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You may be wondering what makes our relationship so unique… Cole has Asperger’s, and I (McKenna) have Cerebral Palsy. The challenges of life, coupled with our disabilities can make for a pretty interesting day-to-day life. In fact our life sometimes seems like anything but day-to-day. I suppose the same can be said for our relationship from the beginning. We started dating just over 4 years ago and decided that we wanted to have a courtship than your typical dating relationship.

For those who don’t know the difference between dating and courting, a short definition of courting is dating with the purpose of getting married, not just dating to date. Really wanting to know each other is key and, not only that, it’s doing everything in your relationship with Christ at the center; I can talk more about this in a later post. We met at college in Denver and continued a long-distance courtship for a year before becoming engaged. Now almost 3 years later we are married and living in ND. We both have had many people in our lives, both family and friends wondering how we make our relationship work and how we make things work in our daily life. At different points in our lives before we married, both of us wondered if marriage was even in our future, if living independently, working, driving, and many other things would even be possible. Well guess what?!?! WE CAN!

The purpose of showing people our lives, is to show people that disability doesn’t need to stop you from reaching your goals. You can still go to college, live independently, get married, and even have a family regardless of the cards you are dealt. We may not be your typical couple. we may not live “normal lives” but that doesn’t stop us from living the best life we can!

Movie Review by Cole- “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Warning, major spoilers ahead)

When I first heard that a third Star Wars trilogy was going to be made, all the way back in 2012, I could’t imagine what I would be witnessing on screen. Now, over 7 years later, the final film of the Skywalker saga has been released and I must say, I was… Blown away. This film has caused some division among fans like the two before it, but I believe this is one of the best of all nine films for a number of reasons.

The characters Rey, Poe and Finn all underwent a fair bit of change between this film and the first, not to mention what I believe is a 5 year time jump. It was amazing to see the kind of Jedi that Rey was becoming, and learning along that journey that Leia was the one training her (more on Leia later). Seeing Finn and Poe’s friendship is always enjoyable, especially in this one where you see that they are close as friends and yet also have disagreements. C-3P0’s role in this film is also greater than in other ones, as he (spoilers ahead) is the only one who can translate and relay the Sith language written on a dagger that Rey finds, as they journey to find Emperor Palpatine. I must also point out that having both Han and Luke appear to Rey and Kylo Ren when they needed them the mosy felt appropriate for their movement in the story; Luke mirroring Yoda when he pulled out his X-wing from the ocean was a nice touch too.

I want to take a moment and focus on Leia. I was excited to find out that she has, in fact, not lost her connection to the Force when in The Last Jedi, she used the Force to return to her ship from space after the First Order attacked and is the one training Rey in Rise of Skywalker. It is also revealed that she was actually training with Luke some time after Return of the Jedi, even building her own lightsaber which Rey used along with the reconstructed Anakin/Luke saber. In short, Leia is even more of a bad-ass than we already knew!

All Star Wars films are known for being visual masterpieces, and, of course, this one is no exception. For instance, the terrifying planet of Exegol, where Palpatine is hiding, was visually stunning in its own way; we get a unique look at the culture and architecture of the Sith that lay hidden from the galaxy for a long time, and the constant Force-energized lightning strikes made it even more foreboding. The lightsabers themselves are also always a visual treat to see; they’re what I most look forward to seeing in one of these films. The ships, weapons, worlds, and depictions of Force powers used all met my expectations, although I also did appreciate the use of old-fashioned puppets and latex masks/makeup for some of the creatures instead of it all being CGI.

Finally, we must talk about the story. In the old Expanded Universe, Palpatine actually did return so it’s not too much of a stretch to see it here, the major difference being that who we see in the EU are clones and in this film it is actually the original Palpatine; his horrendous deformitiesand injuries make that clear. The overarching story of Palpatine returning and working to rebuild the Sith Empire lined with the story of Rey and Leia trying to keep the Jedi and the Resistance alive worked well, I feel; separate, but together. We are also finally given the full story of Rey’s heritage…. As Palpatine’s granddaughter! Seeing her come to grips with it and not succumb to the dark side was so satisfying and encouraging to see. There are so many other story elements I could cover but that would take too long so I will make it as short as possible and finish with this: the story was concluded in what I believe was a very fitting manner, with the ultimate end of the Sith, Kylo Ren’s final redemption as Ben Solo, Rey taking the Skywalker name as she stares at Tatooine’s twin suns, even Leia’s passing into the Force after she died.

So here it is, my review of the final chapter in the Skywalker story. I give it a solid 5/5, no questions asked! I hope all of you who have seen it enjoyed it as much as I have, and for those who haven’t, sorry not sorry for the spoilers, haha! May the Force be with you, always.

Hitting the Mark #10- Don’t Click that link!

Here’s the problem: you are randomly scrolling Facebook, YouTube, or even Amazon, and BAM! there’s an image or video link that can only lead to trouble. I know this too well, and it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting totally free of my addiction. It may not even be pornographic in nature, but regardless, it counts when you click that link. Here’s my advice: DON’T!

I am extremely passionate these days about rooting out every bit of inappropriate internet content I come across, whether it’s a YouTube video or a product suggestion on Amazon that isn’t even related to what I was actually searching for, like looki

ng for a cool ring but they suggest a really skimpy bra (this is a real example). But, with that passion, comes the problem of going down the rabbit hole and coming back out dirty. Gentlemen, I implore you, please don’t click on that image or video unless it is to click “Hide” or “Remove”; get it off your screen if at all possible. Clicking that link even for a second is not worth coming back and feeling like you came out of an hour or two of viewing hardcore material. That feeling sucks!

What does one do when temptation comes knocking? There are a few things I can suggest, and I admit I need to get better at employing them myself. Honestly, just put your phone or laptop or Chromebook down and go do something else. Like to pound out hot metal? Light up that furnace and do it! Video games strike your fancy? Go kill some bandits outside Whiterun or some First Order troops in a downed star destroyer (shout out to Bethesda’s “Skyrim” and EA’s “Star Wars: Battlefront II”!). Write in a journal, listen to your favorite music, heck, if you are married or in a relationship, tell your partner or spouse you are feeling tempted and ask for help! Anything to avoid clicking on that link! It’s not worth dirtying your conscience, man.

My hope and prayer is that this bit of typing will be an encouragement to anyone reading this, as always. Guys, I implore you, no, BEG, you, don’t click on that link. Some things are best left unseen or unread, and this goes for me as well. Feeling uncomfortable? I kind of hope so, not to be a jerk, but because if you do, then you know what is being done is wrong no matter how long you are doing it for. I know I feel uncomfortable, guilty even, when I know I slipped up.

My final words to you today: a dirty conscience and shaken trust from your loved one(s) is not worth that one, five or ten seconds of viewing in the bathroom or on the couch alone. Be strong. Be strong by seeking out healthy alternatives to porn when you’re bored or stressed. Be strong by seeking help from another human. Oh, and before I leave you, I have a personal recommendation: listen to Skillet’s “Sick of It”, it always reminds me of what I want to feel vs what I do when I give in and serves as good motivation (shout out to Skillet!). Gentlemen, carry on, and fight on.

First look at “The Mandalorian” (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

Forging Madalorian iron; great props and costumes; reportedly costing 1/8th of the total $100 million dollar budget. All this plus more in the pilot episode of the new Disney+ exclusive Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, which met, if not exceeded, my expectations! For a 38-minute long episode, there was a lot packed into it as far as story/character introduction and action. For starters, we learn right away when this story takes place in the Star Wars timeline, which is shortly after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, as mentioned by the Mandalorian himself when he says, “…the Empire is gone.” Although we don’t yet get to see his face, Pedro Pascal plays the part wonderfully, in my honest opinion. He didn’t have a plethora of lines but when he speaks you really get the rough-and-tumble Mandalorian warrior vibe, shoot first ask questions later.

Let’s take a minute to address the Mandalorian culture we are introduced to in this pilot episode. About two-thirds through, the main character walks into a hidden Mandalorian hideout where others in his tribe are holed up, and he meets with their armorer who is forging beskar, or Mandalorian iron, into pieces of armor. A quick tidbit about beskar: it is resistant to blasterfire and lightsabers, meaning a Jedi would have difficulty attacking a Mandalorian head-on. Seeing the actual forging of metal in this futuristic universe, albeit briefly, was one of the coolest moments of the whole show for me, as I am an amateur blacksmith myself. We also learn that Mandalorians rarely remove their helmets, and are very closely-knit as a clan or tribe, and their warriors begin training at a young age; they are called Foundlings. The final element of the story that blew my mind was the revelation of an infant of Yoda’s species! You read that right, Yoda’s species! This is only the third we have seen in the entirety of the Star Wars movies or shows, and it is apparent that this baby will have a major impact on the story and characters.

The costumes, props and set-dressing were also very well-done. It truly felt like a Star Wars story, as I was seeing a war-scorched galaxy made real by the detail given to everything, both real-life and CGI. Normally in a TV show inspired by a movie or series of movies, the CGI is not up to par with the film’s, but the visuals in The Mandalorian appeared to be cinema-quality which I appreciated. The costumes and makeup made the characters come to life, be them human or alien; the Mandalorian’s armor looked phenomenal on its own! This episode definitely shows good use of the 1/8th of the show’s total $100 million budget; there will be 8 episodes total this season. Hopefully this sets a positive tone for the rest of the season as the episodes come out.

All in all, based on this pilot alone, I give The Mandalorian a 5/5! Generous? It deserves it as far as I’m concerned. The show’s attention to detail with the physical and story-related elements alone give it credit and potential to be a great series, such as the very real look of the props, costumes, alien makeup and physical set dressing. Beyond that, the story’s post-Jedi timeline, the revelation of an infant of Yoda’s kind, the insights into Mandalorian culture, and movie-quality visuals serve to make this a spectacular show to watch, and my expectations for the rest of the show are very high from this point on.

The Good, The Bad, and the Hype of Disney+

We signed up for Disney+ more than a few weeks before it launched. We watched the countdown in anticipation. It seems like lately ever other commercial was an advertisement for Disney+. Disney boasted a price of $6.99 a month or $69.99 annually. This seems like a great deal considering you get access to Marvel, LucasFilms (star wars), Disney movies both classics and recent, as well as National Geographic and the Simpson’s. Most of the people anxious for Disney+ wanted it for The Mandalorian, or Disney’s new live action Lady and the Tramp. As stated in an article by Newsweek; “Disney+ allows users to watch on four different devices at once. Unlike its streaming rival, however, according to Collider Disney+ allows users to download all of its over 7,500 episodes of TV series and 500 films for offline streaming, whereas Netflix only allows users to download selected shows and movies.”

Much to our disappointment we had some issues on the first day and apparently we weren’t the only ones. Thousands of users tried to log on only to see a photo of Wreck It Ralph, staying there was an issue. Disney was quick to respond by saying “The demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations,” the company said. “We are so pleased you’re excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.”

We had issues with recovering our email to confirm our account which you needed to do when you log in for the first time. By the time we finally received the email, we received about 10 at once. 9 hours after our first attempt we finally got our first look at the around 500 movies on the app. I (McKenna) chose to check out the Throwback section which featured most of my childhood favorites like Lizzie Maguire, Boy Meets World, Doug, Kim Possible and more! Cole on the other had (at no one’s surprise) went straight for the Mandalorian and his all-time favorite animated show Phineas & Ferb.

Day one although frustrating in the beginning, ended with us watching some great TV together while eating my favorite pasta. Sounds like a good evening to me. Review of The Mandalorian to come!

Restoration and Demo – Rebuilding with the Lord

I heard something enlightening today from K-LOVE radio. Philippians 1:6 says 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. The host compared Life to Demo day in a remodel. Demo is the beginning and tearing everything out is messy and often overwhelming. Often we are torn down in order for God to rebuild us. It is in our brokenness that we can feel sad and hopeless, but it’s also in that despair that God holds us and leads us on a new path of restoration.

This spoke to me particularly in this season of life. We recently went through our 3rd miscarriage and we have been so lost since then. We don’t know what the next step is for us. Do we keep trying? Do we accept that biological children are not part of God’s plan for us? We’ve just been going through the motions almost with a since of numbness. We are definitely in a season of Demolition. We are starting from scratch. Anyone who has been through a pregnancy loss knows the toll it can take. We are trying to start from scratch, praying for God to bring us closer together in this time of sadness. Cole and I both handle our grief differently so at times we have to be truly intentional about making sure to be aware of each other needs. We are remodeling. The Lord is guiding us through a renovation of not only our physical lives but also our hearts.

During this time of grief we also spent the weekend celebrating my great-grandmother’s 95th birthday. That weekend blew me away. I had been feeling lonely and isolated. I know my family was supporting us but postpartum had me feeling otherwise. I listened to each of the children her children and grandchildren talk about all of the meaningful moments in there lives with Grandma. It made me reflect on how supportive she has been. For a few years we lived in the same building. We became very close, shared many moments, and cared for each other in a way I’ve not done with anyone else. After this miscarriage, grandma could come by our house to offer her comfort. Instead she called. We talked for almost and hour and I truly felt like she was right there in the room with me.

As I listened and reflected, I was reminded that everyone in our lives have been so supportive of our journey to grow our family. We are so incredibly blessed and I know whatever the lord has planned for us, no matter how long this season of demolition lasts, we are not alone.