, “Amazing… Carlisle was right.” (NM pg. 452) What he meant was that an afterlife existed for one such as him, that he held his beloved there (since he thought she was dead too), and for him that constituted Heaven.

For a guy who didn’t want her any more, those were pretty tender words.

He goes on to quote Shakespeare and declare that even if he had landed in hell, he’d take it because he could sense her nearness.

Maybe Bella was too concerned at the moment that he get out of the sunlight, too terrified that at any moment the Volturi would sweep down and destroy them, too distracted with fear to hear him whisper those accepting, loving words in her ear. But before Edward could elaborate, Volturi did show up and commanded their attention. For whatever reason, Bella didn’t believe what she heard. It wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

Throughout the encounter with the Volturi, Edward’s actions spoke volumes, but only to those who listened, everyone except Bella. First he tried to keep Bella from having to follow Demetri and Felix into the castle at all. Then he practically carried her through the passageways, offering encouraging whispers, holding her tightly and kissing her hair. He even has the sense to stop touching her when she got too cold. Everything he does just in that short walk shouts that he is super-sensitive to her wellbeing. And yet, Bella rationalized each of his actions, explained them away as meaningless based on what she believed to be true. It wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

Edward kicked it up a notch in the presence of the formidable Volturi when he threw himself between Bella and Jane, the vampire with the ability to make her victim believe they are in excruciating pain. While he lay writhing on the floor, did it not occur to Bella why he endured such agony? She says, “It felt like my head would explode from the pain of watching this.” (NM pg. 475) And yet, although primarily concerned for his comfort and safety, she did not translate his actions into proof of true love. It still wasn’t enough to reestablish trust.

As they waited to be released from the Volturi stronghold, Bella soaked up every touch, every look, every word from her perfect lover, hungry for all of it, but believing that it would be gone before she blinked. She noticed Edward looked “thirsty,” a dangerous condition for him to be in with her so close, and yet he reassured her of his perfect control in that regard. If she’d read between the lines, she’d have realized what he meant – that the last thing he could ever do was harm her, that he wanted her alive and well and in his arms.

But she doesn’t read between the lines. She explains away the good feelings stirring in her heart as fantasy. Even when Edward and Alice discussed the meaning of La tua cantante and the fact that Bella’s blood “sings” to him, Bella did not detect the intimacy or devotion in his voice. It all was not enough to reestablish trust.

The Volterra event concluded with Edward facing an irate Charlie (Bella’s dad) and delivering her to the safety of her own bed himself. Bella’s exhausted, but clung to Edward, terrified she’d never see him again. Even his promise, “I won’t be far,” (NM pg 499) does not comfort her.

All the proof was there – and yet Bella went to sleep that night not trusting him, her light, the one she adored and loved beyond all other.

What did it take, then, for trust to be reestablished in her heart?

It came down to one thing. She had to make a choice.

Once she examined all the evidence, including everything that happened leading up to and during her wilderness, she discovered and embraced the fact that he’d never stopped loving her.

She decided to believe.

So, what will it take for you to trust God, especially after a wilderness experience that put everything you thought you knew through the blender?

Will His tender promises whispered throughout His Word permeate your concerns? Or will lingering fear and doubt distract you?

Will His actions, from putting on flesh and bearing a gruesome, painful death in your place to granting you a heartbeat or a full meal today, draw you back into His trustworthy embrace? Or will you rationalize His sacrifice and explain away each token of His love as meaningless?

Will worshiping him and feeling pain for His suffering translate into day-to-day trust in His love for you?

Can you read between the lines, look beyond what this world is telling you, and believe Him when He holds you near? Or will you buy the lies and wish He was more than a mere fantasy?

How about when He touches your heart with the words, “I won’t be far,” and reaches across realms to comfort you? Will you accept the proof of His presence and His love?

Like Bella, we have evidence to examine, some of which comes from within the wilderness experience. That evidence is proof that our Perfect Lover never stopped loving us, even in our darkest hour.

If the pain from your experience is too overwhelming, too sharp in your memory, consider this. While Edward and Bella were being ushered through the labyrinth in the Volterra stronghold, they came up against a drain grate in the floor. They had to go down it in order to get where they were going. Bella couldn’t see the bottom of this hole because it was dark. The unknown loomed below her. But Alice had dropped through first, and Edward encouraged her to follow, telling her that Alice would catch her. Bella had to make the decision to drop herself through that hole based on what Edward assured her to be true. He helped her, held her arms, made sure Alice was ready to catch her from far below, and then the text says, “Edward let me fall.” (NM pg. 458)

That gives me chills. It sums up the entire book, really. He allowed her to drop into dark, scary nothingness. And when Alice caught her, Bella realized she’d have bruises. So the fall hurt.

However, Edward knew Alice would catch Bella. He knew that it was necessary to let Bella fall to continue their journey and not get eaten by their vampire escorts. He knew that within nano-seconds, he’d be right next to her once again, holding and supporting and helping her through the frightening maze.

Sometimes it feels like God’s let us fall. (Feels like is key – His word says, “Cast your cares on the Lord [a.k.a. trust Him] and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22) Or, we do fall, but only because we let go of Him (behave in an unrighteous manner). Those falls hurt, leave bruises. But all the while, He knows He’s there to catch us, and He knows that momentarily, a blink of an eye compared to eternity, He’ll be right by our side again. If that blink was all it took, would you let the falling destroy your trust in Him? When enduring that which He has ordained as “best” for you will prepare you to spend the rest of forever with your Perfect Lover?

So what will it take to trust Him?

A choice. That’s all. Decide to believe.

Like Bella, we have so much to look forward to if we choose to place our trust in our Perfect Lover.

(click for next chapter - The Final Leap: A Formal Proposal)

(photos by

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Attacks from Within

(Click for previous chapter: Fear - Faith's Enemy)

When Bella chooses to go with Alice to rescue Edward in Italy, leaving Jacob behind at a potential turning point in their relationship, she reveals her heart, the love she still feels for her perfect lover. Her decision is not based on any notion of getting something from him in return. She does it to honor his value, protect his worth, and acknowledge his significance. Even though the treasure isn’t hers any more (so she thinks), she cannot allow it to be destroyed. He’s too important.

She’s even pretty sure she’ll die.

But that’s okay with her because she realized that she’d rather die than live in a world without light.

This decision, while reuniting her with Edward, placed her in the most dangerous situation she’d yet to encounter – in the middle of vampire world headquarters, Volterra, surrounded by the self-appointed rulers of their kind, the Volturi. These vampires were powerful, experienced and traditional. In other words, they were not at all Cullen-esque vegetarians.

And they did not like the relationship she and Edward possessed.

They didn’t say they didn’t like it. They disguised their irritation with amazement and empty praise that prickled with the terror of veiled threats. Bella’s especially afraid because she had no experience with these kinds of vampires. The way they wielded authority and issued warnings sent shivers to her very core. Even though Edward was doing everything he could to protect her, Bella’s at the mercy of the Volturi, and she knew it.

The code these kings of vampires lived by read much differently than the Cullens’. For certain, if Bella had encountered the Volturi before ever meeting Edward, she wouldn’t have given Edward a chance at all. Come to think of it, the Volturi wouldn’t have given Bella a chance either. They’d have feasted on her.

The Volturi governed by might, rules and repercussions. Although they had few laws, the wages of sinning against them was death. No exceptions. All the vampires in the world knew the rules and abided by them for fear they’d draw the attention and consequent wrath of the Volturi on their heads if they didn’t.

The Cullens respected the laws of their society, but discovered and integrated a Better Way, one that did not require or condone the killing of humans to slate their thirst for blood. Aro, seemingly the most powerful of the vampire royalty, called this lifestyle “unorthodox,” and admitted his surprise at its success (NM pg. 472). He’s surprised because he would never consider in all of his centuries of living surviving on anything but the blood of humans, the thing that he craves above all things. But he’s confronted with the ultimate example of the Better Way as Bella and Edward stand in front of him, a vampire in love with a human to the extent that he refuses to kill her despite the pain it causes him physically. Aro can’t comprehend a love that transcends his base instinct, the need to kill.

The Cullens’ Better Way also involved the formation of large covens, or families, of vampires. The bonds between Edward and Alice and Carlisle and the rest of them were based on love, unlike the tentative balance between members of the Volturi based solely on power. Marcus, one of the other royal vampires, with the power to see relationship bonds and their intensity, noted those existing between Edward and Alice right away (NM pg. 471).

So, while living within the technical limits of the Volturi Law, the Cullens set themselves apart from the rest of their kind. When they had opportunity, they sought to convert other vampires to the Better Way, but not in a way that threatened the Volturi. Having the freedom to do that really was all they asked. No harm, no foul.

But those in positions of power who have no regard or respect for relationships despise any display of freedom even if its practice doesn’t exactly break any laws. Therefore, rulers utilize manipulation, deception, and judgment as weapons to procure what they want. Their actions not only impede freedom, but also wage war on relationships.

In Bella’s eyes, her relationship with Edward was already irreparably damaged, though she comforted herself with the memories of the relationship they once shared. Seeing him again fuels her so-called delusion of his affections, but if she hoped in a long lasting reunion at all, those hopes had little chance of surviving in the presence of the Volturi and their Law because everything that Law represented and required rendered a relationship with her perfect lover impossible.

Like a defendant in an epic courtroom battle, Bella is caught between the interpretations of the Law of the world she finds herself in, Edward serving as her attorney, Caius and Marcus (vampire royalty) acting as prosecutors, and Aro reigning as judge. Look at these few snippets from an excerpt in chapter 21:

Edward hissed. “Join or die, is that it? I suspected as much when we were brought to this room. So much for your laws.”

“Of course, not.” Aro blinked, astonished. “We were already convened here, Edward, waiting for Heidi’s return. Not for you.”

“Aro,” Caius hissed. “The law claims them.”

Edward glared at Caius. “How so?” he demanded.

Caius pointed a skeletal finger at me. “She knows too much. You have exposed our secrets.”

“There are a few humans in on your charade here, as well,” Edward reminded him…

Yes… But when they are no longer useful to us, they will serve to sustain us. That is not your plan for this one. If she betrays our secrets, are you prepared to destroy her? I think not… Nor do you intend to make her one of us… Therefore, she is a vulnerability. Though it is true, for this, only her life is forfeit. You may leave if you wish.” (NM pg 477-478)

The point is, Bella’s life is at stake because of the letter of the Law. Each party argued their case according to the Law. And the outcome, although happy enough since Bella wasn’t killed then and there thanks to Alice providing key witness evidence, was a compromise that didn’t fully satisfy either party.

Nothing about this encounter reinstates Bella’s faith. In fact, it delivered a decisive blow, descending in the darkest hour, placing a threat over her life and her hopes like a curse. For Bella, life couldn’t get much worse. Her light, while present at the moment, had not promised to stay. Her life is forfeit if he leaves, not only because she isn’t alive when he’s gone, but also because the Volturi would carry out their punishment in accordance to their Laws. Any shred of faith she might have salvaged during her long and dark wilderness experience drifts formlessly in the air like a puff of smoke soon to be dissipated and gone forever.

Part of the faith test in the wilderness requires sifting through our beliefs to separate the chaff from the wheat. And by that, I mean, how much do we live by The Law instead of under the grace of Jesus’ cross? (Rom. 6:14-15)

The Volturi have always reminded me of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the orthodox Jews who had morphed God’s Law into an impossible list of dos and don’ts and established a relentless system of punishing and shaming those who didn’t follow it to the letter. Although based on the covenant between God and Abraham as well as the Law God gave to Moses, the Pharisees’ code also contained misinterpretations, embellishments and ungodly restrictions that served their own interests with no thought of glorifying God through obedience. They mastered manipulating the letter of the Law for personal gain as well as destruction of those they wished to squash, the ultimate “victim” being Jesus Himself.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees multiple times, probably more than the occasions recorded in the Gospels. Each showdown revealed the Pharisees to be “whitewashed” (Matt. 23:27) posers and highlighted Jesus as the Better Way, full of love and grace. Examples include the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 8:1-11), the woman with the alabaster box (Luke 7:36-50), several instances of healing (Luke 5:17-26, Luke 6:6-11, John 9), philosophical and theological examinations (Matt. 15:1-3, Matt. 19:2-8), down to eating dinner with a tax collector (Matt. 9:10-12).

Many other comparisons exist between the Volturi and the Pharisees, but here I’m concerned with the effects of the Law on Faith, the key to relationship.

When grace is absent, relationship is impossible. The Law demands blood atonement, a death sacrifice, and under its restraints, a relationship with the Perfect Lover is difficult if not impossible. For our faith to survive, the hope of that possibility must exist. Believing in anything other than grace exterminates that possibility. Failing to cover the Law with Grace leads to the death of faith. Pharisaical belief systems and impositions erode relationships and impede any hope of uniting with our Perfect Lover.

Be on your guard against such poison, especially at the most vulnerable moment in your wilderness. Don’t water down a potential relationship with the Perfect Lover by attempting to be good enough for Him through following rules, as if that will draw you from your wilderness experience sooner. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). We can’t do anything such as bargaining or collecting good deeds for our redemption. And don’t sell your rights to that relationship by believing that a mistake disqualifies you. Our Perfect Lover already paid that price, and repentance acts as the eraser (Acts 3:19).

Even in our darkest hour, having faith in a relationship based on love, His first for us, is our only hope in enduring the wilderness.

Remember that on the heels of darkest moments comes dawn – the light.

(Click for next chapter: Re-Establishing Trust)

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Here's to the Dads!

One thing I like about the Twilight Saga is its portrayal of strong father figures.

Charlie Swan loves and protects his daughter even though he doesn’t have a lot of experience in that role. Jacob Black’s father, Billy, supports and defends his son’s mystical destiny as a werewolf and leader in their tribe. Carlisle Cullen is a stellar example of compassion, strength, service and grace. (Uh, oh... SPOILER alert...) And Edward, although he acts in ignorance upon first getting the news of his pending fatherhood, eventually steps up and embraces his role with unshakable devotion and love.

Since it’s Father’s Day this Sunday, I thought I’d interrupt the Twi-devotionals as an opportunity to honor the strong father figures in my real life story.

In addition to being a Viet Nam vet, my father-in-law is a retired CHiP, a fact that totally stoked me when I found out, being a child of the 80s and totally in love with Eric Estrada and all. I actually got to tour the CHiP office that’s shown in the credits of the infamous television show! A dream come true! J But, besides being famous (in my opinion), my father-in-law is a closet sweetheart. Every time My Daniel talks to him on the phone, he asks after my welfare. Personally, I think it’s because of the date he and I went on once, way back at the beginning of my marriage to his son. My Daniel had business to attend to which I was not invited. So my father-in-law, whom I had only met maybe once or twice before, and I were “stuck” together for an entire afternoon in Hollywood, just the two of us. Judging by both of our reserved personalities, it was a giant risk! But we ended up going to a famous car museum and having a splendid day. I’ll never forget that.

My step-father (who is also a veteran FYI) and I have little history, and really I think I’m just now getting to know him after several years of his being part of my family. This I do know about him, though - He has always supported my writing, which means the world to me. He’s gone out on a limb for my Daniel and I more than once. And he always displays this kind of “on board” attitude when it comes to stepping outside the box. I can count on his enthusiasm. A recent visit, the best we’ve ever had in my opinion, allowed me to see and appreciate his sincerity. And the conversation we had sitting next to the pool on Wednesday, just the two of us, touched my heart. Thanks, Jay!

And then, of course, my dad dad… I call him my papala (you know, like Franck in Father of the Bride?). As an only child, it should come as no surprise that I am quite the daddy’s girl. I feel like we were not only cut from the same fabric, but with the same pair of scissors in the same pattern also. We think alike, reason alike, are motivated in the same ways. We enjoy many of the same books. He inspired my love for photography, having a dark room in the basement ever since I can remember. He’s my encyclopedia. If I have a question about religion, politics, science, or anything else, I ask him. My memory of growing up is full of instructed moments… how to blow a bubble with my gum…or my spit, how to swim, how to hide in “plain sight” while playing hide-and-seek, how to putt and shoot a basketball, how to play Frogger on the Apple 2E computer, how to identify butterfly and moth species, how to set up a model train, how to paint a house, how to dig up a deeply-rooted shrub in the front yard... We played kickball on the side porch together, walked our St. Bernard, Rocky, through the snow-covered alley singing the 12 Days of Christmas, and played Trivial Pursuit or The Star Wars Game around the kitchen table. He trudged through a blizzard to pick me up from elementary school once. He interrupted almost every slumber party I had to show my friends a science experiment. He kept me smiling on my wedding day as he walked me down the aisle. He treats my husband like his own son.

How could I ask for more?

So, I’ve been a blessed daughter here on this earth. I am well aware of it because I’ve met so many girls who never knew that kind of relationship with their fathers. Maybe your father was a jerk, I don’t know. If he was, I am so sorry. A daddy’s love is a unique and special thing no child should live without.

But there is One Father Who is there for every one of us, no matter what.

You know what I’m going to say, right?

Yep. The Heavenly Father.

I love meditating on the fact that God chose to relate to us as a Father to His children. He could have left it at Creator, or King or Master, with every right to expect an appropriate response from us as creation, subject, servant. Instead, because of His amazing, fathomless, powerful love, He invites us to call Him Abba, Father – a.k.a. Daddy (Rom. 8:15). He’s adopted us into His family by betrothing us to His Son Who purchased our dowry on the cross. Then He gave us His Spirit as a guarantee, an engagement ring of sorts, that we will take part in His inheritance. (Eph. 1:11-14)

So, no matter who your father-figures are, even if you just have The One, I hope you enjoy celebrating Father’s Day this weekend. Thank you, Dads!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Fear: Faith's Enemy

(click for previous chapter: Flirting with the World: The Other Choice)

Faith has many enemies.

While the Other Choice can be one of those, it doesn’t have to be. If we as the chooser put our Perfect Lover and the Other Choice in the proper places of our hearts, they can actually get along. (Eph. 6:12, Jn. 17:15-16) We are still in the world though not of it. Jacob and Edward become allies, but only Edward gains Bella’s heart. That’s one theme in the third book, Eclipse.

To be clear, I'm not saying "world" as in flesh/sin because being friends with sin is to be enemies with God. Here I'm saying, we still live in the world and must interact with it, involve it in our testimony, function within it. We're humans living in the human world. Things of this world, as long as they are not idols, are not intrinsically evil or sinful. We make them such with our decisions, actions, intentions and such. I.E. music, nature, food, sport. All can be used for the glory of God.

Other enemies, however, are indisputable. Bitterness, unforgiveness, despair, lies, temptation and hopelessness all can deliver heavy blows to faith, especially when they attack in the wilderness.

But the most dangerous enemy to faith, I believe, is fear. I heard an acronym for fear once: False Evidence Appearing Real. And therein lies the danger – fear tampers with beliefs.

In New Moon, Bella believes Edward left her because he didn’t want her any more, that he didn’t love her. This contradicts what she believed previously, that he did love and want her. She is disillusioned and confused and hurt. But she discovered Edward’s voice and pursues it. If she does that, then at least she can still believe he existed in the first place. So her faith is altered, damaged, shaky, but not completely gone.

It’s the perfect situation for fear to enter and administer the kill shot.

Bella and Edward shared a sanctuary in Twilight, the meadow out in the woods. She’s been looking for it ever since he left, sometimes with Jacob. When Jacob stops returning her phone calls (because he’s making the crossover to becoming a werewolf), Bella’s pain and loneliness flare up and she sets out to find the meadow by herself. Desperation fuels her quest. She feels like she’s tearing apart inside.

She finds the meadow, but not what she’s looking for – some evidence of his presence. It’s a low point for her. Even her holy place is dark and dead.

But then, someone shows up.

Laurent. A vampire, but not of the Cullen vegetarian variety.

Their encounter in the meadow is a stark image of how fear confronts us at our lowest point.

At first, Bella is glad to see him, only because it proves to her that vampires do exist, that somewhere out there, Edward exists. This is a great comfort to her.

But that comfort soon dissolves into terror as Laurent wields the weapon of fear. He does so by subtly drawing into question her beliefs about her Perfect Lover. He says things like, “I’m surprised they left you behind. Weren’t you a sort of pet of theirs?” (NM pg.237) and, “… you must not mean very much to him if he left you here unprotected.” (NM pg. 240) and then, “There’s no reason for Edward to think of me, if he cares enough to investigate.” (NM pg. 241) Each comment is crafted to chip away at any belief she had left that Edward cared for her at all, then or ever. It seems to make sense to her, too, judging from the present circumstances.

The other way Laurent stokes fear in this scene is he threatens Bella with Victoria’s vendetta. (FYI, Victoria wants to kill Bella, who she believes is Edward’s mate, because in Twilight, Edward killed James, Victoria’s mate, but only because James was about to kill Bella.) In a nutshell, Laurent is saying, not only does Edward not care about you, but someone is out to kill you. You’re a sitting, dead duck.

Then, Laurent throws at her the most devastating punch. Since Edward doesn’t love her and Victoria will eventually kill her, he might as well get the job done now. He even says, “You’re very lucky I’m the one to find you… I’ll be quick. You won’t feel a thing, I promise.” Then he adds, just for kicks, “But if you knew what she had planned for you, Bella…” (NM pg. 241)

Blow after blow, Laurent’s words conjure fear, reinforce her incorrect beliefs, and entice her to give up and accept a tragic ending.

When we’re in the wilderness having our faith tested, already questioning the love of our Perfect Lover, the last thing we need is for fear to show up and claim that our Perfect Lover’s intentions are false and untrustworthy. But that’s what happens. Even if we’re in the sanctuary on our knees desperately searching for the Voice of our Perfect Lover, fear appears and whispers in our ears, “He’s left you here unprotected… you must not mean that much to Him… aren’t you surprised that He’s left you?” On and on, filling our heads with lies that strike into us fear – fear that the lies are true. And not only that, but the fear continues with: you have nowhere else to turn, nowhere to hide from the monster that’s coming to get you. A monster that wouldn’t even be interested if you hadn’t trusted the Perfect Lover in the first place, so really He’s the one putting you in danger. Might as well give up now.

Defending ourselves against fear is a tough, messy job. Fear has the ability to attach and linger and pop up when least expected. In Bella’s case, the fears Laurent planted in her mind stay with her throughout the book – past being reunited with Edward, past his pleas for her to understand his true intentions and feelings. Once fear is acknowledged, it is a very, very difficult thing to erase.

But there is a cure for fear. There is something more powerful that can vanquish it with one strike. And that is… perfect love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

For that to happen, our beliefs must be in alignment. We must believe that the Perfect Lover indeed loves us unconditionally and eternally. We must believe that He’ll never leave us or forsake us. We must believe that only He can satisfy and fill that hole inside that aches for perfect love. When that happens, fear must depart.

The result: our faith is strengthened.

(click for next chapter: Attacks from Within)

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Monday, June 14, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - Flirting with the World: The Other Choice

Why the wilderness?

Because every pledge of any kind must be tested to prove its validity.

God even allowed Jesus to be tested, in the wilderness no less.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert [wilderness] to be tempted [tested] by the devil [the other choice]. (Matt. 4:1)

How could we not expect to face the same challenge?

The test of faith would be no contest without a contender. Free will and the application thereof would mean little without a choice. Our Perfect Lover does not want us to love Him back by default. He wants our love for Him to be what we choose. A right and wrong choice still exists, but we must face the option of choosing the wrong way in order to embrace the right way. True love isn’t true without the choice and the test of that choice.

The world is the Other Choice. And while not all bad, because God created it as good (Gen. 1:31), it is fallen and therefore not all good, and not the right companion for our hearts.

It’s in the wilderness that the Other Choice makes the strongest play for our devotion even while knowing full well he can’t compare to our Perfect Lover. The Other Choice is powerless to change our hearts, to fit us for eternity, to redeem our fallen state. Our Perfect Lover does all that and more.

But the Other Choice makes an attractive argument, especially in the (apparent) absence of our first choice. We only see one set of footprints in the sand, and make the mistake of believing that they’re ours (Footprints poem). So we take stock of our options, and the Other Choice steps up for consideration.

In New Moon, Jacob is the Other Choice. The entire story is about how Jacob becomes a contender for Bella’s heart, the earth drifting into position between the moon and the sun.

Throughout the series, Jacob is related to darkness and Edward to light. All Bella has once her light leaves is Jacob, a.k.a. darkness.

Jacob is not all bad. Although he displays bad behavior, he has many redeeming qualities. So it’s easy for Bella to open the door to his influence on her quest for Edward’s voice. But during the quest, she found something she wasn’t expecting – a remedy for the hole Edward’s absence created.

Flirting fast-tracks to dependence (she refers to him as a fix, like a drug (NM, pg 162)). She knows he doesn’t come close to comparing with what she believes she lost. But she keeps flirting to gain her fix, meanwhile inviting him deeper into her life. The price (or at least the deposit) isn’t too steep. Jacob is good looking (okay…smokin’ hot… I’m not blind), friendly, and fun. He desires to be in her company, and proves a decent companion. He’s an excuse to be reckless, a semblance of normalcy. He submits to her whims and gives her a sense of belonging. He promises never to hurt her, inadvertently (on purpose?) reinforcing her doubts in Edward. The relationship is easy.

Still, Bella is fully aware that she doesn’t love him the same as she loves Edward. But they are both willing to stake their lives on their friendship being enough.

So why isn’t it?

Jacob’s benefits come with annoying premiums. He’s immature, insensitive, easily distracted, prone to giving guilt trips, has a hair-triggered temper and even betrays a confidence when he feels scorned. Bella herself states, “I didn’t like Jacob when he acted this way.” (NM pg 405) That’s something she’d never say about Edward even in his absence.

But the real contention begins right after Jacob and Bella establish a relationship when the monster shows up. Jacob’s inner werewolf, which has always been there, erupts, wounding Bella, breaking promises, and violently opposing her perfect love.

Desperate and afraid, though, she fights for Jacob’s not-quite-it-affections because she believes it’s all she has left.

When I first read New Moon, I disliked Bella immensely. I faulted her for forgetting, raged at her for looking twice at Jacob or even hinting that she’d settle for him. Her actions hinge on her belief that Edward doesn’t want her. If she believed from the start that in his absence his love continued, how would her behavior have been different?

Upon second and third readings, as well as introspection, I had to admit, Bella did what many others would do in her situation.

Haven’t we have all considered the Other Choice at one point or another?

The world can be attractive, friendly, fun, desirous of our company, an excuse to be reckless. It provides a semblance of normalcy and sense of belonging. It promises things our Perfect Lover has not (easy life, no problems, do what feels good, etc.). On the surface, our Other Choice seems like a pretty good companion, even though sometimes it behaves badly.

Our wilderness experiences open the door for the Other Choice to become a contender in our hearts. Because we are hurting, we grasp at anything to battle loneliness, weariness, bitterness, despair, fear, hopelessness, doubt, pain, disappointment, desperation. But whatever we gain flirting with the world only numbs the pain. It will never erase it. Coping mechanisms only help us ignore pain better, like Jacob’s friendship helped Bella ignore the hole she felt inside. It’s a remedy, not a cure.

But it’s easier to keep flirting, keep inviting the world to plug the hole that we know can only heal in the presence of our Perfect Lover. Since He’s not around (apparently), we’ll settle for enough to get by, to survive, to keep walking and talking and functioning.

But, no matter how friendly this world is, at some point the monster behind the veil will reveal itself, and have no doubt, it will surface as the indisputable enemy of your Perfect Lover.

When that happens, the ball will be in our court. Time to make a choice. The ease or difficulty of that choice will largely depend on how much we’ve allowed the Other Choice into our lives. But if we believe from the start that during the wilderness our Perfect Lover’s love continues, then the Other Choice might not end up being such a contender after all.

(Click for next chapter: Fear - Faith's Enemy)

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Friday, June 11, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - In Search of the Voice - part 2

(click for previous chapter: In Search of the Voice - part 1)

For those of us who have experienced a spiritual wilderness, we understand Bella’s reaction to having the light removed from her life.

A spiritual wilderness can begin in a number of ways – an acute disappointment, a financial crisis, the loss of a love, the consequences of sin, an illness, a backstabbing, a traumatic event, an unexpected disaster. The desolation and shock these catalysts leave in their wake can eat you alive, drag you down, crush your spirit, cut out your heart. You feel like you’re dying, except you wake up to feel excruciating pain instead. And the bustling, seemingly oblivious and insensitive world expects you to carry on somehow.

In those moments, God seems to be very, very far away. Far away, and completely silent.

Experience shapes belief, whether we like it or not. Our perspective on what happens to us or the people we love plays a gigantic part in how we see life, ourselves, and God. And it absolutely affects the relationship between us and our Perfect Lover.

Beliefs, therefore, drive reactions, especially to tough circumstances.

When something bad happens in our lives, is the first thought – God must not love me?

Yet, we find ourselves in a quandary because He’s told us so many times before that He does, indeed, love us with an unfailing love.

Faith takes a damaging blow. Sometimes a fatal one.

What do we do in such impossible circumstances?

We have to seek His voice. And to hear it, we must have it inside, have absorbed it and know it and be able to recognize it. Like Bella says at the beginning of New Moon, before her wilderness starts: “I didn’t need to look to know who it was; this was a voice I would know anywhere – know, and respond to, whether I was awake or asleep… or even dead, I’d bet… Edward.” (NM, pg.2)

When Bella first hears Edward’s voice, she describes it as a gift, but also as a delusion. She believes the concern in his tone of voice not because she believes it is true, but because she wants to believe it is true. And throughout her wilderness, that alone keeps her going.

God’s Word and His Holy Spirit are our gifts from Him, conduits of His Voice. His promises are yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20), but if we do not believe them, they won’t bring us comfort. It’s up to us to believe what He promises. But sometimes our problems weigh so heavy and inflict such pain that belief is difficult to grasp. In that situation, believing God’s promises simply because we want to believe them could carry us through the wilderness and be our only motivation to keep going.

God’s Word is living and breathing (Heb. 4:12), so whether we believe it or not, it is true and works like a sword to battle on our behalf against the enemies that have come against us. Voicing His Word and promises does the work, even if our faith has dwindled to the size of a tiny mustard seed.

When you are in your darkest, most lonely place, God’s Voice is there drawing you through the trouble. Pursue it, and you will again see the light.

Beware, because doubt will accompany you back into the arms of your Perfect Lover, whispering in your ear the fears your wilderness subjected, threatening the faith that already has taken a beating.

It’s like Edward trying to convince Bella that he had always loved her, and that she needed to believe his motivations for leaving her were because of that love. He makes a few good arguments, ones I like to imagine God asking me when I come up against an unmovable mountain:

But I never imagined it would be so easy to do! I thought it would be next to impossible – that you would be so sure of the truth that I would have to lie through my teeth for hours to even plant a seed of doubt in your head… But how could you believe me? After all the thousand times I’ve told you I love you, how could you let one word break your faith in me?” (NM, Pg.510)

Why can you believe the lie, but not the truth?” (NM, pg. 511)

Bella’s response to that reveals my heart too:

It never made sense for you to love me.” (NM, pg 511)

Look, it doesn’t make sense for God to love us like He does, for Jesus to sacrifice His throne and His life and His dignity to save ours, for our Perfect Lover to pursue us after we’ve spit in His face and told Him we don’t want Him. Sense has nothing to do with it. The fact of the matter is that He does love us, and no matter what happens here in this life, all He asks in return is that we have faith in that love. To believe the truth, not the lie, in all seasons of life. To listen to His voice and trust in His Promises. To know without a shadow of a doubt, whether the phase of life finds us as a full moon, bathed in His light, or as a new moon, in complete darkness, He is still there, and we will come into His full light once again.

You might ask yourself, though, especially in the midst of your starkest wilderness, why, if our Perfect Lover really loves us so much, must we endure the wilderness at all?

My thoughts on that Monday. For now, enjoy your weekend, and as always, thanks for visiting Dry Ground.

(click for next chapter: Flirting with the World - The Other Choice)

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - In Search of the Voice - part 1

Voice is important.

To hear someone’s voice is to know they are alive.

A person’s voice is evidence of their presence, a window to their character, and a mark of uniqueness. Voice is the essence of the inner being, the reflection of a life’s soul.

Why else would parents wait with bated breath for their child’s first words?

Or why do we, after loosing a loved one, save their voice on a voice mail recording?

What’s the first thing we say when calling someone we haven’t spoken to in a while? It’s so good to hear your voice.

Voice not only conveys an individual’s thoughts, but also the feelings behind those thoughts. Tone of voice adds a level of depth to the facts we hear.

Voice, though, is also subject to interpretation. Like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so does meaning translate through the ears of the hearer. And the hearer is laden with beliefs filtering the voice and attaching meaning of its own. It’s the dance that governs effective communication.

To a writer, Voice delivers character, an essential building block of story.

In New Moon, the concept of Voice is essential. Hearing and knowing Edward’s voice is central to almost everything that happens to Bella. She’s had six months to absorb his essence, allow his presence to change her on a molecular level (even though the actual physical change is still far ahead in her future). At this point in their relatively stress-free relationship, they’ve grown to know each other – likes, dislikes, mood swings and tendencies, unspoken understandings and established affection. Bella’s had a constant dose of him for a good amount of time.

His sudden absence, then, punches a void through her life, like a massive black hole in outer space. After hearing his last spoken words, “Goodbye, Bella,” she goes months without any indication that he even exists, aside from the pain his leaving causes. To cope, she shuts down. She sits in darkness, shock having rendered her almost catatonic. She’s launched into her wilderness with traumatic and devastating force. And a frightening nothingness haunts her dreams, clinging to every part of her being.

Forced into the land of the living by her father, she learns to function in a way that fulfills the definition of normal while still protecting herself with the utmost caution. She’s stepped up from being a catatonic to being a zombie. Alive, but not really.

But in this semi-alive state, her senses awake. Another episode in Port Angeles puts her in a dangerous situation, and it is in this adrenaline-amped moment that his voice is able to break through.

Bella says that at the very moment she heard his voice, though as jolting as a defibrillator to an arrested heart, everything became clear (NM, p.111). She’s alive for the first time in months because she’s reminded of his existence. His voice has stayed inside her all this time, even when she couldn’t let herself hear it.

Funny thing is, she disobeys his voice immediately. He tells her to stop what she’s doing, and she blatantly refuses in order to hear him scold her again. According to what she believes, the voice is a gift, but a delusion at the same time because she thinks she only imagines the anger in his voice conveying concern, care and love. Comfort, nonetheless, comes from hearing it, and thus hearing his voice becomes her new pursuit.

She also believes that hearing him only comes through acting recklessly. Her new pursuit sends her into rebellion, then, as she breaks her promise to him not to be reckless as well as ignores his commands to stop what she’s doing when she does hear his voice.

At first, Edward’s voice tells her things she would have known he would say just from being with him so often beforehand. In Port Angeles, while riding motorcycles with Jacob, even in the meadow with Laurent, Edward’s warnings reflect the personality that she is acquainted with.

But then, his voice turns prophetic. When Bella confronts Jacob about why they can’t be friends any more, before she knows he’s a werewolf, Edward’s voice warns her to give him space, not to push him. How would Bella have known to think that? Even Bella is surprised to hear Edward’s voice at that moment because she doesn’t feel afraid, which she assumes is the prerequisite to hearing him. Knowledge of him reaches beyond her own understanding, although she only becomes aware of it in retrospect.

The event culminating her quest to hear his voice has her cliff jumping. Again his voice begs her not to, and again she argues and ultimately disobeys. Once she’s caught in the rip tide, the voice begs her to fight, not give up, to keep swimming. Again, she ignores him, embracing what she thinks is the happiest she’ll ever be.

A lot happens between cliff jumping and winding up in Edward’s arms again. But when she does, when her wilderness has come to an end and the light has returned, Bella still does not see truth right away. It takes much convincing for her to realize why all this happened, and to trust the future Edward promises her.

Doubts have attached like a cancer to every belief she has. Even with his actual voice whispering in her ear, she struggles to accept truth based on her own understanding stemming from her experiences.

Edward tries everything. Logic, words, kisses – she rebuts it all.

It’s the Voice that finally convinces her. That she heard him while he was not there opens her eyes to truth. Seeing it for the first time, she admits her doubt with these words:

But what if… What if you sincerely believed something was true, but you were dead wrong? What if you were so stubbornly sure that you were right, that you wouldn’t even consider the truth? Would the truth be silenced, or would it try to break through? Third option: Edward loved me. (NM, p527)

That’s Bella’s story. How does it relate to us hearing our Perfect Lover’s voice?

Tune in Friday for my thoughts. Thanks for stopping by today!

(click for next chapter: In Search of the Voice - part 2)

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