What’s on my bed-stand today

The advantage of a large bedstand: keeping all reading, watching, and listening materials in one place. In the room I’m currently staying in, I have one. And it’s quite a convenient arrangement. I decided to share with you some pictures of my current collection, just to prove what eclectic interests I have.

Reading: Facing the Giants and Laddie. I love Eric Wilson’s novel version of Facing the GiantsThat’s always been one of my favorite movies, and he weaves extra details and fun stories into the chapters. And I’m loving Laddie…it’s such a sweet story, and my first experience with Gene Stratton Porter.

Watching: Nanny McPhee Returns and Indiana Jones. Yes, I like many different movie genres. 🙂 I’m not a big fan of Nanny McPhee. For one thing, Mary Poppins will forever and always be the best nanny movie–no question. The second Nanny McPhee movie is definitely better than the first; I think it has fewer rude comments and a cleaner presentation. But I still wouldn’t recommend it for kid-viewing, although probably kids were the intended audience. One scene with Nanny McPhee flying on a motorcycle is totally awesome… 🙂

I watched Indiana Jones due to the prompting of a certain younger brother of mine. Wow, what a classic. It’s pretty action-packed and violent, but if you enjoy that sort of movie, you’ll have to watch it. 🙂 Although it’s rated PG, I would call it PG-13, but that’s because I’m quite picky about violence and profanity. Harrison Ford is an amazing actor; his character and bravery are so manly and inspiring. And the soundtrack…well, go have a listen. It’s incredibly awesome.

Listening: Scotty McCreery’s Clear As Day CD. Mom gave this to me for my birthday, and it’s the first country CD I officially own! I love his songs. Some of them make me tear up every time I hear them. I may or may not have them mostly memorized…even though song lyric memorization doesn’t come naturally for me! 🙂

I could have included the picture of my three Bibles that I’m currently reading. But I liked the looks of a three picture collage better than a four-picture one. 🙂 Yes, I am reading all three Bibles. One is English, one is Spanish, one is French. This year I’m reading through the Old Testament in French, and Psalms and Proverbs in Spanish. The MacArthur Daily Bible keeps me on track, although I’m slightly behind. French words must be longer than English words.

So, there’s a look at the media I’ve been consuming. (I never think of classifying books as media, but I guess they probably are.) Amazing how a bed-stand can describe the daily life of a person’s imagination!

Courageous

Photo from Wikipedia

As a huge fan of Facing the Giants and Fireproof, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Courageous for a long time. After watching it last night, I can truthfully say it did not disappoint, but exceeded my expectations.

I’m the type of person who loves to tell everyone the whole story of every movie I get excited about, just because I want them to share in that excitement. So I won’t trust myself to write out a synopsis, since I know I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself from telling you about the scene where the one guy….you get my point! 🙂

The synopsis, according to the Courageous website:
Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.
While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.
When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?
Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.
Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

 In my opinion, the acting and movie quality improves with every movie Sherwood Pictures makes. In all my other theater experiences, I’ve never been in an audience with as much belly-laughter and tear-sniffling as this one. The humor is so down-to-earth and just plain funny. I couldn’t even hear the end of several jokes because everyone was laughing so hard!

I love movies that make me cry. And this one certainly did. Probably from about fifteen or twenty minutes into the movie, and many of the following scenes, I had tears either in my eyes or going down my cheeks. In fact, the middle-aged man sitting next to me leaned over and gave me his handkerchief, saying, “You can keep it.” (I returned it at the end of the movie, though!)

This movie is a must-see for all fathers–for all children of fathers too, so I guess that means everyone! The men in the movie aren’t all padres of perfect families, or even what would normally be considered a family. Courageous encourages all men to act with responsibility and integrity, to rise up to be everything that God calls them to be. Also, it shows what happens to kids who don’t have involved dads, and why they need a father-figure in their lives. I am blessed to have a wonderful daddy, but so many kids don’t have one they can even respect, let alone love. 

YLCF girls, this movie has several great scenes just for us, one in particular! I don’t want to give too much away, but this article has something to do with it. And homeschoolers, we’re mentioned in there as well! Hurrah!

Courageous is a well-done, exciting, humorous, heart-jerking movie that I believe will inspire many men to rise to the challenge to be leaders–to be men in this age where heroism and chivalry are greatly lacking. Obviously this an urgent message people are desperate to hear, as Courageous was the top opening movie in the box office yesterday!

So grab all the men in your family and head off to a theater near you to be inspired and encouraged. Oh, and if you’re a guy, remember your handkerchief. An emotional girl might happen to sit next to you, and you can demonstrate your courageous heart by being a gentleman before you even leave the theater!

Soul Surfer

Picture from IMDb
 Last Saturday I went out for a girls’ night with my two favorite girl cousins currently living in this state (yay! I said it in a perfectly safe way! :)). Lindy had texted me earlier in the afternoon, asking if I wanted to go see Soul Surfer with her and Rebekah. I had been busy all day cooking for Mom’s National Scrapbook Day, so the chance to spend a relaxing evening with cousins friends was very welcome.

We giggled the whole drive to the theater, talking about adopting babies from all over the world and nieces and nephews and jobs. We actually arrived at our destination way early, so we watched the theater screen, learning all these random facts about movie stars I’ve never heard about. (Okay, I have heard about Justin Bieber and Brad Pitt, but have I seen a movie they were in? No way!) 🙂

Then the movie started. And I loved it. I would totally recommend it to any girl, but it’s definitely not a guy movie. The story is about surfers in Hawaii, and as the Dove Foundation phrases it, “typical beach attire throughout.” But practically speaking, it would be virtually impossible to make a perfectly modest movie about Hawaiian surfers without being completely unrealistic. So when I say I loved the movie, know that I only highly recommend it for an audience of girls.

Soul Surfer is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, who is now twenty-one years old. Living in a family of surfers, she lived and breathed surfing and was on her way to championships. Her life drastically changed when a shark attacked and completely bit off her arm. Miraculously Bethany lived, even though she lost 60% of her blood. But her life would never be “normal” again. Everyday tasks became seemingly insurmountable challenges. However, Bethany rose to those challenges and actively searched for more, relying on her faith in God.

That whole paragraph could have been truthfully said about the real Bethany Hamilton’s life, not just the one portrayed by AnnaSophia Robb. After coming home I looked up Bethany Hamilton’s blog and discovered what an amazing role model she is. Her foremost goal in life is to glorify Jesus Christ, and she doesn’t hide her faith. Although the movie was filmed by a secular group, they left many references to spiritual truths in the script.

I cried in almost every scene following the shark attack. Bethany’s struggles became mine, and her courage to overcome them is so inspiring. For example, she learned to do sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups with one arm. Do you realize how incredibly difficult that would be? When I got home Saturday night, I told myself, “If she can do sit-ups and push-ups with one arm, I can do it with two.” Now every night I’m gradually working up to do more sit-ups and push-ups. Although that definitely wasn’t the only way I was inspired, working out is definitely a practical application of that inspiration! 🙂

One of the pivotal scenes of the movie occurs when Bethany goes on a missions trip to post-tsunami Thailand. She meets a little boy who is scared of the water, and she wants to teach him to surf. Through him she learns to conquer her fears.

Probably my favorite part of the movie was when the credits started rolling. Off to the side, they showed clips of the real Bethany Hamilton’s life, including the first time she got back in the water. That’s what made Soul Surfer so awesome: it’s a true story of a Christian girl who today is a professional surfer and an inspiration to thousands.

Watch the trailer, find a theater, grab some of your girlfriends and go see the movie. You will be inspired and encouraged.

From the real Bethany Hamilton:
“…Knowing that God loves me and that he has a plan for my life, that no shark can take away and no contest result can shake, is like having solid rock underneath me. Bad things are bound to happen to everyone. That’s life. Here’s my advice: don’t put all your hope and faith into something that could suddenly and easily disappear. And honestly, that’s almost anything. The only thing that will never go away, that will never fail you, is God and your faith in Him. All I can say is He gives me a really strong foundation for everything I do in life.”

Monday Night Movie: In the Good Old Summertime

Photo from Amazon.com

In the Good Old Summertime is one of those wonderfully sweet, hilariously funny love stories that is worth watching more than once. I had seen it years ago, but the movie moved with my sister when she got married. When I watched it again last year, I was surprised to see all the things I’d forgotten, including the “99 harps” story (making this a must-see for every harpist!).

A ’50s version of Shop Around the Corner, Andrew Larkin (Van Johnson) and Veronica Fisher (Judy Garland) write letters to each other, anonymously. Eventually they both fall in love with their mysterious “Dear Friend”, little realizing that they already know each other in real life. Both work in a music shop, but they are far from in love…they hardly get along at all! When the letter-writers decide to meet, Andrew realizes that the girl he loves from the letters is the same co-worker he fights with at work. Were they meant for each other after all?

The songs in the movie are so fun and happy. Buster Keaton makes an appearance as a fellow music salesman, and adds his own unique humor. (Watch for the scene involving him and a violin–he came up with the idea for the stunt, and being the only one able to pull it off, they cast him in the role!) If you aren’t convinced yet, watch the original trailer.

A few good quotes to whet your appetite:

Andrew: [of his sister’s children] One of them’s named for me.
Veronica: Which one?
Andrew: [
slightly confused] Andrew. 

Andrew: I might as well tell you, he came to see me the other day.
Veronica: Who?
Andrew: Your fiance. I had a pretty tough time with him too. You know he just didn’t believe you when you wrote and told him I meant nothing to you.
Veronica: I just can’t wrap my head around this. He came to see you?
Andrew: See me, yeah. Oh, but don’t worry, I straightened everything out. In a little while, you’ll be Mrs. Nusspickle.
Veronica: Nusspickle!
Andrew: Well, yes, that’s his name isn’t it? I mean that’s what he told me. 

Veronica: Did you find him attractive?
Andrew: Yes, I thought so. But don’t you go changing him. Don’t put him on any diets. 

Monday Night Movie: For Me and My Gal

Picture from Amazon.com

For Me and My Gal is a 1942 wartime movie about a World War I romance. The morale films made during the Second World War are some of my favorites. The optimistic, patriotic songs are still as catchy and inspiring as they were sixty years ago.

Starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, this was Kelly’s first-ever movie, although he was thirty and Garland was nineteen! Both were incredible actors, and Gene Kelly was one of the most talented dancers of all time. The theme song “For Me and My Gal” occurs several times throughout the movie, including this scene. If you don’t want to wait to watch the movie, you can watch the ending scene here. But you should really watch the movie!

Jo Hayden and Harry Palmer are a performing duo, always dreaming of bigger venues, specifically “The Palace.” Jo falls in love with Harry, even though he doesn’t realize it for a long time. World War I breaks out, and when it seems that their biggest dream is about to come true, Harry is drafted. This leads him to an act he would forever regret, which would destroy all of his dreams. Can he ever earn back the love of “his gal”?

After watching the movie, I looked it up on good ol’ Wikipedia. Surprisingly, the movie was based on a true story about actors Harry Palmer and Jo Hayden! Most of the love story and surrounding action is true as well. Even though by itself it’s a sweet story, the fact that it is true makes it even more enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend this movie. The love story, the music, the character studies: all make it a classic wartime movie. Oh yes, I did cry. And close my eyes. You’ll see why when you watch it!

Monday Night Movie: Gone With the Wind

Picture from Amazon.com

Gone With the Wind is a story of war, hatred, love, and selfishness. Scarlett O’Hara lives on the Southern plantation “Tara.” Spoiled and rebellious, she has loved Ashley Wilkes her entire life. When he marries another woman, Scarlett flings herself on a lifelong path of seeking her own selfish desires.

Vivien Leigh is the perfect Scarlett–exceptionally beautiful but completely self-centered. Clark Gable plays the haughty Rhett Butler, who falls hopelessly in love with Scarlett. Ashley Wilkes is well-portrayed by Leslie Howard; as the movie progresses, you realize that Scarlett has loved a trumped-up version of his rather weak character qualities. Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, Ashley’s wife, is the only person in the movie who exudes sacrificial love and a compassionate spirit, although she is not fully appreciated by either her husband or Scarlett.

I’d always been curious about this movie, since it has remained one of the greatest American classics. The cinematography is extremely impressive for being filmed in 1939. One of the most haunting scenes (for me, at least) occurs when Scarlett walks through the outdoor Atlanta hospital. The camera gradually moves away from Scarlett, revealing thousands of wounded soldiers, and eventually shows a tattered Confederate flag flying above it all.

Although both Scarlett and Rhett are horrible people, this movie gives an interesting opportunity for character study. I definitely wouldn’t add it to my top ten, or even top one hundred movie list, but I think that Gone With the Wind is a good movie to watch, just to say you’ve seen it. If nothing else, go listen to Tara’s Theme, the most beautiful song in the movie.

Selfishness, romance, and selfishness. That is Gone With the Wind.

Movie: The Grace Card

Photo from Wikipedia

Yesterday afternoon we did the unthinkable: first, we went to a movie. (Well, that isn’t too shocking since this is my…um, 1, 2, 3…sixth theater experience, but still….) Second, we drove three hours round-trip to watch it. Was it worth it? Totally.

The Grace Card is a story of tragedy, hatred, and ultimately forgiveness. The opening scene shows a happy young family’s life turned upside-down and basically destroyed by a tragic death. Fifteen years later, it shows this same family being torn apart by the unseen foes of bitterness and buried pain. Mac, the father, is a police officer unhappy with his work; the mother, a homemaker, trying to keep her broken family in some semblance of togetherness; the son, a failing student making choices that could ruin his entire life.

A model family, aren’t they?

Now consider one of Mac’s fellow police officers, Sam Wright. An African American, Sam is a Christian on fire for Jesus, a preacher on Sundays, policeman Monday through Friday. He has a loving wife (who makes him broccoli casseroles instead of lasagna) and two young daughters–quite a contrast to Mac’s family.

When Sam and Mac are assigned to the same patrol car, neither are excited about the arrangement. Racial tension coupled with conflicting personalities push their limits. After a horrible tragedy occurs, it seems that the emotional wounds inflicted will never be healed. But the depths of God’s saving love–and His power to change lives–must never be underestimated.

I haven’t cried this much in a movie in a long time. When you’re watching a movie in the theater, it’s almost comical to hear the ladies’ synchronized sniffs and nose-blowings. Seriously, the Grace Card producers know how to tug your heartstrings.

The acting in The Grace Card was great, especially considering this is the producers’ first movie. The songs they chose–by Toby Mac and Third Day–made me cry even more. (As a musician, I wished they had more transition music between scenes, but that’s just my personal opinion.)

This movie was especially timely for me, since I’m reading Randy Alcorn’s book Dominion which also deals with racial issues. I’ve never fully understood this centuries-old dilemma, but these two perspectives are challenging me to think more deeply about it.

So, my challenge for you–go to the Grace Card website and see if there’s a theater-showing near you. It’s a message definitely worth supporting! If not, watch the movie after it comes out on DVD. And if you don’t cry, please send me an e-mail at idareyounottocry@mymail.com.

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