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50 First Dates and a Plane Trip to a Funeral

I just watched 50 First Dates on the airplane today and was inspired! I know it came out awhile ago (2004), but I’m not always the most current on new movies, and I sure did appreciate the airplane edited version.
If you haven’t seen it, the basic concept is that this girl Lucy (played by Drew Barrymore) was in a car accident and lost her ability to turn short term memory into long term, so each day was a completely new day, but she only remembered her life before the accident. So this guy Henry (Adam Sandler) wins the affections of Lucy everyday over and over again. There are a few fun plot twists and a great ending, but what struck me is how much we can take each other for granted. We often think of family as people who will always be there, but that is not necessarily true. Each day, each experience we have with those we love should be cherished like it was the first time or the last time. It stands to reason that if I love my wife in this way, we will never drift apart; if I relate to my children like this, they would always be confident that their dad wants to know their heart and help guide them through life.
These thoughts all come together as today we join with family to be together and grieve over the loss of and celebrate the life lived by my Granny Early. We don’t ever know when our last time to see and experience life with our loved ones will be. There are no guarantees, and the only surety that we have is right now and our eternity after this life in the body. Paul said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” each moment for us on this earth is not only a moment to invest in those around us, but also a moment to live life IN CHRIST to the fullest. So Wednesday, our family suffered a great loss, but my Granny Early experienced the greatest gain anyone could hope to experience…that through faith she entered into the eternal presence of her Creator and Savior Jesus Christ.
So live today as it is your first and last day with those around you, cherishing great relationships and family history, but taking nothing for granted.

(ps. remember that this is not a movie endorsement, and I watched an edited for airplane version, so I don’t know what I “missed”.)

Mandy’s Monday – Marriage in the Movies

It is Christmas time and in addition to all the wonderful Christmas traditions comes the watching of movies in this house hold.  It may not be the most meaningful activity, but it is a fun one that we do more often this month than other times.  There are some great Christmas movies out there, that just beg to be watched each year!  “A Christmas Story” is one of my favorites and we watched, yes we did! “You will shoot your eye out!”  Love it!

Picture 4One of my new favorite Christmas movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Of course this is not a new movie, it is new to my list of favorites.  And if I had to pick my absolute FAVORITE Christmas movie it would probably be this one!  Since I am older, not old just older, I see things in this movie I never really paid attention to before.  About three years ago I found myself watching it alone, Brian was out of town, I was sitting on the couch crying thinking “I get it, the guy is depressed!” I just understand it in a different way than I used to!  George wants his life to matter for something, don’t we all.  The final scene where everyone is pouring in to give money and thanking him, well I just can’t watch it with out crying every year now!  This year something new struck me. It was Mary’s love and devotion to George.  She encouraged him all along the way and was patient with him when he was discouraged and down right mean!  I thought to myself, I don’t think I respond like that when Brian is having a “bad day”  I am more likely to tell him “hey, you are really being a jerk ya know…snap out of it…”  Mary encouraged me with her love and patience for George – a great picture of marriage!

Picture 2A week or so later Brian and I rented “Julie & Julia” to watch together.  I had been intrigued by this movie from the first trailer I saw.  I wanted to go see it with a group of 30something women thinking it would be fun.  It never happened (something that often happens with my ideas, they never come to reality).  So Brian and I watched it together, and I really enjoyed it.  I love to cook and so the cooking side was fun but what I really liked I did not expect.  I enjoyed the picture of marriage seen in the lives of both Julia and Julie.  Here was a story about two already married couples, even married for awhile, and the plot showed them very much in love, even passionate for one another 🙂  Paul standing along side Julia encouraging her endeavors and Eric doing the same for Julie, even PUSHING her to try something new.  The couples encouraged me to enjoy my marriage, a beautiful gift I am always thankful for!

This brings us to Christmas afternoon!  On a side note I now know why so many people go to the movies on Christmas afternoon.  After you have stayed up late wrapping and UP movie scenesetting stuff out, been woken up early by excited kids and then cooked a big meal you are ready to chill out with a movie or send all your house guests to one so you can recover 🙂  We did not go to the theater, we watched “Up” at home, which was given to our Aunt Kathy who was here for Christmas.  The kids had seen this movie earlier, but Brian and I had not.  Again I was surprised to find myself encouraged in marriage, from UP!  a kids movie!  I did not even get to see all of the beginning where the courtship and marriage of Carl and Ellie are told in detail, I was in the kitchen cleaning dishes still.  Even so I was brought to tears by the love and devotion shown in their relationship.  And it held an extra special string to my heart with the adventure theme!  Adventure, specifically an appetite for adventure is one of our family values.  🙂  Up encouraged my heart to continue to be devoted to Brian and to live for the adventure of being married to him and having four kids (four kids and marriage is an adventure to say the least, then you throw in all our dreams and desire and it is quite a ride)!

Movies and stories are so very powerful!  With them we can be inspired, encouraged, spurred on to greater living… I am thankful for these three pictures of marriage in the movies!  Encouraged to love more, to be more patient, to enjoy more, to be devoted and seek adventure!

Shepherding/Coaching The Inside

“…life will present us with hundreds of opportunities in a single week to take a look at our internal world, to walk with God there, to become more fully his.  Don’t let your internal life go unshepherded.” – John Eldredge, Walking With God (p. 192)

The tendancy in our society/lifestyles is to only check the internal world when something is seriously wrong, but whatever is going on in the internal world is what drives or controls that which we do on the outside.  How I deal with my kids is a result of what’s going on inside, how I respond to the “idiot” driver at the intersection is a result of what is going on inside, what I say when I feel threatened by someone is a result of what’s going on inside, and how I plan my schedule is a result of what’s going on inside.  As Eldredge said so well, we have so many opportunities daily to do a quick or deep internal check.

I have realized that the analogy of shepherding doesn’t really help most of us, because we have never had sheep, been on a sheep farm, been to a petting zoo, or even worn wool!  BUT we have all had or been coaches…a coach seems to be the closest common analogy to a shepherd.  A coach encourages, resources, challenges, celebrates, and even gets in our faces from time to time.  A coach identifies things that we need to do differently as well as put us in positions to let our strengths shine and be used for the greater good.

Are you coaching your inner life on a daily/weekly basis?  I am so thankful for friends of mine who help me coach my inner world, who push me to make the hard decisions and celebrate the strengths God has put in me.  Let me encourage you to not let your inner life go UNCOACHED so that you are more fully his, for the greater good!


“Our assumptions control our interpretation of events, and they supply a great deal of momentum and direction for our lives.” (John EldredgeWalking With God)

It is amazing how many times recently the realization of mine or someone else’s assumptions has been part of conversations.  We each see life in very different ways than others simply because we come to the exact same situations with a whole different set of assumptions.  This can get you going down the wrong path very quickly and lead to conclusions that are WAY off and dangerous.

One of the biggest of these assumption categories is making assumptions of other people.  Whether it is their motives, desires, or beliefs, they are coming with assumptions and we are making our own assumptions.  To complicate things more we communicate a lot these days through more impersonal ways like email, blogs, facebook, twitter, IM, etc.  This is why I think the best policy is to always assume the BEST of other people.  Mandy and I seek to do this in our marriage, and have to sometimes ask each other, “are you assuming the best of me?”  Our staff team at work has a covenant with each other to always assume the best of each other.  When people criticize me, I dig deep inside and ask God to give me the ability to assume the best motives and intentions…and when I do that, it usually is right AND I learn a whole lot more from the experience.

Thinking about it, I realized that our justice system is based on assuming the best. “Innocent until proven guilty”  Some might say that this is a naieve approach which sets people up for being taken advantage of.  And there are certainly people who, knowing I try to think the best, will seek to take advantage of a situation.  But assuming the best doesn’t mean that you don’t gather the facts and seek the truth about a situation.  And it is key to always be ready to have your assumptions corrected and act accordingly.

So, our assumptions range from what we think about God, to our life, to other people, to the mundane…but these assumptions all have a profound effect on the outcome in a given situation!

It may be difficult, but try it to have your assumptions challenged or extend an “assume the best” attitude toward a coworker, spouse, or friend, and see how many problems are solved!

Journal Thoughts – Vine & Branches

Well, I am seeking to re-start regular blogging for ministry, personal musings, family life, and more. So to get back started I am thinking that I will share a page from the journal…in fact as I read over my journal, I think I will take selections on a regular basis and share what is appropriate and helpful here.  So here is a thought from just the other day.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15.1)

I was reading this passage (read the whole passage now) and meditating on the imagery and pondering the abiding concept…when something really jumped out at me, and this is what I wrote down:


Love – Abide – Fruit – Joy – Obey – Ask

Vine + Branches = Fruit – Pruining = More Fruit + Asking Receiving
Vine – Branches = no Fruit = Throw Away – Withers – Burned Up

My focus must be on abiding in Christ, living in Him, dwelling in Him, trusting in Him, existing in Him, clinging in Him, falling in Him, placing all of who I am in Him… Living with the reality that without him I can do nothing; Not giving in to the facade or mirage of our world that calls on human power, thought, and effort to accomplish. 

I must also allow and recognize His pruning…ouch…wait I liked that relationship…ouch…I needed that ministry…ouch…why did you cut that off, it was so fruitful…Oh, you are going to bring MORE fruit??…Right there where you cut??…I don’t see how God, you just cut it off!

I’m scared God, but I ask in your name Jesus for greater fruit, for deeper love in you and deeper love of others, for stronger support in abiding…to produce fruit that will not be mistaken for anything else than from you to bring others to worship you fully, to experience complete love, to enter into the fullness of total freedom through Christ alone.

You are most glorified by the greatest amount of fruit that is possible to come from my life, and I have maximum joy with abounding fruit.

But my single focus and pursuit is abiding in you Christ!

For married couples only!

I came across the following clip of a challenge that Ed Young of Fellowship Church (main campus in Grapevine, TX) and when looking into it further found that his challenge has received some national press, and many people weighing in their opinions.


It seems that when you consider it in context and what they are encouraging in their church that this is a really healthy way to focus on building up marriages.  Check out the comments from he and his wife on his blog.  My biggest concern when I heard this was thinking about all the marriages that have much emotional pain in this area of their relationship and how it wouldn’t go well without some major counselling…I pray (as he and his wife are also) that many will seek wholeness in their relationship through this challenge and that many will be encouraged towards greater intimacy in marriage.

This made me think of the Tommy Nelson sermon series on Song of Solomon that Mandy and I listened to on our honeymoon roadtrip.  Those are great messages, revealing the heart of God when it comes to marriage and sexuality!  What a blessing that God created!

…Now, how about that challenge!?

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