Saturday, July 19, 2008

Penelope--now available on DVD

It's a rare thing to see or hear me tout a movie, music artist, book, or author. Part of this is because I believe there is so much difference in personal taste. Part of it is that I dislike free advertising for products. However, I'm going to break from my own personal ban on such flag waving to tell you about a most charming movie the children and I have discovered.

"Penelope" is directed by Mark Palansky. I could find little about Mr. Palansky, but the movie, I believe was strongly encouraged by Ms. Reese Witherspoon, of "Legally Blonde" fame. I do think Reese is adorable and have enjoyed many of her movies. But none of them left me touched the way this film did.

The main character is Penelope, a young aristocratic "blue blood" heiress who through some cruel twist of fate and the poor choice of a great-great grandfather is born with a pig's snout and ears. Imagine the horror of the upper crust family upon the birth of the dear child. The curse can be broken but only when the girl finds true love with one of her own kind.

Enter the mayhem that ensues as a good meaning mother attempts to match her daughter with a suitor of like kind. Boys enter unaware and as men run away...or perhaps, it is the other way around. But all believe that the only way for Penelope to become "normal" is through true love and marriage.

I don't want to give too much away, in case you haven't seen it. I highly recommend this movie to anyone with daughters. There is a strong message about learning to love yourself the way you are. And that same message really touched my son (born with cleft lip/palate) who also identified with Penelope's struggle with the mirror and herself within.

Christina Ricci and James McAvoy (think Mr. Tumnus in the first of the Narnia movies from Disney) star with Catherine O'Hara (Home Alone) and of course, the darling Ms. Reese Witherspoon. The movie was released on DVD this past Tuesday, and it is a MUST SEE for anyone with children (I would suggest age 5 or 6 and up).

Friday, July 18, 2008


"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations." --Psalm 100:5 NIV

What a great verse to consider as we prepare for another beautiful summer weekend! The Lord is good! Sunny, lazy days in the backyard with the kids, on the beach by the lake or ocean, camping in the wild, or wherever your weekend will take you, the Lord has been good to you. He has given you good health to enjoy the day. He has surrounded you with friends and family. He is truly good!

And his love endures forever! Just how long is forever? Forever goes back before you were born. It reaches beyond the time when your grandparents, great-grandparents, their grandparents were born. It goes back beyond the first day on earth. And it reaches out before us beyond any generation we can begin to fathom. Forever means without beginning or an end. His love, unlike our own, has no end. It is not subject to whim or mood. It will not stop because we have done something to upset Him. Nothing we can do will cause Him to stop loving us. NOTHING! How wonderful is that???

And his faithfulness? It continues throughout all generations. Well, that's pretty much as good as forever, right? His faithfulness--his ability to be what He says He is, to do what He says He's going to do--is going to continue on beyond us, beyond our children, their children, and their children's children. His promises are forever. His faithfulness is without end.

What a great promise to grab onto and dwell on during a beautiful Friday like today!

Father, I am amazed that you have chosen to love me at all, but to love me forever--without beginning or end--that's too much for me to grasp. I love you because You first loved me, and that is all my human heart is capable of. I praise You for the works of your hands, the kindness of your heart, and the faithfulness of your Spirit. Continue to work in me as I raise my children, as I help my husband, and as I encounter those around me who do not know you. Make me a blessing and a witness to your love without end and your faithfulness throughout the generations today and each day! In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


"He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to oppose me now? Where are my enemies? Let them appear!" --Isaiah 50:8 NLT

Justice is a tricky thing, I've learned. There are many types of justice, but only one has eternal consequence--God's justice. And I have also learned that it is nearly impossible for me to grasp even a jot of what that is. Here is what we call justice:

jus*tice: n. 1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
6.the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings: a court of justice.
7. judgment of persons or causes by judicial process: to administer justice in a community.
8. a judicial officer; a judge or magistrate.
The definition that applies to this verse, this promise from God is most likely the administering of deserved punishment or reward. And we are pretty certain as Christians that we know exactly what the punishments and rewards should be.
All too often, the church today is ready to throw accusations at leaders, at its members, its community. We are quick to point out the reasons others have failed and how they should be punished. We are also quick to point out how we have not tripped over the same issue and to expect some reward for being "good".
I have learned that what I believe is deserving of punishment is not always what God sees and punishes. At least not in my timing. I am reminded of a woman who continues to scheme ways of keeping her ex-husband from seeing their children. To me, it would seem appropriate for God to cast some punishment upon her NOW so that the children are able to build a relationship with their father. I mean, that would seem to line up with God's will, that a child be able to grow a relationship with their father, right?
But this is one of those places where my sense of justice doesn't match up entirely with God's. Perhaps it isn't that my sense is off, perhaps it's just the timing. ("Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." --Rom. 12:19 KJV)
Or what about the teacher who ridicules a kindergartener with special needs in front of his peers? And yet the school district does not remove the teacher from the classroom until further investigations can be completed. How is that fair? Why is that not punished?
Two things are laid upon my heart as I read this verse from Isaiah:
1. God protects me from unfair accusations and punishments.
2. God has given me grace at the cross of Jesus so that I don't have to face the just punishments that I deserve.
Both of those things are pretty powerful to me. I am protected from my enemies would unfairly accuse or try to punish me. I may never hear those accusations. They have been thwarted and muted by my Father. And because of that, I never have to face unfair punishment. I have nothing to fear! Also, I am protected from the punishments that I should receive (death) for my sins because of God's great love for me.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." --John 3:16 KJV
Father, what a wonderful promise and gift you have given me. Even while I look at others and "judge" what they have done and try to assign blame and punishment, you protect me from unfair accusations and punishments. If that weren't amazing enough on its own, you also have paid the price, served the punishment of punishments on the cross so that I would not have to. I am not worthy of such love. And of course, that is what makes it grace. Thank you, Father, for loving and wanting me so much. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Becoming an emotional woman

I think we have all heard people stereotype women as being hyper-emotional. They blame female hormones for it. (I have to disagree with that!) And as women, I think we sometimes feel like we have to apologize for it. But I believe that God created us, as females, to be nurturing, caring, and thus emotional. If we weren't emotional would we still be caring? Isn't it a soft heart that allows one to cry when someone dies unfairly in a movie or when a small child calls her grandpa to wish him goodnight on a TV commercial for long distance service?

Of course, it is. And God designed us to be in relationships with others. Men, who have less tendency to be hyper-emotional, are created to balance us out as we are created to balance them. God created woman for this purpose:

"...but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner...this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken." --Genesis 2:20b, 23b NRSV

I used to be a stay at home mom in what seems like another lifetime. When my first marriage failed, I was forced back into the workplace to help support myself and my children. I was no longer mom and wife, I was now employee and mom.

Did you notice the order of my words? Before the separation and divorce, I was mom then wife (okay, I know someone may want to debate the healthiness of this...but that's for another time...). Afterwards, I became an employee then a mom. It was a difficult balance. I was also filling most of the role of father. I lived in constant exhaustion. I hated myself on many occasions for my role in the failure of my marriage that forced my children to be raised by only one parent. I hated telling my children that they couldn't play sports because I couldn't commit the time to all the practices and games. I hated having to leave my sick children with friends because I didn't have any vacation or sick time left and I couldn't afford not to get all my hours to make the bills. And somewhere in that whole process, I learned to be like a man. I forced myself to be less emotional. I wasn't cold or heartless, but crying at the drop of a hat wasn't going to serve me well.

In fact, I had vowed that my children would see me cry, but not so much that it would upset them and cause them to cry. I didn't want to transfer my pain onto them. I didn't want them to bear my grief or feel responsible for it. I knew that the divorce would weigh heavily enough on their little hearts and lives.

I think the hardest thing was having my son tell the daycare director that Mommy was very sad and he wished I could be happy. What a tearjerker!

When I was blessed with my current husband (my forever husband), I had learned so deeply how to stave off emotion, I still held back tears. He is a very kind and deeply feeling man and will cry at times before I do. But I can assure you that when he cries, it reassures me and I am able to cry myself. At our baby girl's birth, Mr. D cried. He was so blown away by seeing and finally holding our little angel, he cried. And I cried too. I cried because I knew how much he loved her and me. I hadn't been in that place for a very long time.

We both cried while watching the "John Adams" series based on the book by David McCullough. And Mr.D was shocked to see me in tears. (He read the 700+ page book, not me...although I'm an avid reader...I'll have to wait until my SIL B finishes until I can read it..."hurry up, girl!" LOL) I was so blown away by the love that John and Abigail had for each other.

Many nights, I sit beside my baby girl in bed and watch her sleep. I am blown away by how blessed I am to have this little angel in my care. I cry. I pray that I am worthy enough to train her well.

Basically, I have finally come to a point where I can be a woman again. I have a wonderful man who loves and takes care of me and our children (his, mine and ours). God has blessed me so many more times than I could have asked for. I am still working on accepting and embracing this new side to me, but Mr.D assures me that it's a good thing.

Father, thank you for making me so wonderfully female. You have created me just the way I should be even though circumstance has sometimes forced me to avoid my natural temperament. I figure at some point, I'm going to cry a river of tears--because you love me, because you have blessed me, and because I know how much I need you. Keep your hand upon me as I continue to embrace and rediscover my natural temperament. In Jesus' name, AMEN.