Movie: The Nativity Story

I saw this movie when it came out on the big screen two years ago. I liked it then, but this is one of my favorites now and will be seen every Christmas. Although the story was familiar, the telling of it captivated me. The way the actors brought the words to life - the words I grew up reading - made them seem new.

The joy Elizabeth showed at Mary's arrival made me love the actress who played Elizabeth. But each scene drew me in. The roles of Mary and Joseph were well played by award-winning actors Oscar Isaac and Keisha Castle-Hughes. Joseph was a hero. You could see in Mary how he changed, grew, and made her proud.

Filmed in Italy and Morocco, the breathtaking landscapes added much to the scenes. Every time I heard the horses hooves coming into Nazareth, it provoked emotion. The camera angles made me want to run out of the way when the soldiers rode into town.

The wise men were very entertaining. I wanted to look around in the room where the wise men kept their technology. They gave the movie an amusing lightness. I really wonder if the real wise men were "wise guys".

Word Becomes Flesh

Can you hear the teaser to a news story: “Word becomes flesh. The story tonight at ten.”

Read the first chapter of the book of John, verses ten through fourteen.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Once you’ve seen Jesus, it’s very hard to keep it to yourself. Whether you broadcast your experience over the TV, publish online or in a print magazine, or simply go about your business with an enormous goofy grin on your face, somebody’s gonna notice that you’ve been with Jesus.

Not kidding. Even the shepherds who saw Jesus on the day he was born couldn’t keep it to themselves. Read more at Seek God With Me.

Movie: Christmas in July

Dick Powell plays Jimmy MacDonald, a young employee who strives for his weekly wage working an adding machine, unappreciated by the advertising department to whom he’s sent thousands of ideas only to be rejected every time.

Ellen Drew plays his fiancé, Betty, who has waited patiently for hero Jimmy to marry her, but is becoming more impatient by the minute.

In this 1940 movie, Jimmy and Betty listen to the radio for the coffee slogan contest winner’s name to be announced by Maxford House Coffee president Dr. Maxford, played by the very entertaining Raymond Walburn. However, the contest winners aren’t announced because the jury has deadlocked and won’t come out of their deliberation room until the decision is unanimous.

While the jury continues to talk it over, the radio announcer closes the evening’s show with the joke about the executioner who can’t find the rope, “No noose is good noose.” Jimmy goes to work the next day to find a telegram on his desk stating that he’s won the top prize in the coffee slogan contest. Only he hasn’t really won. Trickster co-workers think this little joke is harmless, but it gets out of hand.

One thing leads to another and Jimmy ends up in a big department store spending his contest winnings on gifts for his family and neighbors. Then the joke is found out. Jimmy no longer feels like a hero and hopes he isn’t back at square one, only this time without a job.

With lots of humor and lots of twists, this movie is about taking a chance and not giving up hope.

Movie: This Christmas

Ma’Dere finally gets to spend Christmas with all her children after years of everyone going their own way, but everyone has a secret – even Ma’Dere.

As this average middle-class family in Los Angeles reunites, a secret wife is revealed, a cheating husband is dealt with, a surprise musician takes the stage, and a man on the run comes home. Not all plot threads were completely sewed up, but you knew that they would be very soon. The flaws and realities of human nature kept this family from being picture perfect, yet they were the perfect portrayal of how families can pull together and support each other.

Loretta Devine plays the matriarch Ma’Dere, known as Mrs. Whitfield to non-family members. Her leadership in the family is coupled with Delroy Lindo’s Joe Black. His fatherly encouragement to the youngest son, Michael “Baby” Whitfield, played by Chris Brown, keeps the bonds of support in the family strong. The loner, or should I say “loan-er” Quentin Whitfield Jr, played by Idris Elba, hides from men to whom he owes a great debt.

Regina King impacts the movie with a generous performance as Lisa Moore, the sister who tries to give all she has to everyone. Laz Alonoso, as Lisa’s husband Malcolm Moore, was a believable giver in a different way. Good job as the man we want to hate.

The Whitfield men are quite musical. Ma’Dere’s husband has left to follow his musical dreams, while Joe Black takes up the fathering duties for him. Quentin plays in a club in Chicago and hasn’t been home for four years. Baby hasn’t told his mother that his heart’s desire is music. The Whitfield women love their men, but each in a different way.

This isn’t a movie for the entire family due to several factors, but adult audiences will laugh, cry, and dance in the end.

Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon, Houston was blessed with a rare treat. A gift from God, some would say.

It snowed real snowflakes!

Snow is so rare around here we all kinda freak out when we see it. I heard of a drug store employee who came back into work from the outside saying, "This has been the best non-paid fifteen minute break of my life!"

Teachers let their class go outside to jump around and experience the tiny bits of snow before it melted on the ground. I drove to pick up my kids after school and was delighted by the flakes bombarding my windshield. If it had been love bug season, the front of my car would've been black.

So this morning, everyone's in a good mood. Except for those who travel on icy bridges, or those who have to go around the wrecks that happened because of icy bridges. Almost everyone's refreshed by the memory of last night's full moon shining down on the fluffy frozen flakes in the air.

The stop and go snowfall made my son change his tune from "It needs sugar," to "It's delicious."

Decorations With Meaning

On the night Jesus was born, shepherds were told to find Jesus. The wise men were already on their way. And soon more people heard about the birth.

Today, we’re reminded of the birth of Jesus when we drive down the road. We see nativity sets in yards, on fabric banners hanging from a pole, in front of churches, and in front of some businesses. We hear about the birth in Bethlehem sung in the grocery stores, in the malls and on the radio. In fact, if you don’t know that Christmas is about Jesus, you’re wearing blinders and ear plugs.

Because the message is everywhere.

If you look around and listen carefully, you’ll see that God is calling us to notice him. He’s using everyone who’ll join in the season to give the message of love because love is the message of God. Because God is love.

Join me at Seek God With Me as I remind everyone that this is the perfect season to see God.

Movie: A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge, played by George C. Scott in this 1984 film, has a heart, but it’s cold, hard, and uncaring. A visit by his very deceased friend Jacob Marley begins his eye-opening transformation. At first, Scrooge is sure the ghostly visit was a result of something he ate. Surely, it was only a nightmare.

Scrooge’s heart remained hard throughout the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Past. He asks if she’s the ghost of Christmas long past. She answers, “No. Your past.” He thinks he’s on a warm journey down memory lane, but he’s confronted with the bricks that he’s used all this time to wall himself away from others. This version of the story has always made me see the emotional side of a very cold heart.

I love the humor in the eyes of Edward Woodward who played the Ghost of Christmas Present. Poor Scrooge seemed to be a little offended. By the time the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be had finished his visit, he was a changed man.

So what caused the calloused and cold man to spring to life? It wasn’t the merry season. It wasn’t the repeated invitation of his nephew to join him for Christmas dinner. And it wasn’t the sight of his employee Bob Cratchit’s son standing in the snow, leaning on a crutch.

George C Scott plays a very sad man who can’t seem to see beyond his pocketbook. Subtle changes on his face tell about the heart of a man who wishes life had been different. When given a second chance to make things better, he proves that a villain can turn into a hero. And anyone who wants to change his life …can!

Movie: Joyeux Noel

I had to turn on the English subtitles to watch this movie released in 2005. The story is based on the real-life fraternization that happened along the front on Christmas Day during World War I.

Boys grew up in England, France, and Germany, learning to fear and hate each other. When war broke out, propaganda had already saturated those countries enough for the young men to have no problem shooting each other.

One of the heroes of the story was a famous German tenor (the singing voice came from someone else) who was called from the Opera to the front with the rest of the men. He was given no special treatment because of his fame. Late at night on Christmas Eve, something magical happened.

Scottish troops began playing their bagpipes. After their song finished, the German tenor sang to his men “Stille Nacht”. While he sang, the bagpipes joined in. Soon, the tenor raised his head above the trenches and stood for all to see, and sang to his men and to the men across the field.

Music united them. Music and the unity of the season and the spirit of Christmas joined their hearts until they called a cease fire.

Two other heroes, the officer from the French side and the officer from the German side, spoke to each other about a place in France they both knew. Men who had been shooting at each other just a few hours ago, began shaking hands. The officers and the privates walked to men from the “enemy lines” and visited with them. After getting to know the enemy, the enemy became human – and hard to shoot.

The emotion following the change of events was powerful. Surprising and expected at the same time.

I find it hard to think of a war movie as beautiful, but this one had moments of tenderness that made it feel that, for that one moment, everyone had forgotten the war. And, for that one moment, it was beautiful.


On my Seek God With Me blog, the topic of Christmas gifts has come up.

I know. It's not a lonely topic this time of year.

But I'm not discussing which gifts I want. I'm discussing the really important gift I already have.

Go find out what it is.

A Christmas Meme

Having looked online for a Christmas meme, I found a few and made up my own version from a conglomeration of a few interesting ones out there.


1. Getting kissed under the mistletoe or in the snow?

Since snow is so rare around here, I prefer mistletoe overhead. Of course if I can’t find any mistletoe, my husband might just kiss me without it.

2. Santa or Rudolph?

Just the mention of Santa and Rudolph takes me back to the animated Rudolph TV show narrated by Burl Ives. I love that show. Rudolph is so cute when he’s young and so brave when he’s older. So for that reason, I’d have to choose Rudolph. “Ready, Rudolph?” “Ready, Santa!”

3. Decorating the tree or putting lights on the outside?

My husband’s job is the outdoor decorations. My job is the inside, including the living room tree. My husband puts it together every year and makes sure the lights are all working. I go through the boxes of decorations and decide what to use on it. Last year and this year, I put some cinnamon-scented pine cones on it to make it smell good.

4. Warm fires or sleigh rides?

There aren’t too many sleigh rides around here, so if I picked sleigh rides, that would mean traveling to an area where one might find horses pulling sleighs through the snow. Yay! But without travel, the warm fires would feel good on those cold winter nights that we may get this year.

5. Caroling or Christmas stories?

Although I do love stories so very much, caroling has a special place in my heart. One Christmas at my mom’s house, the family gathered in overcoats and walked down her street knocking on doors and singing to all the neighbors who were home. We had the best time. I've also gone caroling with my youth group in nursing homes and hospitals. We always stopped for hot cocoa afterward.

6. Fake tree or real one?

An artificial tree is less costly, less fussy, less messy, and less prone to cause allergy problems. Fake is fine.

7. Homemade ornaments or store-bought?

We actually have more than one tree. Both of my kids have a tiny tree in their rooms. It started when my son was still interested in using a night light. We put a small tree in his room with multi-colored lights on it. We waited until he was asleep and then we turned off the lights. We let him decorate it with ornaments that he made in school or the ones we made at home. The store-bought ornaments went on the living room tree.

8. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" or George C Scott’s "A Christmas Carol"?

Who doesn’t love the Muppets? Some of them are really adorable. But honestly, I prefer the George C Scott version of that story.

9. Wrapping paper or gift bag?

Gift bags are wonderful time-savers. I love them. However after years of using wrapping paper, my family has proven to be quite the creative gift-wrappers. And I think some of us like to annoy everyone else with a less-than-speedy unwrapping process since we usually take turns opening packages. Gift bags would be way too fast – unless there are several small boxes inside! Mmwwahahaha!

10. Travel during holidays or stay at home?

Both. We like to be home for part of the holidays, but we try to see as many of our relatives as we can.

11. Making Christmas cookies or eating them?

Duh. Eating them. I’m a good cook, but my husband does most of the baking around here.