Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (well, almost)

U2 Rose Bowl Pasadena, California

Set List:
Get On Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day (with a few lines from In God’s Country)
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, with coda of Stand By Me,
Stuck In A Moment (acoustic guitar version)
No Line On The Horizon,
In A Little While (last verse spoken by an astronaut in the International Space Station),
Unknown Caller,
Until the End of the World
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights,
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
Sunday Bloody Sunday,
MLK (Martin Luther King tribute),
Walk On (Aung San Suu Kyi tribute) with Never Walk Alone snippet

Desmond Tutu recorded message

Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Films for Easter

All links were updated on 4/2/2012

It seems as though Christmas gets all the good inspirational holiday family movies. From the ever favorite "It's a Wonderful Life", "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", "Charlie Brown Christmas" and the many incarnations of "A Christmas Carol" there are no shortage of films.

But poor Easter is sorely lacking in the inspirational family movie department. I know there is Mel Gibson's "Passion" and we own a copy, but that is not something we would ever sit down to watch as a family, especially since some of my children are still young. It is more of an event to be viewed sparingly and by older children only.

I really wish there were more family films about Easter, Christ, the Resurrection and the early church. But that doesn't mean that there are not some real gems that can be used to convey the message of sacrifice and redemption; in the same way parables are used to teach us more about the Kingdom of God.

Christ often taught His followers with parables. He told earthly stories with Heavenly meanings. John and I have always used stories to convey our love and the Father's love to our children; some of these are found in the Bible, in family accounts, in fiction and non-fiction books and in films.

So I decided to share some of our favorites to inspire you this Easter season. I hope you watch with your family and have meaningful discussions and draw inferences to our Lord and the Easter story while being emotionally engaged and entertained. I listed them by age group starting with films that can be watched with younger children and ending with late Jr. High/adult.

Enjoy and Happy Easter.

1. The Miracle Maker:

This is my favorite movie about the Ministry of Jesus hands down. If I wanted to share the Gospel in movie form with anyone, regardless of their age or background I would show them this movie. Why? Because it is the SIMPLE retelling of the ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Don't let the fact that it is made in stop-motion animation fool you, this movie packs a punch and is Biblically sound without being preachy or watering down the message. It also has a stellar voice cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Ian Holm, Julie Christie, Alfred Molina, William Hurt and Miranda Richardson.

You can see from this clip how compelling this version is

You can purchase "The Miracle Maker" Here

2. City Lights:

This is Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece. It follows the misadventures of his iconic movie character The Tramp, think homeless person, as he tries to assist a beautiful blind girl he meets on the streets. The genius of this film is the juxtaposition of slapstick comedy and some thoughtful commentary on society, homelessness, hopelessness, the rich, judging others and mercy. Without giving too much away there is also a subtext of being falsely accused so others can benefit and having to pay a debt to society that wasn't deserved. The ending of this movie is one of the most beautifully filmed scenes in all of cinema. While this is technically a "Silent Film" there are sound effects and the music was written by Chaplin himself. Please note there is some alcohol use/abuse and a comical suicide attempt (only Chaplin could get away with it) so I don't recommend it for small children.

This is the entire restored film on Youtube

3. Captains Courageous:

They just don't make films like this anymore. This film has everything: Its' story was written by Rudyard Kipling and stars Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney, Melvyn Douglas, John Carradine and Lionel Barrymore. It was directed by Victor Fleming, who also directed Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. The story follows Harvey Cheyne a young, trust fund brat who falls off his father's ocean liner and picked up by a fishing boat. He is transformed by the love and discipline of Manuel a Portuguese fisherman. The Biblical analogies are woven throughout this film. Harvey is nearly dead when he comes out of the water (baptism). He is also separated emotionally and physically from his father who loves him and is restored by the love and sacrifice of (Im)Manuel. This is just a beautiful story of redemption.

You can rent it on Netflix or purchase it on Amazon

4. The Dollmaker:

This film haunts me. It reminds me of a Steinbeck novel but with a redemptive ending. It is heartbreaking, powerful and a stunning portrayal of sacrifice. The main character is Gertie Nevels who uproots her children from the hills of Kentucky to follow her husband to a company town in Detroit. They suffer one hardship after another and the entire family is brought to the brink when they finally realize they were better off back at home. There is no money for them to return and that's when a sacrifice must be made. The characters are very "real" and are flawed, stubborn, at times cruel, unforgiving and despairing. Jane Fonda is a revelation, even if you don't like her as an actress, she will blow you away. The themes of this film are, forgiveness, bitterness, despair and redemption. Be prepared, you will cry. This is recommended only for mature children, 8th grade and older.

This trailer is really poorly produced but the film is stunning.

This is an impossible film to find but you can buy "The Dollmaker" Here

Monday, February 7, 2011

Music Mondays

Harry Nilsson - June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994

Was a great cover artist whose own songs were also covered by the likes of, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, Little Richard, The Yardbirds, The Shangri-Las, Three Dog Night, Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and so many others.

When John Lennon was asked who his favorite American Artist was he simply said, "Nilsson".

I chose three of Harrry's best.

One original and two covers. " Everybody's Talkin' ", written by Fred Neil, covered by Harry and made famous when played in 1969's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Midnight Cowboy. "One" written by and performed by Nilsson and later a hit for Three Dog Night and Tommy James and the Shondells. And finally "Without You" a cover of a Badfinger song that is linked so strongly to Nilsson that many don't know he never wrote it.

"Everybody's Talkin'" 1969

"One" 1968

"Without You" 1971

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Music Mondays

I've decided to present songs that are meaningful to me on Mondays.

Since this is the *First* post, I wanted to start with a song about *Finishing*.

So I chose "Finish Well" by my dear friend Julia Schmidt.

I picked this particular song because, as a (uh-hum) middle-aged Christian woman I remember thinking while I was in my my 20's, why are so many of the older women in church so burned out and crabby? What happened?

I remember saying to myself, " I'm not going to let that happen to me."

So, now years later my family and friends are (I am) constantly reminding myself to "Finish Well" in life. With everything that life throws at us and all the business that we all let creep in, we can forget our first love.

At the end of our lives we want to hear the encouraging words spoken by our Savior to the Church of Thyatira.

Revelation 2:19
"I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first."

We don't want to hear the rebuke of The Church of Ephesus.

Revelation 2:4 "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first."

So we need to be reminded to Finish Well.

Hebrews 12: 1(b) - 2(a) "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

I don't want this as my epitaph.

or this

Definitely NOT this

Julia is a dear friend and I've had the pleasure of hearing her perform at such diverse venues as a Womens Shelter on skid row, Several coffee houses, and Retreats. Often I find myself humming and singing her tunes especially when I'm alone. I think her unique gift is that she pairs complex challenging themes with simple singable melodies. Her bio is as follows:

"Julia has been performing original songs both nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Her songs have been called refreshing and honest and cover topics from God’s grace and compassion, to our struggles with sin, to living authentically. Her sense of humor sometimes shines through in songs that are tongue-in-cheek, yet pull no punches. She uses music as a way to talk about emotions and topics that people tend to avoid discussing and desires to encourage people to look honestly at themselves and turn to Christ with the areas in which they struggle.

As a young adult, Julia toured the U.S. and Canada with Youth With a Mission and subsequently performed private concerts in North America and Europe. Today she lives in the Greater Los Angeles area with her husband and four children and continues writing songs from a Biblical worldview out of her experiences as a wife and mother."

She had this to say about "Finish Well"

"When I was in my pre-teens, there was an older couple at church, Mr. & Mrs. Willis. It was a fairly young church, so they were our token "gray-hairs." They must have been in their 80s, and whenever either of them spoke, everyone would stop and listen. They had been in full-time ministry together for their entire adult lives, and even though they were "retired," showed no signs of slowing down. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, "Mrs. Willis." It's still true today -- I want to hit the finish line at full pelt, sprinting for the end, not looking to the left or right but keeping my eyes fixed not on the finish but on the prize that waits on the other side."

Listen Below:

You can listen to more of Julia's songs HERE and purchase them by sending an e-mail HERE

I would love to hear about what you are listening to. What is on your iPod, radio, or CD that means something to you? Or has encouraged you in the past? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below, with a brief explanation of why you love it. Perhaps it will turn up in an up-coming Monday.