Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Praises of God

John 12: 37-43

“But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:

‘Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?’

But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said:

‘The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts – so that their eye cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.’

Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”

This passage makes me sad. I know far too many people who have not believed… yet.

But I also feel sad because of the Jewish leaders in this passage who DID believe, but were afraid to admit it because they loved the praise of man more than the praise of God.

I wonder, sometimes, if I might be like that. Or at least, I have my moments.

But when I read this the other day, the last three words put a smile on my face.


Because it proves there is such a thing as the praise of God.

Maybe it’s because we confuse praise with love…

Maybe it’s because we see God as a harsh judge and not a tender parent…

Whatever the reason, I wonder how often we hear the praises of God, the affirmations of a job well done, an encouraging boost when we’ve done something right.

Yes, I know, our righteousness is like filthy rags.

But, that doesn’t mean our good deeds don’t matter.

Here’s the thing – when we do what God tells us to do, we earn His praise.

Not His love or grace – those are gifts for which no price (or deed or right-ness) can ever be applied.

His Praise, though, can be earned.

It doesn’t make us better than anyone else, it doesn’t increase the measure of God’s love or grace.

No, His praises are like a parent’s when we bring home a good report card, treat our siblings with sweet smiles instead of pinches and tattle-tales, clear the dishes without being asked, keep our rooms clean.

God proves it, gives us an example with His own Son, right after John the Baptist baptizes Jesus. He says, out loud for everyone to hear it, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)

Did He say that because Jesus was perfect? Sinless?

No. He said it because Jesus chose to do the will of His Father.

We can be awarded the same privilege… if we, too, choose to do the will of our Father.

How cool.

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground today! See you GOOD FRIDAY!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sold Out

What’s more annoying than stepping up to the box office and hearing those hated words, sold out? Plans dashed.

Or how about Black Friday, after getting up way before dawn, and standing in lines and jostling a few rival shoppers, just to miss out on the fantastic deals?

We don’t like finding out that what we want is sold out.

The phrase also doesn’t bode well when we’re confronted with a person who has compromised their principles or double-crossed a friend for personal gain. We say they’ve sold out. No one likes a traitor.

Perhaps the negative connotations of the phrase sold out keep us from embracing the concept of being sold out for a good cause. Dedicating everything in your life to a singular, worthy, life-affirming call.

For instance, for Jesus. The One Who sold out for us.

In church yesterday, the Holy Spirit put a finger on the thin, red (I’m imagining it red for some reason) strand of rebellion that runs through the tapestry of my life, the one that keeps me from being completely sold out for Him. The one that lies to me and tells me that everything is fine, that I’m a good little Christian and that I’m doing plenty to serve my Lord and Savior.

Truth is, I’m far from being sold out.

I watched The Last Samurai the other day. Good flick, although it ranks up there with Glory and Saving Private Ryan as those difficult to watch. Anyway, it reveals that the word Samurai means servant. It was the precursor to the conviction I felt in church, because I admitted to myself that my life doesn’t show half of the discipline of the traditional warrior.

I don’t plan on becoming a samurai. I’m not sure girls are even aloud. And I don’t presume that anything I do will trump God’s grace or add to my kudos column or motivate Jesus to love me more or put me ahead of any of my brothers and sisters in Christ. None of those are valid or profitable reasons to serve. Actually, they negate the definition of service/servant.

My motivation has to be love… the unconditional, perfect kind Jesus offers me.

In a love relationship, service is a pleasure, a desire, and a joy.

The essence of being sold out.

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground this Monday before Easter!

(photos by

Friday, March 26, 2010

Proclamation in Palm and Perfume

Palm Sunday sticks out in my remembrance as a big deal when I was growing up.

I wouldn’t be able to say how many times this actually occurred, but it seemed like tradition to go to Grandma’s church on Palm Sunday, receive an actual palm frond from the usher, and participate in the children’s church portion of the service during which we got to reenact Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. If my memory serves me correctly, we really shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the King of Kings!”

And that was fun because we got to shout in church.

More than that, of course, it laid a foundation for me to grasp the importance of this historical event and embrace its spiritual significance.

Sadly, it’s been a while since I’ve celebrated Palm Sunday with such extravagance. So I thought I’d at least look into it, read the passage this year to commemorate the day.

I found out some cool stuff.

Ever wonder where all the people came from who were waving palm branches and laying down their coats for Jesus’ simple steed to tread on? As a child, I believed everyone recognized Jesus when they saw him, so it stood to reason that a random, spontaneous crowd gathered to see Him into the city. I mean, I would have joined that party, wouldn’t you?

WELL, I found out that the crowd had a source. They had just come from feasting at Lazarus’ house. You know, the dude Jesus raised from the dead? (Interesting, don’t you think, since Jesus was heading for His death, from which He would also rise… And I love that Jesus visited His best friends, chose to spend a day with them, before He left earth.)

Anyway, Martha, sticking to character, served while Jesus and Lazarus lounged and ate and communed with the others in attendance.

Can you guess where the other sister, Mary, was?

True to form, she appeared at Jesus’ feet. She broke an expensive jar of perfume and anointed His feet with it.

Hmmmm… As a child, I never reenacted that one.

How sensitive and discerning Mary must have been to Jesus and who He was and what was about to happen.

The Bible records another account of a woman breaking an expensive vile of perfume over Jesus’ feet. She is only identified as “a sinner” and not believed to be this same Mary. Two events, two women, but their actions and motivations sort of coincide.

The nameless woman, who I think could represent any and all of us if our hearts are willing, performed her selfless act and received forgiveness of her sins.

Mary, Lazarus’ sister, performed her act as a symbolic preparation for Jesus’ burial, which was less than a week away, unbeknownst to most of them.

Jesus’ burial made it possible for the sins to be forgiven.


And both events proclaimed Jesus publicly as the Messiah, the only sin-forgiving Authority in the Universe.

I’d like to go in to Palm Sunday ’10 and the Passion Week with these two women and their stories in mind. Yes, praise Him with waving palms, but also worship Him with everything I have, in humility and love, with thanksgiving and gratitude.

Happy Palm Sunday!

Also, Happy Birthday to my wonderful earthly father. Love you, Papala!

(photos by

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Meek & Mighty

Remember Cinderella Man? Russell Crowe movie about real-life boxer, Jim Braddock? It's probably one of my top-ten favorite movies of all time.

If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you have, you should watch it again.

For those of you who know I am a Russell fan, I don’t recommend it on his merits alone. He’s just an added bonus for me.

The story is inspirational and challenging and encouraging. It tells about facing struggles in every day life. It teaches us not to give up… ever. It shows us it’s possible to get up one more time, throw one more punch, resurrect from a desperate situation stronger than before. It highlights family and love and relationships and faith. It demonstrates humility, boldness, confidence and victory.

We face struggles every day – some thrust upon us, some of our own doing, some purely in our imaginations and fears. This story incorporates biblical principles to illustrate how we can face those struggles bravely and victoriously. The journey will still be difficult, we’ll get pummeled and bloodied and knocked down. But if we just get up one more time, throw one more punch, keep on with every ounce of strength and fight left in us, we’ll win.

How do I know?

Because the fight has already been called. And the winner is Jesus.

I hope the following video montage/song encourages someone today! (Sorry, it won't let me embed) CLICK HERE TO WATCH! You'll be glad you did!!

Thanks for stopping by Dry Ground! See you Friday!

(photo by

Monday, March 22, 2010

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

Life is complicated.

Politics, economics, relationships, finances, ailments, accidents, ethics, goals, decisions, mistakes… on and on...

It’s a tightrope, a balance beam.

And it’s stressful.

Add job change and moving to new location where slate is clean but knowledge base vanishes, the stress meter kicks up a notch.

This past week, our first in Austin, I felt like I needed to accomplish everything all at once. Solve all the questions, fill in all the blanks, and… oh, yea… feed all the hungry, rescue all the hurting, save all the lost.

That’s probably why I had a mini-meltdown Thursday afternoon. J

It only lasted a couple of hours, and really it worked more as a stress-reliever. So all's good.

Enter… the weekend.

As uptight as I felt during the week, Fri.-Sun. felt like Easy Street. Everything was fun, upbeat, enjoyable.

The difference amazed me. And the reason behind it did too.

Life shouldn’t be complicated.

Life should be simple.


Keeping the main thing, the main thing.

Much of what stresses me out is distraction and nothing more, barriers meant to muddle me up and overwhelm me so that I can’t reach my purpose.

Significance is found in simplicity.

Realizing that was a relief in and of itself, like adding a cherry to the top of my sundae.

So, as you face this next week, remember to K.I.S.S. J

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground!

(photo by

Friday, March 19, 2010

Me, of Little Faith

“Come,” He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:29-31

The secret to keeping your feet dry is to stay focused on Jesus.

I like how Peter found himself on “dry ground” even while walking on the water.

Thank you, Lord, that if I fix my eyes and thoughts on you, my mind can be at perfect peace. (Isa. 26:3)

And thank you, Lord, that if I slip and my toes acquire a bit of mud, You are there with servant’s towel about Your waist, kneeling to wipe them clean. (John 13)

Oh, what a Savior.

(photos by

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Anchor Holds

The relocation process is exhausting.

Of course, there’s the physical aspect packing, loading, unloading, unpacking boxes and furniture. Under the surface of those waves, however, run the current of change, the disruption of all things usual – the eating schedule is destroyed, along with the sleeping, bathroom, and exercise schedules, the morning routine changes as it adapts to a new environment. It’s a turbulent time even though it might also be an exciting ride.

At times like these (and there have been several times like these in my life), my ship needs an anchor, something simple to tie me to real life and love and purpose, to remind me why I’m bothering to work through the stress and struggle, to keep me from being tossed on the swells or pulled under by the riptides.

Thanks to my amazing God and Perfect Lover, Jesus, I have an anchor… His Love Letter to me. Here are a few highlights…

Do justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)

We have this hope as an anchor… Jesus has become my high priest forever. (Heb. 6:19-20)

I have learned in everything to be content… (Phil. 4:11)

Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. "You are not perishing… why are you afraid?" (Matt. 8:23-27)

Whatever you’re facing today, know that you have an Anchor if you trust in Jesus. Keep walking the walk, and He’ll be that something holding your head above the water.

I guess you could say, He’s my Dry Ground. J

Thanks for visiting today. Enjoy sticking shamrocks in your caps and eating green eggs and ham!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Right Stuff

Sometimes, I waste too much time. I have funky days when I’m tired or moody or downright depressed, and I end up being no good to anyone. I'm missing all the right stuff.

Besides doing my best to make the next day better, I found something out recently that helped me forgive myself for those off days.

Here’s what I learned…

Doing right lasts longer than a day.

Yes, one bad day can ruin a reputation.

But a reputation built up over time, tested and true, can influence in ways you can’t even know about, even on the bad days.

You never know who’s watching and listening… your marriage, your work ethic, your language, your manners… or when your example makes a difference in someone else’s life.

Here’s the key – seek first God’s kingdom.

I don’t do right because people might be watching.

I do right because I love God and because He first loved me.

All glory to God if that causes another soul to turn into His embrace.

And if I have a bad day, then I depend on God’s grace and marvel at how He continues to shine through. After all, His righteousness is all that counts in the end. (Isa. 64:6)

Today, I covet your prayers as I attempt to “nest” in 850 Sq. Ft. J It’s temporary, but a challenge nonetheless.

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground! God Bless your week!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Moving Music

As you read this, I’m in a Penske somewhere between Knoxville, TN and Austin, TX. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep this short.

Another recent favorite song, again off the new Toby Mac CD, I did not notice it right away between funky Jesus music and other jivin’ rhythms that are instrumental in keeping me going through miles three and four.

But as I started really listening to track 6, the simple lyrics inspired me. I imagined physically seeing God’s face and pondered the effect it would have on me. And I wondered if spiritually seeing God’s face has made any marked change. I sure hope so, continuously and eternally. The song makes me rejoice in His intimacy and love toward me.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy Weekend! I’ll see you next week… live from Austin, Texas!!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death

Have you ever seen the movie Oscar?

No, it has nothing to do with the Academy Awards. I’m done on that subject until next year.

It’s a comedy starring Sylvester Stallone as a Prohibition-Era gangster named Angelo “Snaps” Provolone who, on this particular day of his life, is setting in motion his plan to go legit in honor of the promise he made to his dying father, a cameo made by Kirk Douglas. The day is full of interruptions, miscommunications, opportunistic lies leading to misunderstandings and comical errors. It’s good for quite a few laughs.

Anyway, many of the interruptions from various members of his family and staff get his attention with the phrase, “It’s a matter of life and death!”

What they really mean is: I really, really need to talk to you right now and so I’m going to exaggerate to the Nth degree because it’s the only way to get your attention.

Seldom is that phrase uttered when it really means a matter of life or death.

Getting a late start to your morning, dealing with slow-moving traffic, punching the time clock a few minutes after nine o’clock are not matters of life or death.

Forgetting to mail that letter or program the DVR or pick up the dry cleaning are annoyances, but not matters of life or death.

Even a heartbreak, an unexpected firing, or betrayal by a trusted friend – even those are seldom really matters of life or death. They hurt… drastically… but… life goes on.

Things are rarely as bad as we feel they are at first glance.

And there’s usually a silver lining somewhere in the clouds, a rainbow in the storm.

Things are flip-flopped.

On one hand, we make mountains out of molehills, aggrandize minor events believing the balance of life and death rests precariously on the edge of that mistake or disappointment or win or promotion or new pair of shoes.

These are the petty distractions that keep us from seeing the true, lethal threat.

Because on the other hand, convictions run short in our modern culture where an attitude of “anything goes” is rampant. Shoulders shrug too easily as people turn a blind eye to major distortions of the Truth and blatant sin. Where life and death are really in question, we ignore and excuse as if we didn’t know any better or are afraid to point it out.

How do we get turned back around to live in the right direction?

For me, mistakes or setbacks or errors make my stomach churn. Less than an A, not quite perfect, saying “oops” even once – it’s more like pit of snakes, arachnophobia, and self-flogging with a bone-chipped whip.

That sort of sounds like mountain out of molehill. Sort of. I’ll let you call it.

Although I might not admit it, I am constantly making minor moments into life or death matters. The worry and stress that causes clog me up mentally and spiritually, distracting me from truly important subjects, stunting my creativity so I don’t write (a.k.a. derail my purpose), and keep me from seeking God on both the minor and major issues.

Whenever worry strikes, I need to step back and evaluate.

Is the mistake or error or setback really a matter of life and death?

It’s the old adage… don’t cry over spilled milk. Sure, you need to clean it up, but crying over it won’t do any good.

I’m not thinking about this for my own well-being, though. I’m not trying to soothe away some mistake or error without “cleaning it up.” I’m actually thinking about how I treat others when they’ve erred, sinned, or made a mistake that affects me. Do I treat them like they’ve just signed my death warrant? Do I react like a psychopath and make them feel like they killed my puppy or something?

Or do I forgive?

If Jesus can forgive when His own death loomed eminent, how could I not? (Luke 6:37)

Besides, we all know people who are actually facing life/death situations. Do we really need to react adversely to anything less?

So, whether I’m confronted with my own shortcomings or the consequence of someone else’s actions or just an unstable circumstance, I hope I can determine that which is truly a matter of life and death (then address it) and that which is water under the bridge (and let it go). (John 8:36)

Thanks for visiting Dry Ground! Tomorrow is truck-packing day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Observations and Ovations

I had a busy Sunday.

Took my Daniel to the airport for one more trip.

Went to church.

Knocked out a few packing items on my list.

Went back to church and bid farewell to my dear friends.

Raced home, arriving just in time for my show… the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

Grabbed some chips and salsa.

Surrounded by cardboard, bits and pieces of things yet to be packed, bare beige walls, and armed with the remote and my FB page, I settled in to wait with baited breath to find out who gets top honors in my favorite medium – film.

Here are some of my Observations:

After 22 minutes – one award given.

Noticed that they switched phraseology to say: the winner is… instead of the recent the Oscar goes to

The John Hughes tribute was nice, especially watching as a child of the 80s.

I loved the short film montage/tutorial with directors Hackford, Frankel and Lasseter as they made a case for the importance of such an over-looked category.

Robin Williams presented best supporting actress usually presented by last year’s best supporting actor, but since that was Heath Ledger in 2008, they had to alter tradition.

Horror genre salute –So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did they have a horror movie salute planned and just let Kristen and Taylor present, or did they need to fit Kristen and Taylor in the show some how and decided to have them salute horror films??? And SINCE WHEN is NEW MOON a horror film??? That’s a pretty far stretch! As my Daniel reminded me, Summit Entertainment probably shelled the money out for that one. It’s not all about talent, eh?

Now, the Ovations:

Best Supporting Actor Winner: Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds

Best Animation Winner: Up – (totally deserved)

Best Original Screenplay Winner: Hurt Locker!

Best Makeup Winner: Star Trek! (my fave movie of ’09!)

Best Adapted Screenplay Winner: Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Best Supporting Actress Winner: Mo’Nique for Precious – good speech – “Sometimes, you have to forgo what’s popular to do what’s right.”

Best Set Decoration Winner: Avatar (sorry Sherlock Holmes and Young Victoria)

Best Costumes Winner: The Young Victoria (GREAT movie – glad to see it acknowledged!)

Best Sound Editing Winner: Hurt Locker!

Best Sound Mixing Winner: Hurt Locker!

Best Cinematographer Winner: Avatar

Best Original Score Winner: Up – speech included words supporting creativity in children. Good stuff.

Best Visual Effects Winner: Avatar – would have been criminal to lose this one, though – their technology is revolutionary.

Best Film Editing Winner: Hurt Locker!

Best Actor Winner: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart – must have been amazing performance – receives standing O! What deserves a standing O even more? 33 years of marriage to same woman! Wow. I can definitely applaud that.

Best Actress Winner: Sandra Bullock for Blind Side – touching speech – so glad she won.

Best Director Winner: Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker –historical! First woman EVER to win in this category. Great speech honoring military and keeping it as non-political as possible. She looked like she was about to pass out though. She was so excited and stunned.

Best Picture Winner: Hurt Locker!!!!!!! (I was quite excited when they announced it.)

And then… my un-official Ovations:

Host Rating – My fave is still Hugh Jackman from last year, but he did not accept the re-invite. I didn’t expect much from Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, but I laughed several times. I give them 6.5 out of 10 and certainly better than I expected.

Best Dressed – Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore looked amazing, but Sandra Bullock takes first prize – she looked stunning.

Worst dressed - Although Charlize Theron looked like she had cinnamon rolls stitched on her dress directly over her breasts (sorry, but it’s true), the prize goes to…Babs? Really? WHAT ARE YOU WEARING!?

Best Presenter – Tina Fey and Robert Downy, Jr. - writer vs. actor banter – priceless and appreciated!

Best Speech – although it sounded slightly rehearsed, Christoph Waltz gave an eloquent, poetic, visual speech about his voyage/experience under Quentin Tarantino’s direction. Well done and classy.

Best Special/Non-award – John Hughes tribute by his brat pack of actors. But poor Judd - I hope he is healthier than he looks.

So there you go. I appreciate you visiting Dry Ground today and indulging me as I gush about this particular obsession of mine. J I have warned before, though, that I’m truly a movie NERD!

Better wrap it up for today. Need some sleep. Got LOTS of packing to do.

Hope your week is BLESSED beyond your imagination! (Eph. 3:20)

(photos by

Friday, March 5, 2010

Opining Oscar

Amazing that a medium so diverse and subjective could garner such coveted attention as a little, golden statuette.

I know and appreciate that movie-making as an art form has do’s and don’t’s, industry standards determining that which is good or bad, well-done and poorly-produced. But when it comes to Best Picture, it all comes down to opinion, doesn’t it?

Maybe that’s why The Academy expanded that category this year to include ten films instead of five.

For years, I’ve watched the Oscars with baited breath, hoping for or against films being rewarded publicly. Some may wonder what the big deal is, but the movie industry is so huge, and their influence is unfortunately culture-forming. I know ultimately it doesn’t matter, but I’m at least interested to see who gets rewarded for doing what.

Anyway, the validity of the Oscars isn’t my point here. I LOVE movies, and I love to discuss with other movie-lovers their views, likes, opinions on the best of the year. So, I offer my take…

Best Picture Noms: Avatar, Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds (yes, that’s spelled correctly), Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, A Serious Man, Up, and Up in the Air

While all buzz supports an Avatar win, which I could accept for its technological advancements in film-making and the beautiful images it produced, my vote is for The Hurt Locker, despite the debate cropping up around it. Sure, I love Blind Side and Up (which should win best animation), and I appreciate Up in the Air. But, keeping in mind I haven’t seen all the nominations, The Hurt Locker is my pick because it kept me on the edge of my seat while Jeremy Renner diffused bombs as a soldier on a tour of duty in Iraq. It could have been slow, it could have relied on typical, war-setting vulgarity, it could have been anti-military. Granted, it’s still a war-setting picture, which basically means the language and violence portrayed aren’t for everyone. But I liked it because it drew me into the main character’s psyche, and the main character captured my heart, my last nerve, my respect.

Best Actor Noms: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker

Although Jeff Bridges will probably win, since he received the Golden Globe earlier for this role, my vote is for (big surprise) Jeremy Renner for the reasons I mentioned above. George was okay, but I don’t know about Oscar-worthy. And Morgan Freeman, God love him, just couldn’t revive a comatose Invictus. Colin Firth is a good action, but I didn’t see his movie. Jeremy, being a new-comer (relatively), deserves this recognition as his performance indeed made an impact.

Best Actress Noms: Sandra Bullock for Blind Side, Helen Mirren for The Last Station, Carey Mulligan for An Education, Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia

I think the Academy will award Gabourey for her heartbreaking (I hear) performance as Precious in the film with the same title. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Sandra Bullock take home Oscar. No offence to worthy veterans Helen and Meryl, or anyone else, but Sandra played a real person with such conviction and heart, touching a grass-roots audience and garnering a huge box office response. Believable and inspirational.

Best Supporting Actor Noms: Matt Damon for Invictus, Woody Harrelson for The Messenger, Christopher Plummer for The Last Station, Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones, and Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds

Although Christoph Waltz received the Golden Globe, I just have to pull for Christopher Plummer on this one. I’m shocked to discover that this 80-year-old, well- known and lauded actor has never before been nominated! Crazy, I tell you. Without having seen The Last Station, his performance as Leo Tolstoy I’m sure is worthy of this award. Go ahead and give it to him, please. Honestly.

Best Supporting Actress Noms: Penelope Cruz for Nine, Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air, Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart, Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air, and Mo’Nique for Precious

Okay, I saw Up in the Air. I don’t see the merit for either nomination, even though I think Anna is great. I didn’t see the others, but I’m pretty sure Mo’Nique will get the Oscar. She got the Golden Globe. But beside that, I heard her performance is incredible.

Best Director Noms: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglorious Basterds

Again, James Cameron will probably pull a Titanic and get this win too. However, I’d LOVE for Kathryn Bigelow to win, not only because I like The Hurt Locker so much and I think she deserves it, but also because she would be the first woman director to win this honor. She’s only the fourth woman ever to be nominated. Of course, a Lee Daniels win would mark the first African American ever to win. But since I didn’t see Precious, I’ll keep my vote for Kathryn.

So there you go. Who do you deem worthy of the shiny golden man on a pedestal? We’ll see what happens this Sunday, March 7th, when the envelopes are opened and the winners are announced. My DVR is already set… because of course I’m going to church first. J

Have a great weekend, Dry Ground fans! I appreciate you!

(photos by

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's All Relative

Life = Relationships

Think about that for a second.

Do we really believe that? And if we believe it, do we live it?

Does life feel more like…






Climbing the Ladder of Success




Well, yea, it feels like that more than sometimes.

Maybe life isn’t exclusively about relationships.

As I thought about this, I realized some amazing things.

Let’s start at the basic building blocks of life… cells. A healthy relationship between like cells produces a heart or kidneys or a liver. Cells out of relationship with each other and/or in relationship with foreign invaders gets you diseases and deformities.

So, biology depends on relationship.

How about Chemistry, speaking of science? The relationship of specific elements create specific compounds. Two hydrogens and one oxygen make water – H2O – a relationship. But TWO hydrogens and two oxygens - H2O2 - get you something completely different, hydrogen peroxide! For sure NOT something you want to drink. If you have a piece of wood, the molecules are arranged in a specific relationship to each other that equal wood. But if you burn the wood, turn it into ashes, the molecules rearrange and change relationship, and you’re left with something entirely different from a piece of wood.

So, Chemistry depends of relationships.

I could go on – Math, Language, Sports, Music, History – they all depend on relationship in one way or another.

Government – the relationship between a ruler and a people determine what kind of society you have.

Everything around us depends on relationship.

Relationships between people are no different. They’re hard because it is our lifeblood, and we have an enemy seeking to destroy us. (1 Peter 5:8)

We are interdependent on each other. The lives we live are defined by relationships.

Weddings are joyous because they establish a new relationship.

Funerals are sad because they interrupt a relationship.

Divorce is devastating because it severs relationships.

Suicide is the deception that there are no relationships.

We have work relationships, play relationships, family and BFF relationships.

We even have relationships with the mailman, the grocery clerk, the gas station attendant – in some way or another, we do. Here’s an example – I worked at a theatre in the box office where I received deliveries from FedEx, UPS, Cintas, and Coca Cola. Well, we also got Icee service every week – you know, those cherry or blue raspberry, brain-freeze buckets of sugar and ice? As with all vendors, I always greeted the Icee man with a smile and friendly conversation. To me, not a big deal, just something you do when you are the box office/first impression person. When I left that job, though, and I mentioned to the regular service people when it was the last time they’d see me, the Icee man said something that stuck with me. He said that he would miss my friendly smile, that I’d think a friendly smile was a normal occurrence on his route, but he could assure me that it was not. I honestly had never thought of it from his perspective. Little did I know that it affected his day every time.

There are a lot of little nuggets I took from this investigation.

Everyone I meet or interact with in the course of a day should be counted as some type of relationship, and I should keep that in mind when deciding how to treat them.

Relationships are treasures. As you have witnessed, my Daniel and I move around a lot. Funny how many people tell us that when we announce a move. It’s like reminding me that I’m tall. Anyway, though I do look forward to ‘settling down’ one of these days, I don’t see the moving around as a fault, if for this one reason – we’ve shook a lot of hands and hugged a lot of necks. I’d say that’s evidence of a pretty good life.

With all this proof of life = relationship, it should not be a surprise to us that God wants to be in relationship with us. He created a world that depends on relationships in every regard, so relationship is central to His character and His being. All misleading definitions of God attack the fact that He longs for a loving relationship with us.

The problem is sin. Adam and Eve had perfect relationship with God until they sinned. Sin prevents and impedes relationship. Sin must be dealt with for us to experience our purpose to be in relationship, with God and with each other.

As for God, He dealt with the Sin fully by atoning for it Himself through Jesus’ death.

As for us, forgiveness is key. Un-forgiveness blocks relationship.

Love is the balm, the sealant, of relationships. That’s why it says, “Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

With all this in mind, and it’s a lot, remember this: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

God bless you, Dry Ground visitors! Thanks for visiting!

(photos by

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Adventures of Dan and Lori Continue

God works in mysterious ways.

Ya think?

I sure wonder sometimes what He’s up to and what His whacky timing is all about.

Well, whacky from my limited perspective.

As a little girl, I pictured myself older, married, surrounded by a dozen children, living in a colonial-style house enclosed in a white picket fence relatively close to extended family and the friends I grew up with.


Oh, excuse me.

What I meant to say is…

Life didn’t quite turn out that way.

God did give me a spectacular husband, who I count as my absolute best friend. I am so blessed in that regard.

As for the rest of the vision, um… not a bit of it.

No children.

No house.

Nowhere near family or the friends I went to school with.

I’ve heard this story before from others –

Expecting career – get baby.

Expecting baby – get fertility issues.

Expecting happy marriage – get messy divorce.

Expecting sport scholarship – get career-ending injury.

Expecting clean bill of health – get bad report.

On and on…

Of course, the unexpected isn’t always devastating or disappointing. Blessings surprise us from time to time too.

The point is, we can make as many plans as we want, and we can have high expectations, but I think it’s safe to say, all of us experience something that doesn’t quite fit into our plans.

The great thing about this is that God is sovereign.

His plans are perfect, and He is not blind to anything.

Trusting in Him is worthwhile and the only sure thing we have to depend on.

Life hasn’t been bad for me because it didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been blessed beyond measure. It’s been more than an adventure.

Yes, I could be sad or bitter or mad or rebellious or sarcastic about the things I feel like I’m missing.

But being thankful for the things I never would have known without the changes He made to life schedule is much more beneficial.

So, it is with that in mind that I embrace our next adventure… another move.

My Daniel and I become Texans once again and for the third time!

Sure, I hope that Texans we will remain… for a little while at least. But if God has different plans, I’ll need to follow with reckless abandon.

For now, though, off we go. I say with pride – HOOK ‘EM HORNS!!!!

(photos by