Friday, October 29, 2010

Once Upon a Halloween...

I don’t mind sharing… I’m 36 years old.

Well, 18 years ago, when I was 18 years old, I met my Daniel.

It was Halloween night, I was a freshman in college. My cousin was visiting me for the weekend. So for fun, we dressed up like black kitty cats, makeup and all, and took candy to the student center to give out to whomever we might encounter.

Reverse trick-or-treating.

Well, my Daniel worked at the student center.

The rest, they say, is history. J

I am so thankful for that night, and every high and low since then, this second half of my life thus far.

Have a safe and happy Halloween weekend, Dry Ground friends!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasonal Fun

Being a Christian is like…

Being a pumpkin.

God picks you from the patch,

Brings you in,

And washes all the dirt off

You may have gotten from the other pumpkins.

Then He cuts the top off and scoops out all the yucky stuff.

He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc.,

Then He carves you a new smiling face

And puts His light inside you

To shine for all the world to see.

(photo by

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays

This past week, Johnny Depp announced that he plans to remake the 1934 Oscar-nominated hit, The Thin Man, taking on the role of Nick Charles, originally played by William Powell, himself.
See, this is the why I love watching classic movies.
Yes, we all know Johnny is awesome. Even if most of his movies and/or characters freak you out, at least everyone can admit he hit a homerun with Captain Jack Sparrow. So any time he’s making a movie, people pay attention.
But it’s particularly exciting and note-worthy that he plans to remake this movie because this movie is fantastic.
The Thin Man is the first in a series of murder-mystery movies featuring the whimsical and talented ex-detective, Nick Charles, and his sidekick wife, Nora. They’re out of the business, enjoying a high-society life, but are roped into detecting for an old friend… and also because they just can’t help themselves.
The story lines are intriguing yet light-hearted, require some brains to figure out, but include comic relief keeping it fun and enjoyable for everyone.
It’s impossible to promote this classic without understanding the brilliance that is William Powell.
At first glance, he’s average. Not especially handsome. Not what a leading man would look like today. Even from his generation of stars - Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper – he seems to take a back seat.
But if you watch one of his movies, like The Thin Man, you’re sold.
He’s likable. Charming. He’s deliciously sarcastic. He’s hysterical. He’s a pro, a real actor, a class act, a man’s man. His wit and whimsy win over any crowd.
Since I’ve seen The Thin Man and have appreciated Mr. Powell’s abilities as an actor, I can appreciate and look forward to Johnny taking on the same role. Yes, he’ll recreate and alter Nick Charles according to his unique take on the character, but I believe he’ll also reintroduce us to the genius that was William Powell and Hollywood itself.
I also need to mention William Powell’s costar in these Nick and Nora sleuths – Myrna Loy. She’s a perfect fit with her ladylike ease and well-timed quirky remarks.
I hope you’ll take the chance to see the original Thin Man sometime between now and when Johnny releases his version. Then, when you see his, you’ll appreciate and enjoy it all the more.
Hey, another William Powell film worth watching is 1936’s My Man Godfrey, for which he received a second of three Oscar nominations. He plays butler to spoiled socialite, delightfully acted by Carole Lombard (fyi - Clark Gable’s wife, until her early death in a plane crash).
And Myrna has her share of great flicks too, one of which I’d never have watched based on title alone – Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. It also stars Cary Grant, one of my favorites who will be featured later on here on Dry Ground’s Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays.
Thanks for starting your week out with me! Be blessed, my friends!
(photos by

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nobody Bats 1000

Funny thing is, I knew this was going to be the subject of Dry Ground before I had the day I had! Thanks, Lord, for the object lesson.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

This quote is central to a cute, young-girl-targeted popcorn flick from a few years ago, The Cinderella Story starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. Don’t let the source, though, deter you from the great lesson this line teaches. Yes, it almost seems cliché, but boy if I haven’t had days when I’ve had to remember it.

Like today.

You see, I’m really bad at striking out. Yea, I know, everybody does, but I just can’t stand it. I analyze all the ways I could have done better, obsessing over the hindsight 20/20 that I feel should have been foresight. I end up beating myself up.


I become the Queen of Excuses. If I can find a way to explain it away as not my fault, then I can feel better about myself.

Both extremes are unhealthy, unattractive, unproductive, and stunt growth.

I’ve been watching a little of the World Series playoffs. Often when watching baseball, I marvel at the pressure of both the pitcher and the batter. In meeting after meeting, one of them is the winner, and one is the loser.

So, what kind of game would it be if the batter quit after one strike out? Or the pitcher walked off the mound after every homerun?

Well, my problem is that on occasions (or days) that I strike out, I feel like quitting. Game over. The other team can have it.

What a crybaby I am. J

If I don’t embrace the strike out, though, I miss the essence of God’s grace.

Giant leap? I don’t think so.

If I don’t admit that I’m a sinner in need of atonement, then I deflect the exact purpose and definition of grace. I don’t lose God’s love when I sin. When I confess, I experience His love more.

As Paul said in Romans 6, though, I don’t sin deliberately in order to gain more of His grace. The amazing fact is that when I do, I don’t have to hide because His grace is there and abundant and sufficient.

Basically, I get another at-bat. A second chance. A do-over.

If I quit the game, no more at-bats for me.

So, after days like today, I have a choice.

Quitting the game is an option.

But wouldn’t it be better if I owned the loss and relied on grace to pull me through to a new day?

Going through this process (over and over and over) also helps me extend that grace to others having a strikeout kind of day. After all, none of us bat 1000.

But if we keep swinging, eventually, odds are, we’ll hit one out of the park.

Happy Weekend, Dry Ground friends! Love you!

(photo by

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giving Up

Since moving to Billings, my plate of activities has completely changed, as drastically as a delightful, light brunch to a seven-course dinner with all the bells and whistles. It’s been quite the adjustment, and I’m busier than I have been for a long time.

It’s not a bad busy. In fact, I’m enjoying it much more than I imagined I would.

There’s a problem, though.

So far, I haven’t figured out how to incorporate #1- the 4-5 mile runs I had been taking pretty much every day, #2 – the extensive Bible study I’d do every day, and #3 – the hours of fiction I used to write – my top three passions (not necessarily in that order, and aside from my Daniel, of course).

I’ve been struggling with that a little. Part of the struggle is that I am happy in our new life here, and I can see the leading and favor of the Lord. I’m determined to fit in the passions, make time and prioritize those things I deem so important. But the determination stresses me out because it isn’t helping (so far) and the things that are keeping me busy are… well, keeping me busy. But happy too.

So I wonder, what do I do?

Change options are few.

Time is limited.

Sometimes, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Do I fight it? Force the issues?

Or give up? Allow the new things on my plate to take precedent over the old?

The whole thing makes me, quite frankly, sad.

While praying about and considering this dilemma, though, peace washed over me.

I don’t fight and I don’t surrender.

I rest. And wait.

God sees the big picture, and He sees my heart full of these passions that have always been in me. And He knows when, if ever, those passions will bear fruit in my lifetime.

I say “if ever” because I have to be capable of giving up anything if God’s perfect will requires it of me.

But I also know the character of my God. He is good, He is great, He is loving and merciful. He made me and has directed my passions. The use of them are His business because they are to be unto His glory anyway, not mine.

Oh, I’ll keep doing my best to arrange my new schedule, do my part in utilizing the passions God has given me. I’m not giving up, period. Rather, I’m giving up my passions into His hands, trusting Him to do with me as He will.

Are any of your passions on the back burner? Are you keeping them there, or has God put you in a holding pattern? Whatever the case may be, trust God. He knows. And He is working.

Hope your week is going well, Dry Ground Friends!

(photo by

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays

I used to wonder why old films were considered classic.
Several years ago, I embarked on a quest to watch all of the movies, since 1939, nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award (I’m about ½ way through, btw). In so doing, I have found out what they mean by classic.
I believe it is a synonym for treasure.
One of those treasures can be found in one of the Best Picture nominations of 1950, Born Yesterday, and her name was Judy Holliday.
Her name is just a little less recognized than those other classics such a Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, but Judy exuded just as much talent and would have made just as much an impact had she lived longer. Breast cancer claimed her in her early 40s.
Still, in her short career, she left a notable mark, like a ray of sun finding its way through a momentary parting in the clouds on a stormy day.
Having weathered a lifetime of dumb blonde jokes myself, you’d think that her typical ditzy-blonde character would offend instead of entertain me. The opposite is true, however, since her performances hint that under blissful ignorance, profoundness exists that makes you think she’s a million times smarter than anyone else in the cast.
Judy even said, “You have to be smart to play a dumb blonde over and over and keep the audience’s attention without extraordinary physical equipment.” LOL.
And boy does she keep this audience’s attention in her role as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday.
Along with stellar co-stars William Holden and Broderick Crawford, Judy lights up the story of a gruff, wealthy junk salesman visiting Washington D.C. to conspire with the senator he has in his back pocket for a big money-making deal. Judy plays the tag-along girlfriend, Billie Dawn, with a serious lack of refinement and brain cells who gets herself in a couple of sticky – and hilarious – social pickles, embarrassing her junk salesman. So he hires a writer (Holden) to educate her. Along the way, she discovers life-altering revelations, not the least of which is that she deserves to be respected for who she is.
My favorite scene is the gin rummy scene.
I love Judy’s movies because, while they do offer a moral of the story, they’re just plain fun. A little romance, a little silliness, lots of good laughs, sweet and touching conclusions that leave you on an upswing.
She is one famous lady I would have loved to meet. Her sense of humor is right up my alley, yet in the middle of telling a joke, she seems to be sharing more about what it’s like to live.
While Born Yesterday is my favorite Judy Holliday film, she shines in all the ones I’ve seen – Solid Gold Cadillac, Pffft!, and Bells are Ringing – all worth watching!
And this Friday evening, It Should Happen to You airs on TCM, starring Judy and another comedy great, Jack Lemmon. I’ll be tuning in, via DVR at the least.
I hope you’ll have the opportunity to experience this shooting star I found when I was exploring the classics.
Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends! AND, Happy Birthday to both my stepmother and mother-in-law today! You are both such blessings in my life!
(photo by

Friday, October 15, 2010


Although I have not followed minute-by-minute the rescue account of the 33 trapped miners in Chile, the event’s impact has not failed me.

Take a moment to imagine…

Over 2,000 feet below the surface of the earth.

Tight space occupied by 33 men.

Let’s use all the senses… can you fathom how that might smell?

Uh, huh.

Furthermore, at first, no one even knew they were alive.

They rationed food. An incredible move of hope in my eyes.

After more than two weeks, rescue crews discover them, but the bad news at the time was - it might take months to get them out safely.

Think how mentally and physically disciplined those men had to be to wait an indefinite amount of time, even when they knew scores of people were working toward their freedom.

When the time came to slowly and meticulously raise each miner to the surface, one-by-one, what emotions seized their bodies? Relief? Fear? Hope? Doubt?

Now, thank God, they are all safe and relatively healthy.

They’re calling it a miracle. And I’d have to agree.

One of the miners said that it was like being reborn.

Forgive me for assuming, but I doubt any of you Dry Ground readers have ever sat in a dark, tight hole for 69 days waiting for a shaft of light.

But from a spiritual standpoint, have you been there?

Well, in one sense, we all have. We all start out lost, in a tight spot, without hope. We all need “saved.”

But I’m also talking about already being on the journey with Christ and yet still falling into that deep, dark place. Maybe it feels like you’ve been set aside, or put in “time-out” or maybe even forgotten. Light is gone, nourishment is scarce and must be rationed in order for you to survive the indefinite amount of time you might have to spend in the hole. In fact, you’re not 100% sure you’ll survive it.

Rest assured, rescue is on its way. You may have to wait, and you may have to wait a long time, but it will come. When it does, you’ll cherish freedom more, you’ll appreciate the light more, you’ll celebrate more, you’ll give thanks more, you’ll hug your loved ones more.

You’ll feel… reborn.

God has not forgotten you.

Have a great weekend, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Go Volunteers

No, this is not an article on football.

Working for a zoo for nearly a month now, and having worked for other non-profits in the past, I am being reminded of the crucial importance of that special type of person called a volunteer.

Organizations like zoos would be obsolete without their helping hands. There is so much to do to keep the zoo, and places like them, running, it would be impossible to pay an army near enough to accomplish it all.

Volunteers are some of the hardest working folks I know. The nature of volunteerism assumes a willingness to work. For a day, a volunteer will do almost anything.

And yet they are sadly under-appreciated. Which is dangerous ground to tread if you want to hold on to your volunteer!

So I’d like to pay tribute to two of the most special volunteers I know.

First, my mom.

She’s come to visit me for the first time since I’ve moved to Billings, and all she’s done since she’s been here is workreally hard for me volunteering at the zoo. She’s barely seen the light of day, she’s been doing so much. I can’t put a price tag on how much she’s done to help me get organized and caught up running the zoo gift shop.

Thank you, mom. What you’ve done for me in the past two days would have taken me weeks.

Second, Jesus!

I would be obsolete without His sacrificial actions. He’s done everything for me that I’d never be able to accomplish on my own. There’s nothing I could pay Him for what He’s done. He showed willingness to die for me. And yet, I under-appreciate Him on a regular basis. Thank God, since Jesus is holding on to me, how much I appreciate Him does not help me hold on to Him better.

Thank You, Jesus. A lifetime of so-called “righteous” acts would never equal what You did for me.

Happy Wednesday, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Monday, October 11, 2010

Movies You May Have Missed Monday

Today I highlight one of my favorite movies ever. And I’m not alone in my opinion. The “experts,” a.k.a. American Film Institute, lists it at number EIGHT on their list of greatest movies of all time. The Academy gave it EIGHT Oscars (although it should have been at least NINE, if you ask me).

I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

You probably even know some of the famous quotes from it. (I could have been a contend-ah!)

But… have you seen it??

Know what I’m talking about?

On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan’s 1954 drama about a mob-run dock workers’ union and starring the ah-mazing Marlon Brando, the equally ah-mazing Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Rod Steiger.

While the story fueling this movie piques and involves the hearts and minds of its audience, the performances make it truly great.

Eva Marie Saint’s “Edi” glows with innocence and vulnerability, yet her determined strength grounded in a distinct creed of right and wrong makes her a credible catalyst in the story. Her youthful zeal combines with simplicity to convince and capture us. For her performance, Eva received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Marlon Brando’s “Terry” comes across as both passionate and ignorant, an inhibited down-and-outer desperately avoiding getting involved. Yet, he is involved, and the crux of the matter rests with him. His inner turmoil churns dangerously under a lid like a pressure cooker, making the film’s turning point, climax and resolution exciting and believable and powerful. For his performance, Marlon received a Best Actor Oscar.

But I’m most impressed with Mr. Malden here as “Father Berry”. (That’s saying something seeing how I am quite the Brando fan!) Malden embodies the socially conscious, fearless, outspoken, yet compassionate and genuine priest working against the mob and the oppression weighing heavy over his parishioners with such zest and umph, I almost feel like I’ve been to church listening to and watching him. And I don’t mean just church. I mean CHURCH. His no-nonsense approach packs a punch, tossing aside stifling religiosity to get to the heart of dirty, rotten situations needing a ray of redemption. For his performance, Karl did not receive an Oscar, which is the cryin’ shame of this cinematic biography.

I love how stark this movie is. I love how fearless and honest and gritty it is. I love that it doesn’t mince words or play the political correctness game. I love that it removes traditional filters to be, in a word, real.

If you’ve never taken the time, I highly encourage you to make a point of seeing On the Waterfront, one of the best movies of all time.

If you want a little taste, watch the following clip – an impressive monologue indeed.


Thanks for starting your week out with me on Dry Ground! Be blessed, and remember to cherish each other!

(photo by

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Extra

Hope your weekend goes splendidly, Dry Ground friends!

Had two updates for you that couldn't wait until Monday... one on a high note, the other on a sad one.

The sad one is that the spouse of the co-worker I blogged about on Wednesday who was only about two weeks ago diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer passed away Friday morning. I'd appreciate prayers for my co-worker and her family. Thanks. From diagnosis to death, a little more than two weeks. If that doesn't teach you to cherish time, people, life... Cherish, my friends, CHERISH each other.

The other note, a lighter one, is that this Sunday, 10-10-10, seems to be Turner Classic Movie's Tony Curtis tribute day, so the movie I mentioned last week on Movies You May Have Missed Mondays, Who Was That Lady?, will be showing on TCM at 2pm (ET). Just wanted to FYI you in case you wanted to watch it. Even if you catch the end, when Dean Martin and Tony Curtis are singing patriotic songs in a flooding basement (LOL), it's worth a few minutes for a smile.

Okay, just wanted to share those two things. Again, hope your weekend is blessed.

See you Monday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Answer

After writing this past Wednesday’s blog, I watched Glee, a usual Tuesday evening occurrence for me. Yes, it skims the edge, but it’s set in my home-state of Ohio and is full of musical numbers that pop out of nowhere like a proper good musical, a cherished genre in my heart.

Anyway, this particular episode tackled religion.


Hollywood + religion = vague to hostile.

Glee + religion = unpredictable to heartbreaking.

As in the series finale of Lost when they left the “end” as a destination reached by multiple paths, I expected a similar moral to this story.

But I was surprised.

The episode did a very good job highlighting the question.

Each character faced a different challenge in their beliefs about God. And true to the personality of this show, they didn’t hold back. At first, I cringed and shook my head. But then I thought, no. Real people have real concerns, real hurts, real doubts. Hiding the need doesn’t make the situation disappear or the solution magical.

The sad part was the question was left unanswered. They didn’t even leave it at “everyone’s okay.” It was more like, “everyone’s screwed up.”

Well, everyone is screwed up, but the answer is that we don’t have to stay that way!

Oh, that those who seek will find Him.

Oh, that we who know Him will allow the light of His love to shine through.

Have a great weekend, Dry Ground friends. Thanks for spending a part of your Friday with me!

(photos by

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Wait

For many things in life, the opposite is true. In fact, good things come to those who wait we’re told.

But on other issues, waiting could be costly.

In the past three weeks, my Daniel and I have had to make a lot of adjustments living in our new city, working our new jobs, getting to know new people, figuring out new routines and such.

I found out today that within that same three weeks, a new co-worker’s spouse was diagnosed with an advanced and progressive cancer and now has been given one week to live.

The same three weeks.

I know I talked about perspective a couple weeks ago, and that applies here too. But I guess the matter of time, the concept of planning and waiting and scheduling, just hit me when I heard this sad news.

I hope it is obvious which things in life are better if we wait for them. Equally so, I hope that the things we shouldn’t wait for are also obvious.




You get the gist.

Yes, we’ve all got busy lives moving at the speed of light, and we’re tired and worn and searching for personal time and rest. But within all that, I think PRIORITIES should play a large role in our planning.

What’s really important?

It’s something to think about while you whittle away at your week.

Blessings to you, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Monday, October 4, 2010

Movies You May Have Missed Monday

The year, 1998.

My Daniel and I were in Hollywood, CA enjoying dinner at the infamous Spago’s restaurant compliments of DreamWorks studios.

The movie world and all that it is in it was new to us at the time, and we were as star-struck as the next tourist from Omaha, NE.

So when Tony Curtis walked into the restaurant and the hostess whisked him away to his usual table upstairs, I had no idea what all the hubbub was about. The only reference that registered to me was that he was Jamie Lee Curtis’ father. And at the time, that was enough to oooo and ahhh over for me.

Twelve years later, I recognize my brush with Hollywood greatness.

I’ve only actually seen two movies starring the recently late Tony Curtis: Some Like It Hot, co-starring Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon; and Who Was That Lady? Co-starring his wife at the time and Jamie’s mother, Janet Leigh, as well as Dean Martin.

Although Some Like It Hot is definitely a classic and worth a watch for its humor, zaniness and legendary performances, today’s Movies You May Have Missed Monday highlights the other one, Who Was That Lady? directed by George Sidney in 1960.

Sometimes when I’m watching a classic movie, the first few minutes make me either roll my eyes or cringe with caution as I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. This was one of those films.
The beginning shows Tony Curtis’ character, David Wilson and a university science teacher, lip-locked with a co-ed student. His wife, Ann played by Janet Leigh, walks in on them, and whoops, there you go, she’s on her way out of the relationship.

After seeing the first scene, I wondered how a meaningful comedy could come from such a over used and destructive plot point.

But I hung in there.

And it quickly showed to be worth watching.

Number one, it was funny! David Wilson convinces his best friend, Michael Haney portrayed by Dean Martin, to help him save his marriage. They come up with the idea of telling Ann that they have been in the FBI for years and that he’s been under cover. You think, surely this won’t work, but it does, sort of. The real trouble doesn’t start until the actual FBI shows up and complicates the charade.

Number two, the moral at the end of the story is fantastic!

Besides that, the last sequence showing Mr. Wilson and Mr. Haney essentially sleeping in the bed they’ve made, is a huge crack-up.

If you’re looking for a hidden treasure, one that shows Mr. Curtis at his brightest, dig through the classics for Who Was That Lady?

RIP Tony Curtis – 1925-2010

Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Friday, October 1, 2010

Running in the Dark

I twisted my ankle.

Here I go making an effort to get up early and squeeze in a jog and get back on an exercise routine after moving to Montana and getting a full time job altered my normal schedule… and I hurt myself because I was running a new route in the dark.

I know. Rocket scientist.

As I endured a painful step throughout the day, I wondered how to draw a life lesson from the experience… besides not running a new route in the dark. How did this experience teach me more about God?

Well, it reminded me of the importance of Light.

Even though I run a new route in life, I don’t have to run in the dark. God has gone before me. And He is light. Waiting on Him gives me enough sight to avoid the holes in the road.

The sprain is minor, and I’m getting around just fine. But if I’d waited for the light, I might not have had to endure the inconvenient, disruptive pain.

I hope your weekend is full of Light!

(photo by