Friday, April 28, 2006

My Life-Affirming Movie

Last week I attended a leadership banquet at my church. The minister that facilitated the banquet showed a clip from the movie, Rudy. His charge to us was to "stay in the game" no matter how discouraged you may get. At my table, I decided to throw out the question, "What's your life-affirming movie?" I'm somewhat known for my "table topics" to keep a conversation going during meal time. To define "life-affirming movie" I said that it was a movie that when you feel you have no purpose or worth, you can watch and feel like you can conquer the world. Some might call it a George Bailey moment. This isn't your favorite romance, mystery, or action flick, but a movie that goes deeper than surface entertainment.

Normally when I throw out a table topic, I have my answer ready in case it is needed to spark the conversation. My life-affirming movie is Mr. Holland's Opus. I'll never forget the first time I saw it - I cried like a baby at the end. The tagline alone is moving, "It's not the direction you take, but the direction you give." I love that! For those of you who may have never seen it, the story is about a musician and composer who takes a job as a music teacher so in his spare time he can write music and become rich and famous. The end of the movie is so moving, that when I think about that scene I get teary-eyed. If you haven't seen it, I won't ruin it for you - go rent the movie and see it for yourself.

I think I identify with this movie because I love to spend my time mentoring others and doing ministry through my church, but in the depths of my heart, I dream of writing a novel and being published. Ahh, but where is the time? I realize that life happens while you are making other plans, and life is pretty doggone fulfilling at times. I may never get a single thing published - and I've tried - or ever get that novel on paper. But, in the meantime, I'm enjoying life and the road it is taking. And, as Mr. Holland's students said, "We are the music of your life."

What is your life-affirming movie? And, remember, not just that movie that is simply entertaining, but the movie that makes you realize why God chose you for the work you are doing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Plug In and Serve

A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with a co-worker of mine. She has recently re-located back to the Louisville area from Dayton and has found a church home close by her new house. Although she loves her church, she was challenged by finding a place to "plug in and serve." When she used that statement, she said, "If that makes sense." I told her to another church person it does, but to someone not involved in church, it just sounds like we're crock pots....

....after pondering on that, I began to compare the aspects of "plugging in and serving" at your local church to a crock pot. If there were a Christian Webster's dictionary, it would define "plug in and serve" as "finding your place in the local church to do ministry." And, there are similarities to ministry when you compare it to the plug in and serve crock pot.

First. all ingredients for one meal go into one pot. I love a good roast with carrots and potatoes in the crock pot. And, each ingredient plays their role in providing a wholesome yummy meal. Just like in ministry, we all work together as different ingredients in service to fulfill the work of the church.

Second, if an ingredient is missing, it is very evident. Another favorite thing I like to make in the crock pot is soup. Let's say you make a pot of potatoe soup, but eliminate the potatoes. You really only have a creamy vegetable broth. Not very hearty. In a local church, everyone is gifted specifically, and not all the same. If one person doesn't do the things they've been gifted to do, our sevice comes up lacking....much like the watery mess of broth without the potatoes.

And, last, the other name for a crock pot is a slow cooker....because it cooks slow. Brilliant naming convention. If I put in the ingredients for a great dinner at 10am and want to eat at noon, my dinner will be pretty nasty. It takes a good 6-8 hours for the slow cooking process to seep through every part of every morsel of food in that pot. When the final product is served, the juicy, tender dish is so succulent and appetizing that it was surely worth the wait. Sometimes in ministry, I have a microwave mentality. I figure that the first time I reach out to someone, they'll respond with open arms and completely change their life. But, that's usually not the case. It takes time. God's Time. Not mine. And, like the crock pot, when we let things develop in His Time, the results are a whole lot more appealing.

Slow and steady wins the race. And when God is doing the cooking, what a glorious feast it is.

Friday, April 14, 2006


My blogger audience is a diverse bunch. Just from what I know about my demographic, my age range goes from 18 - over 50. So, today's entry should appeal to my wide range of faithful blog readers.

Back in the Fall, I started working wih the college age ministry at my church. Nothing will make you feel as old as you really are than working with people that could biologically be your children. But, I love them nonetheless and they keep me hip and young. Although, I like to think I was hip and young before I started working with them...

One of their standard lingo-isms is a little acronym known as "BFF." It took me a while to find out what it stood for (you know, the pledge, the initiation, the coolness factor), but now I know..."Best Friends Forever." I chuckled because it reminded me of an acronym from my youth...LYLAS.

There is a point and time in your life where you really don't want to admit how old you are, but once you hit a certain point, being the age you are, living in the time you did, makes you somewhat popular. I was watching a movie with one of my college girl peeps, "13 Going on 30" and the date of May 12, 1987, popped on the screen. She said, "I was four months old." I gupled and said, "I had graduated college by then." Interestingly enough, my college girlies are enamoured by the 80s. To them, the 80s are like the 50s were to my generation. We were caught up in Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and had crushes on Fonzie and Chachi (I personally still have a thing for Chachi).

I've introduced some of them to LYLAS - which in 80s-speak is the equivalent of BFF - it stands for "Love Ya Like a Sister." Similar to the BFF insignia, we'd sign our yearbooks, "LYLAS!" If you garnered a "LYLAS" from somebody, you were tight. Not everyone earned that sign-off. Some of you may remember LYLAS and can share other 80s-isms that I've forgotten. For those of you who know only of BFF, consider this your history lesson. And, the moral of the story is, in the immortal words of that 80s music king Huey Lewis, "It's Hip to be Square."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Top Five Things that Make this Week Weird

5. Barry Bingham, Jr., passed away. The final member of the mogul family that used to own over half of the media outlets in town. I never knew him personally, but I have friends who worked during the Bingham days and during the corporate takeover days. They'd say give them a Bingham any day.

4. Katie Couric announced she was leaving the Today Show. I'm more of a Matt Lauer fan, but it'll be weird not having Katie playing off of the ensemble cast of the Today Show. And, she's going to be the new Dan Rather. Ok, so, her giggling days have come to an end. She'll have to learn to guffaw. Sad.

3. Meredith Vieira is taking Katie's place. Currently on The View and Who Wants to be A Millionaire, she does nothing for me. I understand she has a journalism background, but aside from her somewhat striking resemblance to Katie, I don't see the fit. And, what about Ann Curry? She's been there through thick and thin - do they not believe in internal promotions at the Today Show? I'll continue watching, but my heart goes out to Ann.

2. The Mandisa era is over. See previous post. I should know by now that around this point in the competition we begin the departure of some quality talent. It happened season before last and it'll happen again. It's just strange that Mandisa is out and Bucky remains. Go fig.

1. We lost an hour this weekend. Springing forward with Daylight Savings Time always messes up my internal clock. Next year we spring forward in March and keep that going until November. It takes me about a week to adjust my body to this change - and it makes it worse considering the rest of the weirdness that is this week.

Top Five Signs It's Springtime In Louisville

5. All the bouncing basketballs come to a screeching halt and the city goes through college basketball withdrawal.

4. The grounds around Churchill Downs begins sprucing up to prepare for opening day.

3. If you are up and about on Saturday morning, you see large groups of people running down the streets of Louisville

2. When you look up at the sky, you see Hot Air Balloons flying around

1. Every time it rains, a local meteorlogist has a tornado sighting.

Mighty Mandisa Has Struck Out

The end of the Mandisa era has come. Last night, we all watched in horror and shock as the Mighty Mandisa was voted off American Idol. It was a sad night for those of us who had hoped her gospel message would take her to the finals. I feel a bit responsible since this was the first week I didn't get to vote for her or anyone for that matter. If you find out she lost by a small margin, don't tell me.

This week the songs came from the country music world and Kenny Rogers helped prepare the contestants. I have to admit although she did a great job with the song she chose, it wasn't the song I would have picked for her to show off her "vocal chops" as Randy calls them.

She was graceful, shed some tears, and smiled as she watched her tribute film roll with the signature "Bad Day" song playing in the background. We saw her pronouncement of forgiveness to Simon - the beginning of her evangelization. We heard Simon and other judges state that she was by far, the best female vocalist in the top 12 and that she could sing anything. I'm satisfied, at least, that she sang the Shackles song to a national TV audience.

Don't cry for Mandisa. She showed her talent proud, and the Christian world proud. And, although she may not be the next American Idol, being in the top ten will get her more exposure in the secular world than she could have ever gotten otherwise. Life has just begun for Miss Mandisa and I'm still holding out hope for a Mandisa/Taylor duet....