The Tolkien Blog Party

 

Tolkien Party Hobbit Hole 2018

I’m joining my writing Kindred Spirit over at The Edge of the Precipice Blog in celebrating all that is Tolkien. (Hope over there for instructions on how to join in.) Today is Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, and yesterday was the 81st Anniversary of the publication of the Hobbit. It seems a good time to celebrate. So pack that pipe, grab a beer, and put those furry feet up on a table as I talk about Tolkien.

Tolkien Tag 2018

1.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth story/book?

My favorite of all the Middle Earth books is Lord of the Rings. I probably love the Fellowship the best, but that’s a bit hard for me to say, since they’re all beautiful. The Silmarillion would have to be my second favorite, followed by the Hobbit.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot?

Legolas and Gimli’s friendship is my favorite subplot. I love how it crosses cultures, ages, and even endures beyond the end of the world. I love the friendships in Lord of the Rings. Take Sam and Frodo. Their friendship carries them to the very end. Has there ever been a character as beautiful as Sam?

3.  What’s your favorite theme in Tolkien’s books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.)

My favorite theme is one stated by Sam near the beginning of the book: “…so old and young, and so gay and sad, as it were.” Sam is talking about meeting the elves for the first time, but I believe it is an undercurrent to all of Lord of the Rings. It is the sense I walk away with: the story is happy and yet so sad, young, yet so very old.

My other most favorite theme is eucatastrophe. Tolkien loved eucatastrophe. The idea of the turning point of grace. Lord of the Rings has several moments like that, where things change just when they’re all about to go so bad.

I also love the theme of the powerless-ness of the ring. Now wait, hear me out. I love that there are a tiny handful of characters that never really give into it. Bilbo gives it up in the end. Sam gives it back to Frodo. Faramir isn’t drawn to it. I love these little people who are able to resist it’s power. That is hope, hope right there.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth?

I’m partial to Aragorn’s sword Anduril, what a history. I’m also rather fond of Gil-galad’s spear Aiglos, which means snow-point. Even as a child I was fond of the idea, the image, of Gil-Galad and his spear.

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit?

I am a hobbit.

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple?

I always loved Arwen…mostly because she loves Aragorn. But, I do love the beauty, the sadness, and the almost distance of their romance, like it doesn’t play a huge part in the story.

I love Sam and Rosie. (Sam is kinda my favorite.)

But my favorite romance is Beren and Tinuviel. Their story is rich, heart-breaking, filled with pain, and ultimately brings about one of the greatest family lines in all of Middle Earth. It doesn’t hurt that my husband started calling me Tinuviel Undomiel when he finally read Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillon.

Faramir and Eyown are another favorite because Faramir brings Eyown so much hope.


7.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be “real” or “imaginary.”)

I really do love elves. I love so much about elves that I feel like Sam most of the time, kind of in awe of them. But in my heart of heart, I love hobbits the best.

8.  What character do you look the most like?

Probably Rosie if she had brown hair.

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend?

Right now I’m reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18. It’s amazing. The more I learn about WW1 the better I understand Tolkien. 

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

 

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

 

I’m going to stop there, because there are more lines in the Lord of the Rings that I love than I can every ever quote. You should see the mark ups I have in some of my copies.

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What are your personal cliches?

Personal Clichés: Characters

 

What are your personal cliches?
Images from Pixabay. Edits by me.

I’m one of those strange writers who doesn’t mind clichés. What I mind is when they’re slapped on because we all know that’s how the story goes, but delivered without conviction or chemistry. I love war movies and action movies. I like cop shows and westerns. Almost all of these stories are just a change of setting and actors, with the same plots, and the same characters. I eat it up. I’ll watch an anti-hero become good over and over. I’ll watch the drifter save the town and get the girl. I’ll bask in the story of the elite team that sacrifices itself for others, each one getting picked off one by one.

“Please sir, can I have some more?”

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

Because I don’t run screaming from clichés, I tend to have a few of my own. Whether I’m working on my YA Epic, one of my Huntsman and HearthKeeper stories, or a fairy tale retelling, I tend to focus in on four types of characters: the warrior, the dreamer, the forgiven, and the ordinary.

These four tend to make up my teams, my crews. They are my main characters and important secondary characters. And they come complete with their own symbols.

See, I’m a doodler. I love to doodle. Set a piece of paper in front of me and the next thing you know it will be covered with light bulbs, trees, swirling lines, mushrooms, antlers, axes and shields, and favorite quotes. It will also have arrows, feathers, tulips, and dandelions lined up in a row. This is my warrior, dreamer, forgiven, and ordinary.

20180524_065425-01.jpeg
A random doodle.

The Warrior: I love humble warriors (proud warriors are dangerous and annoying). I love the broken ones who stand between darkness and the innocent. I love the ones who hunt monsters under the bed, evil, and danger, pouring themselves out for the rest of us. They are often dirty, dark, and cracked. They’re rough. A dull arrow can’t help you. A sharp one, a tested one could cut you, but it can also defend you.
The Dreamer: I love the soft ones who see the joy in life. They’re gentle. They’re quiet. Their strength and power is far more subtle than the warrior. They have seen all the darkness the he has seen, but it hasn’t stolen their laughter. They face the storm with a song and a dance. They’re filled with hope. I often pair a warrior with a dreamer. It helps the warrior not break completely when he has this light-filled creature standing beside him.
The Forgiven: One of my favorite shows is Fringe. It is brilliant, beautiful, funny, painful, oh so very painful. In it they use the Tulip as a symbol of forgiveness. This works for me because not only do I love the show, so me doodling tulip is an ode to my love, but I’m also a 5 point Calvinist. The Tulip is used by us to represent the five tenets presented against Arminianism. One of the beautiful points about Calvinism is that we aren’t good, we aren’t worthy, and we don’t deserve forgiveness. But GOD! God came. God supplied what we couldn’t and forgave us, sinners. Christ came and touched the sick, retrieved the dangerous, and befriended the villain. You will never read one of my longer stories that doesn’t have at least one of the villains being forgiven. I love having someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness on any level getting it from the hero. Each of my forgiven characters represents my own undeserved rescue, because I didn’t deserve to be rescued.
The Ordinary: In our day in age, ordinary is a bad word. If you want to live an ordinary life somethings wrong with you. Suburbia is boring and only for those who have given up on life. And yet, ordinary is amazing. The Bible often encourages us to be ordinary, to live an ordinary life. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures, magic, and supernatural things. But, I think there is great magic in living an ordinary life, a quiet life. (My hobbitness is showing.) When I have warriors, dreamers, and forgiven characters running around, I will include someone who is ordinary. They aren’t the fighters, the light, or the villain rescued. They’re just a normal boy or girl drawn into an extraordinary situation. This appeals to me because I believe heroes are often ordinary people. Many men in battle are just like you or me with the only difference being that they’ve been thrust into an extreme situation.

I wish I could tell you, dear reader, who these all are in my YA Epic, The Artists Return, but spoilers. I have yet to introduce my “Forgiven” character. Once my patrons receive The Sparrow and the Star, and have time to devour the epic-ness that it is, I’ll be able to freely talk about my four characters. Maybe that will motivate me to finish editing!

As you read my stories, watch for these four characters. Sometimes they merge and blend, a character being both the warrior and the forgiven, the dreamer and the ordinary. Some of my shorter stories will have only one or two of them. But, no matter what I write, these four ideals rise again and again. They take on different skins, different quirks, different plots, but stay essentially the same: warrior, dreamer, forgiven, ordinary.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is why it's important to read good books!

Why Brave?

 

This is why it's important to read good books!
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

 

This is one of my favorite lines.

I’m sure we’ve all heard some variation of this line from different sources. I first heard it from my Mom. It is the reason I write Children’s Stories, MG Stories, and YA Stories. It’s the reason books intended for a young audience are some of my favorites.

Life is hard. Life is often scary.

Children can’t be protected from everything. It’s impossible to keep evil influences and harm from your children. You are only one human being. You can’t be there when nightmares come. You can’t be there when they make stupid decisions that put them in dark places. You can’t be there every waking moment.  And, you shouldn’t be. Children don’t grow up by being protected.

But!!!!

Children can be armed.

Children can be trained. Children can be groomed for the fight that is this life.

Stories are a great way to prepare kids for the things they will face as they go out in the world.

 

Why Fairy Tales are important.
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

 

I’m not really into Issue Driven fiction. I wasn’t as a kid, and I don’t write it. I read and write Fantasy. Why? How does that help Children be Brave?

Fantasy gives kids and young adults something fun to read that they can hold onto while also escaping the hardships or humdrum around them. As a pre-teen, I had no interest in reading about kids struggling with drugs. I did want to read every Hardy Boys I could get my hands on. I didn’t want to read about someone’s sparkly boyfriend, but I did want to read about Sam and Frodo’s struggles through Mordor.

Then I grew up. I grew up and found out I wasn’t going to solve crimes, or be asked to go on some epic adventure. I was going to get married, co-own a business with my husband, struggle in my marriage, struggle with infertility, sell our business, learn to manage my home, have health issues, and then stand shoulder to shoulder with my husband as he took on a pastorate. None of that is as thrilling as journeying through Moria, or fighting the great and evil General Woundwort, or sailing with Fin Button.

But it is all hard.

What has encouraged me, outside of Scripture? What has the Lord used during dark days?

Stories.

 

Favorite Quotes
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

 

When things are dark and hard, I am reminded of all my heroes who carried on. I’m reminded of all the warriors I’ve read of, big and small, strong and weak. I’m reminded of Sam, my favorite hero, only a gardener far from home. I’m reminded of Bigwig who followed Hazel faithfully, even though he was stronger than Hazel. I’m reminded of Jane Eyre, who did what was right when it hurt.  I recall story after story after story that my Mom read to me, handed to me, recommend to me, where the heroes didn’t stop. They kept moving forward. They kept pushing. They endured to the end.

Darkness is a passing thing.
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

This is the gift I want to give to others. I want other children, pre-teens, and teens to be able to read Jonah’s story, and then look at their normal, ordinary struggles and carry on. I want my faerie stories to be encouraged them to keep fighting even when it hurts. I want them to have heroes who defeat the dragons…or in my case the clowns. 😉

I want to write stories that help kids be brave before they have to be, because they will have to be some day, probably sooner rather than later.

Why read steampunk, or fantasy?

Why Steampunk?

Why is Steampunk so much fun to write?
Picture from Pixabay. Edits by me.

I have to admit right up front that I’m not a Steampunk purest. I don’t have a good enough head for science and machines to really be a Steampunk purest. I’m a Steampunk poser. There. I admitted it.

The thing is, I love Steampunk. The first time I saw it it was like I found myself. I went through a real Goth stage in my early twenties, but as I got older I had a hard time with its morose-ness. I like melancholy, but I don’t like emo that much, and I don’t like the nihilistic-ness of cyber punk. Goth doesn’t age well. There is nothing graceful about it. In reality, I liked wearing black clothes, enjoyed “elvish” sadness of the world, and the hints of Victorian clothing that snuck into the gothic look. Also, I liked vampires…but that’s a whole other story.

As I grew out of Goth, Steampunk came on the scene. It had the Victorian flare that I liked, but instead of the depression and rebellion, and, honestly, selfishness of the Goth vibe, it had adventure, exploration, and….goggles. It has goggles.

Once I started getting into Steampunk I started to see different elements of it in movies and books, even going back into childhood stories. (Think Johnny Depp’s Sleepy Hollow. So Steampunk.) Annie Oakley and Amelia Earhart were both childhood heroes and they both work with the Steampunk vibe. I guess you could say I’m a Steampunk fashion lover. But, I also love the spirit of Steampunk. It captures the sense of adventure of Jules Vern all the way up to WW2. The world is a wide open space filled with things never seen before by man or woman. Adventure! I even love the more edgy Steampunk anarchy stuff. The world has fallen and mercenaries hunt down monsters in the dark with flashlights and unusual guns, all dressed in a strange mix of western, Native American, trash, and a bit of oriental flare. It’s very western. It captures that magical time when the world wasn’t all explored and exotic races started mixing with good, old-fashioned, English blood. Or English blood mixed with the exotic, ancient races. Either way, things were newer, fresher. Times were exciting.

Why read steampunk, or fantasy?
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

 

Different is intriguing. It’s fun to think of using steam power instead of electricity. It’s fun to imagine the skies filled with zeppelins instead of airplanes. It’s fun to imagine dressing up in long skirts, top hats, gloves, boots that button up the side, and a monocle. All these exaggerated, imaginary things make us look at our own world through fresh lenses. It soaks into our ordinary lives and helps us face the day with an adventurous spirit, imagining everyone around us on a quest. It gives us hope that monsters can be defeated by men and women in leather bracers, boots, and blunderbusses.

As you can tell, I find Steampunk inspiring ascetically.

It turns up in my stories all the time. So many characters with goggles, cool guns, bikes, and even some automatons.  When I look for characters I end up posting people in top hats, newsies and driving caps, gold engraved rifles, cool tattoos, gas masks. I love that you can go from dystopian to futuristic. I love hot air balloons. I love the WW2 feel and the Victorian feel that you can mix and match.

For all of the above reasons, when I’m working on a setting for any of my stories, I tend to go Steampunk over medieval. I find historically accurate stories to be constricting. I love to read them, but I don’t like to write them. I want a little room to make things up. (And in my family, we don’t make history up.) Even my urban Fantasies tend to have the magical creatures dressing more Steampunk, or being very Steampunk in their TrueSelf forms.

I hope to blend this in a bit more with my Children’s Faerie Stories. I don’t think it’s coming out as strongly in them as it does in my YA books. They tend to have a bit more of the English garden fairy, or other-worldly fae-faeries about them.

Over the years, I plan to keep learning about the mechanics behind automatons and old revolvers. I want my descriptions, and the ‘physics’ of the world to be more realistic and logical, instead of just sorta made up. J I know most Purist will see my knowledge as very surface level, but I hope you, dear readers, enjoy my Steampunk flavor as much as I do.

Do you like Steampunk? Are you familiar with its look? What’s your favorite Steampunk story?

Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?

Why Westerns?

Why do western themes and styles keep popping up in my stories?

One of the things I learned from Tolkien, and my own upbringing, was to respect my own mythos. England is an old, old land with lots of myths and legends. They have Arthur, Vikings, Robin Hood, and even Tolkien’s work functions as a myth for England.

I’m not British. I have roots there, just like I do in Ireland and Scotland. (Both have wonderful mythologies and legends.) But, what about here in the young, young land of the United States? We have the Revolution. We have exploration, the constant push west. We have the Civil War. We have winning two World Wars. We even have a bit of Vietnam. All of these shape us, our laws, and our culture. They’ve influenced us for generations. But, my favorite (other than WWII) is our cowboy mythology. Yes, most westerns aren’t historically accurate, or they have many inaccuracies. But, they’re part of who and what we are. We are the drifter who is more than what he seems. We are the gunslinger, the card-shark, the cowboy, the cowgirl, the rancher fighting those who would take all he has. We are long wagon trains. We are laying tracks for technology all the way across the country.  We are all of this and more. My favorite element is the man who rides into town, gets drawn into a conflict on the side of the underdog, saves the day, and gets the girl.

When I was a kid, probably around twelve, I read all my Dad’s Louis L’Amour books. Devoured is maybe a better word. I loved every minute of them. I loved the men. I loved the women. I loved the action. The adventure. I loved his fist fights. I loved the Sacketts. Oh, the Sacketts. My first dream as a writer was to be as prolific as Louis L’Amour. I just wanted to write the same story over and over and over, and only change the settings and names. Why? Cause that was what I loved reading.  (I still love reading things like this, just like I enjoy action flicks that are basically the same guy in different settings.)

I also loved True Grit. That book was one of my favorites as a kid. Here was a girl not being anything but a girl, but getting this old guy to help her avenge her father, it was perfect. I loved it. The writing is top notch, and the adventure is one of the best. If you haven’t read it, you need to.

Now, my favorite western is Firefly. Yes, it’s a SciFi show, but really it’s a space western. They’re cowboys in space. It has all the right elements. It has the rough around the edges hero with has his ragtag crew. They’re pushing out from the government to make a life for themselves. They have a code and each other.

Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?
Image by B. Iyata, edits by me.

After Firefly, comes The Sackett movie, the Magnificent Seven, Quigley Down Under, and Tombstone. Doc Holiday is a great example of why I love westerns. He’s loyal to a fault. He’s willing to do everything for Wyatt Earp. He may not be safe, but there is something you love about him. The Magnificent Seven is a redemption story. You have seven guys who’ve lived by their guns their whole life, and now they’re called to sacrifice everything for a small town who can’t pay them. They see this as a way to redeem their souls from all the wrong they’ve done. (I know that theologically they can’t earn salvation, but redemption stories, be they ever so humbly human, are still an expression of us knowing we need redemption. It is a great way to start a conversation about the fact that we know what we’ve done will damn us.)  

The Sacketts is a great family movie…meaning it’s about a family who will do everything for each other. When the word goes out that they need help, the Sacketts all come running. They are the kind of guys you would want your sons emulating.

Another beloved one from childhood is Down the Long Hills. What could be better than a story about two kids and their horse? I watched this movie so many times growing up. It combined two of my favorite things: kids shouldering the hardest elements of life and coming out ahead, and horses.

We also watched a lot of John Wayne growing up. I still love to hear his voice and see him walk. As I’ve developed my style over the years, I’ve found westerns popping up all over. My characters keep leaning towards long coats and tied down guns. They keep riding in on bikes to take out the bad guys and get the girl. They use rifles, shotguns, and revolvers. All the years of soaking in L’Amour pours out between my stories of magic, doors, and worlds.

I realized I was writing modern, faerie story westerns.

Instead of turning away from the subtle themes, I decided to embrace it. Westerns may not be super popular right now, but they are special to me, and these are my stories. I embrace the mysterious man who saves the day. I embrace the woman who knows how to shoot. I embrace the kids with guts. I embrace strong friendship themes, land themes, and family themes. I embrace the man who is mistaken for a backwater yokel who is rich with wisdom and insight. I embrace friendship between natives and newcomers in the middle of war. I embrace hunters, wild places, dangerous animals, and range wars. I embrace the lawless and the lawman.

These themes push their way into my stories, sometimes without me even noticing. Westerns flavor my work with grit and gunpowder. I’m a Texan reaching deep into my countries own myths and legends.

Do you have a favorite Western? Book or movie? Let me know in the comments!   

Why Warrior Stories? (Part 2)

Why Warrior Stories_
I’ve loved brotherhood stories my whole life. Most of my favorite books and movies, my favorite stories, have a central brotherhood core. This is the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings, Madmartigan and Willow, the rabbits in Watership Down, the four heroes of Final Fantasy XV, and many more. I love the bond between men who face the world together. I love the women who stand at their sides, or even care for their homes and children while they fight the world. I love HearthKeepers and Huntsman. (Which is actually one of the YA series I’m always working on.)
I believe that both men and women can be warriors, I just think that warrior-ness expresses itself differently. (The world thinks it’s the same, but it’s not. I’m not a man. I’m not going to be the same type of warrior my husband, brothers, and fathers are. I’m going to be a warrior the way my mothers are, my sisters, and my dear friends. I’m going to stand by my husband and guard his back, guard his home, keep things going. I want him free to face the dark world, and protect me. That kind of female warrior-ness takes great courage, sacrifice, and fortitude. And that’s a big rabbit trail.)
As I’ve gotten older, I realized this magical bond, this brotherhood, is most starkly seen in war stories. War exaggerates the bond between men. When I finally sat up and took note of that, I started working through every war movie I could find. My current ‘Top Five Favorite Movies’ are Rambo 4, Fury, Lone Survivor, Gladiator, and Lord of the Rings. I love 13 Hours. And yes, Band of Brothers is my second favorite TV Show right after Firefly. I am slowly but surely collecting all the books written by and about the Band of Brothers. I can’t get enough of brotherhood war movies.
I think that real spiritual warfare is our day-in-day-out, ordinary battle against our own sin, the corruption of the world, and false teaching. This is spiritual warfare. If you were able to look at an ordinary church with TrueSight goggles, you would see a gathering of dirty, broken, bleeding warriors filling the pews. I think images of battles—be it the Somme, or somewhere in the Middle East—are a more accurate representation of our daily lives as saints still in this world, than anything else. And I think our love of our local church members should be as strong as the bond between brothers in combat. We are in the trenches together and we should see it that way.
In Lone Survivor they say, “Never out of the fight.” If that’s not true about you and your battle against your own sin, I don’t know what is.
These are the two reasons I love, love, love warrior stories: brotherhood and spiritual warfare.
I also love the idea of standing up for what you believe and for who you love, with violence.
We live in a world that no longer respects the idea of defending your and yours with strength and a weapon. We have become so acclimated to a tame world, that men who willingly stand up against the darkness, or just stand up to a bully, are labelled a bully themselves. We think violence isn’t our right, but only something uneducated rednecks indulge in, or only the government can be trusted with. We believe violence doesn’t solve anything, but we forget we live in a fallen world.
This world will never be heaven.
This world is broken and God isn’t planning on fixing it. He isn’t here to save the physical world.
You can’t stop someone intent on hurting you or your family or your country with nice words or by calling the government.
All you can do is cock your gun and pull the trigger.
This is reality.
The anti-violence attitude puts all of us not only in a sad state, but a dangerous one. We aren’t teaching our boys to defend others with their strength, but to sit down and act like girls. We aren’t teaching girls to have their man’s back, but to take over. We’re teaching girls that they can be just like a man, that they don’t need him, and that his innate warrior-ness is dangerous. It is dangerous, but it isn’t necessarily evil. You need a man to be dangerous, but you need him to control his danger so it is his servant not his master. Men who are abusive should be taken out by the men who aren’t, immediately. But, you can’t just say all signs of strength are bad. That leaves our homes, and our streets, and our countries undefended and open to attack.
This is another reason I love Warrior Stories. This is why I write warrior stories. The power of brotherhoods, real spiritual warfare, and the need for violence enflame me.

Warrior Stories are myRight
Do I think it’s weird that I, a woman, love Warrior Stories? Nope. I don’t. I think women are the holders. I think we’re the rememberes. We are the ones who sacrifice sons and husbands to these horrors. We are the ones who have to defend our homes when they’re gone. We’re the raisers of the next generation of warriors. Warrior stories are my right as a women. I want to know what my man faces, be it in the true realities of war, or be it the less dramatic, every day, ordinary strength he has to show. I want to know. I want to hold. I want to remember. I want to raise.
I also think we’re the HearthKeepers. My husband is a pastor. He is a warrior, in my mind. He wages war against false doctrine and false teachers. He stands up to lies for the sake of his church. He also works full time to provide for us. So, he works a full time job, comes home and studies, and then preaches on Sunday. He works and studies, works and studies, and preaches. That means that just like a cop’s wife, or a soldier’s wife, I handle the running of the home. I’m the HearthKeeper. I do everything else so that he can be free to work and study. I get the tires changed (what I’m doing while I write this). I do the accounting, cleaning, cooking, and social planning. I take care of wardrobes and rest. I am the HearthKeeper to my warrior.
So no. I don’t think it’s strange that I love Warrior Stories. I just hope I can inspire you to love them too.
What are your top five favorite movies? Have any war movies had a big impact on you?

Why would a middle aged woman love warrior stories?

Why Warrior Stories? (Part 1)

Why Warrior Stories_

Why warrior stories? I ask myself this question regularly. Why do I love them so much? What is it about them that thrills me far more lastingly than any romance or drama? Why warrior stories? Unfocused and puzzled, I can’t answer the question. I feel weird and out of step with those around me. I think how strange it must be for an almost middle aged women to love Rambo 4, Lone Survivor, Black Hawk Down, Fury, We were Soldiers, and Band of Brothers. How weird am I?

Then Pastor Jarrett preaches on Luke and Eureka! I’ve got it!

I love warrior stories because I’m starving. I’m starving for stories about real men, and more than that, I’m starving for real stories about Christ.

Most movies and books, children’s bible stories, and false beliefs about Jesus center around this vision of him as a quiet, mild-mannered, limp-wristed savior. He’s a long-haired hippie preaching some kum-ba-yah type love.

But, the real Jesus, our real King is drenched in blood. Not his blood, but the blood of his enemies! He is the calmer of storms, the one who faced the Devil and prevailed, the one who faced Legion unflinchingly. He is on his white horse, our captain, and he is riding rough-shod over the Devil. But, he is a true warrior. A real warrior. It is safe at his feet. It is safe to stand in his shadow. He has faced down fallen angles in the 1000s without taking one step back. We can stand safely behind him.

See??? A real warrior is a great danger to those who attack him, and a great good to those he defends. He isn’t safe. A real warrior is never safe, but he is good.

In our female-centric world, we’ve overcompensated. We realized women were under-represented, but instead of balancing things out, we’ve told men to go sit on their hands, women have got this. We’ve neutered men. We’ve turned them into cute, little man-buns that wouldn’t hurt a fly because we were afraid. We’re afraid of strong men. Women try to make everything safe, and have forgotten how to raise warriors. Warriors aren’t safe, but they’re safe to stand behind. A true warrior is good.

Holding onto this idea is hard. The world constantly throws at us the peaceful Jesus with his weak, sad eyes. The world tells us that warriors need to go away, stop fighting. Fighting is dangerous, gross, and barbaric. Also, our battle is a spiritual one. It’s one we can’t see. Between the invisible and the world, holding onto Jesus as our Warrior King can be like grasping at bubbles. They burst in your hands, beautiful but gone.

Why would a middle aged woman love warrior stories?
Picture from Pixaby, edits by me.

I love the image of the sheepdog, but it lacks something. It teaches that there are people who remain blissfully ignorant about the real world, sheep. These are the kind of people that actually think they can create peace if they give up their guns, failing to realize that just makes them defenseless. These sheep would be ravaged by wolves if it weren’t for the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs defend sheep. Sheep don’t like sheepdogs. They make them nervous. But the sheepdog doesn’t really care. He just does his job and keeps the wolves from the sheep. I love this. I love sheepdogs. But, the breakdown comes when the sheepdogs start to become prideful, arrogant, and hateful towards the sheep. They stop seeing their job and they start seeing weak, dumb animals making their job harder. Now the sheep are in danger from both the wolves and the sheepdog. What do we do? How do we stop this?

We need a shepherd.

The shepherd will keep the sheepdogs in line and the sheep in line. We need an outside standard of right and wrong. We need the Word of God. We need to train unsafe, but good warriors.

I think of my husband as a warrior. He’s not in the military. He’s not a cop. But he is a strong man who thinks clearly and sharply through things, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. Now, he’s on his path to being an elder in our church. He’s going to war. He’s moving to the front lines of the spiritual battle. His weapons aren’t metal, but the Word of God. His enemy isn’t a terrorist, but false doctrines and sin threatening his church. He’s become an under-shepherd, a sheepdog. What does that look like? Pretty much the same as it always has. He’s got his boots, jeans, and button downs. He’s got his books. He’s got his beard going grayer every day. He’s not dirty. He’s not bleeding. He’s not wounded. He’s not surrounded physically. None of that is seen, but it’s all there spiritually.

Sibling-saints, we are all this way. We are at war. We are in a fight, a constant fight. See, in the spiritual war, women are mighty warriors just like men are. We are all priests. I couldn’t be a warrior in real life. I’m not strong enough. But, in the spiritual war, I can stand shoulder to shoulder with these my brothers and sisters. We, beloved saints, are bleeding, wounded, broken down warriors in this war. But we have hope!!! Our elder brother goes before us. He is mighty. He did what no man could do in the wilderness. He did what no man could do at sea, and he did what no man could do for us. Jesus is our Warrior King. He touches the sick, befriends the villain, and retrieves the dangerous. He faces legions of fallen angels and doesn’t break. He is our captain and he will see us all safely home.

I love warrior stories because my husband’s battles are largely unseen, the war I’m in is spiritual, and mostly because Jesus is the great Warrior King. Warrior stories help me remember reality.

This is why I love warrior stories. This is what I devour and this is what I write.