Painting heart-cries, word by word

What I Hear in “Let It Go” (Yes, this is about the movie, Frozen.) March 18, 2014

My family is slow to see the newest films, mostly because we aren’t a very movie-theater-friendly group. When your youngest is one year and your oldest is seven-and-a-half, the possibility for disaster is exponential. Therefore, I am very, very late to the bandwagon of blog posts about the movie, Frozen.

As far as review goes, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My kids thought it was fantastic. The humor was clean (I’m lookin’ at you, Shrek), the characters grew and changed, the story was a fascinating expression of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, and the songs were brilliant. It was more like a musical than the typical animated kids film, which was a pleasant surprise for me. I love musicals!

One song, of course, stands out more than the rest. “Let It Go” is written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and sung by Idina Menzel. The character Queen Elsa has just exposed her magical ability to manipulate snow and ice in front of her subjects and she sings about the next chapter in her life. From a young age, her father coached her to conceal her gift and separate herself from emotion. The more emotional she was, the more her gift would explode out of her. Elsa is fearful of the hurt she can do (and has done) to her dearest loved ones and to her kingdom. She can’t control her ability. She can’t control how she feels.

And then one day, her choice to hide behind the palace gates is taken. Everyone sees what she can do. Everyone is frightened, including Elsa. So she runs away. She hides in isolation, just as she was taught to do by her father, only now she’s on a mountaintop instead of in her room. On the mountain, she feels a rush, a release. There’s no point in trying to make her power disappear. Alone, she is able to explore her power without hurting anyone.

To me, this is actually a complex part of the movie and of Elsa’s development as a character. As a child, she learned quickly and desperately how to remove her existence from the rest of the world (and even from her sister). She tried to pull her power inwards, tried to control how much it scared her, tried to tame it. With the urging of her parents, Elsa learned to keep everyone out—for THEIR safety as well as her own. But she also received a special prophecy by a troll that it was fear which would consume and destroy her.

Rather than explore what drives out fear, her family embraced fear and held it close. Elsa was a slave to fear. As an adult, when her parents were dead and gone, her sister was desperate for relationship of any kind, and her kingdom needed an involved and confident leader, Elsa was unable to rise to the challenge. She buckled under the pressure. Her fear ruled her, as it always had, and she ran away.

And so, alone on the snowy mountain, in her element of power and far from anybody who feared her, she sings this:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight,

not a footprint to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.

Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.

Be the good girl you always have to be.

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go!

Can’t hold it back any more.

Let it go, let it go!

Turn away and slam the door.

I don’t care what they’re going to say.

Let the storm rage on.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how some distance,

makes everything seem small.

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do,

to test the limits and break through.

No right, no wrong, no rules for me.

I’m free!

Let it go, let it go.

I am one with the wind and sky.

Let it go, let it go.

You’ll never see me cry.

Here I’ll stand, and here I’ll stay.

Let the storm rage on.

My power flurries through the air into the ground.

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I’m never going back; the past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go.

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn.

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand, in the light of day.

Let the storm rage on!

The cold never bothered me anyway…”

(Read more: Idina Menzel – (Disney’s Frozen) Let It Go Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

My soul soared while she sang this song. I’ve seen people describe it as an anthem and that is how it feels. But as she slams the doors of her newly created ice palace, a look of cool confidence on her face, I felt a pang.

Yes, I want to “let it go” sometimes. I want to feel wild and free and able to explore all my potential without fear.

But…it doesn’t work that way. You aren’t freer on the mountain top than behind the closed palace door. You’re still shutting people out, still pulling away. Her frozen powers built embellished walls for her prison.

And that’s what I love about this scene. Elsa is experiencing the exhilaration of releasing responsibility, but it comes at the same price which crushed her since she was a girl. It comes at the price of relationship. It costs her a real life.

This is an invaluable analogy for us, especially us ladies and girls. We would love to toss responsibility and consequences to the wind—we all would, at some point or other in our lives. And in this scene, in this anthem, we yearn to feel Elsa’s pseudo-freedom, to feel her exhilaration. If the movie ended there, if it said, “Well done, Queen Elsa. Go pursue your self-improvement, far from the expectations and needs of others. Become one with yourself. You don’t need anyone!”—I would hate this movie. I would hate it for the lies.

But Elsa doesn’t stay there. She learns to love and BE loved by the sacrifice of her sister (another blog post in itself), and she accepts her part in the world. She is forced to leave her ice castle on the mountain, but she also does not go back there.

It is vital for us to see this for ourselves. The allure of not caring is so strong sometimes. But the price of escape is self-imprisonment. You won’t be better off alone. You’ll just be alone. And you’ll never know what you were truly able to do. Elsa doesn’t discover how to complement her kingdom with her power until she uses love as her source. Instead of making an ornate barred door, she creates an ice rink in summer and saves the comedic sidekick snowman, Olaf, by giving him his own “personal flurry.” (I do wish they had explored how her magical ability fits into ruling her kingdom a little more, but you can’t have everything it seems!)

The only real exploration of your potential is in putting it to use in LOVE.

I do love this song. I love it for being poignant, for being honest, for so accurately encapsulating all I’ve longed to feel as I get weighed down by the struggle against fear. But most of all, I love it for being proven wrong.

Fear and Love do not coexist. Being alone is not freedom. Exhilaration is not true joy, and is swiftly swept away by the fear that sent you out in the cold and built your ice castle.

You were designed for self-sacrificing brotherhood. It is hard. It is exhausting sometimes. But stay, sisters. Stay! When you let go of the fear, you let love in. And love makes all the difference.


A Heart Cry February 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:33 am
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Fast Asleep

“You are a woman of God.”

I am.

“You are special.”

I am.

“You are loved.”

I am.

My husband goes through this statement-and-answer with our daughters and sons every night before they fall asleep. Even the baby responds “mmhmm.”

It is precious to hear, like dropping little golden balls into their future selves. I pray they know it all to be true when they are no longer sleeping in beds down the hall from me. I pray they know they are children of God, created and designed for a purpose, and loved. Loved so deeply, surrounded by it on every side, regardless of where they go or what they choose to do. When they are scared or confused or hurt, I pray they can take those golden spheres of truth we’ve dropped in, one by one, and be comforted.

I know I can’t give them their salvation. I know I can’t keep them from pain. But maybe if we give them a wealth of truth to start, it won’t be so hard for them to find the glints of gold on their own. Maybe if we show them truth, show them what love looks like, over and over and over again… Maybe they’ll learn to recognize the real thing. Maybe the twisted imitations won’t be as alluring. Maybe the pain they feel at times won’t be without purpose or value if they can find the golden ball tucked away in the dark.

We hope so. We trust God that we are doing what we can.

These people, these individuals, these precious eternal beings destined for greatness in God’s kingdom are entrusted to us. We don’t mold them. We don’t clip the edges to match our own shapes. We don’t crush who they are under the weight of who we became.

They are unfolding, still delicately but with little increases in vigor and confidence. They need protection, to blossom in health and wholeness. They need guidance, to learn the steps in the journey all must take. They need encouragement, to be brave as they grow. They need prayer, to cover their paths as they go. They need discipline, to choose their design over their default. They need counsel, to navigate the currents flowing between people. They need wisdom, to give them a head start.

But mostly, they need love. Love reassures, comforts, demands better, forgives hurt, rejoices, hopes, perseveres, and is always, always there with open arms.

God be praised, we can pour out His love on them. If our love is a sparkling trickle, God’s love is a luminous waterfall, rushing down and mixing with and overwhelming our trickle. His love cascades on us, on these precious people who are still so young, and flows out from our family into the world He created us to influence.

And each night, before they close their eyes, the daddy God gave them drops another golden ball of love and truth into their very souls–
“You are a man of God.”

I am.

“You are special.”

I am.

“You are loved.”

I am.

“Goodnight, buddy. I love you.”
“Goodnight, silly head. I love you.”
“Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you.”
“Goodnight, princess. I love you.”
“Goodnight, bubby-boy. I love you.”

I love you, Daddy.


Making a Haven September 30, 2013


What would it take to make our home a haven?

My knee-jerk response would be, “Uh… A LOT.” So much mess, so much frantic running all over, so many bodies filling every room, so many have-to’s and should-have’s. “Haven” is not the first word I would use to describe the atmosphere of our home. Chaotic would be a good one.

I don’t mind free-spirited creativity or the mess it leaves behind, but the problem is beyond piles of scribbled-on paper and broken crayons. It’s a feeling that we are on the brink of totally losing control at any given moment. There’s not a lot of spiritual space for peace. And that is something I want to change.

This is where the challenge comes in. See, every week this month there will be a tangible tip and a spiritual tip for making your home a haven. And there are PRIZES. Like Yankee candles and family board games and even an iPad mini! (I’m so much more excited about the board games than the iPad, but hey.)

Even if I don’t win anything (entirely likely), I’m excited to try this out. It’s something I always feel tugging at my heart but I need a little structure and accountability to go with it. This is a perfect, bite-size beginning to shifting things back to peaceful around here.

This week’s challenge was to light a candle in the hub of your home and to pray God’s peace over everyone each time you pass it. I lit my candle on the dining room table. My children saw what was going on and just had to be a part of it, so they each picked another candle and now we’ve got four peace reminders glowing away.


I’ve been battling a headache all day so the prayers have been more on the “Holy Spirit, interpret my groaning” side, but I did avoid meltdowns today. Praise goes to God.
If you want to join in the challenge, leave me a comment so I know to ask how it’s going for you! 🙂


Funny Thing About Home Schooling… July 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 11:10 am
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We don’t follow a curriculum in our home schooling. We use any and all resources we deem valuable and I pay close attention (or TRY to) to what our kids are interested in. But although that may sound very chill, maybe even lacksadaisacal, it actually involves hard work!

I can’t depend on a schedule to assure my kids were given a chance to learn something. Believe me, in the longterm, that is a very good thing for us. But there are definitely days, sometimes full weeks, where I go crazy in my mind wondering if I’m shortchanging my kids.

I’ll examine my insecurities another time. The point is this.


Why is this important to me? Because I go kind of nuts over new pencils, blank notebooks, snazzy trappers, color-coordinated rulers and compasses… You get the idea. I want to buy about 50 folders. For each of my five children. Titus is four months and has zero need for folders, but nevertheless I want to get him the ones with little anchors on them. I love this stuff! And it gets expensive QUICK, even with back-to-school sales! I want new paper (TONS of new paper actually), new markers, new crayons, multi-colored sharpies, five-subject notebooks, the WORKS. 

My problem is, because I don’t have a school program I’m plugging into, I have to prioritize and choose which supplies to get and which to pass by. So hard! So, so hard. I want ALL THE THINGS, but I have to sit down and figure out which things we will legitimately need.

Of course, that presupposes that I actually know what we’re going to be doing.

I have some serious brainstorming to do.

Well, the good news with an eclectic approach to home schooling is that I have many, many contingency plans–all requiring a list of SSSSUPPLIESSSSSSS, YESSSS MY PRECIOUSSSSSS…


Unrecognizably Myself February 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 8:06 am
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So this morning I’m committing, like, the number one sin of artistic souls–I’m attempting to generate content without inspiration because I don’t like leaving one post at the top of my page too long. :p

Surprisingly, I did actually stumble across something I’d like to say.

When I look at my life, I usually end up feeling bemused and baffled. I have a lot going on but I’m always a little surprised by what those things are. Look, if I had a portal into the future at age 16 and I was able to look at my life now at age 27, I probably would have taken a hammer to said portal in order to fix it because obviously it must’ve gone haywire.

At 16, I didn’t know what life held for me but I had hopes. I pictured working hard at a 4-year university, maybe finding a lead into writing for a semi-popular magazine, searching for a job in journalism, possibly traveling a lot or at least moving away for awhile. Then I pictured finding time to pen a novel or biography, gaining enough notoriety to at least justify some speaking engagements and book signings. I wondered how getting married sometime would fit into all that, but I didn’t worry about it much. I thirsted for romance but not after settling into the role of wife. I didn’t even think about being a mother. My vision of my future was all watercolors of busy cities, pencil skirts and heels, piles of papers, and hurrying from one deadline to another.

It was a nice, general picture of interests that I knew could sustain me through my adult life.

It happened to be pretty much dead wrong.

Here’s what really happened: met a guy and started courting shortly before I turned 17, accepted his proposal of marriage at age 18, married at 19, spent one year in college as a married couple and then went back home (husband’s in-the-country hometown) when the bills got too steep. Spent another year in an apartment, became pregnant with our first child, bought a house. Had baby #1, became pregnant with baby #2, spiraled into an identity-crisis because of truly deplorable lack of skill at housekeeping and feeling generally overwhelmed. Husband’s employer bankrupt, house fire, baby #2, bought minivan, adjusted attitude and settled into the struggle with housekeeping. Father diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, husband found excellent employer, pregnant with baby #3, discover amazing midwife and plan first homebirth. Said final goodbye to father, baby #3 born at home in my room, a blur of two years of intense grief and challenging God in every way. God broke my heart of stone, spent a lot of time re-learning how to love and be loved, began reading up on different methods of homeschool, pregnant with baby #4. My mother remarried, baby #4 born at home, homeschool adventures begin, get adjusted, begin again. Husband’s family goes through one of the toughest years yet, pregnant with baby #5, admitted to myself that I am technically more of an unschooler than a traditional homeschooler, begin to accept always being a little different than the crowd I find myself in.

That brings us up to date. I left a lot out but you can see how different this life has been from what I imagined it would be. I homeschool–UNschool, even!, stay home fulltime to cook and clean (usually barefoot and often while pregnant), am having our 5th child with a midwife at HOME, live in the country surrounded by Amish farms… You see where this is going? My 16-year-old watercolor has turned into a series of very real photographs, titled “Surprises Never Cease.”

The most shocking part, to me, is how very blessed and grateful I am for every one of those surprises. Yes, every single one. Right down to the bankrupt employer, the house fire, and the Daddy I can no longer call when I’m having a rough day. It’s been tough, it’s been fast, but it’s been incredibly fruitful. Losing his job gave my husband the opportunity to find a better one. Our house provided a job for my husband during reconstruction and is now much more suited to our needs. And my dad? I’ve learned more about God and His goodness than I ever could have another way.

I still feel a little like my current life doesn’t do a very good job of representing who I am to other people. But I suppose it’s fitting that in a life full of ridiculous, even shocking, surprises that I should be a bit of a surprise myself.


The To-Do List Theory of Spontaneity February 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 12:25 pm
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When I got up this morning–or rather, when I creaked my way, stage by stage, out of my bedroom and into the land of the living, I did not want to do ANYthing. It was one of those days. I hadn’t slept well, the kids seemed far too full of energy, Eric had some constructive criticism to offer, and “have a good day” seemed like an insult to my intelligence.

I gathered myself enough to call a friend and pray before things got really bad. I stopped growling at everyone in the house and eventually, after many distractions, made a to-do list.

I like making lists. I don’t find it particularly helpful, but I enjoy it as a form of brainstorming. I wrote today’s list in pink pen, graffiti style. First, I doodled all the things I wanted to do. Then, I dutifully copied down all the things I could do to be productive. My next move was to stare at my list for a while. I liked the pink color. Doodling could’ve been better, though. Then I edited the productive side, labeling with stars the ones which required some extra help to accomplish. Stared some more.

And then I took a shower.

While I was taking a shower, Celeste (6 yrs old) found all the snow pants and got her brothers and herself ready to go outside. When I came out of the bathroom, everyone wanted to head straight into the “deep snow.” That nudged my memory a bit, so I got my craft box down and found what I was looking for. Using condiment bottles, water, and food coloring, I made “snow paint” for everyone to use outside. It worked really well, except there was some confusion on how to make them last longer than about five minutes. (Josiah basically dumped all of his inside one footprint.)


I started out with about 1/4 of the bottle full of water and eye-balled the food coloring. I probably used…8-10 drops per bottle (and that’s probably overkill but I don’t care). Then I added more water until it looked like it might thin out the color.


I accidentally missed getting Josiah’s face in this, but here’s a quick shot of the snow paint before it got trampled. …And the yellowish color was SUPPOSED to be orange, in my defense.


She’s so adorable, it’s really not fair. 🙂

Ah well, I felt like I accomplished something because I got the concept from Pinterest. Anytime I actually try something on Pinterest, I feel vindicated for my 400+ pins. The kids enjoyed the effect and that was all I wanted. Next time I’ll probably make about 20 bottles and buy two extra packages of food coloring…

Now I’m sitting at the kitchen table, typing away as the kids munch a granola bar, and you know what I’m planning to do next? Read “Snow Day” by Ezra Jack Keats aloud to everybody while we snuggle on the couch. After that I might think about lunch. Next comes naptime–for me and the two year old.

None of that is on my list.

It’s official. The surest way to spontaneous fun in this house is to make a detailed, well-crafted, organized to-do list. :p