"I Dreamed a Dream" (and Les Mis Fangirling)

"I dreamed a dream in time gone by...when hope was high, and life worth living..." - I Dreamed a Dream, Les Misérables

Recently, a theatre group I'm a part of did a variety show. I decided to sing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables, a song (and movie) I love. I thought I'd share it with you girls :).

Many of you know that I have recently become obsessed with Les Misérables. I have most of the music from the highlights CD memorized (not all of it, haha - that would be almost the entire movie), have seen the Liam Neeson movie and have seen the new one three times in theatres, made a music video of "One Day More" where I changed hairstyles for every character...I know I may not be as crazy of a fan as some, but I still consider myself a fan girl. I am in LOVE with Les Misérables! Haha!  
The other day, a blog post in my newsfeed caught my attention because it said "Éponine" in the title. I am a BIG Éponine fan (and a fan of Les Mis, of course), so I of course clicked the link and read the post (which you can read here). Then, to my delight, I discovered that Grace (the author of the post) has a pinterest page with lots of Les Mis pics! Of course I was excited!!! Let the fangirling begin (er, continue)! (*NOTE*: spoilers may be contained in these pictures, so proceed with caution if you haven't seen the movie ;) or...don't proceed to look at this post, if you don't want. Haha!)

Ahhh! How can you NOT think they would've been the most adorable couple ever?!?! (although I know Emma would beg to differ :))


(all pictures via)
I'll leave you with these memorable Les Mis quotes :).
"Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God." - Epilogue
"A little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now. You're here - that's all I need to know." - A Little Fall of Rain
"Oh my friends, my friends! Don't ask me what your sacrifice was for! Empty chairs at empty tables, where my friends will sing no more." - Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
"God on high, hear my prayer. In my need, you have always been there. He is young, he's afraid. Let him rest, heaven blessed. Bring him home." - Bring Him Home
"But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder, as they tear your hope apart...as they turn your dreams to shame." - I Dreamed a Dream
"Red - the blood of angry men! Black - the dark of ages past! Red - a world about to dawn! Black - the night that ends at last!" - Red and Black
"In the rain, the pavement shines like silver. All the lights are misty in the river. In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight. And all I see is him and me forever and forever." - On My Own
Tata, chicas :)!

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Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks or months) where you utterly suck at math? And no matter what you do, the answer (almost) always comes out wrong?

Yeah, me too.

You could say I "utterly sucked" at math today. I've gotten to the point where I want to write poetry and songs about how strongly I despise it. But, I'm hoping a snack and "Hotel Transylvania" will cheer me up :).

EXACTLY ^. I wasn't too bad at math, until there were all those letters combined with the numbers...talk about confusing! Even Elvish can't be this hard!

Thanks for reading my rant...I may discard this post later, as it is rather useless! Haha! We'll see...

What are you doing today, loves?
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God-shaped Hole

Some of you may have heard the song by the Rolling Stones that goes, "I can't get no satisfaction! 'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try..."

While I'll admit I don't know much about the Rolling Stones or the meaning behind the song, it came to mind when I started this post. Why? Because that's what I think people are trying to get...satisfaction. Well, not just satisfaction. More like...eternal satisfaction. Let me try to explain myself more clearly...

I believe that in every person, there is a God-shaped hole. You may have heard people use the term "God-shaped hole" or "God-shaped void" before and not really understood what it meant. I think the term helps to illustrate how everyone has a void (big empty space) inside of them that they constantly try to fill with material items, money, romance, relationships, acceptance, popularity...the list goes on. The only problem is that none of those items will fill the void...none of them are God-shaped. Popularity won't fill a God-shaped hole. Romance won't fill a God-shaped hole. Only GOD can fill the God-shaped hole, and when we try to fill the hole with other things, we come up empty. Dry. Longing for more. We "can't get no satisfaction." We try and we try and we try to fill ourselves up, but we are never satisfied. And the reality is that we aren't satisfied because we are trying to fill the God-shaped hole with something that isn't God-shaped.

GOD is the only One who can eternally satisfy the longing and thirst of your soul. So come to Jesus. Throw aside everything you've been pursuing that you think will fill your God-shaped hole, because you're going to end up disappointed, lonely, sad, and hurt. Give your life to God. Tell Him you are sorry for the things you've done that have displeased Him. Speak to Him from your heart. Tell Him that you believed that He died and rose again. Repent of your sins, invite Him into your life, and be saved! And if you are saved already but are still pursuing other things, turn to Jesus! RUN to Him! He is the ONLY One who can truly satisfy you and give you joy.

I am so thankful that God saves and that He perfectly fits into our God-shaped holes. I know I have pursued things other than Jesus, and they have all left me disappointed and empty. But God? He never has. He always fills me up and gives me joy, and I am so, SO thankful for that.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal." - Matthew 6:19-20
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American Idol (and judging people)

My family has enjoyed watching the TV show "American Idol" for years. We've seen judges come and go, from Simon Cowl to Stephen Tyler. Some of the judges we have not been very fond of, and some we've considered honest while still kind. This year, however, we were unsure what to expect of the new panel of judges consisting of Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and the only judge who's stuck it out through the years, Randy Jackson.

I have to admit, after watching only one episode of the American Idol Season 12 auditions, I was annoyed and disgusted. I saw (and still see) the judges as far too judgmental of people before they even began to sing based on their appearance or other attributes. I also don't like how the judges are rude to people who really believe they can sing, as if singing is everything and you're a "nobody" if you can't sing. My favorite auditions are the ones where the judges laugh at people they think will be bad singers, but they end up blowing the judges away. One young man sang a song and didn't have a stellar voice but also didn't have a terrible voice. The judges all voted "no," and before he left the room he asked if he could have a handshake. No one obliged, and he left the room.

I'm not writing this post to totally put down the American Idol judges. They're not flat-out rude at all times, as I've made them out to be. They're just not as kind as I hoped they would be, and their judgmental moments have made me realize something about myself.   Watching the show, I realized something - I do, it too. I do the very thing I am disgusted by - I judge people.

Before I even get to know people, I decide what kind of person I think they will be based on their appearance, voice, etc., not based on what really matters - what's on the inside. It makes me wonder...if I judged people less, would I reach out to people more and try to get to know more people? Would I have more great friendships than I did before? Not being judgmental of people doesn't mean I have to hang out with everyone or befriend every single person I see. It just means that before I decide what kind of person someone is, I actually get to know them and think the best of them. Judging people isn't my job - it's God's job. So, I'm gonna be striving to leaving the judging up to God. I hope you will join me.
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Recent Happenings

I apologize for my lack of posts as of late. I was shocked to see that I'd only posted four times in December and was determined to post more than that this month, but I either haven't had the time or have felt inspiration-less. Can any of you relate?

But, alas, I am back from my unintended 'blogging break" and am going to try to post more often. I'm not promising that more frequent posting will actually happen because I can't always determine if things will come up or if I will have time or inspiration, but I certainly will try.

I don't have anything particularly insightful to share with you today, just an update of sorts. The first month of 2013 has been pretty good so far.

This year, I am trying to read through the whole Bible. In 2012, I tried to read through it and stopped in Leviticus, so that is where I started up again this year. It's great reading my Bible every morning and getting refreshed from the Word.

In a few days, I am participating in a variety show put on my the theatre group my siblings and I are a part of. I am pretty excited. I am going to be singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables (my new favorite movie). I love the song and am so excited to sing it.

This month, my family has attended two different VFW awards desserts. My sister and I have participated in VFW writing competitions for a few years now, but this year was the first year we competed against each other in the Voice of Democracy speech competition. The topic was "Is the Constitution still relevant?" (an extremely hard topic, in my opinion!) My sister placed first in post and district and is going to state. I am very proud of her! (and, no, I'm not upset that I didn't get first. I'm just proud of my sister!) I got second in post and third in district. Doing these competitions is such a great experience, and the VFW people are very kind!

So, not including school and some other happenings, those are some things I'm doing and have been doing this month. What about you? How was your month been so far? Have you done anything interesting?

 God bless you, girls! Have a wonderful day :).
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p.s. If you think about it, please be in prayer...I have a friend whose best friend's older brother died unexpectedly on Sunday, and it has been very hard on the younger brother. Please be praying for him and his family - that God would comfort them, heal them, and give them His peace!


Movie Review: Les Miserables


When I originally saw the trailer for Les Miserables, I got really excited. I loved the few songs I'd heard from Les Mis and had heard it was a good story. I finally watched the Liam Neeson version of Les Mis with my sister and really enjoyed it. Plus, I watched a bunch of clips from the movie on the official Les Miserables Film channel on YouTube. Going into the movie theatre, I had high expectations. I was also a bit nervous, because my parents said that in a Plugged In review, it said there were some inappropriate scenes. Also, I'd heard that the movie has a very minimal amount of talking. Most of it is singing, and instead of pre-recording the music and having the actors lip-sync, the actors in Les Mis are singing on the set (which could be a risky thing to do). Nonetheless, I had high expectations, and Les Miserables did not disappoint.

The main actors and actresses in Les Miserables are as follows...

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
Hugh Jackman did a GREAT job portraying Jean Valjean, a former slave who's turned from hate to love and bitterness to forgiveness. I can't think of anyone better to play Jean Valjean. His acting was great, as well as his singing.
Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Anne Hathaway has to be one of my favorites in Les Miserables. She plays Fantine, a woman who becomes a prostitute to support her child, Cosette, who is living with another family. You can feel her emotions - her sadness, pain, despair, hope (particularly when she's singing "I Dreamed a Dream"). Hathaway did a phenomenal job.

Russell Crowe as Javert

I'd have to say that Russell Crowe was my least favorite actor in this movie. He didn't do an awful job; I just think he could've had more emotions/expressions. I feel like Javert is supposed to be pretty scary/creepy, like someone you'd run away from, but he kind of seemed like a grumpy teddy bear. He wasn't terrible, though. In fact, in the song "Look Down," he was pretty mean!
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette
 Amanda Seyfried plays Cosette, Fantine's daughter. Seyfried was one of my lesser-favorite actresses in this movie. She did a good acting job, and her crying in one scene was very sad and believable, but sometimes when she sings her vibrato is somewhat overpowering. The bonds between Valjean and Cosette and Marius and Cosette are very sweet, however, although I'd liked to have seen more interaction between Valjean and Cosette when she was older, not just when she was a child.

Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy
Eddie Redmayne did GREAT playing Marius Pontmercy, a young man wanting to start a revolution. His singing and acting were both great, and his emotions in "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" were so real and believable.

Aaron Tveit as Enjolras
Enjolras, like Marius, is a young man who wants to start a revolution. I think this part was perfectly cast, and Aaron Tveit played Enjolras really well. His singing was also very impressive. Random fact: Aaron Tveit played Fiyero in a production of the Broadway show "Wicked"!
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers
The Thenardiers (who take care of Cosette - and treat her cruelly - for a period of time) are just...weird. Although Carter and Cohen acted well, the Thenardiers were just really weird and crude, which was such a big contrast from the seriousness of the rest of the movie that it somewhat seemed like they were out of place in Les Miserables.
Samantha Barks as Eponine
Samantha Barks plays Eponine, the Thenardiers' daughter, who is in love with Marius. Eponine is one of my favorite characters, and I think Samantha Barks portrayed her extremely well. She did great singing and acting.

I loved Les Miserables. It is an amazing movie. The story is so redeeming, and it holds many valuable morals such as forgiveness, mercy, and love. There are many sad parts, and a couple inappropriate scenes (more on that in a minute), but altogether the story is amazing, and I would definitely recommend it to teenagers and adults (not children). The music did not disappoint, either. It was so full of emotion, and all the singers did fantastically.

Inapropro/violent/scary stuff...
The Plugged In review goes into more detail, but there are a couple brief inappropriate scenes (although not horrible). One is right after Fantine sings a line that goes something like, "C'mon, captain, you can wear your shoes." Another is in the middle of the song "Master of the House" (actually, that whole song is somewhat awkward/inappropriate).

There IS a war in this film, which includes lots of blood/shooting/dying. I can't say whether or not you personally should watch it, but the violence was not horrific.

You can read more in-depth about this kind of stuff HERE.

Altogether, Les Miserables was amazing. When the movie ended, I just sat there for a moment thinking, "Wow, that was a great movie." I'd give it a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (with a 1/2 star taken off for the brief inappropriate scenes). I loved Les Mis. It is definitely one of my new favorites, and if you are a teen or adult, I'd definitely recommend watching it.

(all pictures from the Les Miserables Facebook page)

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Today is January 1st, 2013, and, once again, I am surprised that a new year is already upon us.

2012 was a great year. True, it was not perfect, and I went through dry patches and tough spots in my walk with the LORD. But, as I look back on the year, I am extremely appalled at how much God has blessed my family this year. I'd like to take a look back on the past twelve months and give you an overview on them.

I got back from an awesome Winter Retreat on New Year's Day. My sister and I went to the retreat in December but got back on January 1st. That retreat was great not only then, but also when we went just a few days ago to the same retreat. In January, I participated in a variety show with my sister. We sang "For Good," a duet from Wicked. Performing that song helped me SO much in become more comfortable singing onstage and being more confident.

January was not all great, however. My best friend had something like a heart attack and was in the hospital. It was really scary not being able to be there with her, and I can't even imagine what her family was going through, but Kara is doing well now and suffered no brain damage, which even the doctor said I was a miracle. I don't know if I've ever prayed harder for anything in my life. The whole thing really showed me how prayer really does work, because sometimes I find myself doubting if it does. I know so many people were praying for Kara, and God obviously listened to all the prayers said for her.

In February, I went to a VFW banquet a few hours away. I got state for the annual Patriot's Pen competition, and my older sister got 3rd place for the Voice of Democracy competition! It was a really great experience, and while I recited my speech on pride in front of everyone, seeing tears in the veterans' eyes touched me in a way I cannot describe. Prior to the actual banquet, one of the veterans told me to recite my speech to him. I started to recite it, but he stopped me because he was crying. That also touched me in a way I cannot express.

In March, I went to San Francisco with my youth group. It was an amazing trip and I definitely witnessed God working in San Francisco (although He works everywhere, of course!). I have a list of those we witnessed to on the streets of San Francisco when we went out one night, and looking back on this year has reminded me to pray for those people! We headed home from San Francisco on my birthday. I felt SO special that day :). The night before, us girls were in our sleeping bags after midnight, and they sang Happy Birthday to me before we went to bed. The next day on the way home using money supplied by my thoughtful mom :), they got me a chocolate muffin and lit matches on top of it :), and candy to celebrate, and we watched Princess Bride. I also got to try an energy drink for the first time! I didn't really like it :). Haha!

In April, my sister and I participated in a music show called "The Magic of Music" with four other girls. It was so much fun, and it really helped me come out of my shell and be confident singing onstage :). One moment I want to forever remember was when I was singing "Bring Him Home" at our rehearsal at the theatre. During previous rehearsals, I could not hold the long note at the end. However, I had worked on it, and this time I held it the whole time. When I was done, applause and cheering erupted from backstage. The other girls were like, "You did it! You held it!" That was an amazing moment.

In May, two of my closest friends came to visit. The four of us (them and my sister and I) became friends over nine years ago and have stayed close over all these years :). Their visit was SO MUCH FUN and I wish it lasted longer. I can't wait for the next time they get to visit!

In June, it was my eleventh spiritual birthday (anniversary of the day I asked Christ to come into my life as my LORD and Savior). I have never regretted making that decision. In fact, it was the BEST decision I have ever made. I am so thankful for who God is and what He has done for us, and how much He loves us.

In June, my sister and brother and I were also in the play "Alice in Wonderland." My sister was the Queen of Hearts, my brother was a cute little mouse, and I was Tweedle Dee. It was so much fun!

In July, I attended Worldview Academy with some friends from church, and let me tell you - it was AMAZING. I loved it so much and learned so much there. I also made some great new friends and got the chance to do street ministry. It was great!

August was a busy but amazing month! I took a trip to Maui (Hawaii) with some relatives, and I had such a blast! I loved snorkeling, seeing turtles, and surfing the best. I also liked going to a hula (NOT dancing, of course :D!), wearing a sarong, taking pictures, and jumping over waves with boogie boards. It was one of my dreams to go to Hawaii, and I am so thankful for that experience. It was gorgeous there.

August was also the month I competed in a "local" Bible Bee (I called it "local" 'cause it was, like, four hours away). If you don't know what Bible Bee is, it's basically where you memorize a bunch of Bible verses and do a Sword Study (study) on a book of the Bible (this year was 2 Timothy). Then, at the competitions, you recite your verses to judges and take a 200-question test based on the book you've been studying.  I didn't make it into Nationals, but it was such a great experience that I'd definitely recommend! I'm proud to say that I completed (although just barely) all 200 questions in the hour I gave us. I am also proud to say that I recited all 20 required Bible passages in the time they gave me, though I messed up a lot. It is so awesome to have God's Word in my heart, and studying the book of 2 Timothy was incredible. I now love that book and want to study more books of the Bible!

In September, my family went to a weeklong homeschool family Christian science camp. It was a lot of fun, and I made a lot of new friends!

In October, I came to the realization that it's okay to JUST CRY. It's okay to not always have it all together. You can read my thoughts on that here.

Another October happening was the Nerd Party. My family planned the Nerd Party as an alternative to Homecoming, and we had it at a karaoke place because my sister won it from a singing contest she won during the summer. The Nerd Party was so much fun! Almost everyone dressed up as nerds, and there was singing, professional pictures, prizes for the Nerd King and Nerd Queen, food, games, and a Bible teaching. It was great!

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the third time. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is where you set a word count goal for yourself and try to write a novel in a month. I absolutely LOVE NaNoWriMo. It is such a great experience. The first year I did it, I wrote "Tania's Faith," a novel about a girl named (can you guess?) Tania who is transported to another world and meets strange and fascinating characters on her journey to find the King and return home. My second novel, written the next year, is entitled "Genuine" and is about Gwen Washington, a typical girl facing problems who discovers Who really makes her genuine. And finally, this year's (er, last year's?) was about a man named Aaron, a veteran scarred by serving overseas - physically AND emotionally. I really like the story.

In November, my youth group also took a trip to Winter Jam, a Christian concert. It was great! And I got to meet Jamie Grace, my favorite singer!

In December, I was busy with finishing up school. Christmas also came and went, and Christmas was AMAZING this year (as it is every year :)). I had an awesome time with my family.

I just got back a couple of days ago from a Winter Retreat a few different youth groups host. This was my second time, and it was really good. The teachings were great :).

And now, it's 2013. I am excited for what God has in store for me this year (although I am currently unsure of just what that is). There are many things I hope to do this year, but I will leave it up to God and let Him do with my dreams what He will.

Before I close this post, I'd like to leave you with this thought: Don't wait until tomorrow. I know that I often say, "I'll start tomorrow," to put off getting right with God, doing my devotions and quiet times with God, eating healthy, etc. etc. But the thing is, we are GOING to mess up. It's guaranteed, not suggested. We can set resolutions and resolve to be better and do better, but we ARE sinful humans and we ARE going to mess up. So, this year, I think I will set resolutions. But if I mess up? I'll just try to get right back up and get on the right track. I don't wanna say, "Oh, well - I'll wait until next year," or, "I'll wait until tomorrow." No, I wanna get back on track TODAY. What about you?

I truly hope you have a blessed year. I will be praying for you this year. Remember this...

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Things change and people change, but God forever remains the same, and for that I am so thankful.

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Girlz of God Copyright Talia DeAndrea 2010, 2011, 2012. "Genuine," "Girlz of God," and "Tania's Faith" book excerpts Copyright Talia DeAndrea 2010, 2011, 2012. All pictures Copyright Talia DeAndrea, unless otherwise noted. Please do not steal or copy anything on this blog without my permission. Thank you :-).

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