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Best Instant Camera?

The first camera tested, the original Polaroid One Step.

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There are a lot of instant photo options in the market nowadays. From the most popular Instax Mini with it’s array of colorful accessories, to the new HP Sprocket that connects to your smartphone. In a digital age where most of our photos are looked at from a screen and stored away often never to be seen again (at least until Facebook or other social media platform reminds us of throwback days), printed photos are regaining their appeal. And there’s good reason.

I can still spend a good hour looking through my grandmother’s many photo albums. I own only a few photo albums, and all from my childhood, but the memories they bring back are fond, and the pictures are often humorous and endearing. In this digital age of social media, we cull through numerous photos and take many more until we get “the one.” In the days of film, you often had no idea what the result would be until you picked up the packet of images from the photo department.

And the allure is stronger with old-fashioned instant cameras like the Polaroid. You get just one chance to capture a single moment that can never be replicated. Instant cameras are a piece of magic.

But like in many fields, there are so many options, it’s hard to make a buying decision. I am not particularly loyal to brands, mostly because this is a field where I have little experience. Polaroid has made its name synonymous with the square format print, but does that mean it is the best option? I wanted to find out.

The Contenders

Original Polaroid One Step Land Camera

I used Color 600 film paired with the neutral density filters. Because the 600 film is more sensitive to light than film meant for the OneStep, the neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light the camera allows in so that your photos are not over-exposed (that sun bleached look). You can use the SX-70 film, but it was not available in time for me to do this review.

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

The Original OneStep is very simple. You insert the film cartridge, hold down the shutter to eject the protective covering, and you are ready to start shooting. The only thing that makes the original OneStep difficult to finagle is its bulk. It’s odd size and shape make it impossible to simply slip into a purse and be on your way to capturing memories. But for taking instant photos, it could hardly be easier.

Functionality: ★★☆☆☆

Not surprising at all, this camera has very little features. It takes photos. It has a flash. I could not figure out if the flash could be turned off. (There was no manual with my ebay purchase.)

Accessories: ★★★☆☆

The Polaroid OneStep Land Camera with Q-Light Accessory

While retro and not currently manufactured, the availability of accessories for this little guy are prolific. In its prime, Polaroid produced several different types of accessories, mostly flashes of some sort, that improved (or were marketed to improve) the quality of the images. Carrying cases, storage cases, and film are quite easily come by, though they are not necessarily inexpensive. And since the accessories are no longer in reproduction, you have to rely on third party resales to obtain them. Surprisingly, I was able to find more accessories for this camera than the other two tested.

Photo quality: ★☆☆☆☆

Selfie comparison between all camera prints.

This old guy has perhaps seen better days. Whether it is an issue of needing a refurbishing, I don’t know. But the results were murky at best, garbage at worst. In the photo above, the original camera tests resulted in row 1 image 2 and row 2 image 1.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: With the many instant print cameras out there, don’t bother spending your money on a retro model – unless you enjoy having a camera to refurbish.

2. Polaroid OneStep2

The new Polaroid OneStep2 has just enough retro charm and functionality to make me want to purchase it just by looking at it. (Is that just me?) It has several different color options (I bought Sky Blue, but there is also classic white, and even a Stranger Things limited edition)

Because this is the next generation of Polaroid’s OneStep series, I want to get into some comparisons before we get to the rating. (If that doesn’t interest you, you can scroll right down to the stars!)

I found the two cameras to be very similar in size. I expected having the shutter button beneath the much improved larger flash might lead to having stark finger shadows, but that never happened. It did take me forever, though, to figure out where my film indicator was. All other instant print cameras I have used have the scrolling number wheel somewhere on the back of the camera housing. It took me looking it up in the manual (duh) for me to realize that those little dots on the top of the camera are LED lights that indicate the amount of film left. I think that is a nice touch, once you know its purpose.

Having the button on the front also made taking selfies really easy considering the cameras bulk. And the USB charging is an upgrade that certainly makes it more sustainable (retro film packages include a battery to run the camera) and ensure you always have a well-powered flash. Overall, a very nice, recognizable upgrade.

Ease of Use: ★★★★★

Whether taking a selfie or a group photo, indoor or outdoor, flash or no flash, the OneStep2 was simple to manage and understand (aside from my LED film indicator mystery mentioned above). It was honestly just fun to use.

Functionality: ★★★★☆

With its USB charging and the ability to turn off the flash, this little camera already has more than one leg up on its other instant camera competitors.

Accessories: ★★★☆☆

Even though its accessories are more up to date than the those of its retro predecessor, they are few and more pricey than other brands, like Fuji’s instax series. Your choices of accessories are limited. The strap is exactly the same strap as the original OneStep, a thin band that will rub your neck raw, although it can actually be removed and replaced with almost any other neck strap, which you would want to do. (Unless turtlenecks and protective ascots are your thing. You do you.)

Photo quality: ★★★★☆

Photos taken with the OneStep2

For instant print cameras, Polaroid really does have the winning combination. The colors, while off from what our eyes see, read very clearly once developed. If you want something closer to what the naked sees, your cell phone will take better photos. But instant cameras are an entirely different realm, and in this arena, Polaroid is king. The images included crisp, clear details from different shooting distances and selfies equally.

Overall: ★★★★☆

This was so close to five stars. There were a few things I liked better on the next camera that I would like to be able to Frankenstein together for the perfect instant camera, but ultimately, those little things come down to personal preference. If you like the look and excitement of what Polaroid prints have to offer, you won’t be disappointed with this camera.

3. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

This is the camera that I started out assuming would win. The SQ6 has more features than any other instant camera in its price range. It’s design and shape make it preferable to taking it with you and capturing memories on the go.

Ease of Use: ★★★★★

This camera was the easiest to use in multiple ways. It has two shutter buttons, one on the top, and one on the front which is optimal for taking a selfie. And when it comes to selfies, the mirror on the front of this little guy makes it possible to make sure everyone is in the shot. (But seriously, don’t try getting a selfie with more than three. There will not be room. Unless you enjoy the “crammed too many in a photo booth” look.)

Because of its slim design, it hung flat against my body and was even able to slide into a medium purse. Of the three, this was by far the more portable design.

While I did give it five stars, the SQ6 did have one annoying hang up: the viewfinder is on the right hand side. That seems like such an odd thing to nitpick, but when every single camera I have held in my hand (which is a stinkin’ lot) has the viewfinder on the left or in the center, trying to use a viewfinder on the right hand felt like I was trying to write with my non-dominant hand. I’m certain this is something anyone could easily adjust to, but it may throw you off. It certainly did me, as well as anyone I handed it to.

It doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, that right hand viewfinder is wack.

Functionality: ★★★★★

A duel exposure image taken with SQ6

Out of every camera I tried, this one had more ways to use than your simple point and shoot. Take a look at the back of the camera again and see for yourself all the different shooting modes.

Shooting modes, left to right: Auto, Selfie, Macro, Landscape, Double Exposure,
Lighten, and finally, Darken.

This camera gets you the most for the price. In fact, the only downsides I can think of are 1) I just wish the prints were larger, and 2) it uses disposable batteries. The USB features of the OneStep2 just feel right with everything else that I have that is compatible. I hate trying to remember what type of battery each electronic takes. Come on, Fujifilm, this is 2020, not 1992. That being said, the camera is functionally top of the line in its price range.

Accessories: ★★★★☆

The line of Fujifilm Instax cameras have been established for years, and with that, an assortment of different accessories have been produced. From photo albums, locker or fridge magnet frames, neck straps, cases, and more, there is something to personal your Instax experience to your liking. However, there are fewer accessories for the SQ6. Most of the Instax accessories are for its Mini series of cameras.

Out of the box, the SQ6 has a premium neck strap (complete with padding) and even colored flash gels. I was really excited about the inclusion of gels. These flash gels are more superior than those flimsy little strips of color plastic film like most gels. These are durable plastic clip-ons that attach right over the flash and are thick enough to not be blown away or lost in the depths of a camera bag or purse.

Photo quality: ★★★★☆

Photos taken by the SQ6

The SQ6 takes square format images, much like the beloved Polaroid. However, SQ6 prints much smaller images.

The SQ6 print on the left, OneStep2 on the right.

When at the optimal distance, the pictures were crisp. However, in order to get a good selfie, you have to remain very still. While in the photo above it looks fine, in person the Polaroid has much sharper details. (But to be fair, I did not use Selfie mode on the SQ6 as I hadn’t learned about that yet. It would probably clear that up.)

When it comes to color rendering, it does a good job, as well as one can expect from instant print cameras.

Overall: ★★★★★

This camera is the clear winner for the price. It really allows you to do more with less.

That being said . . . I didn’t like the photos as much as I liked the Polaroid’s prints. There was just something about the size that didn’t feel right. It’s not something I can explain, so it most likely comes to an emotional attachment or nostalgia to the size of the Polaroid prints. The Fujifilm square prints are odd. While the Instax line of minis prints are familiar, like a business card, the SQ6 prints don’t feel right in my hand. It’s an odd place to be, because if I were to base it off enjoyment of the photos alone, I would pick the OneStep2. But as an overall experience (handling the camera, using it with the strap around my neck, finagling its size into normal activities) the SQ6 is the clear winner (aside from the right side viewfinder).

If you want to purchase, you can find great deals on Amazon here:

Polaroid OneStep2
Fujifilm Instax SQ6


So, while my conclusions were not exactly conclusive, I hope that my experiences and details help you to figure out which square format instant camera you would prefer. Which one would you buy?

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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My Empty Plate

God has some difficult lessons for me lately. I wish I was a faster learner, because these lessons are tough and tiring. For years, I’ve had a few personal wishes, dreams if you will. They are pretty situational and very specific to me and what I dream of for my future.

I’m not sure why, but one by one, those deeply held desires are not only being withheld from me, but they are being handed to others in a way that I see them intimately. It feels like I’m wishing for a cupcake with buttercream icing and pink sparkling sprinkles, or a warm, fresh from the oven piece of cheesecake with ice cold cherry topping and a little toothpick flag on top, or even a hot fudge sundae with chopped nuts, a brownie, a few slices of banana (not too much) and no cherry on top, just extra fudge and two oreos for garnish.

My desires, like those desserts, are very specific desires. They are also very private. I haven’t told anyone besides my husband what these are.

I feel like I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of other children who have cookies and pie and cake on their plates already. And not only do I not get dessert, the exact same secret wishes of dessert that I have in my head are given to others. The buttercream cupcake goes to the boy across the table from me. My dream sundae goes to the girl on my right. The rich and creamy cheesecake with the little toothpick flag is served to the boy on my left. They’re seated next to me, enjoying what my heart craved and dreamt up. But I didn’t tell them what I wanted. So how did they get it?

The chef knew.

The chef knew what everyone wanted and needed. And for reasons unknown to me, took the -exact- things I have been craving and gives them to those around me. At first it was just the cupcake. That was sad, but wow, it made that little boy happy. He must have needed it more than I did.

Then the chef came out with that delicious looking piece of cheesecake. I could smell the warmth. It had clearly just come out of the oven! It was smothered in cherry topping, and on top, pitched on the apex of the cherries like the crest of some climber’s victory, was the little toothpick flag.
It was so close to me now! Closer, closer . . . and then it was given to the girl next to me.

It seemed like a run of bad luck, until the third dessert I had dreamt of was given to the boy on my left. I sat there, gripping my hands under the table and staring at the plate in front of me, all while the sounds of joy and the scents of delightful desserts surrounded me.

It felt like little pieces of my heart had been torn up and distributed about to others. I decided to play it much safer, be more guarded, before the next stolen dream caught me unaware. “Maybe just a chocolate chip cookie?” I would wonder. Chocolate chip cookies were common and not at all difficult to whip up, not for the Master Chef. But the longer I sat and waited, the more I saw other children at the table get desserts. But not me. My little dessert plate sat alone and empty.

I should be grateful. In front of me is a balanced meal that is not only good for me, but it is delicious, too. I have plenty to keep my belly full and I even have a can of Coke for a sweet treat. I try to be thankful for the good meal in front of me, and focus on how good it is, and try to imagine how much work and thought the chef put into it just for my needs. The Chef even considered getting my favorite fork (I don’t like the short tong forks) and picked out my favorite plate, the delicate white one with the pretty blue flowers that remind me of Chinaware. If I look very, very far away, I can even see children who haven’t been served dinner yet. I certainly should be grateful.

I am thankful. I have joy. But many times, I am not happy. Why does God keep giving all of my secret desires to those near and dear to me, but deny me the simplest request? What is it that I am meant to gain by watching my dreams unfold and develop in the life of someone else?

I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. I hope I learn the lesson soon, because my heart is weary. This world is heavy and has lost its luster. I don’t want to be here. I wish that God would come back and usher us into that bright and beautiful Paradise of the perfected future earth. I long for a place free of suffering or heartache. I long to be perfected into a creature that no longer has these unmet desires. I’m so, so tired of wanting. I don’t want to want anymore.

I don’t want to want anymore.

So what do I do? How do I move on with this hole inside of me that aches as I see my hopes and dreams play out in front of me but are never mine?

I take what is on my plate and start naming each thing, no matter how small.

So that is what I will do.

I thank God for my husband. If ever I need assurance that God loves me, I can always look to the gift that is Nathan.

I thank God for my health insurance and my good doctor who cares about me.

I thank Him for my precious doggy, who at this moment is snoozing next to me, half hugging my ipad with one eye just a little open.

I thank God for some of the most beautiful weather we’ve had here in weeks. I had lunch outside today.

I thank God for my family and dear friends.

I’m thankful I get to see my precious Nichole in just a week.

I’m thankful for all the time I have to pursue and perfect my various hobbies and interests.

The more and more that I spend reflecting and really focusing on all the things I DO have on my plate, the more satisfying it all becomes. And more than that, I realize I have more than I could need just for myself. I may not have a big dessert or enough on my plate to feed five hundred, but I certainly have enough to share with one other, maybe two or three.

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Writing down my individual blessings is an exercise in gratitude I take for granted. The truth is, my brain does not naturally lean into an attitude of thankfulness, especially when I am battling a depressive episode. When I’m in the throws of mental health issues, it feels like I’m clawing up to the surface of the ocean only to gasp a partial breath before the next wave crashes into me, knocking me down into the dark depths where I must fight and claw again. But gratitude is like a life ring. It doesn’t matter how hard or fast the waves come. The life ring will stay afloat. It may bob for a second, but it is in its nature, its design, to stay above.

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

I just have to hold on.

It’s a choice. It does not make the waves any weaker or the storm less fierce. And, sometimes, I need someone to assist me in reaching it. But holding on to it, making the decision to reach for it, is up to me.

And it is up to you.

If your plate feels barren, and your heart aches, decide now to try. It doesn’t change the fact that my dreams are unmet, or that my heart aches when I am reminded of that. But it will keep you afloat through it all.

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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MAC & Disney collab – ALADDIN

So during my vacation, I stumbled upon THIS while at Disney Springs. At the time, it wasn’t open to the public. But on May 15th, guests will have the opportunity to be one of the first to shop the collaborative collection.

On MAC’s website, you can check out the different items available. I am in love with the lipsticks, particularly Friend Like Me, a neutral beige pink with a cool undertone.

The reveal will be next to The Boathouse. The closest parking will either be surface parking in front of Cirque de Soleil, or the Lime Garage. (If you park in the garage – which is free – try to get a spot on level 2. Level 2 has walking access right to Disney Springs!)

I am hoping I get a chance to get some early access and photos of the products for you!

If you were to shop this collection, what is your MUST HAVE item???

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No-Glue Pointed Elf Ears

There are a lot of reasons why you would pointed ears, and I don’t just mean dressing like an elf. What about hobbits, tieflings, vampires, orcs, gnomes, and so much more?! Maybe it’s just a fun way to spice up your DnD campaign. Of course, they also work for most elves, including the sort that bake cookies inside of a tree (seems like a safety violation but ok), assist Santa, or the fair folk of Rivendell.

Whenever I wear these ears, I get questions all the time about them. I thought it would be helpful to share with you how easy and cheap they are to use!

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here.

Me cosplaying as Lavellan from Dragon Age

The first time I wore them, people were so curious. Many even asked if they could touch them! (That might seem weird to you non-cosplayer types, but being able to feel the texture of something is really important if you plan on wearing it for several hours.) They are soft, flexible, and very lightweight. After wearing them to Ren Faire for several hours, I was not at all sore or irritated in any way. (I do have sensitive skin.)

The ears I used to start with are the CHILD’s size Legend of Zelda ears!

These ears are made of vinyl. While these ears are a pale flesh tone, you can paint or use makeup to change them to your needs. I’m making a (rather famous) blue Tiefling. Once I have them painted, I will update this post with more information on that. But keep in mind that since they are vinyl, you will need to use acrylic based paints for it to adhere.

Because they are also made for children, unless you are quite petite, you will need to do a little bit of (easy) modifications to get them to fit over your adult-sized ears. (And NO, I do NOT recommend the adult size! They are quite large and look comically huge. Unless you want comically huge.)

That’s what they look like when they are all packaged up. Right out the package, they look this:

Packaged above and opened below.

The pair below are the ones that I have slightly modified to better fit me. “But,” you say, “I see no difference!” To that I say, continue on!

Top: unmodified new out of package
Bottom: modified

The top pair are the brand new ones I just got out of the box. If you look at the back, you can see a slight difference. On the modified pair, I used a small pair of curved beauty scissors to trim the vinyl to increase the height of the opening. Oddly, the width on the right ear of the new pair is quite wide, but that doesn’t matter as much as getting the height correct. Always cut less than you think you need! You can always trim a bit more, but adding to it would be a huge pain.

That little flap is important. It’s what helps the ears stay on better. If you don’t plan on having a small piece of hair in front of the ears, this might not be an option for you. But once the hair is in place . . .

Ta-dah! Super easy, lightweight, and COMFORTABLE! I can even wear my glasses with them without any discomfort. They do cover the ear almost entirely, so while they do not obstruct your hearing, little things like your hair, glasses or hands that bump into the vinyl ears will be much louder. (Something to keep in mind if you have a headdress with hanging bits and bobs.)

So there you have it! Easy elf ears without glue, around $10, and comfortable, too. You can’t get much better than that!

Here’s the link again to buy them->https://amzn.to/2ItpUeo

Good luck!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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Women at War

Denouncing the Suppression of Powerful Women

There is an article zipping around my social media faster than wildfire in a dry hedge. Called, “Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel,” the author starts the article with the following:

” The most recent Marvel thriller, Captain Marvel, cannot be accused of hiding its uniform. In the lead actress’s own words, “It’s mythology, it’s story, and it’s the human experience on this large scale. And on top of it, they said they [directors and the powers that be at Disney] wanted to make, like, the biggest feminist movie of all time.” Written by women and led by a woman, Captain Marvel hoped to be for women what Black Panther was for the black community. “

Let’s first dissect this opening paragraph. It seems to me the author has an issue with the current state of the feminist movement, and if that is the case, so do I. There are too many instances of women using their influence to belittle men in the name of the feminist movement. But with those faults aside, feminism simply seeks to achieve what only God’s truth can: the treatment of men and women to be done with a sense of equal value of self and humanity. Depending on my audience, I will both say “I am a feminist” and “I am not a feminist,” but I’m not simply playing sides: I’m setting boundaries to what that person defines as “feminism” if it does not align with my idea of “feminism.” If someone says, “The future is female. Men just need to step aside and get used to it. I’m a feminist,” I would reply, “Then I am not a feminist.” Because I do not agree with their philosophy.

Christians and Feminism

Let’s put down some basic groundwork. In any culture, you can easily see how close they align to the truth of the Bible in relation to how the women flourish or wither. The God of the Bible elevates women to a position of worth. If women are suppressed, degraded, or abused as a matter of culture, that culture does not have the love of God. This is not something that is limited to third world countries or the monster of the economic jungle. In “churches,” I have seen women degraded, their God-given gifts suppressed at best and at worst, punished, all in the name of “righteousness.” “Women were made to serve and obey men, therefore . . .” has been the start to many oppressive examples of spiritual abuse.

When we denigrate a woman, we are in fact diminishing part of the image of God. When we exclude women, we exclude part of God. When we put women down, we tarnish the image of God.

Christine Caine

What a disgrace to the truth of God and to the pinnacle act of His very good Creation!

Feminism ≠ Misandry

I have established my belief of feminism to not be abusive to men, and that the Bible supports the uplifting treatment of women. Let’s look at some definitions so we can all be on the same page.

noun: feminism

  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

noun: misandry

  1. dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male sex).

Since the author is writing for a Christian website, and the Bible supports equal, eternal worth of men and women as very good creations made in the image of God, the author can only infer that Brie Larson’s quote about the movie refers to misandry, which could be read as “the biggest man-hating movie of all time.”

Except . . . it wasn’t?

The author further writes,

I do not blame Marvel for inserting the trending feminist agenda into its universe. Where else can this lucrative ideology — which contrasts so unapologetically with reality — go to be sustained, if not to an alternative universe? Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes. The alternative universe where an accident infuses the heroine with superhuman powers, however, seems to stand as a reasonable apologetic for the feminist agenda. “

The author seems to be falling into the exact same trap that too many modern-day misled feminists do; that equality or feminism means to cut everyone down to the same level. Imagine if there were a height standard in the NBA to keep those who were at a natural advantage not be permitted to play. It would also mean that anyone not born to that exact height would be eliminated out of something outside of their control instead of being measured by what they can accomplish. That would be absurd!

Equality ≠ Sameness

No one can be exactly the same. What a boring world that would be. No one is going to grow up with the same affluence, the same opportunities, talents, advantages, or abilities. But nowhere in the movie was that the message. The author simultaneously accuses the film of perpetuating the false ideology of sameness but at the same time, calls it a failure in that attempt.

“So, did the movie live up to the hype? Did it come close to being “the biggest feminist movie ever,” the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the movement? Squint as I might, I can’t imagine how it did.”

So was it the biggest man-hating movie that he sets it up to be, or wasn’t it???

I’m honestly not sure whether I agree with this man or not. But I can tell you one thing for certain, no where in the film were men belittled or prejudiced against because of their gender.

In fact, it is quite the opposite: throughout the film, it was misogyny that was the norm, with Carol Danvers being punished and berated for being or doing things commonly associated with masculinity. She was too competitive. Too daring. Too confident.

Too much.

The idea of a woman as anything less than a man completely devalues her. How do you measure, “less confidence than a man,” “less courageous than a man,” “less competitive than a man?” The idea is absurd. Women are not less than. And it was for those qualities that the character Carol Danvers was mistreated as a child and berated and belittled as an adult, because it were those qualities that drove her to take bold actions.

But is jumping bikes over ramps, or hiking over a mountain, or flying jets, or any of these activities actually something women should not do? Since the author is a Christian as I am, I look through the lens of the Bible and come up short: nowhere does it forbid females to do . . . any of those things.

Not once.

What is Femininity?

The author makes a claim against the movie shifting society’s values of femininity to something “new” and apparently dangerous.

“As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women . . . Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men.”

This begs the question: what does it mean to be “strong like men?” What is that standard for that? How does my friend, inspiring athlete, and First Female Titan Emily Andzulis fit into the equation? Is she strong like a man? Or is she strong like a woman? I know plenty of men who aren’t able to do half of what this incredibly dedicated woman can do. So . . . if she exceeds the ability of some men, does that mean she should tone it down? And if the value of a man is what we seek as the standard, which man? Because I happen to be quite an accomplished woman with talent, training, and intelligence that exceeds the standard – and yes, that standard includes men.

So which man or men is it Disney is asking little girls to be like?

It would be a far better thing to say, “[Disney encourages us to] abandon the traditional princess vibe (which was set up during a European rule in a society that often forced women to look and dress a certain way that killed them slowly), and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong.

Women can be strong. Women can be smart. Women can be cruel and abusive. Women can accomplish as much as any man can because we, too, are made in the image of God with volition and, whether those choices be to use our God-ordained abilities for good and eternity or for self and the temporal, determine the effect we have on our communities. God made men and women distinct for the sole purpose of His honor and glory and a relationship with Him.

Is a woman strong and bold? Then she is inherently strong and bold as a woman. Is a man kind and full of hospitality? Then he is kind and hospitable as a man. There is no other possibility.

The only comparison we should make with regards to gender is, “Am I acting with the Spirit of Christ?”

Seeing What You Want

I think the author finally gets around to his real gripe with the movie in the latter half of his article. He states,

“The ideology that sends Brie Larson soaring fictionally around outer space has sent our real daughters, mothers, and sisters — devoid of such superpowers — to war to serve and die in place of men.”

Maybe? I mean, does he have evidence that this empowering attitude and appreciation of the potential of womankind is what has propelled women to take rank among the enlisted force of our nation’s military? How is he sure that isn’t the misogyny that has pushed them into that corner? Isn’t it more likely that the constant depreciation of women and their capabilities that tried to compress them into a quiet corner were the catalyst that instead shot them to the front lines where they can finally say, “I told you so?” Why bother to cast blame when it can be found everywhere instead of celebrating the immense amount of good such an “ideology” can bring?

I celebrate a movie whose ideology says “girls can fly planes,” “girls can be kind,” “girls can run fast,” or “girls can be strong.” I cheer on the team of women who created a film whose message rings clear with, “girls don’t have to prove their worth.” Carol Danvers’ story resonates with me in ways that Wonder Woman cannot. I know what it is like to have men (and sometimes women) tell you “you can’t do that” or “maybe you’re not right for this” only to then turn right around and learn how to do it anyway, not out of spite, but because I knew somewhere in my soul identity, that I was created to do so, so much, and I wasn’t going to let their disbelief or misogynistic ideals limit what God had intended for me.

Queens Don’t Intimidate Kings

I love my husband, and for those that know us, there is no doubt that my husband is the spiritual authority in our home. Ultimately, we both know he is responsible to God for what our family does. In some homes, that responsibility creates fear, and that fear drives a need for power which results in a domination over the spirit of women in a way that does not align with Scriptures. Women are not God’s appointed servants to men.

In as short as I can in this post so as not to derail from the original topic, let’s go over what the word behind the translation “help meet” is.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

The Hebrew word behind the translation, “help meet,” is “ezer kenegdo.” It is also in other translations termed, “helper” or “suitable companion.” But neither of these spark any true excitement in my soul – neither do they bring to life the beauty behind the words God said when speaking of the Woman He was to shape.

John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries says, “‘It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means “lifesaver.” The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.'”

That is certainly a more thrilling and lofty calling than simply being someone’s subservient. To be fair, the word is very difficult to translate. A good way to get a richer understanding of the words are to see how else they are used throughout the Scriptures. As it happens, the word “ezer” is used 21 times in the Old Testament.

Jimena of EzerKenegdo.org has summarized the context of usage into three categories: 1, used for the woman, 2, used for nations that came to military aid to Israel in a time of need, and 3, used to describe God as Israel’s helper. She further explains,

What these Bible verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context. The Ezer is a warrior. You are a warrior.

The Hebrew word Kenegdo means opposite as to him or corresponding as to him. A woman is no better or less than the man. Man and woman are equally and uniquely created, a perfect fit.

Wow. That is infinitely more exciting, rewarding, and dare I say, dangerous, than the simple thought of being a servant.

You see, from the very beginning, battle lines were drawn between our Enemy and womanhood. Satan has a special interest in bringing down women because of his hatred for her as the bearer of the Savior.

I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.” 

Genesis 3:15, GNT

To deny that there is a special target on the back of a woman is to deny Scripture. When people say women aren’t supposed to go to war, they ignore the obvious: we already are. Satan has been gunning us down, trying to take us out, and use any means to get there, even perverting the use of Man, our protectors, to be the very thing that kills us.

If men are afraid or threatened by powerful women, then they don’t appreciate the special calling we have next to their aside as allies and “warriors at their side,” or they do not have their identity and significance seated in the completed work of Christ.

Kings aren’t threatened by Queens.

A Hero(ine) of Our Own

Have you ever gone to the gym and felt intimidated the others already in there, breaking a sweat, with their bulging muscles already pumped and primed? It is really hard to see yourself being able to lift what they lift because the difference in the chasm of comparison is too great.

But if they showed you a picture of themselves before they started their routine? What if they ended up just being your average Joe? (sorry to all the Joe’s and Joseph’s and Josephine’s out there – you are all valid and worthwhile.) Suddenly, you see something of you in the person they used to be. That chasm has shrunk, and now, you start thinking of ways to cross it. It now all seems possible.

That is representation in a nutshell.

For years, half of the human spectrum has had no other option but to look at male heroes and make connections and draw lessons of character from men. And now that a female heroine has arisen, men seem to squawk and quack and clamor that it’s a vile detriment to society. But for women and girls? We see a part of ourselves in Carol Danvers. We see the little girl who was mistreated, bullied, and laughed at simply because of her birthright as woman.

To me, it seems the author missed the point of the movie entirely and looked for a way to jump on board a popular topic to harp about a personal gripe to a larger audience. I’m not here to debate the “place” of a woman on the frontlines – I’m too busy fighting the war right here. But you know what the message of the movie really was? “You can’t always choose what is given to you, but you can choose what you do with it.”

And that is a message that anyone can use.

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Star Wars Celebration: Cosplay Prep Guide

Star Wars​ Celebration Chicago is quickly approaching. It’s just one month away! To help you prep for the best week of your cosplay career, here are some helpful tips to help you along the way!

This post may contain affiliate links. For more on that, check here.

1) Monitor your hydration

With only one month between now and the hustle and bustle that is #SWCC, you need to make sure you are getting your body prepared. Most of the time, cosplays require a lot more from your body. There is nothing quite so draining as hauling bins or bags full of heavy cosplay supplies and luggage, only to walk all day for many days, covered in paint or thick heavy clothes. You will SWEAT! Use an app like FitBit or Water Drink Reminder on Google Play to help keep you on track. And don’t forget to bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it up at the water fountains for free. And when bottled water is for sale upward of $4 a bottle, trust me, you’ll be able to save all that extra cash for great souvenirs! This water bottle below is less than the cost of four overpriced bottles of water, and you need to drink almost double that a day for healthy hydration when you’re sweating!

2) Continue a nightly routine – or start one

This is especially important if your costume requires makeup, body paint, glue, or a prosthetic. These take an extra toll on your skin, so make sure you are prepped. Be sure to use a quality moisturizer that is non-comedogenic so not to block your pores, and use a simple, gentle face wash every night. If your costume requires makeup or face paint, consider doing a facial scrub this week! To keep your skin in tip-top shape, watch what you eat for this next month and avoid any foods that are high in unhealthy fat, sugar, or cause inflammation.

3) Check your supplies and do pre-con maintenance

This is critical at this stage. Make sure that your makeup brushes are washed and dried before packing them. Do an inventory of your supplies. It’s almost never too late to get 2-day shipping on Amazon Prime or Wal-Mart if you find you’re missing an essential item. And if you really need something you’re missing, check with your lodging. Some hotels let you ship packages in your name during your stay! Check your costume and ensure that everything is in tip-top shape. Are the buttons secure? Is everything freshly laundered and prepped?

4) Stock up on supplies

Celebration is going to be a great time, and you can make it easier to enjoy yourself by keeping a few basics in your bag.

*Snacks/one-pack meals (I like The Complete Cookie and Lara Bars)
*Water bottle
*Painkiller of choice
*Makeup/cosplay emergency kit
*Camera
*Portable chargers or cords for devices
*Poster tube
*Collapsible bag for additional purchases

Keeping at least these few essentials will be sure to keep you prepared for fun on the con floor.

And speaking of the con floor,

5) Familiarize yourself with the venue

Get a map and print it out or save it to your mobile device. Take note of where you need to be and when, and give yourself plenty of time to get through lines. Take stock of where the bathrooms are (you’ll need them if you’re properly hydrated!) and know where stairs or elevators are located.

6) Manage money matters

If you’re travelling, be sure to contact your financial institution and let them know! As a former banker, I can’t tell you how many times someone’s card had been used out of state and the automatic systems and securities in place prevented further use only for it to end up that the client had simply traveled without calling ahead.

You’ll also want to have at least $100 worth of cash on hand. Why? Because if with all of the precautions, sometimes technology just sucks. And you will be at CELEBRATION. This is the con of a LIFETIME. You don’t want to see that signed edition of the poster for sale and not be able to purchase because it of some technical glitch.

It is also a smart idea to set up payment apps available for your mobile device, like your phone. Between Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, there is probably a way to set up a payment option right on your cell! To be honest, I haven’t been able to locate my wallet for about a week (oops), but I haven’t gone without buying necessities; I have my Paypal connected to my phone, and through the Samsung Pay app, it operates like a debit card, pin security included. The benefits to this payment apps is that you can store all of the relevant payments options in one place, such a credit card, a debit card, and Paypal, without having to worry about your wallet. Besides, most of us never leave the house without our phones!

Bring a credit card. In addition to your other money solutions, having a credit will help in many ways. If someone does manage to steal your credit card, they haven’t tapped into your liquid assets (like your bank account) and you can still be sure to pay the bills. Also, many credit card companies such a MasterCard, Visa, etc offer extra protections and insurance for you during travel, like roadside assistance if your rental breaks down, etc. Be sure to confirm with your credit card company if these perks apply to you.

And last, but not least . . .

7) Patience (and FUN!)

There are going to be thousands of people from all over the world and long, overnight queues. Take time now to rest and take it easy, and give yourself the option to be human. Your character may be a super hero, but your body has needs. Take time to pay attention to what those are and take stock of your body every hour that you are in costume. By taking care of yourself, you’ll set yourself up for a fun and safe Star Wars Celebration.

So what do you think? Are they any other tips you would add? Sound off in the comments below!

Have fun at Celebration!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script

P.S. I’ve got a downloadable checklist for you right here!

P.P.S. Watch below if you want details on how I do my Hera makeup. It’s a long, real time video with no edits. If you want to learn specific parts, there is a video directory in the pinned comment!