Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Once Upon A Time (S1, Ep1): The Pilot

"Once upon a time, there was an enchanted forest filled with all the classic characters we know. Or think we know. One day they found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen. Our World. This is how it happened...."

These are the opening words that begin the pilot episode of the "Once Upon A Time" series. Our minds have been conditioned into believing that the fairy tale world is filled with bliss and happy endings. Apparently, this isn't the case. Now, we are going to learn the bigger story about the stories we know "or think we know."

The episode begins with Prince Charming; who is rushing to find Snow White. He finds her dead, and begs the dwarfs to allow him to say good-bye. He gives her one last kiss and and true love's kiss awakens her. They are both stunned and relieved. Snow White exclaims "You found me!" The Prince says, "Did you ever doubt I would...? You never have to worry. I will always find you!" What follows is the royal wedding (as to be expected). So far, the fairy tale is just as we all remember. Then, comes the "catch." The evil queen arrives and she vows: "Soon, everything you love, everything all of you love will be taken from you forever. And, out of your suffering, will rise my victory. I shall destroy your happiness if it is the last thing I do."

The months pass and the royal couple is now expecting a child. They also continue to wonder and worry about the Queen's threat. Snow White insists on visiting the imprisoned Rumplestiltskin to see what he may know about what is to come. Prince Charming reluctantly agrees and they go to see him. Rumplestiltskin is all about making deals, so he insists on knowing the name of their unborn child (Emma) in exchange for what he knows. He tells them that "the queen has created a powerful curse; and it's coming. Soon, you'll all be in a prison, just like me, only worse! Your prison, all of our prisons, will be time; for time will stop. And we will be trapped someplace horrible; where everything we hold dear, everything we love, will be ripped from us, while we suffer for all eternity,...while the queen celebrates, victorious at last! No more happy endings." Snow White frets about what can be done and he says that the only one that can do anything is the child she is carrying. He tells them that the child is their only hope and that they MUST get her to safety. Then, on the child's 28th birthday: "The child will return. The child will find you, and the final battle will begin!"

As the royal couple, and various other characters, try to determine what their game plan is, the blue fairy comes in with an enchanted tree and says that if fashioned into a vessel, "it can ward off any curse." She commissions Gepetto to the task. However, she says: "The enchantment is indeed powerful, but all power has its limits, and this tree can protect only one." It is decided that the pregnant Snow White will be the one who is saved since her child is the one that is predicted to save everyone from the curse.

Gepetto works on the tree diligently and finishes the wardrobe. Meanwhile, Snow White unfortunately begins going into labor; and right as the curse begins to descend upon their world. Emma is born and they wrap her in a blanket with her name on it. Snow White insists that the Prince take the baby and put her in the wardrobe. She says that they have to have faith that she'll come back for them and that they have to give her "her best chance".

Prince Charming literally fights his way to the wardrobe (the palace has been invaded by the Queen's men). He puts the baby inside the tree and she disappears. The Prince is happy as he lies there slain by one of the Queen's guards that assaulted him. Snow White hobbles into the room and cradles the Prince in her arms; whispering to him and kissing him. The Queen arrives and hovers over them; assuring Snow White that she won't remember any of it. The Queen is angry and slightly worried when Snow White informs her that her baby "got away" and tells her "You're going to lose. I know that now. Good will always win." The Queen smiles and says, "We'll see about that!" as they disappear into "someplace horrible....where the only happy ending will be MINE!"

Now, we go to the real world where we see a little boy who is traveling through the city holding a book. It's obvious that he's on some sort of mission. He finally reaches his destination, which is the home of Emma Swan. She is a bail bonds person and had just gotten home from an eventful night. It's also her 28th birthday; and she's celebrating it alone. She has no family or friends and is basically a loner. As she's blowing out a birthday candle on a cupcake, she hears her doorbell ring. After the boy confirms her identity, he announces that he's her son. He begs her to come home with him to Storybrooke. On the way, Emma notices his book of fairy tales that he insists are true; and that she's in the book. She says to to him that he has problems; problems that he says that she is going to be the one to fix.

When they arrive in Storybrooke, she notices the clock in the middle of town. The boy (Henry) explains to her that the clock never moves and that time is frozen. He says that the evil Queen has sent all the characters of the book into the real world and that none of them remember who they really are. Also, no one can try to leave the town or bad things will happen. As he's' telling Emma about these things, Henry's psychiatrist shows up. Archie (aka Jiminy Cricket) probes Henry as to where he's been and Henry dances around the issue and minimizes the truth of the matter. Archie assures him that, "Giving in to one's dark side never accomplishes anything." He then informs Emma that Henry is the mayor's son. Emma promptly takes him home to the mayor, Regina (aka the evil Queen).

After talking with Regina and getting Henry settled back in, Emma decides to head home. She sees that Henry left his book in the car right as she swerves to avoid hitting a wolf in the middle of the road and crashes. She wakes up in the Storybrooke jail where Regina is begging the Sheriff to find Henry, who has gone missing again. Emma offers to help and they search his computer history and find that he used his teacher's credit card to find his birth mother. They question his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard (aka Snow White), about Henry's whereabouts. She doesn't know anything, but it's discovered that she was the one that had given Henry the book of fairy tales because she thought he was lonely and that the stories might give him "hope" for a "happy ending." She suggests to Emma that she should go look for him at his "castle", which is an old playground.

Emma finds him right where Mary Margaret suggested. Henry keeps telling Emma about her destiny and that he understands that she gave him up for adoption in order to give him his "best chance"; just like Snow White did for her. She is still in denial about it. She tells him that she is in no book and is no savior; but that she did want him to have his best chance. She explained that when she was a baby, she was found on the freeway and then ended up in the foster care system. She tells Henry that his life with his adoptive mother can't be all bad and that he has a good life. Henry tries to assure Emma that her parents didn't abandon her; that they were saving her from the curse and that that's just where she "came through". He begs her to stay for just a little while. She finally takes Henry up on his offer. She decides to stay for a week after Regina coldly threatens her and tells her to stay away from Henry and leave Storybrooke. As she is settling into her room at Granny's Bed & Breakfast, the town clock begins ticking. Additionally, Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) runs into Emma as he's collecting rent from Granny and tells her to enjoy her stay.


If you're still reading, let me apologize for the already long blog. However, knowing the basics and foundation of the story is very crucial, so this first blog of the series is obviously going to be the longest one. Though, why am I spending such an extensive amount of time to blog this series when you can obviously read recaps elsewhere online, buy Season 1 for yourself, or watch it on Netflix? Well, as explained in my previous blog entry, this series has a lot of spiritual truths woven into it (whether it was intended to be there or not). Therefore, I just want to share the things I see in each episode so that it might encourage you to think about the Biblical truths of God's Word that are nestled into this TV series meant for our "entertainment." 

God is our "Prince Charming." He is always in pursuit of us and has been since He first created us. He will "always find us" and likewise, we should be seeking Him too (Psalm 27:4-8, Psalm 105:4). He is love and life to us and endures forever (1 John 4:8, Psalm 136). He sustains and saves us (Amos 5:4, Psalm 119:88, John 3:16, James 4:8). We are His bride (Revelation 19:7, 21:9, 22:17). In Him, we have eternal life; our "happily ever after."

Of course, we do have our adversary (1 Peter 5:8). Satan has always sought to ruin God's good and perfect plans (John 8:44, 1 John 3:8). Satan thinks he's high and mighty, but he's nothing and WILL be destroyed (Isaiah 14:11-13, Revelation 20:10). No matter what happens, everything works out for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It's true; good ultimately always wins! The perfect world that God created did become cursed, but Christ's sacrifice is what has overcome that curse (Romans 5). That tree (the cross) is where our Savior redeemed us. His sacrifice saved us all and He is coming back for us to take us home where we are meant to be (John 14:2-3). One day, we will escape this temporal "horrible place" where we don't belong; which Christ has already overcome (John 16:33, 1 John 4:4, 5:4-5).

God's Word gives us hope for a happy ending, and that's because the Bible is no fairy tale book; it's TRUTH! The Bible tells us who God is, who we are, and where things are going. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). We have to keep clinging to our faith (Hebrews 11) because in the end, those are the ones that will be saved (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13).

This world is full of struggles. It's terrible, foreign, and full of pain and troubles. We don't always know who we are or what we're meant to do and we wander around in our own "Storybrooke". We all have to pursue and accept our destinies. We are meant for great things (Ephesians 2:10) and sometimes we feel like Emma (or like Moses or Jonah) and we want to deny or run from our calling. We think of all sorts of reasons why we can't do what we're meant to do, or say it's meant for "somebody else" and we bury our talents (and heads) in the sand (Matthew 25:14-28). It's hard to embrace the big picture sometimes, but we overwhelm ourselves instead of just focusing on the baby steps. Maybe we should just focus on the small choices; the little things that we can decide to do "today" that will eventually work up to the bigger choices of "tomorrow". Maybe we can't walk in such big shoes right away, but we'll grow into them. It's a journey, and it all starts with one step of faith. We have God's Word to encourage us, as well as others who are on the same journey of faith with us (Hebrews 10:25). Together, we help each other stay strong and persevere.

Grace and peace to all of you as you live your lives to the fullest! Take advantage of this one life that you have to live and make it your "best chance", because you won't get another one! Seek, find, and walk in the faith we were all meant to discover and possess! It will be rewarded! God bless you all!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Once Upon A TV Show...

Television. It isn't what it used to be. Today, most programs that you see are tainted with so much profanity, violence, and sexual references that there is little (if anything) to gleam from the programming. Most of what we have are crime dramas, distasteful sitcoms, and goofy reality shows. Whatever happened to some of the shows we used to love; the ones that were suitable for family viewing and often had themes of faith and family values? Well, if you can catch the reruns (or buy the series on DVD) you can still watch shows like that. My personal faves include "Little House on the Prairie", "Full House" (and not just because John Stamos is in it), and "Family Matters." I grew up on these shows, and there were always good things to observe and learn from them.

If you're like me, maybe you don't watch very much TV anymore because they just don't "make them like they used to." You stick to the re-runs and DVD collections, and maybe occasionally check out a new show to see if it's any good. However, it just doesn't compare with the kind of media we grew up on. However, an exception rolls around every now and then. I have come across just such a show. My friend, Kaitlyn, often tweets about the shows that she watches and I noticed how much she raved about the show "Once Upon A Time." Despite her insistence, I adamantly refused to give the show a try. While the genre did appeal to me, I had no desire to begin liking a new series that would probably end up getting cancelled should I decide that I liked it (my friend, Shane, understands this "curse" as well ha ha!). However, her incessant tweeting piqued my curiosity to the point where I decided I would check it out.

I went online and began watching the first episode. That was all it took! Everything about the series is absolutely captivating; the characters, costumes, sets, musical score, special effects, and most surprisingly, the storyline! It was a welcome surprise from ABC/Disney; I have been losing faith in their ability to provide true family entertainment for a long time!

The thing that I enjoy most, which is what has stirred me to blog, is the spiritual and Biblical themes. This show brings up so many scriptures, Bible stories, and spiritual concepts to my mind as I watch it. It reminds me a LOT of how C.S. Lewis used Narnia to teach those sorts of things to children. I can see the same theme at work in "Once Upon A Time" (whether it's intended to be there or not). The premise is that the evil queen places a curse on the fairy tale world. The characters are all sent to the "real" world to a town called Storybrooke. No one remembers who they really are or what has happened to them and the little town/characters go about their lives frozen in time. They are waiting for the the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White (who escaped the curse) to come and rescue them and break the curse. Throughout the series, we see everything unfold; in addition to viewing flashbacks of the fairy tale world and how everything came to be (and in relation to the characters and their histories). It's fascinating how each episode toggles between the real world and the previous one and shows how things transpired with the characters both then and now. There's always some sort of "theme" to each episode, and it's very deep and thought provoking!

It didn't take long for me to want to begin blogging the episodes. I didn't get around to it as soon as I would have liked, so I decided to wait until the series came to DVD so I could watch them again and take notes. The second season begins September 30th, so I am HOPING to get the first season episodes blogged BEFORE then (and then blog each week's episode soon after it airs). I'll do my best, but I might be a little behind lol. ;) At any rate, it WILL be done eventually (and I hope you all will enjoy them - especially if you're as big of a fan of the show as I am!).

So, while they may not make them as good as they used to, they sometimes come pretty close! God still moves in various and mysterious ways; including the media!! Keep your eyes and heart open!! You might be surprised! God bless you all!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Remembering Grandma

Today, our family and friends said good-bye to Kate (Grandma) Sauers. As much as we miss her, and already feel the void, we are happy that she is home with Jesus.

Grandma's brothers, Jim & Jerry, shared a few words at the funeral. Uncle Jim made a point of strongly emphasizing her faith and the fact that she was a prayer warrior. My Grandma, and her siblings, had gotten this trait from their mother; my great-grandmother, Marie Zerkel. Faith is the strongest thread our family has. It's what binds us together and makes us all as caring and close as we are!

Uncle Jerry shared with us a few stories of Grandma; many of which were humorous and showed everyone a side of her that we sometimes forget. He made us all laugh when he joked about her lead foot and how she must be a distant relative of a race car driver. He also mentioned her love of sports; particularly IU and Notre Dame. It immediately reminded me of the time my Dad, brother, and I were in the beauty shop where she cut hair and we were all watching the Colts game. We were glued to the TV and she had paused with her comb and shears that she had been using to cut my brother's hair. The Colts either made a touchdown or did something really awesome, because I remember Grandma throwing up her arms and yelling "YAAAAHOOOO!!" It totally shocked me and makes me smile/laugh even still! She was rather excited and animated lol!

I also shared from my heart as well. Here is what I read:

It hasn't even been a week since Grandma went home. Yet, it already feels like the whole world has changed now that she's not in it. Everything about her was so unlike anyone else. She always made everything better and as close to perfect as possible. Even yesterday, I was looking at all the food that had been carried in for us to eat. I thought about what Grandma might have made and how we all would have praised her for how tasty it was. No one makes food like Grandma. Everything she made was delicious; even if she insisted that it was somehow flawed. She was a perfectionist, and no matter how perfect her work always was to us (or how much she went above and beyond to make it that way) she always made a point of telling us how she could have made it even better. She always had those interesting cooking tips and tricks. Though, as the saying goes, she was often imitated but never duplicated. It doesn't matter how well you can follow Grandma's way; it's never going to be as perfect as when she did it.

Food wasn't the only thing she had tips for. I remember watching her pack a suitcase. She handled each item with care and was placing tissue paper in-between everything. She told me this was to keep the clothes from wrinkling. She always did things I would never have thought to do and they all seemed to be such smart and sensible ideas for making the most of things and saving time. I told her that she needed to write a book for me that was filled with little things like that; as well as her recipes and special things that she did that I would never think to do on my own. Of course, she always downplayed these things as not being all that special. Maybe she didn't really get that the bigger picture was that we wanted to keep all those tiny little details (that she paid so much attention to) going on for as long as possible.

Extending her memory is as important to us as it was for her to extend the life out of everything. There wasn't much that she didn't save for a later use or for a keepsake. After all, how would she make a instrument case for my flute if she hadn't saved the extra material that she had leftover from making my peach bridesmaid's dress for my Dad's wedding? While all my other fellow flutists were buying flute cases from a gal that was selling them, Grandma was making me one that was unlike any of theirs. It was denim; and the lining inside was that peach satin. Of course, Grandma added "extras." She added a star on the outside, as well as a pocket, and my initials were in gold glitter. Priceless! Of course, that was always Grandma's way; from hems to haircuts, she could do it all! She was always there to make, mend, and create things; for special events, or just because. Whether it's a dress, blanket, curtains, birthday cakes, or whatever else that needed taken care of, she was there to make sure it got made or fixed.

It seemed like a cruel thing to happen that after all those years of lending her faithful and helping hands, one was taken away from her. I can't imagine how discouraging it must have been to not be able to use your hands for all the things you used to do; including all the simple every-day things that we take for granted. Yet, I don't think any of us heard her complain about it much. She persevered with her faith and always had an incredible will to survive. No matter what challenges she faced in life (even at the very end) she never gave up. She wanted to keep being there for everyone the way she always had; no matter how much she had slowed down. Though, I suppose that was what it took for her to finally take a break and let us do for HER for a change. Although we could never repay her for everything she has done for us, we were always more than willing to try. Even now, she continues to give so much to us as we remember everything that made her who she was and how all of it flowed from her heart of faith. Her faith gave life to her and she shared that life with us. Our reward is the fruits of her labor and the impact that she will forever have on us; as well as the bonus of being with her again if we cling fast to the faith that she so cherished. She is now receiving her reward in heaven right now; where everything is new, perfect, and lasts forever. I can only imagine how she might object to not doing enough, just as Jesus would be assuring her that she did. Can't you just hear him say, "Kate, your work was done unto me. Therefore, it was perfect. It's absolutely good enough and the results will last forever. Now, you can finally rest after a life well spent. Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home!"

We miss you, Grandma!! We hope you're enjoying heaven! No one will ever be able to take your place here, but we'll do our best to carry on in your absence. We love you and thank you for all you have done and all that you are! You have fully blessed us with a multitude of beautiful memories and remembrances. You have left your mark on all of us, and the world! You'll never be forgotten! Amen.

These memories are only but a few of the MANY I have of her; both growing up and in recent years. My more recent ones are of how she thought to give me birthday money back in July (and particularly since it was my 30th, she wanted to make sure she did something). As always, she was thinking of others rather than herself. There she was, taking the time to think of me and sacrificially give me something when she was so under the weather. I used that money when I went down to Indy for Sarah's bachelorette party and we all got pedicures. In fact, that nail polish is still on my toes almost two months later. Yes, it's chipping and some of it is barely there....but I think of her when I see those purple sparkles and I just don't want to take it off yet. At the very least, I think I'll have to find that same OPI nail polish so that I can redo them often and think of her every time.

My other really fresh memory is of her helping me out so much with the kids (particularly Gianna) when the kids and I moved back home two years ago. Gianna started pre-school, and Grandma helped pick her up during the times my Dad or I were still at work and couldn't make it. I always hated to ask, but she was always more than willing. She always said how much she enjoyed picking up Gianna and that she loved having that time with her. Of course, Gianna somehow managed to get Grandma to buy her milkshakes from McDonald's, but it made Grandma all too happy to spoil her little sweetie with a treat. It made me think of all the times she took us grand-kids through the drive-thru for a happy meal or some kind of special treat. Yep, if Grandma wasn't making us some of her yummy food, she was giving us our next favorite: fast food!

Grandma was always spoiling us! She never thought she did all that much for us, but she did! I remember how she told me about an occasion where she bought new shoes for my cousin, Veronica, because hers were so worn out. Her sister, Valerie, wanted new shoes too. Grandma told her that hers were still good and that she really didn't need any. However, those tearful, pleading, Precious Moment eyes of  hers melted Grandma's heart easily and little Ta-Ta got some new shoes too. ;) I believe Grandma also bought me a pair of shoes too after my Mom, brother and I had to stay with her a while when our house was being de-fumigated (skunk got in the crawl space. It was horrible lol!). Not only did she get me new shoes (since my other pair had absorbed some of the smell) but she laundered so much of our things and picked me up from school (despite my mother telling me not to call Grandma to come and get me) when I discovered that yet something else I was wearing wasn't quite free from the smell. Someone would notice it during first period study hall (but thankfully, no one ever knew it was me or I would have never lived it down lol!) and I would quietly find a way to say I was sick, excuse myself, and go to the office to call Grandma to rescue me lol! 

As kind and generous as Grandma was, my cousins and I also knew that Grandma's wrath wasn't something you ever wanted lol. We often laugh about how she would get after us for being too rowdy in the basement, or disobeying safety orders by climbing the trees or wandering through the corn fields. As much as Grandma loved us, she wasn't opposed to getting out the yardstick if we really pressed our luck! I remember how Veronica and I unrolled a bunch of toilet paper once. We got caught, yelled at, and watched as Grandma carefully rolled it back up so it wouldn't be wasted lol. I also remember how she nursed my bloody nose after my cousin Katie took a toy vehicle and hit me with it (to which Grandma yelled, "Wayne, take her to bed!" I'm sorry, Katie, but I will never be able to forget how you were kicking and crying in mid-air as Grandpa held you by the arms out in front of him lol!). Grandma told me the correct way to make it stop was by pinching and holding my head down. I had always held it back, but despite my objections and skepticism, we did it Grandma's way (and of course, it worked much better).

She also wasn't afraid to get after Grandpa. We all know how ornery HE is! ;) I'm sure this will be one of the odd things that we (and Grandpa) will miss quite a bit. Who can forget how she would roll her eyes at him, or get after him for being goofy?! One of my favorite phrases was, "Wayne, cut that out!" Grandpa and Grandma may have acted like Frank and Marie Barone from "Everybody Loves Raymond" sometimes, but we all know they care about each other deep down. They have been together over 60 years and poor Grandpa is taking the loss much harder than any of us ever thought he would. Please, keep him in your prayers (and that he will finally see to it that he will welcome Christ into his heart so that he can be with Grandma like he wishes).

I still have many more memories that I would love to share, but I'll stop. Feel free to comment and add your own stories if you'd like! If there's one thing Grandma did best, it was smiling and laughing (ohmigosh, I'm soooo going to miss that big smile and that special laugh of hers!). She always made me laugh; especially when she would squeeze my knee as a kid and make me giggle. "There's that wooden leg!" She would say lol. Anyways, you know how much Grandma loved sharing stories; and sharing every detail...right down to the year, day, and even day of the week (and sometimes the hour) that it happened lol!! God bless you all as we remember Grandma! Thank you for your love and prayers!!