Overcomer – Movie Review

I saw this movie on Sunday with 58 of our church members. And there really isn’t much I can say about it that you  probably have not already guessed. “Overcomer” is another Kendrick movie. They are wholesome, heart string pullers with mediocre acting and this one is no different. The story line is about a coach losing his basketball team and finding his identity in Christ. He then ends up coaching an asthmatic girl in cross-country. There is also a sub plot regarding her that was the heart-string puller. The movie focuses on who our identity is in Christ and that He is the one who defines us.

We took our family of eight and most of them liked the movie. The younger ones liked it more than my older ones. Unfortunately, the movie was predictable, but if you generally like Life-Timey Hallmarky movies or love the Kendrick movies, you will also like this one. I am not at all into this genre of movie. I went because my kids begged me and I like hanging out with my church, but if you like sappy movies, you’ll love this one!

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I did cheer on the little girl running and there were some sweet moments in the movie and I like that the Kendrick brothers portrayed a very “Christian” family. It reminded me of how movie cultures can impact us negatively or positively and this movie motivated me to be a better mom and wife. It also hit Christian hypocrisy hard, and I was grateful for the obvious exhortation.

I didn’t like the “repeat-after-me salvation prayer” Priscilla Shirer lead the little girl in. But I did like that she pointed her to Scripture afterwards, I just wish the prayer would have been her own maybe after reading the Scripture recommended by Shirer. Other than that, the movie was tolerable for me and afterwards the kids and I had a good conversation about hypocrisy and identity – two very important topics in this generation.

overcomer 3Please don’t get me wrong, these movies are good and needed. And I am so happy that more and more are coming out to provide other options to a lot of the filth out there. I just wish the stories were better and not so predictable. In the real world, sometimes our prayers are not answered. Sometimes we lose. Sometimes there is no healing.  And all these awful experiences point us to another home where there is complete healing and where we have already won! So 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! 

The Man Who Stole Christmas

 

christmas lights

We all know them, the ones who post “15 weeks until Christmas!!” It was 90 degrees today! Fall weather hasn’t even kicked in and I’m already being triggered by beautiful friends who just love Christmas! Don’t get me wrong, I do love Christmas, but I just don’t feel the feels yet as I figure out if dealing with dabbing rivulets of foundation make-up off my face is worth it today. Life is sweaty sometimes, especially in the South.

Christmas is exciting. The presents, the decorations, the big family dinners, the baking, the food, the traditions, did I mention the baking, and even the shopping and thinking of others brings a joy to me that seems to only happen around this time. So I see why it can bring an anxious excitement to a lot of people. So when I read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens it was full of nostalgia. Scrooge got it at the end. Here and there the Ghost of Christmas Present sprinkled people with Christmas feelings of warmth, mirth, and joy. Scrooge stepped out of his comfort zone and saw how even those with nothing, still were able to enjoy life because they had family and friends, despite their impoverished circumstances. He saw in the end that material things mean nothing because we cannot enjoy them when we are dead. Friendship, fellowship, and philanthropy that is what mattered most in life.  Oh, Mr. Dickens, you are close, but you got it so wrong.

I first noticed it when the movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas” came out last year. (I still have not seen it and I really want to.) The title shocked me. Not in a Victorian-I’m-going-to-faint-now-catch-me-please kind of way, but that it was so blatantly wrong. So adamantly misleading. Christmas has been around for over 2000 years, and man didn’t invent it. It was given. But reading “A Christmas Carol” I got what was trying to be convened by Mr. Dickens. He wanted Christmas without Christ. He wanted the sentiment without the Savior. He wanted the philanthropy without the Forgiver. And frankly, he got it. And Americans – because this is what we do – gobbled up this kind of Christmas in mouthfuls. Yes, I sprinkle Jesus and Bible reading among the towers of presents. I contemplate the birth of my Savior between Christmas parties. Yes, I give a little more around this time frankly because I feel bad because I spent so much on my kids. UGh! Christmas should not be this complicated. This stressful. This domineering. So what do I do with this?

We do not know when Jesus was born. I have heard most accounts of a time line of when He could have been born and all of them make good arguments, but simply, none of us are for sure. I think it is important to see that plainly the date wasn’t that big of a deal. If it was, with all the writings we have on everything else, we would know! I think this lack of information screams: Let’s not save our celebrating Jesus or Christianity for one day out of the year!

Be a gift-giver, host big meals, decorate your home, make traditions (especially ones revolving around Jesus), make time for family and friends, love on the needy, read the Bible aloud with your family, seek God, make amends, ask for forgiveness, easily forgive, call forgotten ones, encourage one another, do these things and more not when the “Christmas spirit” hits you, but because the Holy Spirits dwells in you.

I am still working out the thoughts and convictions I have been feeling about Christmas. Rest assured that I will be sharing my thoughts as I work them out. I will still celebrate Jesus birth and salvation. I will still decorate and make my home warm, I will still give gifts and attend and host parties, I will still bake and donate; but I just hope to continue to do these things throughout the year.

Dickens did steal Christmas. He was one of the firsts to write a Christmas story that excluded the mention of Jesus. But he, I believe inadvertently, also limited our Christianity. He captured the feelings we have during Christmas and bound it to a season. Maybe that is why we go nuts around Christmas time with all we do, because we are making up for what we have not done throughout the year? Even I become overly religious around this time, making sure we read Luke 2 before we DARE open any presents! God forgive me! It shouldn’t be a novelty to read Scripture to my gathered children. 😦 Am I making up for what I should be doing daily? I think I am.

My challenge to myself and to you my dear Christian is to not save our Christianity to a Christmas season. Even to those who haven’t fallen into the American-Christmas trap and do center their celebration to revolve around Jesus specifically, let us not just make Him center for a season. Let us not celebrate His birth and salvation for a slot of two weeks in the winter.

GOD became incarnate and died for the sins of His church! He came to earth! – a feeble little rock in the great expanse of space and taught us how to love Him and others. He has saved His people! And because He so magnificently gave and forgave, we do also. This beautiful truth should be celebrated all year long!

I will end with a passage from Luke 2! 😉

 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.

Regarding the book because this was supposed to be a book review. It is a very well written book. Dickens is a master at capturing and developing deep, meaningful characters. I also love the last names he gives his characters. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a quick and motivational read. The book is about 100 pages, so it isn’t very long. It will forever be a classic.

 

 

 

 

Circe – Book Review

Circe is a beautifully written book by Madeline Miller. This is the second book I have read by this author. It is another book set in the times of Greek mythology and like Song of Achilles, the words in this book are so descriptive that I felt I was there on Aeaea with Circe. I didn’t know much about this goddess, but that is what made the book more intriguing for me. This book is a very female book and deals with all things (painful and joyful) that are important to us as women. We walk with Circe as she learns more about her power and how she wields it do damage and to do good.

The book is full of love, betrayal and pain – what Greek story isn’t?! The gods are absolutely horrid and there were many times I was thankful that my God is nothing like Zeus or Helios. The struggles that faced Circe and the shear meanness of her parents and siblings were shocking. The book also helped explain a little more the tension between the Titans and the gods.

The ending of the book was interesting and wasn’t expected. I am not sure how I feel about it, but in the end Circe did what she thought best. She is a very interesting and profound character.  The story is “spellbinding”.

As a Christian, I am so thankful that these are not my gods. That my God is not an emotional wreck and He is constant and full of compassion and mercy. I just kept finding it surprising how infantile all them can behave. Even the goddesses. Helios, the god of the sun, and the father of Circe was unbelievably cruel to her and is nothing close to what I would want in a father or my husband to be to our children. These kinds of books are good to read because comparing religions is important. It not only strengthens the reality that Christianity is unique, but it also exposes the flaws of these other religions. I left this book relieved that I serve such a different God, who is strong, but under control. Who is just but merciful. Who is perfect, but forgiving. Who is vengeful, but longsuffering. Who is love, but also righteously wrathful. The qualities of God destroy and obliterate the tantrums of these little gods, and I am grateful to serve Him.

circe2

I recommend this book to any lover of mythology. This book will probably be liked more by females than males.  I would wait until my daughters were 18 before I allowed them to read this due to the graphic nature of the book and the sexuality in it. None of my boys would like this book.

The book does contain a rape scene. There are other several love scenes that are very short and not graphic. There are other places in the book with severe gore and were hard to read due to the violence and how vividly they were portrayed. Ms. Miller is an excellent author and you feel the pain and loss of those who suffer. There are also strong cuss words throughout the book.

You can buy this book here. I heard this book through audible and the reader is splendid!

Hereditary – Movie Review

I saw this movie with my two older sons at 10:30 p.m.! In preparation for it, I took a nap during the afternoon because I can no longer hang with the young kids it seems. I also prefer not to watch horror movies because of my over active imagination, but a las, there we were.

This review contains no spoilers.

Summary: The movie is about a family and their struggles with loss, pain and death. The mother of the main character, Annie (Toni Collette) has just passed away and very slowly the story unfolds of her evil and obscure past. This past ends up affecting the entire family in very horrible ways. The movie ends with an unexpected twist and leaves the viewer thinking a little about the plot.

My take: The movie was very slow and I didn’t like it. The acting was phenomenal though and the tension of the family was very much felt. Even the cinematography was very well done, but it was just so slow. There were some frightening scenes, but nothing about what all the hype was about. I read so many great reviews about this movie. I read that it was the scariest movie of our time, that it left the viewer unnerved. I really didn’t leave feeling that way, and I am a wuss with this genre. I still scare myself in dark bathrooms afraid of seeing Samara from The Ring! The plot was somewhat interesting, but I really didn’t think it was executed well. They really had a good story line, but it fell short in accomplishing the gravity of the situation. The ending felt silly to me, and the last scene did absolutely nothing in leaving me unnerved. It was very anti-climactic.

Recommendation: I really don’t recommend this movie. There are about two unexpected twists throughout the movie, and if that makes you curious then watch it. I would describe it as an intellectual horror movie, but nothing that stays with you. If you like fast paced slasher, jump scare, type of horror movies, this movie isn’t for you.

There are several shots of non-sexual nudity that makes the movie awkward, and watching it with two young men, the giggles were many. There is profane language throughout the movie. There is also teenage drug use. There are several intense scenes of gore also. The movie is rated R.

Song of Achilles – Book Review

Summary: The Song of Achilles is a book written by Madeline Miller and is the story of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship. The book is written in first person from Patroclus’ point of view. In the book we are told more about the background of Patroclus, how Patroclus and Achilles met, their training by Chiron, and the Trojan war. It is similar in setting to the Iliad and the Odyssey. The gods and man conspire and battle together and in the end there is always tragedy.

achilles

My take: The book is beautifully written. Ms. Miller is an exceptional writer. Her way of describing what is happening makes the scenes in my head so much more detailed. Her description of the gods was also very well done. I could see Thetis, Apollo and Chiron so clearly I had to stop several times to soak in the visions. The story was also very entertaining and all the characters involved in the book were very well described and developed. The problem I mostly had with this book was the story line, especially towards the end.

The beginning of the book tells us about Patroclus and his hardships, and when he is exiled he finally meets Achilles and they develop a strong friendship. As their friendship grew, I did begin to notice that this book could take their relationship into a homosexual one, but I thought of the companionship of Jonathan and David and their love for each other and I hoped that the book would delve into that kind of relationship – a comradery and love between men, frankly demonized and unheard of now-a-days, but it didn’t. The whole book, almost in its entirety, is the romantic homosexual relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. I was a bit surprised by it because Homer’s Iliad alluded more to Achilles having the role of a comforting mother to Patroclus, rather than a lover and as an equal. Either way, the ancient Greeks were not known for their high sense of sexual morality, so the narrative wasn’t that surprising. What I did find surprising was the monogamy between them. There are not many heroes or gods in Greek mythology who were so “tame” as Achilles was portrayed in the book, so I did laugh a little out loud at the author’s attempt to twist tradition and, frankly reality, into a round hole using a square peg. Achilles practically being raped by Deidamia and his platonic relationship with Briseis is laughable. It clashes with his character. I would have easier accepted his love for Patroclus plus some philandering. Achilles sexual faithfulness to Patroclus just didn’t work very well in the story. It made him less real and less savage and he was renowned for his rage, according to the Iliad.

Caution: There are two homosexual love scenes that were not so quickly over in the audio book. There is also a love scene between Patroclus and Deidamia that also made me uncomfortable. There are several mentions of rape and of what the book calls “bed slaves”. There is also several scenes of violent war and gore.

 Let us Reason: Despite all the above, the book is still a good book. Her descriptions are a masterpiece. As a Christian, I really can’t be too upset with the author portraying pagan Greeks acting like pagan Greeks, it was her trying to make it “beautiful” that was more of my problem. If there is a conversation to be had about this book, for me, it would be that. Why do some sins not seem as bad as others? What are some of the warnings to consider when our hearts tell us it’s not so bad, but God’s Word says it is? What is so wrong with something if it doesn’t hurt anyone? These are all good and valid questions that Christians need to answer, because the Bible already has already answered them. Our hearts are deceptive and our feelings fluctuate like weather temperatures. It is a comfort to know that we have an anchored God in these storms who has made Himself known in Jesus and in His Word.

Recommendations: I recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek mythology and doesn’t mind a homosexual plot. Because of the plot, I do not recommend this book to anyone under 18.

Lord of the Flies – Book Review

This review contains spoilers.

Lord of the Flies is a classic. It is a book about a group of boys who are stranded on an uninhabited island. As they struggle to keep some kind of order and establish a form of hierarchy things unravel into a frightful scene of death, betrayal, and depravity.

I read this book when I was in high school and I was amazed at how much I had forgotten about it. Left on our own without law or moral standard, we are just like these boys. Whoever doesn’t believe in total depravity and who thinks that man is morally good, really doesn’t understand how naturally vile we are. This book was horrible. The way Simon dies, I had forgotten and I had to stop reading for a bit because of the violence committed to him. Towards the end Ralph is chased around the island and I was so relieved when help finally came. Also, when the female pig is killed, what a horrendous scene. William Golding is a great story teller. At the beginning of the book he explains that when he wrote about the boys on the Island, he wrote about how boys naturally behave around each other and when adults are not around. I found it very interesting when he writes about the boys forgetting what they were going to say or the inability of saying the right things or having difficulty of explaining what they are thinking. I have four boys, and I have noticed that they often times can’t put into words what is going on in their mind and they do quickly forget their train of thought. This was interesting to me. There were so many thoughts that came to mind as I read. How is anyone good? What keeps us from becoming like these boys? Although I am aware of the atrocities committed everyday, I do live in a country were I am safe. There are people all around me who own guns, who are stronger than me, who have access to cars, shovels, pick axes, bows, knifes and other potential weapons and they don’t kill me even when I anger them. Is it the law? Maybe. Is it their conscience? Maybe. This is why I believe this book has become a classic. It raises a lot of questions about ourselves and it is good to delve into the conundrums, mysteries and philosophies of human nature.

I recommend this book to older teenage boys, I don’t think teenage girls will really enjoy a bunch of boys being degenerate with one another. I also recommend it to the adult who has already read it. I think as adults, re-reading classics is very beneficial, now that our brains are a little more developed. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend it if you like books about adventure and/or dystopian settings.

Bible verses that came to mind when I read this book:

  • All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. – Romans 3:12
  • For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries. – Mark 7:21

You can buy this book here.

 

The Rook – Book Review

The Rook is the 2nd book of the Patrick Bowers series by Stephen James. This book is about a murderer who video tapes the death of his victims. Simultaneously there seems to be an arsonist on the loose and a government secret weapon that has the potential of changing the way wars are fought forever. All this is going on and in the backdrop Patrick and his relationship with his step-daughter is stressed and strengthened. There also seems to be a growing romantic relationship with Patrick and Lien-Hua. We also learn a little more about Lien-Hua.

This book is intense. The author gloriously lead me astray several times and I was sad when the book ended. But I am grateful to know that this is a series, so I am not too sad knowing there are 5 more books available.

I recently learned that the author is a practicing Christian and you really can’t tell. Let me clarify. The book takes the reader to the dark cesspool of human nature. It is grim, and the murderers are vile. The book frightened me at times because of how dark it was, but the author never used cuss words, never depicted sex scenes or gave too much detail of the violence committed by the bad guys. This is what makes Mr. James a great author. He paints a picture just clear enough to allow our own depravity to assume what is going to happen next. He also sprinkles deep theology into his books without being preachy about it. This is so hard to do, but Mr. James does it effortlessly. The story line very well developed and I can’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd book!

I highly recommend this book to those who like mystery, thriller, detective, and suspense books. Also, I really think that any one with a military background will enjoy the Patrick Bowers series.

You can buy the book here

The Snowman – Book Review

Summary:

The Snowman is the 7th book in a series with the main character being the tall,  Harry Hole. For several years women involved in adulterous affairs have been disappearing. Sometimes their bodies are found and sometimes only parts of them are. This book takes place in Norway during the first snow – the hunting ground of the Snowman. There are several suspects and the story line twists and turns until it comes to an ending that leaves Harry maimed for the rest of his life.

The beginning and the end were really good in the book, but it did get a little slow and long in the middle. As the book was ending there were several times the author purposely mislead me and that was great! Those twists and word play made this book a good read, but it still could have done without a lot of the long descriptions in the middle.

I have never read this author before and I probably wont again. He used too many cuss words and there was mindless sex throughout the book. Also, the story in itself wasn’t that good. He did do a good job in surprising me who the killer was, but nothing more. I really didn’t like Harry, but this can be because I don’t “know” him from the other 6 books Mr. Nesbo used to develop this character.

I really don’t recommend this book. It was long and Harry Hole was the typical broken, alcoholic detective. I don’t think it brought anything new to the thriller/mystery genre. I did find out the book was turned into a movie. I am still trying to decide if I will see it or not. Probably not.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can order it here.

Peter and the Starcatchers – Book Review

No Spoilers.

This book is about beginnings. It tells the story about how Peter becomes Peter Pan and sets the stage for many adventures. It also tells us about how Tinkerbell came to be. All the important Disney Neverland characters that we enjoyed in our childhood come alive in this beautiful book.

I began this book by reading it out loud to my children, but it did have a lot of sea jargon and soon the littler ones started to lose interest, so we discontinued the book. The book is probably best for tweens or younger teenagers. My 12 year old really liked it, so he is reading it on his own now.

The book is very well written and is funny. The authors developed the characters very well and the ending comes together with two epic pirate fights. The pirates are just scoundrels (as they should be) and the authors capture the strong female role superbly. I really enjoyed Molly and her sense of honor and strength.  The ending was perfect and I respected the decision made by Peter. His logical conclusion about his situation was exactly what a boy in his circumstance would have done. Peter had to grow up quickly in the harsh world he had lived in, so I can see why his thoughts come with so much maturity. I wanted him to make another choice, but in the end it was for the best.

I recommend this book to the tween, teen, or even the adult who likes fun and adventurous books. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the series. Also, any Peter Pan fan would also love this book. It is a very believable beginning for the loveable characters of the Disney classic: Peter Pan.

You can buy this book on Amazon here

Longmire – Netflix Movie Revie

This blog contains some spoilers, but no spoilers on episodes 1-3.

I didn’t think I would like Longmire because frankly, I am not into Westerns. But I wanted to expand my usual comforts in movie choices and gave Longmire a shot. I loved the first season, the second season and the shocking third season. Loved them all! The 4th season I noticed things started to get a little less interesting and by the 5th and 6th season, it was lagging so much in material that I struggled finishing the last couple of episodes. Even the actors seemed like they wanted this series to end already. I really liked the evil Nighthorse better and I think Longmire’s integrity and being an old school gentleman was thrown out the window in the last season. I hate that Longmire decided to sleep with Vic, but respected Dr. Donna Monaghan. He tenderly told her that he was old-fashioned and had never slept with his wife until he married her. I loved that about him. I loved that he didn’t mind picking up litter from his county. I loved that he didn’t use a cell phone! He was original! And they ruined him towards the end.

Netflix did buy the series I believe after season 4 and I was excited because that meant longer episodes and Netflix has come out with great series, but they really destroyed the character I had grown to love. Even Vic lost her luster. Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) still did a great job in acting, but he became boring. And then they threw in the Irish mob into a Western detective thriller. Ugh! It was just everywhere and nowhere at the same time. They tried to build off a wonderful storyline and failed.

The last couple of episodes I just wanted it to end. I didn’t care and the love scene between Longmire and Vic was more than just awkward. There was no chemistry and I really thought that Dr. Monaghan and him were a better pair.

I will say that the landscapes of Wyoming are just breath-taking. It really made me want to live in a cabin just like Longmire’s. I have never been to Wyoming, but I might just make a trip over there to get some good eyefuls of their panorama.

I do recommend the first 3 seasons, I wont spoil those for you. They are awesome! But the last 3 really get worse by the season.