Friday, May 25, 2012

Movie: Genesis Code Review and Giveaway

Another great Christian based movie review and a giveaway!  Read below to find out what I thought about this movie and then enter the giveaway!  One reader will receive a copy of this DVD.  

Movie Trailer:

About the Movie:

Kerry Wells (Kelsey Sanders), a college journalist and committed Christian with an effervescent personality, has been assigned to do a story on Blake Truman (Logan Bartholomew) the college’s newest and very popular hockey superstar. As a relationship between them begins to develop Kerry finds that Blake, who hides behind a tough and independent fa├žade, is actually struggling through a difficult personal crisis and that he bears the cross of a secret he has kept hidden for years. Blake rebuffs Kerry's suggestion that prayer might help ease his burden; he is convinced that modern science completely disproves the Bible, especially the opening verses of Genesis. Kerry — who is herself suddenly confronted with a challenge to her faith on another front — sets out to prove that science and Genesis are not in conflict and her quest leads to a startling revelation. Could it be that what science teaches us about creation and the Story as told in Genesis are both true!

My review:  Though this movie does receive the dove award for being family friendly, I do recommend that it is best for UPPER high school age or older.  For the most part, it is just TOO deep to receive my recommendation for any younger.  As a whole, I absolutely enjoyed this movie.  The only real complaint, and many share this opinion, is that is it just a bit too long and slow in places----well over 2 hours!  

What I did LOVE about the movie is that it tackles some hard topics.  How can you be a Christian and  believe in the Bible and believe in Science?  Can you have both world views? Whether or not you believe the "theory" presented in the movie, it does an EXCELLENT job causing you to think about the creation of the world and the validity of the Bible.  It most definitely created some moments of DEEP conversation!  The movie centers around the first chapter of Genesis and the fact that believing that the world was created in 7 days seems to be impossible in the eyes of many that don't believe that the Bible is more than a work of literature.  

Though creation is the main topic of the movie, I felt there were many more great topic starters for older teens.  The lead female character brings up many REAL world topics such as:  being teased for being one of the few young woman to believe in purity, dealing with choosing not to drink alcohol as a college student though most around her disagree (she chooses to drink Sprite), and making hard decisions when given an ultimatum about choosing your career or your faith.  End of life issues/life support are also a big topic. The lead male character is battling a crisis of faith as he deals with severe heartache.  

This movie is VERY deep----and at times the "science" can be overwhelming and very intellectual.  However, there are many GREAT scenes of humor, deep emotion, and moments of stepping out in faith.  

All in all, a GREAT movie!  It will definitely make you think and it will leave you with a "feel good" feeling in your heart!  

To Enter:  just leave a comment saying you want to enter to win!  BE SURE to leave an email so I can contact you if you are the winner.  Open to US residents only.  Giveaway will end on June 2nd, 2012.  Good luck! One winner will be chosen at random for a copy of the DVD. 

Required fine print: “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy...down in my heart.  Where? Down in my heart."

How many of you can remember that little Sunday school song?  I can remember singing it countless times growing up and it's one of the first songs I taught my children. 

It has been going through my head and heart often lately. 

I have overflowing joy because it IS DOWN IN MY HEART.  What is in your heart comes out in one way or another.

The last several days this little song has been hitting me in a different way and it won't go away. It's been a reminder of a "sensitive" topic. 

Grief. Loss.  Harsh reality. 

In recent weeks, I've come to realize that as the Bible promises:
  • my mourning has turned to dance and my sorrow has been replaced with joy.  (Jeremiah 31:13). 
  • my weeping has turned to laughter (Luke 6:21)
  • joy HAS come in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
  • I cried out to Him and it reached His ears, He reached down and lifted me from the deep waters (Psalm 18: 6, 16)
  • I have sown in tears, and reaped in songs of joy  (Psalm 126:5-6)
  • He has given me great comfort in times of mourning (Matthew 5:4)
  • He has healed my broken heart and bandaged my wounds (Psalm 147:3)
  • crown of beauty has replaced ashes, joy replaced mourning, praise replaced despair, and my roots are stronger (Isaiah 61:3)

I've found strength in His word, most especially
  • I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.  (Psalm 38:8-9) For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer me, O Lord my God. (15)..............and HE has and continues to!
  • But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (Psalm 73:28)
  • The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18)
  • So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16).....I wear this on a bracelet as a reminder!
  • In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5:10)
  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
  • I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
  • The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:2)
  • "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)
  • Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23 )
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 )
and it seems like this one has meant more every day:

"So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy."  John 16:22

My heart knows it is on the "other" side of grief now.  The hardest parts are over.  I've been VERY hesitant to write this post because I don't want anyone to think that it has been easy or that I'm ignoring the fact that my dad is no longer here.  I don't want to make light of how hard of a task it has been. 

I also greatly struggled with wondering if as I was healing, was I letting go of too much of him?  Wasn't it better to continue in painful grief so that I could hold onto him?  Doesn't letting the pain go mean that I loved him less and don't miss him?

Are you kidding?  I couldn't be much more off-base with my thinking.  Flat out lies of Satan.

Of course healing doesn't mean I love him any less.  Returning to a state of joy absolutely doesn't mean I don't value the impact my daddy has had on my life.  It most definitely doesn't close up the gaps I feel EVERY day with his absence.  It certainly doesn't erase any of the hurt ANY of us feel or solve any of the issues his absence has left on each of us! (It also doesn't mean that I won't have waves of grief wash over me at times....most unexpected times!)

What healing DOES do:
  • it allows us to move on and focus on where we are in our lives RIGHT now and be fully present in it (it doesn't mean we are forgetting him or ignoring the loss)
  • it allows me to share more of him with my kids so that they never forget, otherwise I'm too wrapped up in my own pain that it becomes an off-limits subject
  • it allows God back into full access of my heart because I'm not partitioning off an area that says "don't touch"
  • it actually HONORS my dad because it is what he wanted and made me promise
Healing MOST definitely allows the power of God to shine PROFUSELY.  You can't heal a broken heart on your own.  THAT comes from God and the power of the Holy Spirit.  THAT comes from having hope in Him.  THAT comes from allowing Him access to the most hidden recesses of your heart and letting Him bind those little pieces together.

I was afraid for so long to embrace the fact that I have overwhelming joy.  It felt wrong to be so incredibly happy in so many things in life.

But then I had a powerful realization....

I've been grieving so many other issues in recent months (and longer).  There have been some REAL hurts that this heart has had to deal with.  A life-time of painful issues that just don't seem to go away.  Scars that run so deep and get opened so easily.

My realization came from the fact that even though *these* scars/issues hurt so tremendously, they don't rob my joy.  (OK---being honest, doesn't rob my joy for VERY long!) I'm confident of who I am in Christ and He has filled in so many gaps, heals those wounds, and helps me walk in forgiveness every day (even when my head is screaming against it!).   No one wants me to continue to grieve the loss those issues bring.  They often talk about how it is an encouragement to know some of my story and see that my faith continues to grow through it.   They want me to walk in victory with my head held high.  I agree with them.  I don't believe for one second that I should continue in mourning because of the issues.  I have the right and the NEED to heal from those painful issues and everyone is in agreement of how important that is. 

When I apply that same thought process to the grief of my daddy's death---then it becomes obvious.  Embrace the joy.  Embrace the laughter.  Embrace the memories.  Accept the loss, but don't let it cripple today or tomorrow. 

Because what it means is this:  God is alive and living in me.  His joy is in me.  His Holy Spirit is flowing through me.  To fight against feeling joy and healing, is to fight against God being alive and powerful.   It's impossible. 

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    Keep My Heart Alive!

    I love it when God shows up.  He's pretty amazing with His incredible timing. 

    Tonight Kevin and I enjoyed one of our absolute favorite type of dates.  Ice cream at the park (well, OK, he opted for Target popcorn).  More glamorous dates may be great at times, but it's these very simple ones that do our marriage and spiritual lives the most good.  Uninterrupted time to TRULY talk is a life-line for us.  It doesn't require getting dressed up or put any extra energy into an already long day.  It's just about us.  We enjoy eating out at times at a nicer restaurant, but the freedom to really talk is somewhat inhibited.  Though last week we really enjoyed being snuggled up watching a movie, we both really desired just some one-on-one deep conversation. 

    The list of things we talked about in that couple of hours tonight was practically endless.  We joke often about how we feel like we can solve the problems of the entire world during that time because once we get talking, we get deep FAST. 

    Tonight one of the topics we discussed was about my struggles with writing blog posts in recent weeks.  We also talked about some frustrations we were both having with "life" in general.  By the time we realized our time was up and we had to head back home so I could make sure that I could snuggle with Bradlee before I fell asleep, Kevin laughed and said that he bet that my "writer's block" would be gone before tomorrow and that my fingers would be flying.  "Unlocking" the thoughts in my head with him and the depth/direction of our conversations he knew would probably open up the floodgate.  He was right.

    We were just pulling out of the park when this song came on.  I have heard it before, but I really havn't slowed down to really let it sink in.  We even heard it live a few months ago, but I was more focused on wanting to specifically hear "Lead Me".

    When we heard it tonight, I was suddenly overwhelmed because the words ECHOED nearly word for word the conversation we were having and it reached me heart so deeply.  I can't believe that I even have this CD sitting unopened on my nightstand waiting to be listened to and I just haven't stopped long enough. 

    We are feeling this same NEED. 

    We are fed up.  Disgusted.  Discouraged. 

    Yet, at the same time we've never been more confident, hopeful, and READY for the next step. 

    Our family is thriving like never before.  Our marriage is exploding with exponential growth (even beyond what I ever dreamed).  Our faith is growing.  We are daily seeing little miracles and blessings with our eyes wide open.  I'm being blessed to be enjoying some of my greatest passions.  School is going really well right now.  I've changed the way in which I serve at church and am being blessed to pursue one of my passions. Our household seems to be running like clockwork.  I'm overwhelmed with how much joy having babies in the house is (though exhausting!!!!) That in itself leaves me speechless. 

    Yet, we are going through some VERY difficult situations.  Our faith, though getting stronger, has taken some REALLY hard dings lately.  We are frustrated.  To be honest, we are even admittedly angry about some situations.  We are watching people that we love dearly go through heartache after heartache, relentlessly it seems.  Disappointment is all around us.  Other situations are weighing heavily on us because so many we love are continuously turning their back on God or making poor decisions and our hearts break.  Situations have caused us great hurt in recent weeks and months. 

    On the outside, people are seeing how happy we are.  We genuinely ARE!  Yet, we are very human and very broken.  We are carrying some heavy loads on our hearts these days.  Facing some difficult circumstances that only God can work out. 

    We talked about tonight how we are just hanging on.  The hard things seems to be hurting more than ever, but the good things are just shining even stronger.  We know it's NOTHING but the hand of God. 

    HE is reaching down and sustaining us. 

    For so long, we reached out and didn't feel like we could reach Him.  We felt like we came back empty handed.  Prayers didn't seem to go beyond just words from our mouths. 

    Now we can feel Him so close.  We can literally feel Him keeping our hearts alive.  As the song talks about, so many times we literally have had to beg Him to help us through those feelings of empty hallelujahs.  Oh, how we DESIRED to not feel empty in our praise.  He has had to sustain us. 

    Tonight, we were talking about the fact that we feel so frustrated right now but our praise is NOT empty and we don't feel distance from God.  We feel Him closer than ever.  We feel VERY worn down by the world (physically, mentally, and most definitely spiritually), but we can literally FEEL God in us at work. 

    It's an incredible feeling.  We've walked through the darkness with our faith intact.  We are still battling through some difficulties, but we don't feel empty and we don't feel alone.  HE IS KEEPING OUR HEARTS ALIVE.

    What an incredible feeling it is! 

    He is OUR hope.  He is our focus when the world feels like it is spinning out of control no matter how hard we are trying to hang on.  He is our stability when we are feeling so uncertain.  He is binding the wounds with His healing truth from those that continue to purposely and unwittingly bring hurt into our lives.  His word is leading us down the right path when we are faced with difficult decisions.  He is ALIVE in us.  He is keeping our hearts alive when the world is telling us to give up. 

    Thank you.  Jesus, thank you. 

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Still here!

    I think I was just completely in shock to realize how long it has been since I posted!  I know I occasionally have a couple of week breaks, but generally I post every day or couple of days. 

    I honestly didn't think much about it until I got an email asking if I was OK!  Yikes. 

    No----I've not abandoned blog world.  Yes, I'm still here! 

    Life has just been a bit hectic.  It has been FANTASTIC.  It has been hard.  It has been busy.  It has had some really low downs and some amazing highs!  It's just been reality!

    Truth is:  believe it or not, I'm somewhat stuck with my first case of "writer's block".  What's in my head/heart hasn't made it onto "paper".  I've had some different priorities in recent weeks. 

    I've said all along that one of the greatest reasons I blog is to use it as a ministry tool.  I want to share my heart with others to encourage.  I seek to write what the Holy Spirit gives me as much as I can and right now....the well is dry.  Temporarily. 

    I'm just seeking His will in some different directions right now. 

    I want my blog to be a priority and I want the words I write to come from Him.  Unfortunately, I just don't have *those* words right now.  They will come....I KNOW they will because I can already feel him sending me back in that direction.  I've just been patiently waiting for Him to put something in my heart. 

    All in all, though life has been whirlwind busy with some new directions we've been going and it's had some difficult situations come up, I've never been more at peace, more overflowing with joy, and more connected to those that are most important in my daily life.  God is blessing tremendously!  I'm thankful. 

    I'll be back!  I just wanted to check back in with those of you that still come back for a visit occasionally!  I appreciate each of you!