Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 5

(The Wednesday Five is back!  I started this during my October writing challenge, and I really liked it, so I'm going to try to write one each week.  Feel free to snag the prompts and join if you want!  I originally got the inspiration from a similar series on The Autumn Girl, and then Robin at Grace Enough and Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse have joined in with their own versions too!)

A Quote

"We are all worms.  But I do believe I am a glowworm."-Winston Churchill

Good ole Winston.

A Book

After wanting to read it for years, last night I finally picked up the first in C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, Out Of The Silent Planet.  Have any of you read it?  I've heard it has a lot of the same charm as The Chronicles Of Narnia, and if that's true, I'm here for it!

A Bit Of Nature

This tree produces the prettiest pine cones, and my kids even extracted the seeds from one of them.

A Recommendation

(Referral link below.)

I have mentioned before that I subscribed to Skylar's scent club in the spring.  It's $20 a month, and they send you a roller ball with a seasonal scent (it's also supposed to be "natural" and "clean", if that matters to you).  Basically I am a sucker for anything that smells good, and I've really been enjoying it!

Anyway, I have to say, I love the scents they have sent out this fall.  November's is "By Firelight" and it's a smokey-spiced-honey sort of smell.  It's so good.  I really wish they would let you buy extras of your favorites from the scent club, I'm going to be sad when I run out.

A Moment Of Happiness

After letting my kids watch too much TV last week, I'm re-imposing screen time limits this week.  They played hard yesterday, and I finally let them watch a show last night.  I picked an animated version of Ken Ham's "D Is For Dinosaur" which is one of those shows that has a calming influence on my kids (rather than hyping them up).  I turned the corner, and there they were, my gaggle of children sprawled out in the playroom, watching their movie.  And for a second I just had a flashback to when it was hard to get pregnant and I wished for a handful of pajama-clad kids to be watching a cartoon in the next room while I cooked dinner.  They are often boisterous, and rowdy, and tiring; and also sweet, and precious, and my dream come true.  I don't want to ever forget that.

Speaking Of "Spring"...

Five Movies To Watch On Valentine's Day (And Other Fun)

Well, it's here! The day that keeps February from being a throwaway month.  The day of love.  Valentines's Day!

In the spirit of the day, I thought today's old-fashioned blog post could surround the holiday.  How often do major holidays land on a Tuesday, after all?  Not often.

(If you are here for the movie suggestions, scroll down.)

Valentine's Day Spirit

I'm sure you are all well aware by now that I love Valentine's Day - mainly because every year I mention repeatedly how I love Valentine's Day.  If you need to get into the Valentine's Day spirit, I suggest these previous musings on the subject.

Now that we are all on the same page...

The year that Gwen was born I started taking a Valentine's Day photo of the kids each year, so in the spirit of tradition I did the same this year.  I think this might be my favorite setup because it was so colorful!  The kids did most of the painting for those hearts, and they loved the little background I set up.

Best decision of 2016 - painting the house that grey color.  I just love it so much.

(More adorable kid photos on my family Instagram today!)

Valentine's Day Buckets

For the kids' Valentine's gifts I had to be a little thrifty this year, so we just kept it simple.

Cute Valentine's Buckets - Target
Educational Card Decks (wrapped in DIY wrapping paper) - Target
Valentine's Pencils - Walmart
Glittery Hearts - Walmart
Rolos - Anywhere

As of this typing they haven't seen their Valentine's treats yet, but I'm confident they'll be a hit.

I ordered a present for Derek a couple of weeks ago, but it has yet to arrive.  I was quite disappointed by this, because Derek always out-does me when it comes to gift giving, and I was excited to out-do him this time.  I've decided instead to sneak a little Valentine's gift into his work bag for each day leading up to the arrival of his gift.  That will keep up the suspense and gift-giving excellence, right?

Old School Movies For Valentine's Day 

Excuse me for using my old-fashioned post for something slightly Pinterest-y.  Last week I bemoaned the fact that there are very few new chick flicks out these days, and I am still stretching to think of a recent good romantic comedy.  I don't like my romantic movies heavy in any sense.  I appreciate light and happy.  I considered sharing my favorite modern chick flicks, but then I realized that I am sure all of you reading this blog have seen those many times over, so I reached a little farther back.  I present to you, for your Valentine's Day viewing consideration:

The African Queen (1951) - I admit, it's been quite a while since I watched this one, but I may have to remedy that soon.  Humphrey Bogart! Katherine Hepburn! A quirky love story that takes place on a boat! I can almost guarantee it will leave you grinning, for one reason or another.

How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) - Lauren Bacall! Marilyn Monroe! I realize I should probably stop exclaiming all these actor names, because unless you already into old movies it won't really make a difference to you.  But, just trust me, it's a winning combination.  This movie is funny, and outrageous, and just cute.  An old-school romantic comedy if ever there was one.

The Shop Around The Corner (1940) - Remember You've Got Mail (how could you not)?  This is the movie that inspired that movie.  I watched it several years ago, and thought it was different than the original but not in a way that ruined either one!

McClintock! (1963) - Imagine a John Wayne western and a romantic comedy got married and had a baby.  This is that movie.  Can't picture it?  Let me tell you, it's a lot of fun!  About a married couple on the brink of separation as they reconnect, all set in the old west.

If A Man Answers (1962) - And this one I'd call more of a "Galentine's Day" movie.  Not that you couldn't watch with your husband, but there is some (respectful) comparing of husbands to dogs, so it's more fun to chuckle at it with your girlfriends than with your man!

A couple of these are one Netflix, but if you don't have any luck there, I suggest checking your local library!

What are your Valentine's date plans (if you have any?).  We went bowling and shopping last week, so we'll probably just hang out and watch a movie tonight.

 (Photo taken by Wyatt!)

Old School Blogger Shoutout

I think I need to create a spreadsheet because I'm losing track of who I already mentioned! 

Elizabeth from Life In St. Petersburg - Elizabeth is an American mom living in Russia.  I always find her posts interesting, whether she delves into Russian culture or not!

Carol from Pur et Simple - Carol is a mom to eight kids spread across 20 years - so she has grown kids and little ones.  It's interesting to me to read what that looks like since mine are a lot closer together!

Both of these ladies are relatively newer reads to me, but it's so interesting to peek inside life with kids in different stages and places!

Who are your favorite old school bloggers?  If I don't get some new suggestions this section is going to peter out in the next couple weeks.  Or I might switch it to specific post shout-outs.  What do you think?  

Comment below if I haven't mentioned you yet and you'd like to be featured, or tell me your favorite old-fashioned blog to read (and read this post and this post again if you need a refresher on what I mean by "old-fashioned").

What I'm Drinking: Diet Lime Coke. I know. Where's the tea?  It's just a Diet Coke kind of day.

Two Dates (This Never Happens, People)

(Note: This is not actually what I wore on our date, I just am feeling lazy about taking a new photo this morning, and outfit photos seemed like a good fit for this post.)

Derek and I went on two, count 'em two, dates last week!  This is very noteworthy.  I know there is that big push to do a weekly date night as a married couple, to which the only thing I have to say is - "ha!".  We have four kids under the age of six.  There is no possible way we could do a weekly date night.


For our dates, we rely exclusively on the goodwill of our families as babysitters.  Which made me curious, does anyone hire babysitters for their kids?  If you do, I have questions.

Where did you find your babysitter?

Have you ever regretted who you hired to watch your kids or felt the need to switch babysitters?

What is the going rate these days? I'm pretty sure I can't afford it (x) four kids.

I only ask these things because I am curious, because I think it would have to be a pretty special young lady for me to feel like she could be an acceptable substitute for grandparents.

Bowling Date Night

First date night - we went bowling! (Thanks to my sister for watching the kids!)  I haven't been bowling in forever, but Derek and I have been thinking of starting a monthly bowling night for the last...three years?  We clearly can't seem to get our act together.  However, they just opened a new bowling alley in our mall, so we went to check it out.  It was so fun!  

I've determined I need to develop my bowling style though.  I always feel self-conscious when I see everyone around me (my dear husband included), bowling with such flair, and I pretty much just walk straight up and swing the ball.  Derek tells me my style is girly, but I know it's also boring!

Even though I wore something else for our date, this would be a good bowling outfit, no?  Just switch the boots out for bowling shoes (I am proud to say that I actually have my own bowling shoes.)

Earrings: $0.50 at Forever21
Shirt: Francesca's
Moto Jeans: JustFab
Snap Sweater:
Bag: JustFab
Button socks: Target
Booties: A Christmas gift.

Lunch And Shopping Date

This was our early Valentine's Day date, because next weekend is Wyatt's birthday, and the weekend after that we already have plans.  So we dropped the kids off for a day with Gramie and Poppa, and went out to lunch at Macaroni Grill.  I got the lasagna, but unfortunately it was cold.  We asked them to heat it up, but I didn't finish it because then it felt soggy.  You win some, you lose some.  After lunch we walked around the mall, and Derek won his way into my heart (again), by telling me to pick whatever candle I wanted in Yankee Candle (Yankee candles may be my love language).  

I chose Meadow Showers.  I was going to pick Emerald Isle, but they only had three of those left, none of which was oily enough.  If you don't buy a really oily Yankee candle, it's just not worth the money.  But pick one with lots of oil, and it will fill an entire floor of your house with scent.

We topped off the date with ice cream at Cold Stone creamery! 

Notice The Lack Of Movies

We did not go to a movie for any of our dates, and the reason is that I am convinced Hollywood can't come up with anything worth seeing anymore.  The last three movies we went saw were a disappointment, and I just wasn't sure I was willing to risk more money on a movie I might not enjoy.  Derek and I have discussed at length what we think the problem may be, and here are a few of our theories:

1) They can't come up with anything original anymore.  So many movies lately are remakes of stories that have been successful in the past.  And they still manage to mess some of those up!  Case in point - Tarzan.  One of the several movies that have been a big old "wah wah wah" over the last year.

2) Someone in Hollywood needs to take a class on character development.  The last several movies that I've seen, one of my main complaints is that I can't seem to connect to the characters.  I don't know who they are as a person, their personalities aren't presented well, I can't see the progression of their relationships in the movie, I can't really figure out why their problems are such big problems to them personally, they aren't relatable.  In short, I don't really care about them.  And that's Hollywood's job, to make me care about the characters! Something is going awry, and I would tell them how to fix it, but then what are we paying them the big bucks for?

3) Did someone forget that there is a category called "romantic comedy"?  The last time I saw a decent romantic comedy...well no, a romantic comedy at all, was several years ago.  So many of the romantic movies that are out right now are so serious and/or depressing.  What is going on here?  It's almost Valentine's Day, shouldn't there be a wealth of this category at this time of year?  Where are all the rom coms?  Am I missing something?

Basically, we've decided that there are no recent good movies except ones that are based on true stories.  If we want to see a movie these days, it better be based on a true story, or there is a better than likely chance we aren't going to enjoy it.  

Am I the only one with current movie woes?  Have you seen anything good lately (that wasn't a true story)?

Old School Blogger Shoutout

These are a couple ladies that I've gotten to know largely through social media over the last couple years, and their blogs have become some of my favorites to read!  They share thoughtful, encouraging posts, and I'm happy to introduce them to you today.

Gina at Baby Blue Mom - Gina always has great insights and encouragements for moms, and she really inspires me to be a better hostess!  I love her hospitality tips.  She is expecting her third baby, due pretty soon!  Her husband also works at White Horse Inn, a great resource that I have been enjoying (when I have time to read something other than books for review!).

Elisha at Grateful With Two - Pronounced "uh-lee-sha"!  Elisha is homeschooling her two boys, and she is also an avid I think you see why we have become friends! She is a sweetheart, and I love reading her thoughts!

Also, a repeat shout-out to Meghan and Alex, old-school blog friends who had their babies over the last couple weeks!

What I'm Drinking: Vanilla Jasmine herbal tea.  With candy hearts, of course! (A delight for my tastebuds, a bane for my waistline.  I will not be too upset when Valentine's day is over and this temptation is out of my life.)

P.S An old-school blog friend, Brittany, is throwing me an Usborne book party! If you are interested in joining the Facebook party on Thursday, let me know in a comment and I'll send you the link to join - otherwise, check out Usborne books here!  I'm hoping to have a post up tomorrow about my Usborne wishlist for homeschooling next year, so stay tuned!

Why I Didn't Love Rogue One

(Warning: There are Rogue One spoilers below!  Read at your own risk.  Also this is me at the theater last night.)

Before I start into my opinions about the new Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, you should know that Star Wars pretty much runs in my blood.  My dad saw the movies as a young teen and when my siblings and I reached an appropriate age, we all gathered around the TV, and a new family tradition was born.  We watched those movies countless times growing up, and I will always remember going to see Episode One when it came out in the theaters.  We watched the movie as a family, went to Taco Bell and discussed it endlessly, then drove straight back to the theater and watched it again.  There are many Star Wars enthusiasts, and dare I say even experts, in my family.  They may not all share my opinions, but this is what I thought of the latest installment.

First, when I say I didn't "love" it, I don't mean I hated it either.  I thought the plot was really well done, and I loved all the references that tied into Episode Four (the Star Wars movie that comes right after Rogue One).  I thought the connection between Jyn and her father was well-formed and added a sweetness to that part of the story.  The ending was bittersweet, as was fitting since we knew from Episode Four that “many fighters died to bring us this information”.

There were a few small irritants in this film, such as the lack of backstories and making the Force too “religious”, but there were a couple things that bothered me more, and I think are a reflection of some of the ways our culture is changing, so I want to talk about those here.

The first point may seem petty, but I think it’s worth discussion - and that was the flatness of the characters in this movie.  Do you remember the variety of personalities in the original Star Wars trilogy?  We had Princess Leia, with all her spunk and conviction.  We had Han, with his arrogance and recklessness and lovably absurd connection to his ship.  We had Luke, the whiney farmer turned introspective brooder turned indispensable Jedi.  What tied it all together, what made these movies classics, was the color of their personalities, the sense of history, the development of relationships.  It was their tenacity in the fight, their grit, the conviction that the Empire was evil and must be stopped, but it wasn’t only that - their personalities were what made it fun, their flaws were what made us laugh, and you got the feeling that they couldn’t have finally defeated the Empire without being exactly who they were, flaws and all.

I didn’t get that in Rogue One. I was disappointed that many chances to give the characters more depth were not taken.  Not only did we get too much Luke Skywalker brooding and not enough Hans Solo reckless and arrogant determination, but the characters in this movie didn’t even really seem to know why they were fighting (except for a brief speech from Jyn on the need to fight against an Empire “this evil”, a mark in her favor).  The scene that was most frustrating to me was the monologue from Cassion that was supposed to be inspiring as he pulled all his buddies back into the fight, but the whole speech was really rather depressing.  

“We’ve all done terrible things in the name of the rebellion - without the rebellion all those terrible things will be in vain.”  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the whole speech goes against the reason why my family got hooked on Star Wars in the first place.  I’ll tell you why I have loved Star Wars so long - and it’s because Star Wars has always been about good versus evil, and there was no confusion between the two.

In the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) we have the classic fight between good and evil.  It was the dark side and the light side, tyranny and freedom.  In that world, you either gave in to the draw of power at the expense of the innocent, or you fought against those who would oppress others for their own gain, or you were one of the countless rabble of spineless bystanders.  It made you want to choose what was good, and never give in and let evil win.

In the second trilogy (Episodes 1-3) we see how good intentions aren’t enough by themselves, how you need a strong grounding in what is right and wrong to avoid being seduced by the desire for power.  How a hunger for control can twist easily to justify terrible evil, and how governments can slide so easily into tyranny when too much power is willingly put into one man’s hands.

In Rogue One, we have an evil Empire willing to destroy planets to reach it’s ends, and we have a well-established rebellion…who apparently has no idea what they are fighting for, except to make past “atrocities” worth it.  And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it.  I don’t want to see a movie of people who are just fighting to justify past misdeeds.  

I resent the attempt to muddy up the side we all want to root for.  I resent the attempt to give Star Wars shades of grey.  I resent the attempt in our culture to remove heroes and cut them down to size.  They do it with historical figures all the time, and now apparently we can’t even have fictional characters that are good and right and true, and know why they are fighting.  I resent the segments of our culture that say there are no more heroes.  Because I don’t buy that.  I think there are still heroes who take risks because they believe in what is right - and they don’t have to be perfect but they should know what they are fighting for and believe in it’s goodness.  I think there are heroes hiding down in many, waiting to come out when they find something good that is worth fighting for. 

I want to see a movie where the good guys know that there is right and wrong, good and evil, and they fight to defeat that evil and preserve all that is good in the world.  They fight precisely because they recognize that good and evil exist.  That is what Star Wars has always been about to me, and it resonated so much because I think it touched down on that truth in the human heart.

In Rogue One some of the main “heroes” are muddied up and cut down to size, and die simply to undo their own or other’s mistakes or to assuage their own consciences.  Some may say that is more true to real life, but the reason I watch movies like Star Wars is for moral clarity, not moral ambiguity.  It was not inspiring, it was disappointing.

Will Rogue One ruin Star Wars for me?  No, because it’s only a Star Wars story, a side plot.  I can dismiss or overlook the parts I don’t like.  Should you still go see it?  Yes, because there were a lot of tie-ins and themes that were worth the time.  But will it be a Star Wars favorite for me?  No, because it missed the boat on portraying why I love Star Wars in the first place.  I just hope Episode Eight doesn’t continue down this same path, because in a culture where morals are muddied, Star Wars has stood out for making good and evil crystal clear.

P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind, but this is my initial reaction.  What did you think of the movie?

Four Reasons To Love Sports Movies (GREATER The Movie Recommendation)

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and GREATER Productions. but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #GREATERMovie #GreaterTheMovie

Confession: I have absolutely no sports ability; but despite this fact, I love sports movies.

There is something about a good inspirational sports movie that makes me wish I could have been on a team.  (But then that thought flits out of my head, because trust me, I am doing everyone a favor by staying off the field.)  Sports stories appeal to a few things that touch my heart, things that I want to teach my own kids - maybe while watching a good sports movie.

Sports movies remind us that we weren’t meant to do life alone.   

Sports movies reflect this in the most poignant way, because no player really succeeds unless the entire team succeeds.  And when when player is successful, it’s because their teammates have been there to help them along the way.  God didn’t make human beings to live alone, raise their families alone, or do life alone, and I think sports teams and movies are a good reflection of a deeper truth.

Sports movies remind us that hard work and doing the right thing pay off.  

Though sports movies are obviously about successes, it’s the parts where the players have to overcome obstacles to achieve greatness that are most poignant.  Does hard always pay off with your dreams becoming a reality?  No, not always, but it always pays off with good character, and I love when sports movies reflect that.

Sports movies remind us that true teammates are there for you even when you fail.  

One of my favorite parts about sports movies is seeing how the main character develops relationships with teammates, and how those teammates are there to pick them up and encourage them when they fail.  Everyone will want part of your successes, but true teammates are the ones who are there to give you a hand up and slap on the back when you fail.

Sports movies speak to that intrinsic desire to be a part of something greater.  

I think the main reason I love a good sports movie is because the best ones make your heart swell as you watch the individual players work together to achieve something greater, a goal none of them could reach alone.  I love that.  I believe that all of us were made to do something greater than just strive for our own success on earth - I believe we were made to bring glory to God, and we were made to do that together with others, and there is something about sports movies that speaks to that truth that God hid inside us.  

With fall and football season coming up, I am ready to break out all my sports movies and be inspired!  And if there is one sports movie that encapsulates everything I listed above, it is the new film, GREATERThis movie follows one of the greatest walk-on stories in college football, how Brandan Burlesworth went from an underdog to an All-American football player.  

The Brandon Burlesworth story incorporates everything I love about sports stories, and his story in GREATER makes the perfect inspirational sports movie.  It reflected the support Brandon had from his mother and family in achieving his dreams, and how he supported his teammates and they supported him in the wins and losses.  It showed his consistent hard work it takes for players and teams to be great.  It showed how respect and friendships develop among teammates.  But my favorite part of GREATER was the reminder that our lives serve a greater purpose than just what we can see on the surface.

GREATER was such a moving movie for me, and a wonderful one for a date with my football-loving spouse!  When the kids are a little older, I am going to love watching this movie together as a family!  There are so many good lessons and examples in GREATER, and I think it is a wonderful way to teach our kids about what is most important. After watching the movie with Derek, I was inspired to put together a few discussion questions to get the conversation going.

GREATER Discussion Questions:

1. When Brandon was a child, he was discouraged and bullied.  When did things start to turn around for him?  Do you think he would have been able to achieve so much if he hadn’t had some voices of encouragement around him?

2.  Brandon was told over and over again that he didn’t have what it took to play college football, and he experienced some failures - but he used that to inspire him to work harder.  Even if he was never successful on football, what other advantages do you see from his determination to work hard against the odds?

3. Brandon’s coach said character is what you do when no one is watching.  How did he display good character?  How does a person develop good character?

4.  Brandon faced a lot of bullying and name-calling, but he persevered in kindness and doing what was right.  Why do you think he did that?  What effect did it have on his teammates?

5. One quote from the movie is “Our loss is great, but God is greater.”  How did Brandon’s football journey serve a greater purpose beyond himself?

GREATER comes out on August 26th in select theaters (check to see if it will be available in a theater near you) - just in time for football season!  I highly recommend this movie and hope you all get a chance to see it!  Come back and tell me what you think when you do - this is definitely going on my list of favorite sports movies.

Watch the trailer below, and follow GREATER The Movie on social media for updates on when and where the film is released! 

What is your favorite sports movie?  Are you planning on seeing GREATER?

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Every Person Is Valuable | Where Hope Grows Movie

 This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Godspeed Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #wherehopegrowsmovie

Where hope grows movie17

A couple months ago, I read a news story related to people with Down syndrome.  I won’t go into all the details of the story, but it reflected the attitude of some people that those with disabilities such as Down syndrome wouldn’t have fulfilling or meaningful lives because of their disability.

That story irked me at the time, and it has stuck with me since then.  I don’t have any friends or family with Down syndrome, but I have met many people with Down syndrome, and I had a friend growing up with a mental disability.  They are often the happiest, sweetest people you will ever meet.  To suggest that they are somehow less valuable because they don’t fit into someone’s idea of perfection is just ignorant.

I believe with all my heart that every person has intrinsic value.

That’s not just a bumper sticker sentiment, it is the truth.  Every person is created in the image of God, and that automatically gives them value.  To me that’s a given, but it’s not a given in our culture today.  It has become common to try to quantify the worth of people, to the point where some even dare to deem certain lives to have little value.

But who are we to think we can determine that?

I don’t think you even have to look too hard to see the value of those with Down syndrome.  The joy they so often exude, the friendship they offer so easily, their ability to look past the faults of others (despite whether or not those people can do the same), the fact that they can thrive despite the challenges that most of us will never face - all these things are sources of inspiration to those around them.

I recently had the opportunity to see a movie that I think illustrated this beautifully. In Where Hope Grows, Calvin Campbell is a washed up baseball player and an alcoholic.  In the grocery store one day he meets a kid named Produce, who has Down syndrome.  He is drawn to Produce’s happy spirit, and as Campbell gets to know Produce better, he is able to find hope for his own life and relationships.

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Hope grows movie
(My parents and me enjoying the movie!  Derek was there too, he just missed out on the pictures.)

Where Hope Grows comes out in theaters this Friday (the 15th), and I highly recommend seeing if you can catch it at your local theater!  You can watch the movie trailer here:

And this was a part of the movie that we thought was fun!

The Christian influences in this movie were subtle, which I think makes it a movie that anyone can appreciate, even if they are not believers.  But I loved how it was clear that Produce’s joy was because of his faith, and his faith was a beacon for Campbell through the movie as he started to see the changes he needed to make in his own life.

Where Hope Grows has message of hope - that even when you hit your lowest point, there is always hope to turn things around with help from God, and friends and family.  I loved the example of Produce’s character, that every person has the potential to impact other people and show them the love of God, even when you might least expect it.

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Produce invested his days well, even as a grocery store clerk.  He used the place where God had placed him to reach out to others.  I think many times we get so caught up in the busyness of the day to day that we forget that God has us where we are for a reason.  We get so caught up in our own selves that we forget, or are too scared, to reach out to others.

I don’t think Produce’s character even realized how he impacted the life of Campbell, or his role in helping him get back on track.  That’s the beauty of influence.  You might never know how you or anyone else may influence others through your life, but you can bet that God can and does use anyone He chooses to change stories.

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Derek mentioned how he liked the courage Produce showed at different parts of the movie, even in protecting and standing up for those he cared about. There was something innocent and refreshing about the way Produce’s character impacted those around him that I think is reflective of many people with mental disabilities. It is a beautiful thing.  It is something to be valued, something the world needs.  I think this movie showed that in a compelling way.

Joni Eareckson Tada has said that people are made for one purpose - to make God real to those around them.  The beauty of that truth is that any person can do this.  Someone who lives a hundred years, or a baby in a mother’s womb.  The healthiest person in the world, or the one with the most challenges.  The smartest person on the planet, or the one you would least expect.  I think those with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities in particular can touch souls in ways that others never could.

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Every person in the world has the capability to make God real to those around them.

Every person in the world has the potential to make an impact on someone else for eternity.

Every person is valuable, not because any human says they are, but because God says they are.

Where Hope Grows drove that point home for me again, and I think the DVD will be joining our movie library in the near future!  Definitely check it out!

Where hope grows movie

Hermie And Friends DVD

We don't watch  ton of children's TV around here.  If I let Wyatt and Gwen watch anything on TV, I put in a pre-approved movie for them, referable one that teaches biblical lessons.

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Tommy Nelson gave me the opportunity to receive a Hermie and Friends DVD, and I thought it would be a great addition to our collection!  We received the I Will Trust God set, which included two Hermie and Friends episodes.

In the first episode, God tells Hermie (a green caterpillar) to build a boat.  He doesn't tell him why he just wants Hermie to trust Him.  Hermie obeys and builds the boat, and saves himself and all his bug friends from the upcoming flood!  It was a cute bug-version of a Noah and the ark story.

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The second episode is about Freddie the Flea.  Freddie realizes how talented all the other bugs in the garden are, and he starts to feel like he can't do anything special.  He has to trust that God has made him for a reason and has a plan for him.  

Hermie and Friends was created by Max Lucado, and he comes on between episodes and pulls the lessons out of the stories in cute conversations with Hermie.

I thought these stories were really cute, and I loved that the lessons were stated so clearly.  The kids really seemed to like the videos too.  Gwen giggled and bounced up and down at all the exciting parts, and Wyatt was enthralled through the whole thing.  I'd definitely recommend these videos - great movies to entertain young kids and point them back to God!

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Tommy Nelson is also offering one of my readers their own Hermie and Friends DVD!  Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win!

Note: I received this DVD for free from Tommy Nelson in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

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Final Thoughts On The Hunger Games

Disclaimer: While I don't particularly like the Hunger Games books, I have no moral problems with them, just idealogical.  I don't think they are bad books, I just don't think they are necessarily good either.  If you like them, I don't have a problem with that, so don't send me e-mails!  These are just my thoughts on them, take it or leave it.


Last year I read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I wrote a post with my thoughts about it here.  I had very mixed feelings about it.  After reading the first book, I really wasn't sure I wanted to read any more of the books.  

However, I did go see the second movie in December, because I still wanted to find out what happens between Katniss and Peeta!  This was the only part of the story that really interested me, and I wanted to know if/how they ended up together.

After seeing the movie I decided to go ahead and just read the other two books in the series to get it over with.  The second two books did not really change my mind about anything I said in my first post, but I have a few more thoughts that I just need to get off my chest. 

First, what about Peeta and Katniss?  Like I said, this was pretty much the only part of the plot I did enjoy, and I did feel like the way it ended with them was good, all plot elements considered.  I read a review that said the resolution of things between Peeta and Katniss wasn't very satisfying, and I have to disagree with that.  I think Collins wraps up their story nicely, which I am very glad of, because if that hadn't ended well I feel like the whole series would have been a complete waste of time to me.

However, taking the love story out of it, the rest of the story was disturbing to me at best.  These are a few reasons why.

First of all, I have to say that while I know Collins says the books were meant as a cautionary tale about out of control government/media, I still didn't get that from the books themselves.  People can add meaning to the story in that way if they want to, but in the actual content of the books that point was poorly made, in my opinion.  The out of control government and media were necessary plot elements, but no "cautionary" point was clearly stated.  

I found this very disappointing, because I know Collins does indeed know how to insert a point in the text when she wants to.  She did it twice - once with an inner monologue about how the people that came before Panem must not have cared much about the planet or people who would come after, and once about how something is seriously wrong with a society that sacrifices it's children to settle it's differences.  The first point is rather political.  The second is obvious, and while I'm glad she said it, it made me wonder why we're spending three whole books on such a society in the first place.  

Graphically described violence is prevalent in these books, and the "games" seem to be glamorized - maybe not intentionally by Collins but by the fact that everyone plays to the cameras throughout the books without ever questioning it.  It is a parade of horrors, and Collins describes every bit of violence in detail while the characters in the book stand by with a video camera.

I also couldn't help but note the lack of anyone to really look to as a good example in this series.  Haymitch is a drunk.  Gale is vengeful.  Coin is corrupt.  Plutarch only cares about the games.  Minor characters who might have been good examples are killed off.  Katniss is completely self-absorbed through most of the story, with only glimmers of heroism here and there.  While this might be understandable considering all the trauma she has endured, it is not very inspiring.  The only one who possibly could have been a good example of selflessness throughout the series would be Peeta, but I don't think Collins focused on him nearly enough to make him stand out as a role model.

This is one series where (so far) the movies are far better than the books, in my opinion.  In the movies, you can still keep an illusion of heroism and interpret the motives behind people's actions how you want.  In the books, you know all the selfish details of Katniss's thoughts.  The reasons why characters choose to do certain things are explained.  It isn't pretty.

I will give the author one thing - I think she very thoroughly (and probably accurately) represented post-traumatic stress disorder.

The book ends with an intimate encounter between Katniss and Peeta, and while (thankfully!) not described at all, it is not preceded by marriage either.  I don't appreciate that in a book that is meant for teenagers.

When I'm not sure what I think about a book or movie, I usually find myself referring back to Philippians 4:8 and going through the list of things we are supposed to be thinking about.  Is this book noble?  Is it true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?  I think the answer to that here is a no, as a whole.  While someone may be able to argue that certain moments in the book fit with these themes (Katniss taking her sister's place, etc.), those moments are brief.  As a whole, Panem is filled with cutthroat, selfish people who will do anything to reach their goals.  

If I had to pick one word for the books, I would choose the word "hopeless".  

It is an interesting story, and I can appreciate the imaginativeness of it.  As I said in the past, I have no problem with stories written purely for entertainment purposes.  Not everything has to have a clear takeaway point.  

But the hopelessness was disturbing to me.  

Even the ending didn't resolve the overall depression, and the only glimmers of hope that were given to us were in two final points in the last chapters.  First, that life must go on despite our losses.  And second, that you can fight the hopelessness by remembering the acts of goodness that people do.  That second point is ironic considering there are precious few examples in these books of anyone doing acts of goodness without ulterior motives, either personal or political.

The bottom line is that when you create a world without God or eternity, where the lines between good and evil are blurred and survival is key, this is what you get.  You get Panem.  And it is hopeless without Him.  

I'm not saying I don't think these books should be read at all.  I am saying that I don't think they should necessarily be read by someone who does not already have a firmly established worldview, which I think rules out a large part of the target audience - younger teenagers.  Kids that age need hope.  And they won't find it in the Hunger Games.

Oscars and Movies and Stuff

I have a feeling this is going to be a slow blogging week - I've got a fairly large to-do list to tackle!  I started off this morning by crossing one off the list though - I mailed out Gwen's birth announcements!  I feel so accomplished I might just be lazy the rest of the day and watch Trouble With The Curve (from Redbox).  It's the little things.

Anyway, I have several movie-related things running through my head, so bullet points it is.

-We rented Here Comes The Boom from Redbox this weekend, and Derek and I loved it!  It was a good movie.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the story was good, it was humorous, and there were several positive elements too - like one of the characters talking about the story of Jacob wrestling God in Genesis, and the group praying before the final match.  I was wishing we had supported it by seeing it in the theaters!

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-Speaking of movies and theaters, for the first time in my life I watched the Oscars.  Well, part of the Oscars.  I watched the red carpet coverage.  Did anyone else think Amy Adams looked so sad in her interviews? I don't know what her personality is like normally, but I like her as an actress, so I felt concerned.  Her dress was pretty though.

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And also, I could not take that host - the Seth McFarlane guy.  He bothers me.  I was offended by the joke about Lincoln's assassination.  I don't care if it's been 150 years, it's never going to be appropriate to joke about that.  I get the feeling he was trying to offend people though.  I changed the channel shortly after, so I don't know what other inappropriate things he said, but I am not a fan.

Some movie called Argo won Best Film.  I haven't seen it.  In fact, I didn't see the majority of the movies they talked about last night.  I'm more of a kid's movie fan myself . . . why did I hear nothing about Wreck It Ralph (unless I missed it, since I changed the channel)?  That was the last movie I saw in the theaters.  No, wait, it was The Hobbit.  That was a good movie too (though not a kid's movie - hey!).

Overall, I sat down and watched the first half hour of the Oscars and laughed, because it's basically all these movie people getting together and patting themselves on the back, and telling each other how great they are.  And from someone who doesn't think most of Hollywood is that great these days, it struck me as funny!

Though someone should tell me what that Oscar mystery object was, because that's the only thing I missed that I'm curious about.

This concludes my thoughts on the Oscars.

-I find it funny that the Fonz in Happy Days was supposed to be this really cool guy, and yet the guy who played him was named Henry Winkler.  I like the name Henry Winkler, but I think Fonzie would have thought he was too cool for a normal name like that.  In fact, there probably could have been a whole episode with that plot, like the Full House episode where Jesse tries to hide the fact that his real name is Melvin, or Marvin, or something like that. Oh, the irony.

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Disclaimer: I happen to like all of the names mentioned above - they are good, strong names! In fact Henry is a family name on my side, and I like it a lot.  I'm talking about fictional character's opinions of the aforementioned names only.  

What does this have to do with the previous two points?  Well, Henry Winkler played a music teacher in Here Comes The Boom.  Other than that, absolutely nothing.  It's just been on my mind.

-I clearly prefer movies aimed at children and/or older TV shows to most of the junk they make today.

Okay, that's it.  Glad I got that off my chest.
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