Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just Another New Year's Eve

I wrote the following poem/prayer 25 years ago at age 19. With wishes for your 2007 to be blessed, I share it with you:

My Father,

As I approach another year
I want to take time to reflect on the one now leaving.
I want to remember that You woke me up several times
(When my alarm clock failed to),
The kindness You prompted me to do that cemented a new friendship,
The aggravation that came my way and how You reminded me that You
were still God and could handle small things too.
The smile a stranger gave me on one of those “typical” Mondays,
The patience that caused me to hold my tongue,
The bothered conscience that prevented a mistake
And the guilty one that helped me learn from another.
The events that You allowed me in on.
The joy that comes from a mountaintop experience
And the love that pulls me through the valleys.

I want to remember that You let me run my life –my way
And then wiped my tears after I fell flat on my face.
But most of all, let me remember
How much You love me.
That You’ve planned my life out
And care about the details.
Remind me I do have a purpose
That I am where I am for a reason
And that You will always be beside me –
Until I move.

On this New Year’s Eve as others sing the chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”
And wrap their arms around their loved ones,
Let me sing a song of praise
To the One who has wrapped His arms around me.

Alisa Dean (Beatty) ~ 12/31/81

P. S. My hubby has linked to a good New Year's sermon.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Year In Review, Part 2

There's so many more blessings to recognize from this year. I was able to spend some time with a long-time and dear friend, attended one of the festivities of my childhood church's 100th Anniversary Celebration (and saw the man I called "Bro B", my pastor of 28 years).

I cheered as my brother-in-law won a gold medal for the 2nd year in a row in cycling (made team owner "Papa John" pretty happy too!)

And there was so much more!

A very special opportunity/blessing for Bobby came in October: One aspect of my hubby’s “philosophy of ministry” is that the relationship between pastor and congregation is that of a marriage – you’re in covenant with one another and so you stick it out with each other and go through both the good and the bad together. One of the many good things for him in this marriage is the continuity of generations. He looked forward to baptizing members’ children and later marrying them off. This year, he had the opportunity to do just that - marry off a young man we have watched grow up.

On an absolutely gorgeous day in Autumn, Bobby performed the wedding of David and Alishia Pugh. The Pugh family are dear, dear friends of ours. To be able to watch David grow from a rambunctious kid to a great young man has been a blessing. His new bride Alishia is a wonderful young lady.

I was bah-humbugy this Christmas but my sweet hubby helped me get in the swing of thing with a whirlwind trip to see Christmas lights in Tennessee.

2007 is filling up already. Another Senior Trip (tough life, but somebody’s got to do it!), another trip out West (this time to the Great Tetons and Yellowstone Park) and two more weddings!

When I think about how often I fail the Lord, it's so humbling to consider all His blessings.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)

A Year In Review, Part 1

It’s that time of year again – time for taking stock of one year and planning for the next. I’m sharing my attempts at this process with you! This year was full of wonderful blessings and opportunities.

Bobby was again asked to be a chaperone on the TCA Senior Trip (and I got to tag along) which meant we had a free trip to Charleston and Hilton Head!

Another great blessing was an elder’s willingness to give up a Saturday to come and cut down a tree for us!

The most memorable thing for me this year happened in June! We went with my mom on a dream vacation out West: flew into Las Vegas, over to Zion National Part(Utah), north rim of the Grand Canyon (AZ) and Bryce Canyon (Utah) ,

then made a loop through Colorado, which is just one big postcard – So beautiful! From Marroon Bells to the Continental Divide. . .

Up to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Alpine Station and Bear Lake

We loved Estes Park and discovered a surprisingly entertaining Ghost Town Museum in Colorado Springs:

Then it was the nerve-testing trek up Pike's Peak! But the view was worth it:

Our Colorado adventure continued with a drive along the Million Dollar Highway (which scared me to death!) and a walk across the Royal Gorge Bride (which scared Mom and Bobby!)

Next was The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, our nation's newest national park:

From there we made a side trip to New Mexico where I had a reunion with a couple I had stayed with 20 years ago during my summer missionary days. I loved seeing Aunt Frannie and Virgil again (almost 20 years to the day I had first met them). Seeing the green gate leading to their home was a very special moment for me.

The trip ended with a stop at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon before flying back out of Vegas.

As a child in the 60s/70s, I remember watching the Wonderful World of Disney and hearing Rex Allen narrate tours of the National Parks. It was simply wonderful to see some of them in person!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And the Beatty's Top Christmas Movie Is

White Christmas!

Start with a classic Christmas song, throw in Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, mix well. Add heaping spoonfuls of delicious Irving Berlin songs and you have a Yuletide treat for the ages.

We love everything about this movie! Bobby and I both are a bit of WWII buffs, enamored with the Greatest Generation’s era, so a sentimental story about a good-guy WWII general and his ever-loyal men is right up our alley. And, as an added bonus, you also get a romantic comedy and wonderful dance sequences!

I have always said Gene Kelly was my favorite dancer, but each year when I watch Danny Kaye dancing to The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing I feel the need to rethink my position. He seems to be doing the number effortlessly – just out having some fun. Keep in mind the long takes and admiration for Kaye’s dancing ability is doubled!

[Aside: The film is shot like a play with long scenes film through one camera – notice how few cutaways there are!)

Tap dancing!!! I love tap dancing (which is why I think the Choreography number is such a hoot). Mandy, there’s a minister handy. . . I just want to get up and dance with them! And then there's the black dress. Oh my goodness! I love that dress.

My favorite song, however, is Count Your Blessings:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small,
I think of when I had none at all,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

That’s just such a good reminder when I start to get down – I have so much for which to be grateful.

The movie draws to a close with a reprise of a song performed at the beginning of the film, only this time it’s twice the heart-tugging moment. When retired Major General Thomas Waverly sees his old command appearing before his eyes (in a display of love and continuing loyalty), he tears up – I flat out cry! Even after all these years, knowing all the songs (and most of the dialogue!), I still cry when the “old man” is serenaded:

We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go
As long as he wants to go opposite to the foe
We’ll stay with the old man wherever he wants to stay
As long he stays away from the battle’s fray
Because we love him, we love him
Especially when he keeps us on the ball
And we’ll tell the kiddies we answer duties' call
With the grandest son of a soldier of them all.
Of course, the finale is the ensemble singing White Christmas as the long-needed snow falls on the inn grounds on Christmas Eve.

Interested in some White Christmas trivia? Go here.

Christmas Traditions, Part II

As I mentioned in a previous post, my hubby and I have as one of our Christmas traditions the watching of certain movies. Here's favorite #2: It's A Wonderful Life.

What can you say about a classic? I've watched it every Christmas for years, and yet each year it seems fresh to me. Its themes remain so current and relevant. We all have had dreams deferred, dreams dashed and dreams reimagined. C'mon, be honest - haven't you at least once in your life said, "It'd be better if I'd never been born" or words to that effect? Truth be told, we've all been on that bridge with George Bailey, facing a problem that seems insurmountable and seeing only the black water below - hopeless.

I've been there. And I, too, was rescued by the Lord who brought hope to me via my own "Clarence," good friends who wouldn't leave me no matter how hard I tried to push them away.

I have always adored Jimmy Stewart and George Bailey is one of my favorite characters, but it is Donna Reed who is the unsung hero of the movie. Mary is George's rock. She is steadfastly faithful. She's in his corner, handing him their honeymoon money to save the company. Turning a delapidated house into a makeshift night in the tropics and mostly remind George to look at the bright side. When despair overtakes George and his response is ugly, it is Mary who prays for him. Mary images the Spirit here - working a good work in George, or at least trying to. And it is to Mary that George's thoughts race when he gets his wish of being erased.

It's A Wonderful Life reminds us that we aren't measured by our bank account, the title on our business card or our zip code. Its unspoken question is, how have we lived?

It's A Wonderful Life reminds us that the day-to-day things we do in our lives could have long-term consequences that we could never imagine.

It's A Wonderful Life acknowledges the Divine Providence that governs our lives and the One who cares for us.

And lastly, It's A Wonderful Life gives us one more reason to smile every time we hear a bell ring!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Can't Everyday Be Like Christmas

Yesterday I was pulling out of the parking lot of Flag Fork Herb Farm where I had enjoyed a lovely lunch with my boss and fellow transcriptionists, when I checked my cell phone and saw I had missed a call from my hubby. I called Bobby and he said cryptically, “How fast can you be home and get ready to go?” Huh? Seems my hubby had decided we were going to take a road trip to Gatlinburg!

For years we have talked about just buzzing down to the Smokies for an overnight trip to see the lights of Winterfest in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. This year, we were going to do it.

I rushed home and by 2:40 p.m. we were on the road. Even with encountering two accidents on I-75, we made the turn into Pigeon Forge at 6:20 p.m. There was still a hint of the setting sun over in the west, but not enough to damper the light displays that were beginning to come into view.

Every business, every hotel, every restaurant seemed to be in on the festivities! There were falling snowflakes on each side of the main thoroughfare. Then, what in the world? What’s with the parrots on top of phones. Wait. There’s Five Golden Rings!! We had just missed the Four Calling Birds! Yep, we were a little slow on the uptake, so we had to turn around and catch the partridge, turtle doves and French hens before proceeding.

Pigeon Forge had huge light displays up in the hills and down every side road. Behind the Old Mill Restaurant was “Patriot’s Park” with light displays of a Iwo Jima, the Liberty Bell, and many other iconic U.S.A. scenes.

Dixie Stampede was awash in Yuletide cheer – the cowboy show was now a Christmas extravaganza complete with camels!

Two huge candles flanked either side of the “Gatlinburg Welcomes You” light display as we entered that city. Here, every other light pole was transformed into ice-covered trees. The lighted snowflake arches over the streets were so ornate, I thought at first they were tiaras!

We spent part of our evening sitting in The Village people watching. The night before the first day of winter found us sitting comfortably outside in longsleeved shirts and sweaters, no coat required!

It was a whirlwinded trip. We left early the next day and were home within minutes of exactly 24 hours from our departure. BUT... what a nice Christmas present! For a few hours, I was a little girl again walking in a fanciful, almost fairytale setting and recapturing a childlike wonder for this, the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas Traditions, Part I

My hubby and I have a few Christmas traditions, one of which is watching certain movies every year. I'll talk about our favorite in a later post, but #3 in our top trio is The Family Man starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni (with scene-stealing Jeremy Piven and the always wonderful Don Cheadle).

I wanna say this is a modern retelling of It's a Wonderful Life, but that doesn't quite get it. One reviewer suggested a redone Scroooged, but that's not quite it either. This sweet, funny and wistful movie is both of those and more.

In it, Cage's character, Jack Campbell, is a powerful mover and shaker with fabulous wealth who, after saying he has everything he needs, gets a "glimpse" of just how wealthy he really could have been. The Wall Street mogul wakes up Christmas morning to find himself living in his worst nightmare: middle class suburbia set in Hell (otherwise known as New Jersey). He has to "figure things out" if he wants to get back to his real life.

Sure, it's predictable, but the scenes with "Jack" and his daughter "Annie" are heart-tugging delights and, as the emotional anchor in the film, Tea Leoni is just wonderful!

While not a Christian movie (has one scene of thinly veiled nudity and at least a couple instances of profanity including an F-bomb and one G-d), it does, however, have real Christian overtones. Without spoiling the film, notice the background when Cage's and Cheadle's characters talk. And pay attention to snow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rudolph, Santa & Me

For as long as I can remember, I have watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer each December. I know all the words to all the songs and sing along. The words are so hopeful and happy:

There's always tomorrow for dreams to come true, believe in your dreams come what may. There's always tomorrow and so much to do and so little time in a day. We all pretend the rainbow has an end and you'll be there my friend one day. . .

Or another favorite:

Have a holly, jolly Christmas! It's the best time of the year. I don't know if there'll be snow, but have a cup of cheer. . .

Growing up, it seemed Mom, Karen and I always put up the Christmas tree on the night Rudolph aired. It wasn't planned, it just seemed to work out that way. Back then, Mom put icicles on the tree and I can still hear her saying, "Girls, one at a time - don't glob them on!" I'm a little sad that most of today's kids don't know what Christmas tree icicles are.

Not only do I have a DVD copy of Rudolph, I also own another Christmas claymation classic, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town narrated by Fred Astaire with voices by Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn. This little gem is surprising in that it blatantly references the true meaning of Christmas. I know all the songs in this production as well. The lyrics to my favorite song have a strikingly evangelical tone.

Let me set the stage: The Winter Warlock's icy heart has melted due to the kindness showed him by Kris Kringle. He says he feels his heart changing from bad to good, but is fearful it won't last because "I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart." Kris reassures his new friend in song:

Just put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking cross the floor.
Just put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking out the door.
If you want to change your direction, if your time of life is at hand.
Well don't be the rule be the exception, a good way to start is to stand

The Winter Warlock then sings:

If I want to change the reflection I see in the mirror each morn,
you mean it's just my election to vote for a chance to be reborn?

I look forward to watching these two shows every year!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Before 9/11, There Was December 7

A group of Pearl Harbor survivors will gather for what is being billed as the "Final Farewell" today. The men, most in their 80s and 90s, will again pay tribute to their fellows brothers in arms who fell in the attack 65 years ago. Here's a story on the gathering.

My sister recently emailed me original photos of Pearl Harbor during and after the attack including the photo above.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Shades of Grey's

Okay, so I don’t want this to turn into a Grey’s Anatomy blog, but I cried through most of the last episode.

It was all about family – the ones we’re born into and the ones we create. It was about friendship and love and forgiveness and self-doubt and pride and all those real issues that make me keep watching it even when I know the lifestyles are wrong.

There was Dr. Bailey, hurt and vindictive, wanting justice and snarling at the mercy being shown to two sinners, as it were. Nothing new under the sun. Jonah was doing this way back when. Dr. Bailey being reminded by the Chief of mercy shown to her and the Chief’s words being very reminiscent of Jesus’ “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

There was Meredith, tending to her half-sister and caring for the woman and her mother, even as she resents them taking her place in her father’s life. Resisting the kindness they extend with cold professionalism, while feeling a tug in their direction nevertheless.

There was George. Trying to care for his family while resenting being in this position, angry at his professional idol for falling off the pedestal, angry at his friend’s duplicity, angry at his family for their ignorance, angry at Callie, just angry at the world. I’ve been there.

Christina and Burke. Professional and personal relationships intertwined and collided. Loving someone when they’ve hurt you.

All this and more - anger, love, betrayal, truth, right and wrong, loyalty, respect, fairness, justice, mercy – all being played out in a wonderfully crafted script.

Even non-Christians can’t escape the Gospel and Truth. They write it in their songs, plays, movies and television shows. I am amazed at the clear glimpse we get into the human heart from this show and how real the characters are to me. I see friends, family and myself in them.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

God and the Stripper

The ABC News Magazine “20/20” featured a series of “Life After” vignettes recently. There was the life after being a child star, life after being a celebrity, life after eating disorders, life after football. The one that I found most intriguing, however, was titled: Life After Sin.

Prominently featured was a beautiful, Pam-Anderson-twin blonde named Heather Veitch. This former stripper, dubbed a “holy hottie” by the 700 Club, still goes to the clubs, but this time she’s the paying customer! “I buy a lap dance and instead of receiving the dance, I spend the time talking to the girls about God.”

Heather, a single mom, wanted a way out and did so by graduating from beauty school, marrying her boyfriend and going to church. “I became a judgmental jerk for Jesus... I was like, ‘That’s sin, and that’s a sin, and that’s a sin. . . I was no fun.”

A stripper friend’s death from alcoholism left Heather guilt ridden. “. . .I ran away from a burning building: I escaped it and all my friends are inside, and I didn’t care... I needed to go back because nobody cared.” Heather tells strippers to come to church and that they don’t need to give up their lifestyle to come to church.

I was taken aback by that line at first. Continue stripping while going to church?! Then I remembered what my childhood pastor said, “Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” We don’t expect a person with a terrible illness to get well before entering a hospital – how can we expect a sinner to “clean up” before treatment, as it were? If the Gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit will take care of the lifestyle. The person will either leave it or leave church.

Veitch sums it up: “It the glutton and the cheater and the liar can all walk into church and feel comfy and have a seat, well so can the stripper.”

For the full article or video, go here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Van Til, Lewis and Soaps

Cornelius Van Til wrote as time goes on people will become more and more epistemologically self-conscious, that is, they will start living more and more in terms with their worldview.

C. S. Lewis expressed similar sentiments when he prophesied as time marches on if you were to enter history at some point in the future, the lines between good and evil would be more sharply drawn than they are now or were in the past. There will be less and less elbow room between good and evil with good getting gooder and bad getting badder!

This was brought home to me on a small scale when I tuned in to a television show I had watched faithfully over 20 years ago. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I was a “Luke & Laura” fan back in General Hospital’s heyday.

Flash forward 25 years. The re-marriage was a sweet and tender affair, however, what garbage was endured to view it! Currently one of the show’s main heroes is a mobster – 25 years ago Luke and Laura were on the run because they were fighting the mob. 25 years ago the soap had a decent writing, an actual plot and true heroes and heroines fighting for right against wrong. Adultery happened – but there was always a price to be paid. Even in soaps – sin had consequences. Not today. I never considered myself na├»ve, but good grief! Soft porn available on the three free television stations in the middle of the afternoon.

There's comfort in the fact that the ratings for soaps are plunging and their budgets are being slashed. Production quality is being reduced to the story quality - which is awful.

So . . . Luke, Laura, it was fun. Been nice knowing you. But if there was ever any doubt - we are so done.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Huguenot Garden

A few years ago, I became infected by the genealogy bug. I began questioning my older family members, viewing a trip to the family cemetary as research, and searching the Internet for all my immediate family surnames. In some cases, I regretted the search - too many horse thieves and scoundrels! However, I was proud of my maternal grandmother's lineage which included one of the first Presbyterian pastors in what would become the United States.

My paternal grandmother's lineage was also a source of pride, although I'm sure my ancestors would bristle at being prideful about them. They were Huguenots, French Protestants, who suffered persecution and yet remained faithful, even as they were forced to leave their homeland to stay true to their Reformed faith. Theirs is a faith-inspiring history. They have an emblem, the Huguenot Cross, which is rich in meaning. A good friend visited some Huguenot locales in France and brought a Huguenot Cross charm home for me. I treasure it.

I was reminded of this history on Reformation Sunday this year. My hubby preaches on heroes of the faith each year as we celebrate the Protestant Reformation. This year, he shared with us the Huguenot Legacy, a legacy of faithfulness, steadfastness and perseverance even unto death. He had in his library a children's book, The Huguenot Garden, which he had read and encouraged me to read as well. Tonight, I did just that.

The Huguenot Garden by Douglas Jones, III is a lovely children's book that adults should read. Told through the eyes of two twin girls, Renee and Albret Martineau, it is the story of a Huguenot family in La Rochelle, France just as Louis XIV started his full-on repression of the French Protestant church. The book is historic fiction about the persecution and challenges faced by this small Reformed community.

At one point, Jones' describes a Huguenot worship service: "Words - in all their power and elegance - surrounded and completely filled each person. Words - in song, prayer, exhortation, and preaching - richly drew the congregation into sweet union and communion with their God." How appropriate to describe worship in terms of words - our Lord is described likewise in the gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

At one point, the father is trying to explain religious persecution and evil to his young children. His words are a wonderful prayer:

"Remember, children, what we've learned before. After Adam's sin, God promised that there would be a long war between the people of the woman and the people of the serpent - between the people of God and the people of the enemy. There are only two kinds of people in the world - friends of God and enemies of God. Some enemies are very kind and decent on the outside, though they oppose God in their hearts. So, too, some people pretend on the outside to be friends of God, but on the inside they do not love God's commandments. Only God knows, and we pray that the Lord will change enemies into friends and that He will clean our hearts and make us faithful for his glory."

You can read more about The Huguenot Garden here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Growing up with Luke & Laura

This Thursday, November 16, at 3 p.m., I will be sitting in front of my TV watching the "remarriage" of Lucas Lorenzo Spencer and Laura Webber Baldwin Spencer (Wait! Was she married to a Cassadine or just kidnapped by one? Hmmm. . .)

I was one of the millions of fans in the late 70s and early 80s who were captivated by the star-crossed lovers. These were the pre-VCR/Tivo days, so from September to May, I would rush home from high school to catch the last 10-15 minutes of the soap. During the summer, the world stopped between 3 and 4 p.m. to watch the "Lovers on the Run" and later the "Ice Princess" saga.

They were a phenomenon - Elizabeth Taylor crashed the wedding! General Hospital's ratings surpassed most primetime shows during the L&L heyday! Theirs was a love-conquers-all story with the fairytale wedding. Alas, it was a soap after all, so happiness was shortlived. My fascination waned (although there was that Robert Scorpio cutie. . .), college was more fun than sitting in front of a TV, and Luke and Laura and I went our separate ways.

As Luke, Anthony Geary's trademark curls are shorn and his hair is grey. Gene Francis' "Laura" is now a grandmother. We've gotten old together. So Thursday, I will reminisce with old friends and throw some rice at my TV.

Happy 25th, Luke & Laura!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Honor To Whom Honor Is Due

An edict by President Eisenhower changed what had been Armistice Day to Veterans' Day and designated a celebration to be observed on November 11, 1954.

Growing up in a John-Wayne-flag-waving-love-it-or-leave-it family, I have a deep and abiding respect and appreciation for the men and women of our Armed Forces, Americans who still believe there are ideas and ideals worth more than life itself.

Today has been set aside by our nation to honor these men and women who have risked life and limb for this country. Rather than dwelling on cynicism about our political system, today let's remember noble goals and callings.

The third verse of America the Beautiful says it well:

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self,
Their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Matters

In Sunday School this week, my hubby talked about how people of His day viewed Jesus. When they called Him the "Son of David" it meant something different to them than it does to us looking back on His earthly ministry. The Jews at the time knew of God's promises to David for a future heir to rule on his throne. "Son of David" to them meant a new king, a new political messiah to restore their kingdom. None expected God's very Son, a crucified messiah, to set up a new kingdom.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. . . that includes in politics. I fear today many Christians are like the 1st century Jews, we are looking for a political solution to a spiritual problem. Getting the right man in office is a great goal - but it won't change people's hearts. The Christian Right rallied to get conservative Reagan in office only to have Clinton wipe away much of the work with a few strokes of his pen on liberal legislation.

Today exercise your constitutional right and vote, but don't set your hopes on a politician - our hope is in the Lord.

My hubby has linked to a very good article on things to keep in mind as you enter the voting booth. You can read his blog and get the link here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Recently a friend of mine was playing a word association game with her teenaged niece and said, "Virgin" to which the niece replied, "Ugly." Hmmm. Seems purity has fallen on hard times.

Welcome to the 21st century where hot, sexy, "booty-ful" and the like are the adjectives girls long to have applied to them. The popular BRAT line of dolls seem to be modeled on Julia Roberts and her coworkers at the beginning of Pretty Woman!

Pretty, classy, elegant, ladylike. . . heard these phrases applied to anyone but grandmothers recently? Fortunately some of our sisters in the Catholic community are fighting back against what is called Brittanywear, 'Ho' Fashion and Hooker Chic.

Pure Fashion is a "faith-based program that encourages teen girls to live, act and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God." The focus is on "guiding young women ages 14-18 to become confident, competent leaders who live the virtues of modesty and purity in their schools and communities."

Brenda Sharman, former Miss Georgia USA, professional model and now Pure Fashion spokeswoman, said in a recent interview, "Modesty is more than what you wear on the outside, it has to be an exterior reflection of an interior attitude".

Pure Fashion conducts fashion shows and their models "learn the importance of living a life in accordance with God's will and fostering a life of grace through purity of heart, mind and body." Their web site has a practical description of what modest apparel looks like.

Their motto: Pure Fashion. . .Where values and virtues are always in Vogue!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halloween: A Christian Holiday?

My hubby has posted an interesting blog entry about Halloween. Forget the "Harvest Festival" or dressing up like biblical characters - maybe we should return to the holiday's original focus. Time we take back Halloween in all its goulish mockery!

Baby Love

"When I see six black kids playing, I know four are missing. This is truly a genocide."

Think Pastor Gaines was talking about tribal warfare in the Sudan or another African country? Think again - he wasn't! He was speaking at the 2006 Love Walk about the African-American community where four out of ten pregnancies end in abortion. Read that again. Four out of ten pregnancies in the African-American community ends in abortion. There is a genocide going on in our country and our courts have said it is a legal one.

That's why my husband and I and many other concerned Christians braved the cold wind last Saturday morning to walk two miles. The Love Walk is one of the major fundraisers for the AA Pregnancy Help Center. It is also a wonderful way to raise community awareness about the center.

Our lives seem to become more hectic and over scheduled with each passing year. The technological advances that were supposed to save us time instead have just enabled more demands to be placed on our time. But how overworked we are shouldn't matter one bit when it comes to being involved in the fight against abortion.

Irish philosopher Edmund Burke said, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." All it takes for more babies to be murdered every year is for Christians to sit around the kitchen table and lament the murderous practice, but do nothing. All it takes for more women to bear the scars of a horrific decision is for Christian voters to compromise on life issues. All it takes for our country to continue under God's wrath as the blood of innocents cry out for vengeance is for you and I to do nothing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

May I Quote You on That?

One of my all-time favorite quotes is by George Eliot (pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans): "Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words."

At least I thought the quote was Eliot's. Seems a very similar quote is attributed to Dinah Maria Mulock Craik. Ms. Craik and Ms. Eliot lived in roughly the same time period, so the mystery continues as to who wrote what first. However, Ms. Craik's is a larger version and, after all these years, I think I've come to like the lines attributed to her even better than what I had thought was the original. Her quote is:

Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and then with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

Doesn't that perfectly describe your close friends? You don't have the "uh oh. How will they take that?" moments because you can trust they know your heart. You are able to talk to each other freely without cumbersome clarifiers and disclaimers. I earnestly strive to be that kind of friend. I know I am blessed with that kind of relationship with my hubby and a few girlfriends who are that kind of friend.

Reminds me a lot of a biblical mandate: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Movie Talk: The Lake House

[Warning: Mild Spoilers!]

My hubby and I just finished watching The Lake House featuring the reteaming of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. I've always thought of Keanu Reeves in action/thriller roles, but I loved him in this movie. Sandra Bullock is raw and vulnerable in this movie (a litttle reminiscent of her character in Hope Floats).

One of the reviews on the DVD cover says it's "A rare and unique love story". Okay, maybe not so unique (I'm old enough to remember Christopher Reeves in Somewhere In Time), but a love story this definitely is.

Dr. Kate Forster (Bullock) and Alex Wyler (Reeves) live in the same house, but two years apart; him in 2004 and her in 2006. Through a time-bending mailbox, the two strike up a relationship via letters. This is the romance of the movie for me - falling in love on paper.

There's something about composition meant to be read rather than heard. Face to face, we are restrained by our inhibition, attempts to read the other person's face, inability to find the right words at the right time, perhaps fear of response, etc. But when writing, it's just you, the pen and the paper (or in this case - me, the keyboard and computer screen) without time constraints. It's a form of communication that can generate intimacy between strangers much sooner than spoken words. That's one of the reasons this movie resonated with me. I fully accepted the premise of falling in love by letters, by the sharing of thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears and the like.

Another reason I loved this movie is as Alex's feelings for Kate grow, he is prompted to do things - like leave a message on a building in 2004 that she will see in 2006. I love the depiction of a man doing loving acts , of old-fashioned wooing.

There's an element of fate in this movie. A "meant-to-be" that all romantics hold dear. Rent The Lake House. It's a grown-up's fairytale.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Smokey Mountain Parrots

The first weekend in October usually finds us in Gatlinburg. We love going there. We call it our "happy place" because when we go there, we leave our cares and concerns at home. Tennessee time is for relaxing and unwinding.

We have a routine. Breakfast at the Donut Friar (a must) for the best donuts around! Let people line up around the block for pancakes, I'll take a Donut Friar eclair and coffee instead every time! The Donut Friar is located in The Village, a little enclave of shops off the main thoroughfare that has the feel of an Old World town. This was purposeful intent on the part of the designers who brought in architectural pieces to create this village with a feeling of oldness. There are plenty of flowers and sitting areas (for my favorite pastime - people watching).

We make a trip to Ober Gatlinburg to race each other down to Alpine Slide. We play putt-putt at Davy Crockett Mini-Golf (mainly so I can hear one of the animated bears say, "I'm in honeybee heaven!" Makes me giggle every time!) We drive through Cade's Cove at dusk to watch the deer and, on occasion, other critters as well.

We try to do new things every time we go. We even tried "Earthquake- The Ride" once - Ugh!

One of the newer attractions we've tried in Pigeon Forge is a place called Parrot Mountain and Gardens. On our first visit, we didn't know what to expect and were very pleasantly surprised! It is a white colonial home on the top of a mountain. A large variety of tropical birds are in outside cages (think more accurately mini-cabins, very spacious). There's a large cage you can enter and feed colorful Lories who land all over you and fight for your cup of nectar! There's the Baby House where you can see a variety of birds in various stages of development. At the end, they have Macaws, Cockatoos, Parrots and more sitting on perches all over the final garden area where you can have your picture taken with the birds and generally play with them. Staff are available to supervise and answer questions.

The best part is this is a Christian business. You visit the birds by winding through a beautifully landscaped garden replete with appropriate Bible verses. And, unlike many Christian ventures, there isn't a hint of a "cheesy" taint to the presentation. We love this place!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

V For Very Good Vile

We just finished watching "V for Vendetta". It's a thought-provoking, entertaining action flick from the creators of the Matrix. Filled with snappy and intelligent dialogue, it draws you in to the story set sometime in the future when the "former United States" is embroiled in a civil war and needing assistance from the rest of the world while England is ruled by a heavy-handed, autocrat called the Supreme Chancellor. In this celluloid Britain, dissent is not tolerated and the government motto is, "Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith."

Our hero, or antihero perhaps, is a masked man who is called by the moniker "V" and who expertly and deadly wields knives. The mask and the weapons immediately cause the viewer to harken to other film heroes who were on the outskirts of a corrupt mainstream, heroes such as Zorro, or more recently, Batman.

The female lead is played by Natalie Portman, whose performance proves she is beautiful even when bald. Her character, Evey, is the orphan child of dissidents. Evey meets V in a dramatic fashion and the relationship develops with ever-increasing drama.

Without spoiling the film, the story is an engaging one and, ultimately, a dangerous one as well for it plays on emotions and draws the viewer in to accepting a worldview that is unbiblical. The heroes, the martyrs, in this film are the perverted. The villians are the conservatives. This is subtle and it is masterfully done by tapping into the viewer's emotions and by blatantly presenting the outcasts of society as the Edward Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo) of their era.

For a more thorough look at the worldview in V for Vendetta, read Brian Godawa's take on it here. (Warning: Contains spoilers.)

Enjoy the movie, reject the worldview.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Protestant Praise For The Pope

Pope Benedict XVI is getting a lot of heat for quoting something written in the Middle Ages. Muslims around the world are responding violently, possibly including the murder of Sister Leonela, a nun in Mogadishu. The irony seems lost on them - their violence serves to prove the veracity of what the Pope quoted. The Bishop of Rome has apologized for how people have reacted, but not for what he said. Good for the Pope!

If I hear one more politician say Islam is a religion of peace, I think I'll scream. It is not. Westernized Muslims are not being true to their faith anymore than liberal denominations that sanction homosexuality and abortion are being true to the Christian faith. Jihad is a tenet of Islam. It is not merely a philosophical allegory as some apologists would have us believe. According to Islamic tradition, the complete military subjugation of the earth is mandated by Allah.

Pope Benedict's quote from medieval writings is very important because the writing was done at a time when religious conflicts were seen as just that - religious conflicts. Today the secular western politicians who try fiercely to compartmentalize religion to a private issue without bearing on public policy cannot conceive of people being willing to blow themselves up in the name of their faith. It has to be because of their economic or educational deficits. Their poverty makes them desperate and resentful of our affluence. How many more well-educated professionals have to strap on bombs (or hijack planes) before this paradigm is abandoned?

Our Catholic brothers and sisters have a leader who spoke the truth about the Muslim threat. Here's one Protestant that is very grateful to him.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Talking About The Trinity

At Christ Covenant, we have a Pastor's Book Club. About every six weeks or so, the majority of the church is reading a new book. We usually have a get-together at someone's home and discuss what we've read.

Little did the Pastor know when he chose Ralph Smith's Trinity & Reality: An Introduction to the Christian Worldview that it would prompt multiple discussions. In fact, for the last few weeks, it has been the subject of our adult Sunday School class.

This book is about 200 pages, but is is jam-packed with profound thoughts. Christianity is a trinitarian faith - but what does that mean? Does it go beyond the catechism answer of "There are three Persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory." How does (or should) our belief in a triune God impact our lives?

This has truly been a mind-expanding, faith increasing study. Here are just some snippets of thoughts gleaned from the book (it's a safe bet I'll add more later!):

*Because man is at enmity with God, he is also at odds with himself because of the reflection of God is stamped on his soul. As a result, man loves and hates himself, the human race and the rest of creation.

*Genesis 1:27 says He created him and He created them. It means every individual is the image of God, but the race as a whole also images God. What the Genesis story is pointing to is that man, like God, is both one and many.

*With the coming of Christ, we learn that human worship is an analogy of Trinitarian fellowship. In Trinitarian fellowship, we see each Person of the Trinity seeks to glorify the Others. Christian worship has implications for our relationships because rightly seeking the honor and blessing of other people is an aspect of biblical love and an imitation of the Trinity. The essence of work is mutual service and so work reflects the Trinity. Work is always an other-directed and social activity.

*Evil is an improper relationship with God. It is not an entity. To be created in God's image entails the possibility of evil, for man could not be the image of God if he didn't have moral freedom. When man sinned against God, he lost his freedom, because freedom only exists in living for God as the creatures He created us to be. The problem is that now this would-be god finds that not being omnipotent or omniscient is a severe handicap because he has to compete with other would-be gods who don't always acknowledge his divinity.

*In nonchristian religions and philosophies, we see the very essence of evil, the lust for self-deification masquerading as the quest for truth or salvation. Only in Christianity does evil have meaning and a solution. In the worlds of nonchristian faiths the problem of evil is unsolvable.

*In the Bible, for all practical purposes, the notion of Christian life apart from membership in a local church never occurs. To reject baptism, the Lord's supper, and weekly worship is to reject the body of Christ, the bride He loves. This is tantamount to rejecting salvation for Jesus came to save His church, not a conglomeration of unrelated individuals.

I highly recommend this book. You can read more about it here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

I had just picked up my transcription work in Wilmore and was heading home. I stopped to fill up at a Shell station not far from my house. The usual country music wasn't playing over the loudspeakers and I soon realized a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. I hurried home, trying to call my hubby on his cell, realizing almost immediately I wouldn't reach him as he was in class.

Reaching home, I turned on the TV and saw behind Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer the burning tower. I called the next person I turn to in a crisis, my Mom. As we were talking, we watched as a plane plunged into the second tower. There could be no doubt now. This wasn't an accident. This was war. My country was being attacked.

Will any of us ever forget that sickening realization? I can still see the people running from the building and the soot covering them. I remember crying, "No!" as the first tower fell. I remember the shock and devastation on the faces of the New Yorkers flashing across my screen.

Then the personalization began. What would I be feeling if Bobby were in one of those buildings? DId I kiss him goodbye this morning? Did I tell him I love him? Does he know how much? I called Mom and Dad again.

The Pentagon was hit. Then Flight 93. I ran out of tears as the magnitude of the events settled in like a heavy blanket over me.

In the following days, emotions came over me in waves. I was proud as my president put his arm around a construction worker as he spoke at Ground Zero. I was angry as politicians tried to distance Islam from terrorism. I was incredulous as analysts siad they hadn't developed a scenario where an airliner flew into a building - Tom Clancy had years before in his book Debt of Honor!

I was mostly concerned for my country. If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? (Amos 3:6). Our nation wanted God out of our public discourse, out of our public schools, out of our public policy and now, when He removed His hand of protection from us, we wondered why. Scripture says the Old Testament events were written as examples for us. Israel rebelled, God sent oppression until they repented.

We still murder babies by the thouands and call it a woman's choice. We still sanction perversity and call it an alternative lifestyle. Our leaders equate a god of violence and murder and a religion of death with the Almighty God of the Bible. I fear our oppression is far from over.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rush Hours

I'm in a hurry to get things done
oh I rush and rush until life's no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die,
but I'm in a hurry and don't know why.

~I'm In A Hurry by Alabama

This is the theme song for our home! We go nonstop from the minute the alarm clock goes off until our cuckoo clock strikes 12:30 a.m. and we head for bed. I have a lengthy To Do List; my hubby's list is longer. Even on days when I feel pretty productive, I look around and the satisfaction is dimmed by how much more I stil need to do. There's the ever-present housework, the work I get paid to do, the volunteer responsibilities, church secretarial work for my hubby, the list goes on and on.

Then there's the wants. There's so much I want to accomplish in this lifetime! I want to write a book. I want to read more books. I want to stand at the end of a rainbow. I want to learn how to decorate cakes. I want to clean my two-car garage out enough so at least one car can go in it! I want to successfully cook a roast (oh never mind!).

There is hope, however. One of the benefits of being in your 40s is you start to reassess. You begin purging the "young person's dreams" that are still hanging around in your psyche. You prioritize and eliminate. My Dad told me every ten years your priorities completely change and what was #1 falls to the bottom of the list. For the most part, I'm finding Dad had a lot of wisdom.

I used to have boxes of craft projects in the garage for "when I have time to do it." A good friend gently told me (in so many words) that I probably wouldn't live long enough to complete them all! Thanks to her, Goodwill received a large bag of men's neckties. (I had this pattern for a bowtie quilt and I thought it would be cool to use actual ties, so . . . ) I've spent this spring and summer throwing away a lot of boxes, real and metaphorical.

My goal for the rest of my 40s is to only be in a hurry when I know the reason why.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blast From The Past

When my folks moved from the country home I grew up in to the city, I thought we had gone through all our accumulated junk and gotten rid of all nonessential keepsakes, memorabilia, and the like. I had found old journals and letters which, as I read over them, made me run to the old oil barrel my folks used to burn trash!

What I thought was completely purged a couple of years ago wasn't. I recently found more journals and old letters! It was a hoot to go back and read some of the entries. My mom told me once our mind never ages (even as our bodies seem to be falling apart!). She was right. As I read these things, I was right back there in that moment remembering it as if it happened yesterday. Mom says she still thinks in a lot of ways like she did when she was in her 20s and now she's, well, older than that. The good part is that while you may remember the feelings/thoughts you had at that time, you now have a wonderful advantage of perspective and, hopefully, wisdom by which to evaluate things.

As I read some of the entries, I became frustrated with my younger self. "Don't you see how foolish this is," I wanted to yell at the me of 20 years ago. "Why can't you see the truth?' I asked at one time as I read of warnings parents had given about false friends and later read as those warnings proved to be true. I did have moments of satisfaction, however, as flashes of maturity were contained in the angst-ridden pages.

I still keep a journal, but not on a regular basis. These days it's used to help me sort things out as I'm going through a trial. I can't help but wonder if at 64 I'll once again read over entries and shake my head at the me of 20 years before.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Requiem for a Shady Lady

This week we got a new car! This means, since there are only two of us and our automobiles now number three, we will be getting rid of a car. The one to go is our little Escort.

My relationship with the "Shady Lady" (as I call the Escort) had a rocky beginning. She replaced the "Grand Dame" - my Grand Am, the first brand new car I ever purchased. I loved the Grand Dame. She was sporty. She had pick up. She was a symbol of my carefree single life. She had also taken on the characteristics of flattery - getting me nowhere. So, our first automobile purchase as a married couple was the burgundy Escort, a responsible, affordable car which got good gas mileage. Ugh. I was determined not to like this car. After all, she replaced my true vehicular love.

Then it happened. We bonded. It might have been while driving narrow roads winding around the hills of Eastern Kentucky while doing home visits required by my job at the time. It might have been the time one of the parents' directions to their home didn't include the warning that you couldn't see their house in the summer when the leaves and corn were growing and that the dirt road you were driving on would end abruptly in a creek!

There I am - front end of the car in the creek, which is looking more and more like a river to me! I prayed. I pleaded with my little four cylinder car to have Hummer strength and back out of the water. It did! In the midst of the water and mud, somehow the Shady Lady found traction and out it backed and I was on my merry way! The Shady Lady now had not only my gratitude, but my affection as well.

She has over 225,000 miles on her. She leaks about a quart of oil every six weeks. Her stereo still works, but the A/C doesn't (which, after recently driving in 90 degree weather with no A/C, has lessened my grief over her imminent departure somewhat.)

Even still, I'll miss the Shady Lady. In the end, she was a high-class Escort.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Punk'd By Chopsticks

"There is a true and sincere friendship between you both."

My hubby recently received the above sentiment in a fortune cookie. What's interesting about that is he hates Chinese food. Just ask him, he'll tell you. In fact, you probably won't have to ask. He hates it! So how did he come to have a fortune cookie? It was given to him by these three wanna-be hoodlums:

Why the camouflage? This picture was taken the Friday night before the Saturday morning we awoke to discover our front yard covered with chopsticks!

In addition to being a pastor, Bobby teaches 9-12 Bible at a local Christian school. He loves the kids, even the ones who make him long for the days of paddles! Each year at graduation, his eyes are glistening when it's over.

As we went around the yard picking up chopsticks, he wasn't sure if he should feel persecuted or really loved! (It's the latter).

I don't put much stock into fortune cookies, but this particular one got it just right.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Family Ties

My hubby preached at a sister church this past weekend. We drove up the night before to stay with one of the families in the church.

There's always a bit of trepidation when staying with strangers. There are the awkward first few moments of breaking the ice and finding each other's rhythms and styles. Then, conversation begins and Christians start being drawn to each other. The Spirit in them and the Spirit in us knits our hearts together. In short order, strangers become friends.

This happens so often, the immediate sense of connection, the "I just had a feeling about you" when learning someone you've just met shares your faith. This is a fun aspect of the Christian life!

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. . . I always thought that song was a little hokey. Corny or not, I agree with its sentiment. I'm grateful for the Christian family I have and the extended family members I meet from day to day.

Blest be the ties that bind
Our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Friday, August 18, 2006

My Feathered Friend

"Hi Lulu!"

We hear that a lot around our house. Lulu is a six-year-old Goffin cockatoo that rules the roost in our home. "Hi Lulu" is kind of her version of "Aloha" - it means everything from "hello" to "I know you are awake, get me out of this cage".

We're not sure Lulu is a girl. It takes a DNA test to determine gender. I figure any animal that requires lab work to determine its sex doesn't really care, so to me Lulu is female. She is a huge flirt. She coos and jabbers and does all sorts of adorable things when she wants something (or when squawking at the top of her little bird lungs hasn't done the trick).

Cockatoos are in the parrot family, but aren't great talkers like some of their kin. However what Lulu lacks in clarity, she makes up for in expression. There are times when she is jabbering away in her cage that you can hear intonations and know she is repeating a conversation she has heard. (Making her owners very glad she's not a great talker!)

My hubby calls Lulu his $2,500 bonus. She and her massive cage were given to us. One of his former students worked in a pet shop and Lulu was an abandoned bird. The student thought of us as adoptive parents. We now have the blessing of raising Lu. And it is a blessing, despite what some friends and family members may say.

We had always wanted a bird, but the more exotic ones were too expensive. Maybe a parakeet or the like, we thought. We look on Lulu as our little gift from God. He does that. He provides our needs abundantly and then He tosses in a few of our wants for good measure!

Praise to the Lord,
who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth.
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea so gently sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love Me Tender

I grew up loving Elvis Presley. In 1972, my Mom took a day off work to stand in line and purchase her Elvis-devoted 10-year-old daughter tickets to see The King in concert. (I have a great Mom!)

34 years ago and still I remember the lights flashing and the tympanies pounding as 2001: A Space Odyssey signaled he was about to come on stage. When I saw that white jumpsuit, I thought my pubescent heart would beat right through my chest! I actually cried.

I watched all the movies, knew the words to every song - including "Wooden Heart" which was a hit only in Germany. I was a fanatic. Five years later when word came he died, it was surreal. It was a Challenger-moment for many - remembering where they were and what they were doing. I did what I always do at times like that - I wrote. This time it was a poem, of which I only remember the first two lines: "With God-given talent and astonishing good looks, a song called That's Alright Momma was all that it took . . ." [Gimme a break! I was 15.]

There will never be another Elvis. That oft-spoken sentiment is more than a fan's adoration. I think it's an objective fact. That mystique can't be created in an age of 24/7 news/entertainment, Internet and paparazzi. We can't be shocked anymore by hips swiveling (puh-leeze! would that was all we had to deal with from music stars). He came, as one writer put it, "in a crack in time" - everything fell in place to create his myth.

His stepbrother, who found him that fateful morning, is now a Baptist minister. He once spoke at my home church. He said people often ask him, "Is Elvis in heaven?" He said he couldn't tell them for sure. There was a Bible by his bed and also other New Age/ Eastern religious material.

Love hopes all things. Elvis loved gospel music. When he jammed with friends, that was his song genre of choice. Once in concert, a fan called out that Elvis was king. He reportedly said, "I only know of one King. . ." I hope that's a true story. I hope the king of rock-n-roll did bow the knee to The King. I'd love to hear him sing again in heaven.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Groovy Jane Austen?

With few exceptions, my hubby and I have a nightly routine. Once our work for the day is complete, we settle down with chips and salsa at the ready and watch a movie. Some movies are just for fun, while others are thought provoking. One of our recent movies just made me want to sing and dance. Who knew Jane Austen could be so hip?

Bollywood's Bride & Prejudice takes Ms. Austen's Pride & Prejudice and sets it in the 21st century. The hero is an American businessman, the heroine a proud daughter of India. The movie tells the classic story while utilizing the conventions of Indian movie-making, one of which is lively musical numbers. Mumbai, formerly Bombay (hence B-ollywood), has a thriving movie industry. Bride & Prejudice is directed by Gurinda Chadha of Bend It Like Beckham fame.

The movie might not be a favorite with Austen purists. The book's class conflict becomes a cultural conflict in this retelling and the "meeting in the middle" of Austen's book is missing. Then there is the obligatory accusation leveled at the American businessman of being an imperialist. What may really set the purist's head to spinning, however, is seeing Lalita, the film's Elizabeth Bennett, doing the twist while singing a do-wop number with her sisters! [My hubby said of that song, “This reminds me of Grease” and on the special features we learned the number was indeed inspired by that movie!] After watching this song, I dare you not to sing, “No life, without wife!”

The movie has a feel of musical theatre. In the intro, you’ll hear snippets of all the songs featured in the movie. The love theme, Take Me To Love, weaves through the entire soundtrack. The choreography is playful, almost whimsical. Whether you're an Austen fan or not, give this movie a chance! This is a clean movie. Bollywood films are traditional and this movie is almost straitlaced. I can’t remember a kiss in the movie, much less anything more. I bet even Ms. Austen would approve.

[For the purists among us, check out Miniatures and Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart. Read about it here.]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Far Out

"You live so far out!"

I can't tell you how often my husband and I have heard this from our friends since we moved to south central Kentucky. They're right - we do live about 30-40 minutes out of the city. Moving here from Louisville, I don't think anything about the drive. (It can take 30-40 minutes to go just a few miles in the Derby City at rush hour!) However, our friends are used to a 10-20 minute commute and marvel at our willingness to drive that far.

I don't mind the drive to and from town (Nicholasville) or the city (Lexington). It's a pretty drive. By the time we ge home, we've "unwound" and we're ready to relax. Our neighborhood is peaceful and quiet. In the spring, there are redbuds and dogwoods everywhere! The trees by the lake have more shades of green in them than I knew existed. In the summer, it's not unusual for a blue heron to fly over our property going from one finger of the lake to another.

The little two-lane road to our neighborhood winds around farms. There's a particular fencepost that is the perch of choice for a Harrier hawk. I often slow my car to a crawl so I can just stare at the magnificent bird. Driving home at night in the summer and fall, it's not unusual to see a red fox dash across the road in from of you. Its auburn hair looks like it has been brushed by a groomer and even at night, it shines. Early morning trips are sometimes delayed by stopping to watch deer (and occasionally fawns) grazing in an undeveloped lot.

We have purple martins in gourds in our back yard. They take care of mosquitos and other bugs from their arrival in late March to their too-soon departure in early August. They also provide daily air shows swooping and gliding in ways that would put any fighter pilot to shame!

And at night, I go outside and look up and see stars. Lots of stars. I hear crickets. I hear the occasional frog croak. A mockingbird chatters protesting the light from my porch. I smile and remember why we live this far out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Preaching Pirates

[Warning: Spoilers]

I love Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I cheered when Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar. His creation, Capt. Jack Sparrow, was the most original and entertaining movie character I had seen in a long, long time. The movie was just pure, escapist fun. I eagerly awaited the second installment in the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

It was worth the wait. It had comedy. It had poignant moments. It had adventure. It had Capt. Jack Sparrow! But what it also had that the first one lacked was shadows. There was a shadow over Capt. Sparrow - is he really a pirate "and a good man" after sending Will to Davy Jones? Was Will Elizabeth's true love, or did the shadow of a certain Captain put that in doubt?

The second movie was much darker than the first, but then, maybe we should come to expect that with the second movie of a trilogy. Look at the original Star Wars trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back was the dark episode. How about Raiders? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was icky and dark. Even the second movie of the current Bourne series kept the pattern alive as Jason lost Marie.

All storytellers, whether Christian or not, cannot help but repeat elements of The Story. We are made in God's image and so, even in our fallen state, we image our Creator. Scripture tells the story of Creation, Fall and Redemption. This is the pattern we see in so many movie trilogies. The second installment, the Fall, is dark while the concluding chapter is the redemptive one when the happy ending arrives.

For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Rom 1:20

Even as Hollyweird so often brazenly rebels against God, they can't help but borrow from His book.

[For a great read on the movies from a Christian perspective, try Brian Godawa's Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment. Read about it here.]

Grey Matters

They say confession is good for the soul. Well, here goes: I love Grey's Anatomy. I shouldn't love Grey's Anatomy. I shouldn't even like Grey's Anatomy. We probably shouldn't even be on a first name basis, but we are. I care about Izzie. I have a love/hate relationship with Alex. I want to tell George to get a grip and be a man, but I care about the twit. (And I believe Callie washed her hands.) I put up with Christina because I believe behind her brash, cold exterior is a woman full of fear. I like Dr. Burke. I love Bailey! The only character I don't care much about is the show's namesake, Meredith Grey. I'm trying to be understanding of her poor choices, but I just haven't become invested in the character. Actually, I've come to like Addison better than Meredith. (Maybe it's jealousy - she gets to choose between Derek and Finn, McDreamy or McVet, talk about a win/win situation.)

This show is my guilty pleasure. It's full of immorality. It's full of moral relativism. But, it's often also full of insightful commentary on human nature. I like that there are no black hats and white hats. The heroes and heroines on this show come with flaws. I relate to that. I see myself in the Apostle Paul's grieving that what he doesn't want to do, he does and what he does want to do, he doesn't.

I've been a Christian for decades, but sometimes I feel I'm still in the internship phase. I'm still making silly mistakes. I have those rare flashes of spiritual brilliance followed by extended periods of sinful stupidity. Like Grey's interns, I press on. I learn and, hopefully, I grow.

And I spend moments of my summer wondering what's in store for Izzie.