We Are At War: A Movie Review of “War Room”

War RoomI learned very early on in my marriage that my husband is not my enemy. We definitely have an enemy, but it is not each other. The movie “War Room” makes that very clear.

This movie is an unapologetic Christian film focused on a young couple with a young daughter who are caught up in the troubles of this world. He is a successful pharmaceutical salesman and she is a rising realtor. And their marriage is in trouble.

I’ve spent just a little bit of time perusing some reviews, and it’s evident that if you don’t understand spiritual things, you absolutely won’t understand the power of prayer and what affect God can have in a person’s life and marriage. The intention of the Kendrick brothers (writer and co-directors) was definitely not to say that abused women should stay with their abusers, as some have suggested. It’s a story of redemption and prayer and God’s work in our daily lives.

Yes, Tony was not a good husband. He had a wandering eye, a problem with business ethics and a distant relationship with his young daughter. But he was not a physical abuser and deserved to be given a chance to repent and reform. Truth is, God changes lives. It happens all the time.

I’ve mentioned that I’m not the most discerning of movie goers, but I really, really liked this movie. When we walked out, I said to David, “Did we just go to church?” People were praising God, saying “hallelujah!” and cheering all through out this God-honoring film. There was truth, there was laughter, there were tears. There were people of faith understanding that prayer is powerful and it is a battle.

The premise, of course, is that we are waging war everyday against our real enemy, Satan. Once Elizabeth started praying for her husband, Tony, things started to change. One scene I loved, and that I think should be repeated in every household in the world, was when Elizabeth finally decided to get serious about her relationship with God and walked her house kicking Satan out of every room, proclaiming that he had no place there because Jesus was now in charge. That brought down the house!

Scoff at the scene of Miss Clara thwarting a mugging by rebuking the thief in Jesus’ name? There are stories on record of that actually happening.

Think Tony had no redeeming qualities and that Elizabeth should have just dumped him and moved on? Yeah, that’s what a lot of people do nowadays. But thanks be to God that no one is beyond hope.

Instead of bemoaning her situation, Elizabeth accepted Miss Clara’s challenge to pray that God would change things. This is not an uncommon occurrence for people of faith. But the Bible says that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). What seems utterly ridiculous to those who think they know is exactly what God uses to accomplish His purposes.

Go see “War Room.” Give God a chance to show His power. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Our Unbridled Freedom Will Lead To Our Ultimate Destruction

eagle-of-freedom-31539Freedom of religion.

Freedom of speech.

Right to bear arms.

Freedom of assembly.

The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We hear a lot about freedom in America. But what happens when those freedoms have no boundary?

Freedom OF religion becomes freedom FROM religion. Your religion is wrong, so you shouldn’t be able to practice it. If someone doesn’t believe in God, then your practice of our religion offends them. There should be no sign of faith in any public place. That’s not freedom. It’s no longer about practicing your religion without government interference; it’s about demanding that I not be offended because of your beliefs. Without the boundary of love, that freedom has become twisted until it’s unrecognizable from its original intent.

Freedom of speech becomes license to spew hatred to any who disagree.  You have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, about whomever you want. The other person’s feelings don’t matter. It’s not about being able to voice your opinion without fear of prosecution anymore. Without the boundary of love, that freedom wounds deeply and wins no souls.

The right to bear arms becomes an incensed fight to stockpile weapons that have nothing to do with hunting or hobby. It doesn’t take into consideration logical arguments about waiting periods and mental health. Other fears, experiences and thoughts on the matter aren’t important. Without the boundary of love, that freedom screams irresponsibility and insensitivity.

Freedom of assembly becomes an excuse to riot and destroy and loot in the name of a worthy cause that could be so much better supported with peaceful demonstration. You’ll get your 15 minutes of fame, all right, but what have you proven about yourself? Without the boundary of love, that freedom simply shows the world your worst side.

The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness becomes an excuse to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, to hide our elderly in nursing homes, to forget the disenfranchised, to change our gender, to marry whomever we want, or to do anything else that we might see as the way to our happiness. We can justify anything. There are no longer black and white issues. Nothing is wrong anymore. It’s MY life. Stay out of it! Without the boundary of love, those rights are excuses to make things more convenient for ourselves.

We’ve lost our moral compass. In the name of freedom we are chasing every wind and demanding that we be allowed to do whatever we want without interference, and the government is catering to the loudest voice. And the consequences of this unbridled freedom will be our ultimate destruction.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Free to love, free from the tyranny of sin, free to worship God with no barrier, free from condemnation because Jesus already paid the price. But shall we then use that freedom as a license to sin?

May it never be.

A Sponge Out Of Place

sponge on the roadSometimes when I ride my bike in the mornings before it gets too hot, I happen upon some strange things. The other day, it was a dried out kitchen sponge just lying in the middle of the bike lane in a quiet neighborhood. Trash isn’t necessarily hard to find, but I found this little yellow sponge to be uniquely out of place, and a poignant reminder of a spiritual truth: Unless we are soaking in the presence of the Living Water, we will be like that sponge in the middle of the road.

What do I mean by that exactly? Well, what was that sponge doing? Was it fulfilling its purpose? No. It was dried up. It had been cast aside, or lost. It was insignificant.

Take that sponge back to a body of clean water, and it could once again do what it was meant to do. It might need a run through the washing machine first, but what once was a dried up piece of trash that nobody wanted would become a useful household item again, doing what it was created to do.

I’m not suggesting we have to be doing something to be acceptable to our Heavenly Father. He loves us whether we’re doing what we were created to do or not. But how much better is it when we are walking with Him, doing what He wants us to do, and fulfilling our God-given purpose.

I didn’t pick up that old sponge that day and take it home and rehabilitate it. But that’s what God has done for each one of us. He has poured His Spirit into us and given us purpose. I know I’m happiest when I’m doing what God wants me to do. How about you?

3 Things I Learned On The Day I Got Engaged

Today is the 25th anniversary of the day my husband asked me to marry him.

sc0079bb1fAs I reflect on that day, there are a few things that I might not have realized then, but that I’ve come to see as truths over the last 25 years.

1. Though I always wanted to have someone to love me best, little did I fully know that I already did. Though we loved each other and were excited about embarking on this new adventure, if David and I had any notion that we were the answer to each other’s emotional needs, we were going to be sadly disappointed. David is not the answer to that dream I had of having someone always know where I was and love me more than anyone else, though he does those things (except the knowing where I am part. Sometimes he forgets). Jesus already did that. I know, I know, He doesn’t play favorites, but the fact of the matter is, if I was the only one in need of salvation, He still would have died for me. That’s pretty spectacular.

2. That day was the beginning of a lifelong learning process. I’ve had friends who have struggled with the question: How can I be sure? I would venture to say that it’s not a matter of knowing that your marriage will be all wine and roses, but knowing that this person is someone you’re going to make the choice to stay with and love and support for the rest of your life. I’ve been married 24+ years, and there are still things I’m learning about my husband. And he’s not the same man I married, so I have to grow and learn and change right along with him. Thank God we’re not the same. How sad would that be, to not have grown and changed after 24 years?

3. Getting to be with my best friend every day is the best thing ever. We can look at each other now and see the gray in our engagement anniversaryhair and the extra pounds which we have to work really hard to keep off. We can look at our 3 kids and know that some day, it will be down to just the 2 of us again (and probably still a multitude of small animals, if he keeps agreeing to me having them) because time keeps marching on. But we still love to do things together. We still have to tell each other we’re sorry and to ask forgiveness. We still have to date and play and laugh together. And we still have to choose every single day to say yes, I’d marry you all over again.

Happy engagement anniversary, Hunny! Thanks for proposing 25 years ago.

You might enjoy previous posts I’ve written on this day last year and the year before.

Cinderella: A Movie Review


 My 12-year-old daughter and I went to see “Cinderella” the other day. I’m not a huge Disney princess fan, but I like the idea of the live-action movies. I must say, I loved this one. As Morgan and I ate lunch afterward and talked about it, I wondered aloud, “Is there anything about this movie that I didn’t like?”

First of all I need to admit that I’m not a really discerning movie watcher. I don’t analyze lighting, the musical score, costumes, etc. If I like the story and feel it was well acted, that’s good enough for me. Here are 4 things I really enjoyed about this new movie.

1. Good dad models. First we have Ella’s dad. He loved her and her mother beyond the moon. Yes, he was gone a lot with his job as a merchant, but when he was home, he was all there. He wasn’t afraid to tell Ella that he loved her, and he wasn’t afraid to show her he cared. 

Then there’s the king. In this movie, the prince is called “Kit,” as he says that’s what his dad calls him when he’s not peaved with him. The king is kind, thoughtful, and also isn’t afraid to tell his son that he loves him. The respect and love between them is evident and sweet.

2. The fact that you don’t have to have a dark soul to be interesting. Ella is faced with monumental grief when he mom dies (not a spoiler: everyone knows Cinderella has an evil stepmother) and yet her focus is rarely on herself. When she’s grieving her banishment from the ball and her mistreatment by her “family,” an old hag asks her for bread and milk. Without hesitation, Ella provides it. She genuinely cannot understand why her stepmother is so evil. Ella is sweet, caring and kind. Which leads to the 3rd thing I liked:

3. The running theme of having courage and being kind. Before she died, Ella’s mother said to her, “Have courage and be kind. Promise me!” And Ella never forgets those words. She lives them out her whole life. Again after being banished from the ball by her stepmother, Ella runs to the garden and cries out to her mother, apologizing because she’s tried to be courageous, but feels that she has let her mother down, because she just has no courage. But she does. To stay kind in the midst of mistreatment takes courage. Bitterness is easy.

4. Humor keeps the spirit light. I admit it, I cried at least 4 times during this movie. But I also laughed. The magic was lighthearted and the computer animation of the mice turned horses and the lizards who become footmen and the goose who becomes the coachman who doesn’t know how to drive served a humorous purpose that made this story of the poor cinder girl easier to bear.

There is no bad language; there is no sex —just 1 kiss between Kit and Ella after they marry; there is no violence (unless you count a cat chasing a mouse and crashing into a cabinet in the pursuit). 

I will be purchasing this movie when it comes out on BluRay so that we can enjoy it again and again. I recommend it for audiences of any age, even though a mother and father dying might be hard on the littlest of kids. Well done, Disney.

“Old Fashioned”: A Movie Review

old-fashionedI have read a lot of blog posts recently about the blockbuster movie “50 Shades of Grey.” I never read the books, I don’t plan on seeing the movie. I have read a lot fewer posts on the movie “Old Fashioned.” In fact, I’ve only read one, and what that one writer had to say was that most “Christian” movies are “painfully” bad.

I have to disagree.

Whereas I agree with some of points the writer was making (you can read the post here), I thought that “Old Fashioned” did more than just give us a treacly story that spouts Christian doctrine to an audience in need of salvation (my words, not the author’s). The blog post author calls it a “response” to “50 Shades,” but I disagree. I think it stands on its own without apology.

“Old Fashioned” is the story of Clay and Amber, 2 diametrically opposed 20-somethings both fighting their own demons. Clay seems to be trying to prove something by setting relational standards for himself that others find odd and restricting. He refuses to be alone with a woman who is not his wife; he doesn’t believe in dating; he won’t kiss his future wife on the lips until they’re standing before the preacher. Some might think that’s how moral, God-fearing young men should act, but for Clay, his convictions don’t seem to have their root in a relationship with God, but rather a desire to excise his personal demons.

Amber, on the other hand, is a fun-loving young woman who keeps a big jar on top of her refrigerator into which she puts all her cash. Why? Because as soon as it’s full, she knows she has enough for gas money to leave again. She’s lived in 14 states in just a few years. Some might call her a free spirit. But she’s really just someone deathly afraid of forming lasting bonds that will some day cause her great pain.

Is “Old Fashioned” a poorly made movie? Is the overtly Christian message offensive? Looking beyond the obvious to catch the underlying themes is what discerning movie goers and readers really want, and I think what’s below the surface in “Old Fashioned” would satisfy any who are willing to look. Could the movie just be written off as a sanitized version of a titillating rival? It could, but I think that does it a grave disservice. Is the acting top tier? Probably not. I didn’t recognize any of the names.  But I cried, and I laughed, and I loved the way the movie made me feel throughout. From the feisty old aunt to the misogynistic friend to the flower shop owner who just wants to find love, the characters in the movie are believable.

I’m no film critic, but I know what I like, and “Old Fashioned” fits the bill. Even my husband, who is more of the action-adventure-the-more-explosions-the-better type of guy, liked it. So that’s got to tell you something.

Five Near-Birthday Observations

Birthday-Cake-With-Candles-10I’m 2 days away from my 53rd birthday. And I’m OK with that.

I’m sitting on my back porch this late December morning, in 70+ degree weather, remembering the gathering of 50 friends I had around me for my 50th. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years. Wow. Time does fly; it’s not just an old adage.

My eldest turned 18 2 days ago, and I’m OK with that, too. It doesn’t make him a different person. It doesn’t make me less his mom. His journey to manhood keeps going.

And my journey continues as well. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way of my 53 years.

1. People come and go from our lives all the time.

It’s a smaller world now than it used to be. We have text messaging that puts us in touch with people instantly. We have Facebook, which gives us a glimpse into their lives. But sometimes, we just have to let people go and be thankful that we got to spend a little time with them anyway.

2. Age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to friendships.

I have friends who are in their 80s, I have friends who are in their 20s. Since I had my kids a bit later in life, the majority of moms I hang out with are a lot younger than I. I may not be as hip as they, but they keep me feeling younger than I really am.

3. Faith is not a feeling.

I am going through a highly annoying health issue right now associated with menopause, and it has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. But one thing I have said over and over is that I would rather have Jesus and this issue than no issue and no Jesus. No issue with Jesus would be ideal, but if that never happens, can I be content? If I don’t feel like God is even listening, does that mean He’s not? If God’s character was based on my perception, than He wouldn’t be much of a God. He’s a lot bigger than how I feel.

4. I really and truly am not in control.

There’s a saying: “Man makes his plans and God laughs.” I think God does a lot of chuckling when He’s listening to me. I like to have things planned out. We take a trip, I like to know where we’re stopping along the way. I want to know where my kids are and what they’re doing. I want to be in the know for anything that’s going on around me. But you know what? That’s not how God wants me to live my life. He is in control and if things don’t go the way I think they should, that’s because He’s got something better in mind. Boy, that’s good head knowledge; now if I could just put it into practice.

5. Last but not least, there is no hope for this world apart from Jesus.

A day does not go by that we don’t hear about some terrible tragedy or another. People dying, evil dictators torturing their detractors, planes mysteriously disappearing from thin air. Evil seems to be rampant and taking over the world. And there is no hope for it aside from Jesus. You can’t legislate morality and you can’t expect anything to get better if people’s hearts remain unregenerate. Protests, laws, micro-management are not going to help. Only Jesus.

So, 53 years are almost in the books. There are many more lessons to be learned.  What are some of the truisms you’ve learned on your journey?


Image from november2013calendar.org