Spiritual Analogies: Beauty and the Beast

"Beastly"So, this afternoon, I watched the movie “Beastly,” because, Alex Pettyfer.  Every time I think about the story of “Beauty and the Beast,” spiritual analogies scream out at me.  In this adaption of the story, the character Kendra (who is the witch and whose name means “magical”) gives Kyle (who will turn into the beast and whose name means “narrow”) a second chance, but he throws it away.  Eventually, the ugly on the inside is seen on the outside, as Kyle is transformed into an ugly (but not that ugly—come on, Alex Pettyfer) creature.  In the book, he’s actually turned more into a beast-like thing and is closer with the Disney tale.  That’s beside the point.  There comes a point in the Christian life when we realize how ugly the sin inside us is.  As Christians, we are not like the world.  Anyway, continuing the story: Kyle is told that he must find somebody to love him in a year.  When he looks in the mirror and sees how ugly he is, it is deemed impossible.  He was a real jerk at the beginning, too—who could love him?  But then he begins to undergo a change.  Cue Lindy (Belle’s character, whose name means “pretty one”).  Kyle changes his name to Hunter (whose name means…one who hunts—I’m surprised, too!) so Lindy won’t know who he is.  Lindy liked Kyle when he was a jerk, because she saw something on the inside that no one else could see.  It was being with her that changed him.  It was her words “I love you” that transformed Kyle out of hell and into a new and beautiful person, the ugly wiped away with the blink of an eye.

Kyle represents us.  We are all ugly, with sin and other “stuff of the world” inside us.  We are arrogant and think that because we appear fine and good, we are actually fine and good.  But we’re not.  Not by ourselves. Lindy represents the Lord.  He sees inside us what even we can’t.  His love is unconditional, and when you notice it, it changes you and you just want to be with him.  His love saves.  I think it’s interesting that he changes his name for Lindy as he is searching for her heart and searching (hunting?) for the spell to be broken.  When our sinful selves collide with God’s grace, we are transformed!  [Note: His grace is not the prize, but only a means to get to the prize.  The prize is Christ!]

I’m sure there are tons more analogies in this story, as I believe I’ve come up with others in the past, but can’t remember them.  My friend Tiffany has found a lot in this story, too.  Do you see any more spiritual analogies in the story of Beauty and the Beast?  Please share them!



The Thorn in my Flesh….A Gift?

It came to me like a light suddenly being flipped on in a dark room illuminated by a night light.  The kind of light that hurts your eyes, but then you can see across the room to the object you knew was there but couldn’t really see with only the night light given its limited illumination.  Multiple Sclerosis is the thorn in the flesh “gifted” me by Jesus Christ.  This “messenger or Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7) that harasses me is a continual reminder that I depend on Jesus for everything.  I depend on him for physical energy throughout the day, for comfort in my despair, for life, for everything.  God uses the “messengers of Satan” to serve us.  In 2 Corinthians, Paul displays this openly.  I have clung to his words, but I have received a new understanding.  I don’t want MS.  It drains me and limits me and causes me to go crazy when I lose feeling in my hand or my leg.  I can’t even describe in words, and it’s not really possible for anyone to exactly understand it, anyway.  But God’s promise remains: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).  Back in October, I wrote this post relating my thoughts on this passage (real thoughts and thinkings, people).  When I am weak, then I am strong.  I want it to go away, but the more I ignore the MS tormenting my body, the more it takes advantage of making me miserable.  If you ignore a thorn, stuck in the flesh, it won’t go away.  Oh, why have I not seen this analogy before?

“God showing his strength through weak things was laced all through redemptive history, culminating in the cross” (Bloom).  Oh, man, God is awesome.  His grace is abounding.  Through these thorns, he gives us JOY.  He always is kind of opposite of the world.  I pray that I’ll remember the MS as a gift when I struggle.

The college band I am in is on tour currently, and it is exhausting.  I have been learning what I can and can’t do, and I am so ever thankful for the other people that help out.  I play percussion, and the percussion equipment must be unloaded off the truck and set up before each concert—it’s a lot of work!  I am the door holder, because I know I can do that.  I help pack up, but there are extra hands that help with load up, giving me the opportunity to head back to the bus.  I am so thankful to everyone who is helping the percussion section and me.  I am so blessed by people all over!  Thank you to you who are reading this who have been helping me out as we tour and elsewhere/other times in my life.  You know who you are.  MS as a gift?  Still seems weird, but I’ll try it out.

Anna 🙂


Insight sourced:  Bloom, Jon. “Are You Content with Weakness?” (Desiring God)

Writing: To God Be the Glory

I spent most of last semester learning about having to advocate for music education in all that I do.  Transferring that thought, I have justified and reasoned why I like to write so much (for myself, mostly).  So why do I like to write?  (This is me thinking out loud almost more than “advocating”.)writing for the glory of God

General: I think and speak better through writing, most of the time.  It has become my life’s mission to display and present and proclaim God all the time in many different ways to many different people.  One of the ways I can do this is through writing.

Fiction: I like to write fiction because I am allowed to present Christ in a new way.  I love analogies, and in writing fiction, I am allowed to bring some of the analogies to life.  Fiction is a powerful medium, and I’ve been given the passion and the gift to use it.  I have stories to tell: stories of God’s love, redemption and forgiveness.  I have my own story to tell, and I have evidences of God’s power and righteousness to share.

Letters: I don’t write as many letters as I would like to, but I have been writing letters to more people in the last semester.  My own letter writing has evolved into something in which I can encourage the letter-receiver with scripture and with Christ-centered chatter.  I’ve discovered that my two most prominent love languages are words of affirmation and quality time.  It takes time to write a letter, and I think about the person I’m writing to all while I write it.  As I said, in a letter, I am given the opportunity to encourage and affirm the receiver of the letter.  Snail-mail letter writing is a lost art, but I believe in it still!

Blog: Sometimes, I feel like I have a message to share.  Nothing new or profound, just what God has been teaching me recently or something that’s on my mind.  I love making spiritual analogies, and there are a lot of them here on my blog.  I share my testimony, I write about my struggles, and I write about school.  But in all this, I can see God working through it.  He is King of everything, not just what directly talks about him.

I worship God through writing.  Be it a letter, an off-topic blog post, or fiction completely immersed with God, I praise him through it.  Writing is one of the gifts I have received from the Lord, so all I can do now is use it for his glory.  I am trusting him completely, as in the next year I will try to get some things published.  To God be all the glory.

Anna E. Olson, unpublished writer, trusting in Him always.

Static (2)

Static—you know the stuff.  When you’re listening to the radio in the car and you start to drive out of radio reception and the station is really noisy.  Or the older TVs, when a channel just wouldn’t come in.  To solve this static problem, you normally have to change the channel, change the station, or drive back into the reception area of the current station.  Some radio stations are broadcast in multiple areas, so you just have to find it again.  It seems that this kind of static is mostly related to technology, but here comes another analogy.

Sometimes, we can’t hear what the Lord is saying very well.  The static of the world is taking over our ears and filling them with stuff that’s not supposed to be on the current station.  How do we clear up this static problem?  Sometimes, we need to just turn around and go back into the reception of the station we’re trying to listen to.  But I also know that the channel of God talking is in every reception zone, so if you look for it a little, it’ll come in clearly once more.  And it doesn’t just come on one channel, in one way, either.  You just have to decipher from what stations it is on and isn’t.

I have felt like the staticy noise of the world is trying to change my station, but once recognized, it’s not hard to change the channel and find a clear one.  How?  The driver’s manual should be in the glove box (the Word), and while you have shotgun and control of the radio, sometimes it’s best for the driver to have control of the radio; he’ll find the station you’re looking for.  (Turn to HIM!)

My love of analogies is showing once more.  I hope you all get it, cuz sometimes it’s not as easy for others to follow my thoughts as it is for me.

Is your station coming in clearly?

Anna 🙂


(picture from google images) Static—you know the stuff, when hair turns upward no matter what you do, when clothes cling where they’re not supposed to, and when you get a little shock from touching something that you’ve never gotten a shock when touching before.  It’s fall, and the static problem has begun.  It’s always bad in the winter, when I’m taking off my winter hat and my hair wants to follow it?  When my skin is too dry (lotion?  What’s it for, again?  Is it a once-a-month thing?) and everything seems to be electrically charged with negative energy?  You know how you’re supposed to make the static go away?  Water.  Wet hair doesn’t stand up on its own.  Not that you should always have wet hair (it’s actually not advisable when it’s cold outside), but water calms it down.  By getting your hands wet and then touching your hair, the static goes away.  Hydrating skin with lotion (umm…) and re-fueling what is dry and static-y with some positive charge to counter the negative!  (Drier sheets and Static Guard also do the trick, but I digress.)

So I was brushing my teet(picture found on google images) h tonight and noticing how my hair was, as usual, full of static.  Then this great analogy came to me and I got really excited to share it.  So, in the Bible, Jesus says he is the living water.  So I thought: static = negative energy = negativity vs. water = Jesus = positivity = Jesus.  Do you follow my thoughts here?  We need to counter negativity with positivity.  When we are freaking out or crushing underneath the stress of a homework assignment, we need to calm it down by “getting our hands wet.”  We need to turn our eyes to the Lord.  (I think this sounded way better in my head.)

So next time you notice negativity, speak to the Lord.  (He can hear you, you know, wherever and whenever you talk with him.)  And whenever you notice something that’s full of static or you get a shock from something, think about how to counter it!  It’s just a silly reminder that I’ll always remember.  You could?

Smiling, Anna 🙂

Saturday Smiley: Commas and Breath Marks

A comma is, like a breath mark amd sometimes people dom’t, breathe im the right places. Amd sometimes evem, a mote is missed or am accidemtal amd it just makes thimgs really, dissomamt.  Them there cemes the problem whem mobody breathes amd they just kimd of rum out of air at the emd….

Welcome to beginning band..? [Did you catch the “missed accidental?” =)]  Mistakes in music don’t sound this obvious to everyone, but someone who is reading or listening to a passage played just as the above paragraph can catch it quickly, especially if someone is playing the passage correctly simultaneously.

Breath marks give shape to a phrase.  Unfortunately, some players, mostly beginners, don’t realize how obvious breath is.  Here is a great blog about commas that I read a few weeks ago. Limbirdmike said in this post: “The simplest way to think of a comma in general writing is to think of it as a pause – a place where your writing takes a natural breath for air between the bigger breaths that come at the end of each sentence.”  That’s how I usually think of it when putting commas in my writing.  Same is true while breathing in music.  In my conducting class, we were talking last week about placing breath marks where it’s smart and telling the different players of the melody to mark it in their music.  Breath marks in themselves are quite useful.  They let you breathe before you run out of air, typically.  If you run out of air before a breath mark, you’ve got to either build some endurance or take a bigger breath next time.  Or both.  Commas are a little more obvious in their misuse.  And sometimes when there aren’t even any commas in a sentence you speak until you run out of breath then quick, breathe.  Not cool.  You see the connection here.  Even if the instrument is one that you don’t breathe into to produce sound, breathing with the phrase is always a good idea and it makes musical sense.  In an ensemble, it keeps everyone together.  A little pause can feel like a comma in the sentence that the music is speaking.

It is pretty awesome that such a little thing can have such an effect on music.  It makes me smile when I can hear it; little details that I notice that I hadn’t three years ago always make me smile.  =)  So, as I’m learning to play new instruments in my pedagogy classes, I don’t always pay attention to breath marks until I get the notes down.  However, as I am realizing fingerings, I am also realizing that I need to breath.  As a percussion player, I confess that I have a ton of trouble with breath marks and breathing in general.  However, it has been something that I have been noticing this week.  And the more I think about it and hear it in use, breath marks just make me smile.  So do awesome analogies, comma, like this.  =)

Smiling! Anna =)^2

Rulebreakers Without Christ

Do you know what one of the hardest things to do is?  Follow rules.  If you’re told to walk, not run, you want to run.  If you’re told to start working on an assignment now, you wait until the last minute.  If you’re told to sit still in church, you usually squirm, and even stifle laughter that disrupts the pews behind and in front of you—you know, all three pews looking at you wondering what on earth could be that funny when all that’s going on is a children’s sermon about being happy that God loves you (ahem).

When God saved his people by bringing them out of Egypt, he gave them some basic rules.  No texting at the table; no hitting your sister; get to bed early on a school night; don’t blame your dad for putting the dishes away in the wrong spot and confusing everyone when it was really you…you know, the for-your-own-good type.  God said, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.  Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23).  But you know what happened next.  All of the real 10 Commandments were broken.  James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  So, God’s covenant with his people DIDN’T WORK.  Luckily, God KNEW this and just wanted to prove a point.  You know, that time when you don’t appreciate something you never knew you needed?  It’s like the kids of this generation never experiencing slow or no internet, or my generation never having to drive on a long trip without a cell phone in hand to call Mom when we get lost…. But all those who lived without internet or cell phones appreciate them that much more.  So God had to make this covenant with man so that when he made his new covenant, the one where he sent his only Son TO DIE, it would be appreciated and we would have the chance to understand and not take it for granted.  NOW, once a person has prayed to receive Christ, Christ lives INSIDE THEM.  And, if we let Christ live THROUGH us, the rules will be followed AUTOMATICALLY.  (Loophole?)

Steve McVey says in Grace Walk, “Jesus gave His life FOR us so that He could give His life TO us and live His life THROUGH us” (70).  Whoa!  McVey tells of a new Christian’s reaction when he explained this to her: “The Christian life is easy, if you just let Him do it” (71).

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3-4 (emphasis mine)

God has provided the easier way to follow the rules.  The loopholes?  Here are some examples of some loopholes that have come about in the last decade or two: Now, you don’t have to wait for day or weeks when you send a letter to get one back (email, Facebook, Skype, etc.); you don’t have to try and get a book published for people to read your writings (like this blog!).  You don’t have to wait until you get home to call a friend or pull over and ask a stranger for directions (or spend hours trying to figure it out yourself…).

God has given you the means to follow his rules.  He wants to be your God and he wants you to be his child.  Have you taken the shortcut?  You can’t follow the rules on your own.  God still wants you to obey his rules, but he also wants you to let Christ live through you and take this gift he has given us called grace.

[Disclaimer: Though many of us have Christ inside us does not mean we won’t break the rules anymore.  We live in a worldly society that keeps throwing temptations and other evil in our faces.  Letting Christ live fully through you is a constant thing and you must be conscious of it.  However, Christ is there and we GET to be conscious of him!  For more about this grace, you can peruse some of my previous blog posts on the topic or check out the book, “Grace Walk” by Steve McVey.]

Smiling, Anna =)^2

My Life as a Sloth

[Note: written this weekend, before all the icky weather and more cautious-walking started happening all over campus.  I also did not intend for this to be negative but commenting in the way when you find the funny in all situations.  Smilin!]

So, a lot of people compare their lives to an animal or a character in a book or a movie.  I’m sure there was a time when you took a quiz on Facebook that was something like, “Which Disney prince/princess are you?”  or “Which Lord of the Rings character are you?”  or something like that.  But I came up with this on my own.  If I were an animal this week (because these things change, of course), I would be a sloth.  First, let me tell you a little about them.

The 3-fingered sloth is the slowest moving animal in the world, moving at a break-neck speed of .003 miles per hour.  These animals have been built to live life in the treetops of South American rainforests.  They have a powerful grip and hang from tree branches.  Sloths sleep 15-20 hours a day, and remain motionless even when awake.  3-fingered sloths do not move well on land.  Because of their weak hind legs and long claws, they are quite clumsy on land.  If a predator is coming when they are on land, they stand no chance.  However, these sloths are very agile swimmers.  More interesting facts include: they have an extra vertebrae in their neck, so their heads can turn some 270 degrees, and they have a long, high-pitched call that echoes through the forest.

Why am I like a sloth this week?  Well, I have found that if I  S L O W  D O W N  when I’m walking, I am less likely to lose my balance.  Although it takes longer to walk between the Humanities building and my dorm, I can still get there on my own.  Although when people are walking past me, I stop and wait for them to pass.  It was actually on one of these treks that I first related myself to a sloth.  I DO NOT sleep 15-20 hours a day, because that’s just crazy for a PERSON.  However, I do need more sleep than those around me because of the MS.  But I’ve accepted that.  I’m not a very good swimmer.  At all.  But when I was trying to think of a substitute for that, I came up with texting.  Because I can do that faster than I can walk.  But not at the same time.

Thus, this week, I feel like a sloth.  Mostly because I’m really slow moving.  But on Wednesday I’m startin’ up some PT, which will hopefully speed me up to that of a koala bear, which is the world’s 5th slowest animal. Woo!  Crusin.  What kind of animal would you be and why?

Recommended reads: “Sherman is a Slowpoke” by Mitchell Sharmat and David Neuhaus


..And I equate THIS video to all of the awesome people who have given me piggy-backs when I have most needed them.  This is a thank you shout out to all you!

=)^2 Anna

Smiley Saturday: Analogies

Have you ever thought about analogies?  They make a hard-to-picture scene imaginable, like seeing a movie you have only listened to in the car because you’re driving and can’t watch it.  Even with play-by-play of someone who’s watching it doesn’t do justice when you see in the rear-view mirror jaws dropped as they’re watching.  Analogies make even the weirdest subject, the one that is hard to understand, comprehendible.  Like in theory, when we always referred to a V-I chord progression as the bride and groom.  It is a perfect authentic cadence!  Sometimes, in the middle of the song, the bride would flirt around in a V-vi or V-IV6 deceptive cadence, but always would return to her groom in a V-I cadence.  See?  You don’t even know what I’m talking about, but you get the basics!

I’ve been using a lot of analogies, frankly, because I like them.  I usually go a lot deeper than a one-sentence analogy, but any sort of analogy is pretty cool.  When I googled “anaologies” I found several blogs containing the same list of the “Annual English Teachers’ awards for best student metaphors/analogies found in actual student papers.”  I found one blog that listed 25 funny analogies, cited as “the winning entries in a 1999 Washington Post humor contest, and there are more than 25.”  (That’s where the following list is from.)  I laughed really hard, as one who keeps laughing hours later about the same thing; over and over again she laughs in the silence or sobriety of a moment.  Prepare yourselves:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

So, I thought I’d share some of my own analogies.  I was actually looking for the perfect analogy when I was writing a paper in high school, so I made a list:

  • I’m as happy as. . .
    • A tornado in a trailer park
    • A mouse in a cheese shop
    • A dog in a squeaky-toy store
    • A bank robber in a jewelry store
    • A rabbit in a garden
    • A crow in a corn field
    • A geek at a Star Trek Convention
    • It needed this like. . .(it didn’t)
      • A pencil needs ink
      • A rabbit needs rabies
      • Soybeans need aphids

So, compared to the previous list, these aren’t that great.  I’ve actually referred back to this list a time or two, although my writing has become “more sophisticated,” like a basketball player who’s gotten taller.  Sometimes when I’m writing, I go for clever stuff that makes you think but laugh when you’re thinking along the same lines as I was when I wrote it.  Then it’s like Jesus’ parables: only for those who are actually listening/reading.  Sometimes, though, I realize it’s better to make sure your readers understand what you’re saying, like a teacher who puts notes on the board in legible writing, with enough time to write them all down before she moves on.

Do you have any clever analogies?  Let’s hear ‘em!

Smiling, like one who squishes up their face when looking into the sun, Anna =)^2