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I had another one of those unforgettable experiences in a movie theater. When the story teller can reach deep into my soul and squeeze out hope, cheer, anticipation, delight and joy I am very impressed. The movie August Rush did that to me.
A baby is given away by a confused grandfather too fixated on his own desires vicariously lived through his daughter. She was made to believe that the baby had died. For eleven years she mourned, giving up so much of her life, dreams and loves.
The son of two unusually gifted musicians, little Evan blossomed with his own amazing musical talent. For him the music wasn’t his creation but life itself. To compose or perform was a chance to let it out. Yet, intricately he believed that this music would be a way to call out to his parents, a way to find each other.
His mother a gifted cellist lost her heart for music, while mourning the loss of her newborn son. After years of cajoling and coaxing, something made her believe that she was supposed to play again. And play she did.
Can you imagine someone giving up when she had the talent to solo with a world-class orchestra? Then, after years of idleness picks up her virtuoso talent to again be featured in Central Park? You need to see this movie.
Evan’s father also regained a vision for his music. Through a number of coincidental moments, he ended up giving great advice, shared experience and personal resolve to his son. Neither even knew that they were related. Does this make sense? You need to watch this movie.
Did you ever see a child prodigy and want to find out what makes him tick? Can you imagine a youngster teaching himself music, musical instruments and composition? You have to go and see this movie.
Mix the music and get ready to cheer on a mom who is not only beautiful and talented but tenacious. Her maternal instincts kick into hyper-drive once she learns that her son is not dead but very much alive. Her heroic search is relentless, loving, devoted, faithful and doggedly determined to find her son.
Lila won my heart. Her son Evan charmed my loyalty. Wizard delighted me, disappointed me, then earned my pity. It was a movie that gave me a chance to write my own ending. That was the easiest and most delightful part of the film. As the credits scrolled in silence, I wanted to whisper to all who were in the theater with me, “Do you hear it?”
There was a moment of respite in my end-of-the-year incredibly hectic schedule. A combination of good news gave me a chance to head home early. I even had time to squeeze in a matinee movie. My choice was the film “Enchanted.” It came highly recommended.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. The movie is a children’s film. In my mind the trailers weren’t convincing. Adult opinions that followed changed my mind.
This is a film about the blending of the world of make-believe into the real world. Fantasy characters are thrust through a portal by an evil queen who is jealous and prideful. Each character from the world of fantasy transforms into a humanoid and lands in New York. But, each arrives with their fantasy personality, culture and costume.
It is comical, amazingly creative and just plain fun. Blending the two worlds of real and imaginary was fantastic. Then, I was fascinated to watch the characters change, morph into their new setting. It wasn’t easy to fit in. Misunderstandings abounded. It was so awkward I started to pay attention to the message behind the conflicts.
The wonderful values of love, belief, trust, and romance were all a part of this story. These higher ideals took over the story. Sillyness and fun had disguised the realization that we have all lost something special in our cynical world. We can regain it.
I was tickled by the test of a true love kiss. This measure of the presence of true love is something I believe has a great deal of merit. It may require some scientific testing to insure its veracity, however. That means repeated experiments. We might have a very good idea here.
Belief in the good that can happen when love has its way is a worthy consideration for all of us. After all, anticipation of eventual other-worldly good is what all of us who are people of faith hope for, isn’t it?
That amazing triad is replete throughout this fun film. Faith, hope and love is still God’s immeasurable gift to all who dare to look His way. If our children who see this movie rejunvinate their passion for true love and a happy-ever-after, then that is a very good thing. Maybe all of us adults who can find a little one as an excuse to go and see it ourselves would also find it a good thing. It’s a classic case of the lesser pointing out the joy of something far greater.
We who are their audience can wind down and relax at Christmas. We are off of work, reunited with family and we can sleep in! They can’t. I got a glimpse of that the other day.
On the newscast they reported a brief story about last-minute shoppers. They identified several stores that would be open all night on Christmas eve. The story even included stores that would be open on Christmas day for the very last minute gifts.
Wrapping up that story was what drew out my grin. The anchor anticipated the inevitable. Once all of the gifts were opened on Tuesday, he announced that the day after Christmas is the biggest day of returns in the year. I chuckled. I couldn’t relate.
God blessed our home and filled it with all of our children. I love a full house. The laughter, teasing, conversation, reflection, old stories retold and the smiles. Of course this means that the dishes are piled high, stuff is scattered around, lights are left on, the TV is constantly being used and food is every where. But, I love it.
I went to church on Christmas Eve. It is our candle light service. Dear friends and the celebration of Jesus’ anticipated birthday took an hour out of our day. There were hugs, smiles, well-wishes, reports of good news, and great cheer. I loved it all.
Everything shaped up to be a wonderful Christmas. Then, in moments of reflection I imagined what I would really miss at Christmas. It certainly is not a regrettable gift that needs to be returned. It certainly is not a forgotten gift that I need to buy. The only longing that I would like to change is deeper than that. It is about people that I love.
I see familiar faces. They are miles away. They are represented in Christmas cards piled in a basket in our kitchen. Some connect via email or quick text message. Lives of amazing friends scattered around the world are on my mind. Some are relatives. Some are hurting. They are friends for life. I would love to be with them.
My hope is that they will know how much they mean to me during this special season of the year. Stories of great shared adventures with great friends tug at my soul. Relationships that will last into eternity fill my heart. Special people who are far away is what I miss the most at Christmas. I love my friends.
In the very entertaining movie Home Alone, it was Christmas. Multi-colored lights decked every house, tinsel hung on every Christmas tree, festive music filled the town square, warmly dressed people scurrying around doing last minute shopping were all a part of the atmosphere.
With this cheerful backdrop there were families experiencing painful tensions. Through many twists and turns and comic relief the story gave us the happy ending that we all desired. The bad guys get caught, an estranged father is reunited with his son and the Christmas spirit is restored in Kevin’s own family just in time for Christmas.
Christmas ought to be just like this story ends. It’s a special time of the year. People should be big enough to set aside petty arguments. There are plenty of other days for knit picking, fighting and perpetuating grudges. Maybe a truce in all strained relationships is a good thing to call during this time of year. I like that idea for Christmas.
Anxiety from the pressures of the economy ought to be postponed too. All year long bills pile up. Many of us offset here and offset there just to distribute what little we have to make ends meet. Christmas shouldn’t add to that.
Creative gifting, shared meals, simplified celebration makes so much sense. Rather than build in the regret for months in the year to come, we can enjoy dialing expenses back and enjoying the ones we love much more than getting caught in the wild spending. I like that idea for Christmas a lot.
Christmas lights are really fun. I loved the idea of putting up lights and using our home as a pallet for highlighting our love of the Savior’s birth. My neighbors are great at it. Some have a creative eye and can easily be called semi-pros at what they do. Rather than get caught up in the comparison dynamic, I am so happy just to do a few simple things. Then, I admire what my neighbors do. Admiring the work of others and not feeling the pressure to compare is another idea that I like for Christmas.
But, in the movie the Christmas backdrop still included the church. Christmas carols lauding the real reason for Christmas was distinctively present. It is Jesus’ birthday. It’s about the story of God’s grace and gift of forgiveness through His son that Christmas highlights. Keeping that at the center is the best idea that I really like. Merry Christmas, everyone!
photo credit: google image
Men go after preparation like they hunt. They target and acquire. Variety is limited, interest is limited, and time is limited. There’s always time before an evening to squeeze in a chore or advance a home repair project or finish one more errand. It’s a matter of efficiency.
Thirty minutes is all a guy needs to get ready. A quick shower, touch up shave, and put on the clothes for the evening. Choose the special occasion suit over the business suit. Done!
What most men need to change is their attitude towards women when it comes to preparation for an evening out. First, be prepared to wait. Waiting isn’t all that bad. Anticipation is part of the eventual value. Second, it is impossible to be complimentary when we are annoyed at being late for an event.
After all this historical tension between men and women preparing for an event is rooted in original creation. When God first created man He did so with functionality in mind. Man’s first chore was to name all of the animals. It was a task. It was a challenge. No problem for man. He was ready and willing to take on the assignment. In His mind it was well defined, measurable and well within his capability even though he had never done anything like this in his life.
When the animals were paraded in front of him, he named them appropriately. An elephant, a tiger, a giraffe, a monkey and so on and so on. One caveat that seems likely as well. He observed and distinguished that each set of animals had a male and female.
Imagine him at a pond and naming a frog, noticing again male and female. The frogs hop away and he sees his reflection in the water and whispers the word, “Man,” and wonders, “male only.” God takes one of his ribs and fashions the most beautiful of all creation and presents her to him and he is ecstatic! As I interpret the Hebrew into English, Adam says, “Whoa, Baby, you’re hot! Where have you been all of my life!”
Don’t miss it men. At the first presentation of the woman to man God took His time to prepare her while man took a nap during the whole process. Take it easy when she’s getting ready. It’s how God planned it from the beginning. Besides, that’s why women look so fabulous and we men just look the way we do.
Trying to figure women out is a great and complex study for us men. We will likely be forever students of God’s greatest creation. At least as a professional educator myself, I have never met a male who has successfully graduated with this major.
Christmas gives us a laboratory to observe a few wonderful truisms about women. On the one hand, men are hunters. God has wired the male of the species to stay on task. We scout out the possibilities, preselect the stores and acquire our objective. For all of us men it is a simple formula.
With purchase securely bagged we return to our car and smile. The hood is still warm. We check our wrist watch and are deeply satisfied that we accomplished our objective within a thirty minute span.
On the other hand, women shop a completely different way. God has hidden a mystery chip inside these absolutely gorgeous creatures. Some times there is a specific shopping list. Then again, sometimes there is no shopping list. Rather, a few general ideas are attached to some specific items. This is enough to define a shopping venture.
General ideas are broadly defined and cater to a woman’s desire to relate to whatever she is seeking. The shopping is as a much an experience as it is a purposeful errand. Eventually the errand will be achieved . . . eventually. Just don’t disturb the process or the “eventually” will be delayed. There is no hurrying the procedure. Changing her mind is also allowed . . . often.
Did you hear the secret? A woman’s shopping is a matter of process. Whether a specific objective is immediately achieved or not is beside the point. Eventually, gifts will be purchased. But, the searching and relating and touching and experiencing are all essential.
In fact while a man can be frustrated when a targeted object is not secured women can be completely content with the experience of looking without purchasing. Or for some purchasing in quantity is the experience. For them the aftermath of exchanges, returns and storage produces the desired results. Gifts shake down by attrition.
So for us men who accompany women on Christmas gift shopping ventures there are some vital principles to put into practice. First, abandon the male instinctive method of seek and acquire. Second, dismiss the desire of a thirty minute or less time table. Third, instead hunting for the next item on the list, just enjoy watching her. She’s beautiful and fun to behold.
Nine years ago I accepted a new job offer. It would require a move to Michigan. Oregon friends teased me incessantly, “Bruce, people don’t move TO Michigan, they move FROM Michigan. Do realize that it snows there? It snows a lot.”
I was polite with my friends. But, inside my resolve was being fortified. Finally, I had to do something. It was time to drive a stake in the ground.
I marched into a local shop and scanned the displayed merchandise. My eyes locked on the product that I was seeking. Several models were on display. I was shopping for a snow thrower.
While I admired the various units, a salesman arrived with great enthusiasm, “Do you see one that you like?” That was all the invitation that I needed. I had already studied the comparison charts. My choice was a 5HP, auger style, self propelled, reverse transmission, variable speed, easy start model.
The salesman complemented me on my selection. Like two men who understood the language of manhood we both nodded and admired this magnificent machine, “I’ll take it!”
“Great choice. You won’t be disappointed,” he smiled with approval. Then, he disappeared to fill my order. He was gone a long time. When he returned, he was not alone. His new companion was the owner of the store.
He apologized, “The price on this unit that you have chosen is miss-marked. Someone put the wholesale price on it. However, to be fair to you, I will sell it to you at that price. It would help me if you would be willing to take it in the crate and assemble it yourself.”
Quickly, I responded, “Sure, I’m moving to Michigan.”
“Great! We are the only store in Portland that sells these. There’s not enough snow locally to have much of a demand for them. This unit will serve you well in those Midwest snow storms.” Now, all three of us men took a quiet moment and admired this gleaming unit.
I fired up my Oregon-purchased snow thrower the other day for the start of its ninth winter in Michigan. It started flawlessly and growled like a lion. Most importantly of all, it ate up the Midwest snow like a hungry college student devouring a just-delivered hot pizza.
This was my stake in the ground. Once God clearly leads He will fortify our resolve and resiliency to live contentedly where He moves us.
We recently had the most snow in a single day since moving here to Michigan. This is our 9th winter here in the great state of the Great Lakes. Nine inches lay around us with more snow predicted. The local forecast lists the eventual total near 12 inches. Meteorologists explained that this was a once in a decade kind of storm.
There was enough snow now that I could pull out my high tech snow shoes for a winter hike. After doing some chores, I laid out plans for my personal activity. Layers of clothes was the strategy for this adventure. The internet gave me a detailed local forecast, including temperatures, wind and precipitation readings.
Modern fabrics in various layers of breathable but water repellent qualities were my best choices for the afternoon. I was going snow shoeing around our beautiful paths in our neighborhood. On countless hikes I have covered nearly every foot of pathways that web their way through our woods.
I strapped on my snow shoes and slung on both poles. Then, I pulled on my knit cap with a face mask. Great clothes and good equipment set me up for a rigorous work out in the freshly fallen snow.
A few quick steps brought back memories of balance, timing and rhythmic shoeing technique. Old patterns of winters past quickly returned. Balance and keeping myself moving was deliberate and intentional.
I paused at the trail head about 50 yards down our street. I looked into the woods and a clear path of undisturbed snow lay in front of me. Smoothly my equipment kicked through the soft blanket of water crystals and I disappeared from domestic sight.
Only trees and bushes surrounded me. Boulders shaped like giant marshmallows from the snow softened the landscape. The wind kicked up swirls of snowy drifts. Just a few snow flakes floated down from the sky.
The trail welcomed the first human blazing a trail since the snow storm came through our area. Now the mighty evergreen trees stood with bowed limbs swollen with a coat of white. Naked deciduous trees no longer were bare but covered with pure white snow, almost proud of a new winter coat.
It was such a pristine scene. What a privilege to be there. God is such an artist!
My world does not know dancing.
I have always known music as the language of the world. But, some how I missed out on the truism of equal value, “Dance is the song of the soul.” How did this happen?
Is it possible to engage great music and NOT move to it? There is a natural “soulish” reaction when music is played. God made us that way. However, my life is at least one that has made this unnatural disconnect possible. What a loss.
Oh, I remember all of arguments and the pressure to dismiss dancing for a myriad of good reasons. Or at least reasons that sounded good. Now, with a lot of life behind me I have come to realize that I missed out.
Part of my life’s philosophy is to live every day to its fullest. I choose to live with no regrets. But, honestly, this missing out on dancing is testing my philosophical resolve.
Every time that I attend a wedding reception I feel awkward. I don’t know how to dance. More and more I am meeting friends who know how to cut up the carpet or put a sheen on the hardwood. I’m left clumsily holding up the wall.
Tell me again, how did I miss out? Some how the fun, life and energy make those old arguments against dancing seem just that, old. I’m not convinced that this is a moral issue of Biblical proportions either.
The other night I watched John Tesh perform a PBS special. He featured dance. In his show there was his amazing music. To the myriad of musical styles that he visually presented he incorporated a dance blend of hip hop and ballet.
Tesh explained that hip hop artists do more than dance to the music. They physically react to the music. He demonstrated with a hip hop dancer.
First, there was rap rhythm. Then, there was melodic rock. Finally, there was a thought intertwined with sound effects. To each genre the hip hop artist reacted to the blend of sound and theme. It is amazing that the body can move like that.
I was on my computer writing while the Tesh show was airing. My writing was interrupted several times when I turned around from my desk to watch the movements and took in the sounds. The best that I can do is tap my foot and bob my head. That’s a sorry level of participation. Tell me again why I missed out?