Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Celebrating birthdays, like we did for my Daniel yesterday, always makes me think of 'newness,' a fresh start, a clean slate. And since Steven Curtis Chapman has been a favorite in our household since as long as we've known each other, I thought this Weekend Tune Up timely. I hope you enjoy and that it encourages you! Also, Happy Birthday to my mama this Sunday! Wish I could be with her to celebrate.

Happy Weekending, Dry Ground friends!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

POV Wednesday: Wishes

I was watching Voyage of the Dawn Treader the other day, the third installment in the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. While there’s so many great perspective changers in that movie, so many good lessons to learn, the one that stood out this time was the scene in which Lucy wishes herself away.

Lucy perceives herself as plain and her sister, Susan, as beautiful. Lucy believes her life would be much better and more useful if she were beautiful like her sister. During her voyage in Narnia, she encounters a book of incantations, one of which offers to grant her wish. She’s seized with the desire for this and rips out the page, tucking it away for a time when she can use it. When she does, she’s given a vision of the consequences of her wish coming true.

She ceases to exist.

Aslan (the symbol of God in these stories) visits her then and explains that her perception of herself is incorrect and the fulfillment of any wish based on that incorrect POV actually erases her completely.

She learns her lesson quickly. When a fellow voyager, a young girl, looks up at Lucy and claims she wants to be just like her when she grows up, Lucy responds by saying, “When you grow up, you should be just like you.”

We don’t always see God’s plans clearly, especially if we’re stuck in a bog. Sometimes we get to the point of wishing so desperately that things were different, we forget the sovereignty of God. Not blooming where we’re planted results in… no flowers. It’s the equivalent of wishing ourselves away.

But God’s got a plan, and it is for good, for a hope and a future. Oft-quoted verses supporting this fact are Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. I’ve read them hundreds of times, but reread them recently seeking a fresh perspective.

God’s so good. He gave me one!

How awesome, with all the people in the world, with all the goings on and happenings, how amazing is it that God works all things together for my good?

Here’s how I apply it to my current circumstances. My Daniel needs a job – a career. And we need it ‘soon’ as far as it looks in our eyes. The concept of everything working together for good means, then, that not only will the job he gets be good for us, it will be good for those hiring him, for those working with him, for those he comes in contact with during the job, for the friends we make wherever we move, for the church we attend… on and on. That ripple effect over which God is Master!

He’s so great and good! If He is so powerful, why should I worry? And why should I wish myself away? We’re all necessary to make the perfect, beautiful pattern.

My Daniel’s birthday is tomorrow! I am sure glad God had him as part of my plan. I am sure glad my Daniel hasn’t wished himself away at any point in his life. I am so grateful that God knew my Daniel before he was formed and that He has plans to prosper him and to give him a good future. I am thankful for my Daniel’s life! And our life together. He’s my co-adventurer, my best friend, my lover, the one who ‘gets’ me, not to mention my personal chef. Happy Birthday, my Love! God’s plans for you are perfect!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday - A Whimsical Edition

What a gem this week’s whimsical movie is!

A Pulitzer-winning play first, Harvey showed up on the silver screen in 1950 and stars one of my favorite classic actors, Jimmy Stewart, and a treat of an actress, Josephine Hull (who gave another unforgettable performance in the great Arsenic and Old Lace).

Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd. In his community, he’s well-known for being incredibly amicable as well as completely daft in the head for when he introduces himself to every Joe on the street, he also introduces his ‘imaginary friend’ Harvey, a pooka in the form of a 6 ft. 3 white rabbit. Though mostly harmless, he is a bane to his socially-sensitive sister Vita, played by Josephine Hull, and her old-maid daughter. After Elwood unintentionally crashes Vita’s ladies’ tea party, she decides to get him committed to the local sanitarium. But when she tries to describe the problem to the doctor and gets frantic about it, she’s mistaken as the one needing hospitalization and Elwood is allowed to go free.

Stewart sells the existence of Harvey brilliantly while endearing us all to his character. By the end, I get the feeling we should all be a little more like Elwood.

Josephine Hull, though, is the star of this show, which explains her Oscar win for best supporting actress for the role. She’s memorable, over the top, genius in her hysterics, genuine in her affections and concerns, and hysterical in her off-the-cuff remarks and observations.

The charm of this film is in its paradox.

Elwood is the crazy one… but is he really? His perspective of the world is actually more forgiving, kinder, and purer than any of his peers. He speaks to everyone with the utmost politeness no matter their station. He invites down-and-outers to dinner with genuine intent, not even for the sake of charity. He’s complimentary, loyal, and strangely observant. In fact, everyone else ends up seeming crazier than Elwood. In one scene, in fact, the psychiatrist ends up lying on the couch sharing his feelings while Elwood listens, the tables turned.

I also like this story because, to me, it whispers similar themes of the Gospel. Though Harvey is a mythological, supernatural being (perhaps unpleasant to consider for some), the way he’s described by Elwood demonstrates characteristics of unfailing love, acceptance, giving, and forgiveness. It takes a measure of faith to see Harvey, and as the story progresses, it’s obvious that Elwood is not the only one who can see him. And whether or not they can see Harvey, they all have opinions about him.

A quote from Elwood sums it up: Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

If you’re willing to go a little crazy, try out this great, classic film, Harvey.

Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

I like new takes on old songs, especially my favorites! This was from a few years back, but it's still a great rendition of Amazing Grace! Enjoy! CLICK HERE or press PLAY below...

Happy Weekending, Dry Ground friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

POV Wednesday – Soul Garden

So the day after I wrote last week’s POV Wednesday post about the condition of our “Soil” and posted on Facebook that “my soul garden needs weeding,” I read this verse in Isaiah:

Where once there were thorns, cypress tress will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.” (Is. 55:13)

It instantly became my favorite verse.

How good of the Lord to direct me here and speak to my exact concern!

I got excited because I am trusting in the Truth of this verse to be true for me, and in that case I needed to do some research on cypress and myrtle. I want to know what God’s got planned for me, right?

What I found… well, let’s just say, I’m overwhelmed.

First up – cypress (closely related to cedar) - a 'soft' wood – here’s a list of attributes:

- extremely resistant to harsh weather, insects, fungus and decay

- lacks sap, so it doesn’t ‘bleed’

- Scarce of knots

- Dimensionally stable

- Resists splits, warps, cracks and splinters

- Durable – pieces of cypress from 100-year old structures have been reused in construction!

Next – myrtle - a 'hard' wood:

- tolerates many conditions

- grows best in deep soil with lots of sun and water

- will re-grow if cut to a stump (love that one!)

- strong, deep root system

- aroma from the leaves is a natural insect repellent

- patterns in the wood vary vastly, the color influenced by minerals in the soil and its texture by its growth struggle/stress

- over a course of 80 or more years, reaches its full height of up to 120 feet!

Need I spell it out?

I ponder, then, how will God remove the weeds and nettles and replace them with cypress and myrtle? These are symbols, and He can’t literally plant a seed in my head, right?

Then I realize, He’s already started – it’s through His Word!

I just love it when God turns the light bulb on for me. Gives me a glimpse into His amazing Truth and promises!

I hope it encourages you today as well, especially if your soul garden could use some weeding as well.

(photos by

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – A Whimsical Edition

How’s your summer going so far? Seeing any good movies? Like what?

Here’s another fun one for you, another romantic comedy that features the late great Walter Matthau as Albert Einstein!

Quite simply, I.Q. is about a regular auto-mechanic, Ed (played by Tim Robbins), who just happens to be a science geek, meeting and falling in love with Albert Einstein’s niece, Catherine (Meg Ryan).

But the path to romance is not simple. Catherine is engaged to a stuffed-shirt psychology professor. Ed doesn’t even register on her radar. But she absent-mindedly forgets her father’s pocket watch at Ed’s auto shop after her car breaks down, and he figures he can see her again if he returns it to her personally at her residence. Instead, he finds out that Einstein is her uncle. Professor Einstein does not like his niece’s finance, and is more than happy to lend Ed a hand. Along with his three brilliant and hilarious sidekicks, Professor Einstein hatches a plan to put Ed on Catherine’s radar – presenting him as a scientific genius.

This comedy of misunderstandings and assumptions delivers laughs, a whimsical romance, and memorable performances with a host of quotable one-liners. It’s a feel-good, delightful movie that leaves you smiling. Hope you give I.Q. a try!

Happy Movie-Watching, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Met these guys a couple years ago when they were just getting started. What a great bunch, sold out and rocking it for Jesus. I like to support them as much as possible, so here's one from their latest released this year. Happy Weekending, Dry Ground friends!

CLICK HERE to listen or press PLAY below...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

POV Wednesday – Soul Garden

I heard a sermon recently about the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20) that gave me a fresh perspective.

I used to think that once I became a Christian, years and years ago, I could check this parable off my list. The seed of God’s Word fell on good soil and I chose to follow Him. Task accomplished.

Ha! I’m so arrogant.

Yes, accepting Christ is a first step. However, the Word is being sown or planted in our lives every day. And every day, we choose how to receive that Word.

What a light bulb for me to realize that I’m not always – in fact more often not – the good soil! I don’t always receive His Word and allow it to grow and produce fruit.

As Christians, we can have hard soil that gives the enemy easy pickens to steal it away. We can have rocky, shallow soil that sparks enthusiastic, emotional response in the short term but does not allow lasting, committed roots to grow. We can have soil infested with weeds and thorns choking out the life of the Word and leaving us unfruitful.

I discovered that I’m at a place where my soil is thorny – I’ve allowed life’s experiences and disappointments to choke out a lot of the good seed.

My prayer of late has been – Lord, please weed my soul garden!

Take a look at your garden from a different perspective – what kind of soil do you have today?

(photo by

Monday, July 11, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – A Whimsical Edition

To continue with our frivolous but fun movies of July, I bring you the whimsical romantic romp Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day starring Amy Adams (Enchanted, The Fighter, Julie & Julia), Lee Pace (T.V.’s Pushing Daisies, upcoming Twilight: Breaking Dawn), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern, Robin Hood), Ciaran Hinds (Amazing Grace, Phantom of the Opera) and the wonderful and amazing Frances McDormand (Raising Arizona, Fargo, Transformers 3).

Miss Pettigrew (McDormand) is an unconventional nanny working for a temp service in pre-WWII London. Her unconventionality gets her in trouble and thus fired more often than not. Desperate for a job, she wiggles her way into an assignment serving nightclub singer Delysia Lafosse (Adams), but not as a governess. Delysia plays the “keeping up with the Jones’” game to maintain a reputation, and since having a social secretary is the in-thing, she must have one. Miss Pettigrew is unprepared for Delysia’s lifestyle, but sticks around for want of a job, unintentionally solving several of Delysia’s immediate problems. In the course of a day, the two influence each other to the point of becoming friends, each having the chance to embrace real love.

McDormand rocks this role, as she does in everything else I’ve seen her in. Her Miss Pettigrew is pitiful yet proud, principled yet forgiving. She inspires sympathy but also admiration, and it is easy to root for her to ‘win’ in her situation. Over all, the film uncovers the insanity of keeping up pretenses while offering forbearance toward those who wear them like this year’s fashion statement. And I love the music. It’s impossible not to tap your foot with all the swinging sounds.

For a whimsical treat, try Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day!

Happy movie-watching, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

I grew up singing traditional hymns. While I know that a more contemporary sound is preferred now-adays, I still cherish those handful of solid, meaningful lyrics found in classical hymns. Inspirational, musical poetry. Here's a fave... CLICK HERE or press PLAY below...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

POV Wednesday – Keep a Weather Eye

Remember that high school science experiment – a toad sits in lukewarm water, the water heats by minimal intervals up to boiling, and yet the toad still sits there unaware that it’s going to boil to death?

It’s not a stretch to use this scenario as an analogy for the current condition of this world. The heat is on, but it has risen so gradually that we’re not even aware of it – until the first bubbles of the boil pop next to our ear.

Bolder moves that don’t just chip away at morality but seek to redefine it, sizable and numerous natural disasters like floods and tornados along with cosmic events like volcano eruptions and earthquakes, the amount of individual suffering, stories of bizarre crimes, and the immediate means of hearing about all of this via the world wide web.

Hindsight being 20/20, we might be able to track the path that got us here. Gradual and under the radar. But opening our eyes now reveals the full-blown boil, and it’s starting to burn!

Recently, I read Psalm 119. You know, the long one, the one nobody reads in its entirety because it’s so long? That’s too bad because it’s got lots of good stuff in there – the verse everyone knows “Thy word is a lamp until my feet…” is right in the middle of it. (vs. 105)

Anyway, the entire 176 verses are about one thing – God’s Law – how we should love it, obey it, meditate on it, praise God for it, cherish it, delight in it. All 176 verses.

Although I consider myself a conservative, I’m most definitely not the most conservative Christian you’ll ever meet. I’m far from perfect. I’m highly suspicious of religious people. I love to talk about grace much much more than I like to talk about sin or rules or shoulds and should nots.

However, as a follower of Christ, His Word should take top seat in my life, actually be that lamp to my feet and light to my path. His grace is not an excuse to ignore or water down His law. Truth is still Truth.

I’m mentioning this for a couple of reasons.

First, I believe that the signs of the times (Luke 21:10-11) point to the Perfect Lover coming soon to take His bride, the Church, home to get married. The time of betrothal will one day end. In response, whether it is sooner or later, I should be mindful of how I live.

It’s like the end of Pirates 3: At World’s End (2007), when Captain Will Turner is bidding his love, Elizabeth, goodbye for ten years. They’ve exchanged vows, committed their hearts, but he has to leave to do the job that he’s called to do, the price of getting to live though he had died. Right before he leaves, he says, “Keep a weather eye on the horizon.” That means, I’ll be back – watch for me to come for you!

I should be keeping my eye on the horizon, living in a way befitting my Perfect Love Who is coming back for me. (Rev. 16:15)

Second, I believe that a part of being mindful of how I live is not to judge more but to love more. Love is telling the Truth and offering Grace. (Eph. 4:15, Ps. 85:10)

It’s like the awesome line in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)– “Get busy living or get busy dying.” In other words, stop wasting time! Well, I’d paraphrase that as, Get busy loving and get busy forgiving, because people are dying.

I experienced something recently that taught me that I cannot control what people do to or think of me aside from living with integrity. I can only live as close to the Truth as I know how, and then let God be my Judge as well as my Defense. That requires of me two things. One, let God be the Judge of others as well, and not step in there myself. And two, take my example from Christ Himself Who, while dying on the cross, said of His slayers, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:24)

So, my Dry Ground friends, stay sharp to the rising temperatures! Love more! Forgive more! And keep a weather eye on that horizon!

(photos by

Monday, July 4, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – A Whimsical Edition

Happy Independence Day! I hope your celebration of freedom goes well!

I’ve decided that July will be the month of highlighting ‘whimsical’ movies – just fun stories that may seem to some to be kinda ridiculous. But you know, summer has finally arrived in my Big Sky state (and when I say finally… you have no idea!). Summer makes me think of vacation and swimming pools and BBQ picnics and kite flying and putt-putt and family gatherings and plain old fun. The time of year to be whimsical!

So today, first up, is a movie from which I get that wonderful word, whimsical, and one that shows a slice of good old fashion Americana alive and well in this cynical modern world. On a day we’re to remember and cherish our freedoms, families, friends and faith, I don’t think Elizabethtown is too far off the mark… in a back door kind of way.

I say back door because its theme seems kind of… well, depressing.

A successful twenty-something, Drew, (Orlando Bloom), gets the news that his creation, a state-of-the-art running shoe, is being recalled. We never find out what the defect is, but it is enough to cause his company considerable loss and it costs him his job. He’s devastated under the scathing label of failure. So, he goes back to his swanky apartment intent on committing suicide. (stick with me folks – back door, remember?) Right before he acts, he gets a phone call from his sister. Their father, who had gone back to visit his family in Elizabethtown, KY, had suddenly died. (wait… hold on… I’m not pulling your leg…) Drew’s given the responsibility of going to Kentucky to retrieve his father’s body and bring him home. Thing is, he’s never met the KY relatives before. And he’s got no idea what he’s in for.

In addition, his flight to KY is stewarded by perky, annoying but endearing Claire (Kirsten Dunst), and her quirky outlook on life ends up being a key factor in his dealing with both utter occupational defeat as well as the sudden loss of the father he didn’t know as well as he thought.

Elizabethtown is one of my favorite movies because it unveils a slice of the Heartland while pointing to the foundational and essential importance of family, no matter who they are or where they come from. I love it because much of the chaotic family scenes remind me of my family gatherings. I love it because I know people just like those lovable KY folks (in fact, they are KY folks!). I love it because it cleverly turns tragedy into triumph, all based on choice, perspective, and forgiveness. I love it because it shows people how they are really – with all their faults and idiosyncrasies – coming together for the sake of family. And I love the legacy this father ends up leaving behind, a beautiful example.

Don’t worry – Elizabethtown is surprisingly hilarious (as well as whimsical) despite its central theme – lots of comedic relief, which I believe is a tool in and of itself to reveal the point of the whole movie – Life. Also, depending on your tastes, the soundtrack is killer.

I hope you give Elizabethtown a chance. Sometimes the best treats are found when you go through the back door!

Happy Movie Watching and Happy Independence Day!

(photos by

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

What seems like a long time ago, I was a fan of Burlap to Cashmere, a folksy Christian rock band who play killer guitars and have edgy-sounding music with a Message. I got the idea from somewhere that they were no longer touring/recording as a band, however I found out that they are releasing a new album in July of this year! Yea! In the meantime, here's one from their first album. Hope you enjoy! CLICK HERE or press PLAY below...

Happy Weekending!