White Christmas, 1954

Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen, and Rosemary Clooney, this film shows a couple of song-and-dance men as they get to know a sister act. When the men stay at an inn in Vermont, they find out that it’s owned by their old army general who is having money problems. The men put their girl troubles aside for a moment to work out a plan to help him.

This is the movie made for the world’s most popular song, “White Christmas”. After the movie Holiday Inn made such a success of the song in 1942, they couldn’t help but make another movie they could use it in.

Many similarities existed between this film and Holiday Inn. For instance, the “Inn” set was the same in both movies. So when Irving Berlin wrote “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me”, sung by Rosemary Clooney, it was another way to separate the two movies.

In that performance, Clooney wore a gorgeous black gown. Knowing that the costumes were designed by Edith Head made this film even more fun to watch.

The success of this film was nearly guaranteed simply because Irving Berlin wrote the songs. Even though he was known as a Songwriter, he could not read music. He hired someone to transcribe his melodies. Berlin, talented enough to compose both the music and lyrics to his songs, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Proving Himself

How has God proven Himself in your life?

Can you think of times past when you were spared the trauma of what could’ve been? Did God shelter you when others experienced one of life’s storms?

God has been in my life to guide and protect me through my journey’s twists and turns. He’s already shown me that He knows what He’s doing. I can trust Him.

I hope you will join me at Seek God With Me where I’ll continue reflecting on where God was when I’ve needed Him.

Romantic Roses: Winchester Cathedral

Bred by David Austin and introduced in 1988, this rose is a white version of Mary Rose, also a David Austin rose.

How could I pass up the chance to use this rose as my featured Christmas flower when it was named after a church and related to a rose named Mary? The white of this rose urges us to think of the innocence and purity of Christmas morning.

One of the finest cathedrals in Britain is the Winchester Cathedral. With a name that well-known, this David Austin rose had a lot to live up to. Not to worry. It has a very appealing Old Rose fragrance with honey and almond blossom mixed in.

This hardy, early flowering, medium sized shrub is bushy, but graceful. It can also be trained as a short climber. These English roses are prolific. You may see two or three rounds of flowers during the season.

Kathleen Y'Barbo's The Marrying Kind

I found this story in a collection called Texas Christmas Brides. Kathleen Y'Barbo and Cathy Marie Hake each contributed a story set in Cut Corners, Texas.

Peony Potter wants to start a new life away from her childhood home with all its tragedy. She might just be a success if she can get the sheriff to remove gamblers from the streets of her new home town.

Sheriff Rafe Wilson won’t be in town for much longer. He’s set on being a Texas Ranger just like his Pop. However, his Pop is acting like he doesn’t want him to leave town. He should be proud to have a son following in his footsteps.

Peony and Rafe get started off on the wrong foot. Peony complains about the scoundrels in the street. Rafe tries to keep the town as peaceful as possible while he waits for his time with the Rangers to come. What pulls this unlikely couple together is the meddling townsfolk – and a cat.

This book has been in my To Be Read pile for a long time. I should be reading her September release, Wild West Christmas (Romancing America: Texas). Or maybe I could pre-order her next romance, Beloved Castaway.

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a best-selling author of more than thirty award-winning novels, novellas, and young adult books. More than 850,000 copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad. This tenth-generation Texan is an author, speaker, and the exclusive publicist for Books & Such Literary Agency.

Gifts

When I was younger, my family would occasionally put a box under the Christmas tree that was the first box in a gift search. The recipient would open Box 1 and find a note with instructions to Box 2 which had a note with instructions to Box 3… until the instructions led to the real gift. All the recipient had to do to get the gift was obey the instructions.

The battle of Jericho was like that in a way. That battle was a gift to the Hebrew people and a gift to Joshua, their leader at the time. They were given specific instructions to follow with the promise that the victory would be handed to them. All they had to do was obey.

They didn’t have a tank to protect them in the battle. They had God. The sheltering presence of God was part of the gift.

For more of this discussion, join me at Seek God With Me.

Mary Connealy's Cowboy Christmas

Oh! That awful Claude Leveque! You’ll want to string him up yourself once you read Mary Connealy’s Cowboy Christmas.

Annette Talbot needs help. Her life is in danger, but she doesn’t fear death. Claude Leveque has threatened to keep her alive and threatens a fate worse than death if she fights against him.

On a stagecoach ride back home to her father’s ranch, she meets Elijah Walker. His kindness almost makes her forget the other two on that stage, a wimpy lawyer and a quiet cowboy who won’t talk much. Elijah’s ma also shows Annette much kindness. It isn’t much of a surprise when the two women get along very well together.

Poor Elijah debates within himself whether to trust Annette since she reminds him of another woman in his recent past, a woman he believed was innocent and then proved to be evil. He must fight off the feelings he gets over this beautiful young woman who seems innocent, but can’t be trusted.

When Claude Leveque finds Annette after she manages to run away from him, he’s determined to take control of her once again. She hopes Elijah will help her stop Claude, but Claude could get away.

Mary Connealy’s characters brought a smile to my face as I read. I couldn’t help but cheer them on as they tried to help out lovely Annette. And I cheer for the author’s efforts in making me a fan – because she succeeded. You can imagine how excited I was to win Cowboy Christmas in one of Barbour’s Twitter contests.

Now I’m interested in finding Mary’s Lassoed in Texas series which includes Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon, and Gingham Mountain. For her list of available novels, check out her sites: MaryConnealy.com and MaryConnealy.blogspot.com. The Husband Tree is her January 2010 release.

I also love reading Mary’s blog posts for writers at Seekerville.

A Shelter For A Boy

1 Sam 3:7 “The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”

Samuel ministered before the Lord under the instruction of Eli the priest. He learned about discipline, obedience, and religious traditions, but didn’t know the Lord. However, God didn’t hold that against him. God called him by name. Having never heard from God before, Samuel thought he was hearing the priest, and he went to Eli to ask why he called him. After a few responses of “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed,” Eli explained that it must be God calling him.

I find that story funny because Samuel kept going back to Eli to find out why he called him - and then Eli sent him away. I can imagine that those frustrating moments made the beginning of his journey with God quite memorable. Poor, confused Samuel had to start somewhere. We all have to start somewhere.

God wanted a relationship with Samuel. He wanted Samuel to know that He was the shelter that would protect Samuel. He protected him before Samuel knew him, and he would continue to protect him as he grew.

Today on my devotional blog, I’m exploring how God is our shelter. Check it out at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Iceberg

The Iceberg is classified as a floribunda. While it is disease resistant and a vigorous grower, its white blooms are only slightly fragrant. To produce more blooms, cut back the canes by about one-third in the Spring. It grows well in zone 4 and higher.

In 1983, it was voted the world’s most popular rose by the World Federation of Rose Societies.

My husband and I first saw this rose in the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. We wanted to try it in the front of our house. Unfortunately, it was blocked from the morning sun and didn’t enjoy our oven-like late afternoon heat. Even though it’s struggling to perform under less than pleasant circumstances, it’s still producing beautiful blooms. We’ll have to find a better place for it in the back yard where there's shelter from the heat - if it can just hold on.

Holiday Inn, 1942

Starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, Holiday Inn is best known as the film that started the popularity of the song “White Christmas”. That song was the all-time best-selling music single for several decades and won Irving Berlin a 1942 Oscar in the Best Music-Original Song category. With music by Irving Berlin, gowns by Edith Head, and crooning and tapping by Crosby and Astaire, the movie was an absolute hit.

The movie begins on Christmas Eve with boys dancing on the sidewalk to raise money. Of course that catches the eye of Fred Astaire who dances with the boys and rings the bell with the Santa before going inside to see if his girlfriend has broken up with her fiancé (Crosby). Of course, the first song Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby perform on stage reveals their true life problem - and the movie’s plot.

Bing Crosby retires to the life of a lonely farmer while the girl dances in big shows with Fred Astaire. After a year, Bing’s love of farm life gets the best of him, and he meets up with the other two to promote his idea of turning his farm into an inn that’s only open during holidays.

Fred Astaire did a bang up job and really brought on the fireworks with his dancing. Especially during his solo performance while his partner was still trying to get to the inn. That dance was filmed over two days, according to Imdb.com, and Astaire’s shoes for the fireworks dance were auctioned for $116,000 worth of war bonds. His “drunk” dance with his new partner is unparalleled. According to Imdb.com, Fred Astaire had eight drinks of bourbon during the filming of that dance.

Marjorie Reynolds’ acting was smooth and believable, but Martha Mears provided her singing voice. Louise Beavers is a treasure and had a small role in which she offered wisdom to those who would listen.

With lots of twists and turnabouts to keep us guessing, this film hops with rhythm and woos with graceful songs.

Shelters

This month on my devotional blog, I’ll be visiting shelters in scripture. I like the warm feeling I get when I think about the nativity with all the animals sharing shelter with the newborn King.

I think of God as my shelter. He protects me on all sides. He sees me and sees what’s around me. I can run to him in times of trouble. I can sit in the shade of his presence.

Join me at Seek God With Me to see which Bible verse I’m using today.

What's Your Plan This Thanksgiving?

When family gathers around the table or the TV to enjoy each other’s company, are you going to thank God for joining you too?

I know many families don’t talk about God because some family members aren’t in a relationship with him. They’re uncomfortable with the subject. Understandable. But have you thought to invite God to your weekend festivities without notifying anyone else? Do you plan to have a quiet prayer by yourself to ask God to join the discussions and make himself known to your family?

God knows how to get through to people in ways we never expect. He can turn a conversation to himself without our doing very much besides staying in communication with others. All we really have to do is to keep our ears open to God and to our loved ones and respond with love.

As you think about your plan this weekend, remember God wants to be a part of it. More on this topic can be found on my devotional blog, Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Mister Lincoln

Mister Lincoln is a dark red hybrid tea which loves a sky full of sunshine and proves it with its vertical growth. This easy-care rose is a great starter rose for beginners. It loves warm air and is disease resistant. Planting two or three of these bushes together makes for a fuller, bushier look and a more fragrant impact.

Introduced in 1964, Mister Lincoln was named an All-American Rose Selection Winner in 1965. Named to honor our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, this rose has become quite popular over the years. It’s recommended for zones 5 to 11.

These fragrant, velvety blooms sit atop long stems and are perfect for cutting. To cut, choose buds that are only half-open. Be sure to hydrate the plant very well and wait a couple of hours (late afternoon) before cutting. Carry a container of cold water with you when you’re ready to use your shears. Cut the stem at a 45 degree angle and put it in the water right away. The arrangement of fresh roses will look best if you keep cold water in the vase.

Manhattan Melodrama, 1934

The Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story went to Arthur Caesar. This film celebrates the friendship of two boys who lose their parents and stay best friends into adulthood.

Blackie Gallagher can’t give up his easy-money gambling schemes and ends up losing his girl to Jim Wade, his best pal from childhood. Blackie’s admiration for Jim never falters because he knows Jim’s integrity will never fail. Jim rises to elected office and tries to see that government corruption is driven out. When Jim’s and Blackie’s occupations get in the way, how will they resolve their differences? How will they get back together?

Myrna Loy plays the woman both men fall in love with. Clark Gable is Blackie, and William Powell is Jim Wade. Mickey Rooney plays Blackie as a boy. I recognized, but had a little trouble naming the familiar face.

Great acting, great story, a little humor, but mostly great fun.

However, it was interesting to note the similarities between this movie and another Clark Gable film, San Francisco, which came two years later.

Lose Something?

Doesn’t it drive you nuts to lose something in your home?

There have been moments when I’ve lost something, and it took a while to find it. I’ve looked high and low, behind things, under things, and still I couldn’t find it. I knew it was around there somewhere because it wasn’t a living thing and couldn’t move on its own. But it wasn’t there.

I wondered what outside source could’ve come onto the scene and moved it. I wondered if I accidentally hid it from myself. Did I put it somewhere and forget about it?

When I knew it had to be there nearby somewhere, I’d get distracted away from whatever else I could’ve been doing and get really focused on finding it.

That’s how God wants us to be when we’re searching for Him. You ask yourself, “Where’s God in this situation?” He’s there. You just have to look harder. He even gave us a Bible verse to motivate us to keep looking for Him. Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

I’ll continue this discussion about searches with you on my Seek God With Me devotional blog.

Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Thomas Ollenburger appreciates the opportunity to live with his foster grandmother in Boston while he finishes his college education. His next step is to secure a job and find a wife. He has two very different girls on his mind: Belinda and Daphne.

Belinda knows all about his Mennonite roots and lives near his family on the Kansas prairie. Daphne, from a wealthy Boston family, has caught his heart up in a struggle against his conscience. How long can he ignore the values instilled in him by his father? How long can he be silent about his relationship with God? A relationship Daphne doesn’t understand.

Daphne wants to use her contacts to help him secure an acceptable job in Boston, but he can’t take a job he didn’t earn. His father wants him to find work in his home town. Belinda turns into a faithful pen pal at Thomas’ request. But Thomas has to decide for himself where he should live.

Woven into the romance and job questions are the historical facts of the time. This story covers the 1904 election with Theodore Roosevelt, whom history tells us won that election, competing against Thomas Watson, the Populist party’s nominee. Thomas Ollenburger is swept up in the Populist party’s campaign because of his friendship with Harry, Daphne’s brother.

This book by bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer was the first novel of hers I’ve read. It's the sequel to Waiting for Summer’s Return, but was lovely all on it’s own. I found the characters interesting and likable. The plot kept me turning pages as I journeyed with the characters and waited for questions to be answered. Sawyer’s style made me want to read more of her novels.

Her latest release from Bethany House Publishers is Fields of Grace. Look for Katy's New World, in the Katy Lambright Series, to be released in February 2010.

San Francisco, 1936

Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy team up as childhood buddies separated by the decisions each one made. Spencer Tracy (Father Mullin) becomes a priest and Clark Gable (Blackie Norton) becomes a saloon owner on the Barbary Coast. Each man thinks his decision was the right one for him.

When a gifted and beautiful singer comes to town, the opera house owner fights for his right to the singer. Being new, she doesn’t know which man to trust. Although she’s falling for Blackie, opera is what she wants to do. Singer Mary Blake is played by Jeanette MacDonald.

The fight to win her over gets mixed up in a political battle, and Blackie fears for those he employs. Father Mullin can’t exactly choose sides, but helps where he can.

The ending is superb. The aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake is properly sad, but with a silver lining.

Freedom of Childhood

Do you long to go back to the freedom of childhood?

During childhood, I didn’t have very many responsibilities. I could play or read or relax however I wanted to for hours. I could fall asleep on a parent’s lap and wake up in my bed. I could get a hug anytime, day or night. I always knew I was loved.

I realize not everyone in the world was raised by loving parents, but most people had more freedom as a child than they do as an adult.

Did you know that regardless of your upbringing, you have the same opportunity to have a loving father as anyone in the world?

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I urge us to never forget that God is that loving father who wants us to always be His kids.

Romantic Roses: Dortmund

Introduced by Kordes of Germany in 1955, this hardy climber can get up to thirty feet tall and flourishes in zones 4 to 9. Pruning and deadheading will encourage more blooming.

Five large, long-lasting petals make up the brilliant red blooms, which show up well against the glossy, dark-green leaves. Their yellow stamens come up from a white eye. At their peak, these charmers produce a showy mass of red in the yard.

The thorns are quite noticeable. Keep them away from sidewalks or the passersby may experience a small snag in their plans.

My husband bought this shrub and tied it onto the areas of the backyard trellis that made the most of its beauty. Now it’s listed among his favorites. Ours is a slow grower. It’s in the shade and gets filtered morning sun. He loves the rich, deep color.

Love Starts With Elle by Rachel Hauck

Elle Garvey is about to marry Jeremiah, the young dynamic pastor who used to be a popular professional football player. She wants to be married, but life in a small town hadn’t produced many prospects up to this point. Jeremiah seems to be every girl’s dream. Why not marry him?

Heath McCord is moving away from New York City where his friends at the law firm would have to carry on without him. Of course they understand since he’s relocating in an attempt to recover from grieving the death of his vibrant young wife.

Elle is an artist. A good one, but with little confidence about her work. She hasn’t painted seriously in a while, certainly hasn’t tried to sell any. However, she wants to promote a love for good art by selling others’ pieces in her gallery. In her transition from single gallery owner to pastor’s wife, she wonders if she’ll have as much time for her artistic passions as she wants. She wonders if this marriage will be plagued with the busyness and politics of a religious institution. She wonders if she’s doing the right thing.

I enjoyed the journey, following Elle through excitement to confusion to heartache to confusion and back to excitement again. Rachel Hauck’s writing slipped me into the shoes of two different people with two different backgrounds, but headed toward the same goal. I also enjoyed the novel within the novel, and I thought it might be nice to see more of the intriguing story of Chet and Kelly.

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing the beautiful lowcountry town of Beaufort, South Carolina and all of its quirky inhabitants.

Did You Pray About It?

Did you vote? Did you pray about it? Did you pray about the decisions you’ve made concerning your children? Did you pray about financial decisions?

We frequently leave God out of our decisions unless we’re in trouble – and then it’s often a prayer of desperation. If we don’t call on God unless we feel helpless, do we know that God will respond? Does He only hear desperation prayers?

I think God wants to hear from us when we’re not in a dire situation. I think we should develop a relationship that is steady and long-term. When we get into trouble, the relationship is there. God is ready. He is willing and able to guide us whether we’re in trouble or not.

Check out my devotional blog for today’s message, Seeking Him In Our Brokenness.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 1939

James Stewart’s delightful performance as a naïve country boy Jefferson Smith contrasts deliciously with Jean Arthur’s city girl Clarissa Saunders. Mr. Smith, a boys’ club leader, is chosen to replace a fallen politician. Political boss Jim Taylor, played by Edward Arnold, decides Smith is the perfect choice because of his lack of political savvy. The plan is to keep Smith naïve and ignorant while corrupt deals are made all around him.

Being a man of conscience and a true hero, Smith takes his job seriously and attacks real goals with passion and strength. Of course this gets him into trouble. Smith must have help from his assistant, but Jean Arthur’s Saunders is weary of the political scheming and tries to quit her job during the first part of the film.

I loved the moment Saunders recognizes that Smith has mentioned her first name to his mother. Since everyone calls her Saunders, hearing his mother call her Clarissa stood out like a kiss on the cheek.

Mr. Smith awakens her to a new look at life, and her renewed fervor is key to the story.

Lewis R. Foster won the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story. This film was nominated for ten other Oscars, including Best Picture.

This classic should be watched before every July Fourth and before every election. I also think every high school class should visit the Lincoln Memorial and read every word there. Mr. Smith seemed to be energized there. Would it have the same effect on our children?

Fighting Deceit

Do you hate being deceived?

I think everyone does. I think even deceivers hate being deceived.

So how do you get rid of deceit? You need a powerful weapon. You need a weapon that is able to do more than make deceivers’ eyes pop out of their heads as they run away. You need a weapon that will vaporize deceit. Love is able to do that.

You may think, “Don’t you need truth to fight against deceit?”

You do. Truth is in love. But love encompasses so much more than just truth. Therefore, it is a weapon powerful enough to not just fight against deceit, but obliterate it. Truth makes deceit stop fighting, but love eradicates it.

Read more at my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, about winning the battle against deceit and other evils we encounter.

Awesome Concert

This past weekend, I was privileged to be in the audience at a Third Day concert. Never having been to their concert before, I was going on the recommendation of someone I once worked with. I also loved their song Revelation when I heard it on the radio.

The first time we saw Mac Powell on stage, he introduced a video. Fans love a cool behind-the-scenes video. After the video, we watched the amazing performance of Glory Revealed and listened to scripture taking flight on the wings of tender, upbeat, emotional music.

Then after Mac Powell led the band that opened for Mac Powell, Third Day band members took the stage and were introduced to the roar of fans’ applause. He admitted he wasn’t feeling 100%, but if Mac hadn’t said anything, no one would’ve noticed. His voice was powerful.

The funniest thing that happened was when the band finished a Charlie Daniels Band song and said, “Good night, everybody.” I think most of the audience saw through that tiny bit of deceit. Acting like they were going home after that song. Right. Revelation is their big hit and they hadn’t sung it yet. Kind of obvious, ya know.

So after a few encore songs, they finally gave me what I wanted. Believe me, it was well worth the wait.

I’m glad I went to the concert because I enjoyed the satisfying, soul-nourishing, heart-filling music, but I think my husband and kids enjoyed it as much as I did. Third Day can ROCK!

Charade, 1963

This compelling suspense film, directed by Stanley Donen, is filled with big name actors like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy. It’s hard to determine who is telling the truth when everyone wants the same thing and no one has been able to find it. Is the hero really the hero, or is it all just a charade?

Audrey Hepburn plays Regina Lampert, who finds out that getting a divorce is the least of her worries. One suspenseful, yet funny, line of dialogue after another, and soon Regina is surrounded by men who knew her husband. She doesn’t know anyone’s name and doesn’t know if she can trust them to tell her the truth. Towards the end when the suspense and the romance heats up, one must pay close attention in order to figure out who’s who.

Cary Grant, uncomfortable with the 26-year age difference between him and Audrey Hepburn, was pleased that the script made it clear that his character wasn’t pursuing Audrey’s character, but rather Regina was interested in Peter Joshua. Cary Grant was quoted after the film, saying, “All I want for Christmas is to make another movie with Audrey Hepburn.” Instead, he made two more films (with Leslie Caron and Samantha Eggar) and then retired.

Cary Grant was in four Alfred Hitchcock movies. The fact that Cary Grant was in this suspenseful movie made viewers think it was a Hitchcock film. Thus the confusing tagline: "the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made.”

Dispelling Deceit

What would happen if everyone in the country went on vacation at the same time? For a month?

No mail would come to your house. No milk would be sold in grocery stores. No garbage would be picked up. We would live in a bigger mess than you could imagine.

Now think about how many Christians have been on vacation from their God-given works of service. Have we been avoiding all of the preparation that goes into those good works? The preparation is as necessary as the jobs we have. If we stop doing those works of service, it affects more than just the one on vacation. If enough Christians go on vacation from service, it affects everyone.

Join me at Seek God With Me for a look at the hope and encouragement we get from nine Bible verses. If everyone does their part, we could live in unity and dispel deceit. If everyone does their part, we could actually change the world.

Writing the Heroines

My post yesterday about heroes was all about guys. After I finished writing it, I felt like the heroines were all tapping their feet with hands on hips, staring at me, waiting. I knew I needed to let them have their say too.

So let’s hear it for the heroines!

Ladies are made to be different from men. Heroines approach a problem with a different style than heroes. But just like guys, girls have strengths and weaknesses too.

Often, a girl’s weakness is related to romance. Many a handsome face has distracted the heroine and has carried her into a dangerous situation. But the strengths of the heroine are her tenacity and her ability to see the options in front of her. Heroines are not satisfied being damsels in distress. Although sometimes, they act like they can’t get out of a situation just to let a guy come to their rescue. Girls like guys to rescue them sometimes. But if a guy isn’t there for them or the wrong guy comes to lend a hand, they can untie themselves and get off the train track if they want to.

However, if a writer finds the heroine staying too close to the shadows, it’s a good idea to see what the girl is up to. Is she planning a surprise attack? Is she trying to fool the enemy into thinking she can’t fight back? Or is she about to get herself deeper into trouble? If she keeps getting deeper into trouble, let her. She’ll find a way out of it, and the reward will be oh so sweet.

Trouble doesn’t frighten a heroine. Maybe spiders do, but trouble? No way. A true heroine can throw knives and shoot guns to defend herself, even with freshly painted fingernails.

A Man or a Mouse

The ladies at Seekerville have given writers a cool reminder about making sure male characters are allowed to be male. I took notes when I read their blog post about writing “Guy”, the language which shows that a character is male. Their post has links to movie trailers which show who men are and how they react. I watched a few of the trailers. Correction, I enjoyed the few trailers I watched. Again, I took notes.

This post is a summary of what I learned that day mixed with comments from my own experiences with males.

Guys:
Are focused on one thing
Are a little arrogant or cocky at times because it comes with having confidence
Speak in as few syllables as possible
Get in the enemy’s face
Don’t let a fight rob them of their sense of humor
Feel the heaviness of responsibility
Want their Dad or male mentor to be proud of them
Know what they’re fighting for
Take risks
Make sacrifices
Get the job done

Many times I’ll read comments from an author who says their characters dictate how the story will turn out. They interview their characters to find out what kind of people they are. So when my male characters begin to tell me their story, I’ll ask them, “Are you a man or a mouse?” That may rile the man a little, but he’ll give me examples of how he doesn’t back down from a fight or how he risks his own life to save the lives of people who can’t defend themselves.

Men are fun to write. Mice are not as memorable as Men. Men will confront trouble, but Mice will flee. Mice are easy to scare, but Men exude a powerful confidence.

Men are handsome no matter what they look like. They’re handsome because they care about the people they’re trying to protect. You can tell they’re handsome because they come out into the open where they can be seen, usually dodging bullets and drawing attention to themselves, not for the glory, but so the people they’re trying to protect can escape.

Mice lurk in the shadows because of their fears.

Men are heroes, and heroes live life to the fullest. Heroes know when to laugh, when to love, and when to stop everything else and get the job done.

Laura, 1944

A police detective falls for the woman whose murder he’s investigating. Before he’s finished investigating, strange happenings make him rethink his findings.

Laura’s only Academy Award was won by Joseph LaShelle in the category of Best Cinematography, Black and White. He must have been thrilled to win the first Oscar he was nominated for. Oscar nominations went to Otto Preminger for Best Director and Clifton Webb for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It was also the first Oscar nomination for both of those men. Additional Oscar nominations were received for Best Writing in a Screenplay and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration in a Black and White.

The trench coat and fedora at the beginning of the film put me in the mood for a classic film noir. The shadowy lighting as well as the attitude of the detective was perfect. There were many twists and opportunities to guess who killed Laura, but I never guessed correctly.

Gene Tierney played the title role with her own special flair. She appeared in five movies with Dana Andrews from 1941 to 1950. He added a lot to this film as Det. Lt. Mark McPherson.

I hadn’t realized Vincent Price was in the movie when I started watching it. He was great in his role as Shelby Carpenter, who seemed a little slimy.

Lies Destroy

Lies ruin many things. Lies destroy trust. They close down great opportunities. And they suck the life out of relationships.

If you’re like me and want to speak the truth rather than flattering lies, you know it takes courage to stand up for what is right. When there is pressure to lie because it seems so much easier, we know that we must carry the truth with us no matter how heavy the weight becomes.

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I’m examining the pressure to follow the crowd of liars. I’d love for you to join me there.

Thread of Deceit by Catherine Palmer

Anamaria Burns is intent on making something of herself in her chosen career, newspaper reporting. Having won accolades in her former hometown in Texas, she now wants to produce front page articles in her new hometown in Missouri. When her editor gives her miniscule assignments, she repeats to him that she can do bigger stories. But he’s got a paper to run, so she’s stuck with a series of reports on lead paint plus whatever other stories he puts on her desk.

Sam Hawke runs Haven with military precision, just the way he learned to run things when he was in the Marines. There are rules for the benefit and safety of everyone. When Ana Burns shows up looking for a story about their lead paint problem, he’d like to kick her out on the street, but gently so the kids don’t get scared. The kids are everything. The kids are why he started Haven. They don’t have anywhere else to go to get the attention, safety, and training for success in life.

What Ana sees inside the secure compound known as Haven bothers her. A little girl stares at the wall all day. She doesn’t speak to anyone, but she comes back day after day. Who brings her here? Why won’t she let anyone talk to her?

Catherine Palmer sends chills down a reader’s spine with this suspenseful tale about what bonds a girl and a woman together. The romance that winds through the pages helps the characters see hope in this traumatic and painful story.

I found it hard to read because of the subject, but I highly recommend the book to anyone who has a passion to help abused children. Palmer’s skill in portraying evil doesn’t cross the line; she keeps the villain’s pages readable. At the same time, she draws out both compassion for the abused and strong emotion for the villain’s capture.

Sam Hawke is a valiant hero because of his desire and ability to protect women and children. He makes Haven a safe place because of the rules everyone obeys, and he makes Ana safe with his presence. He is a defender of the weak and a strong witness for God’s love.

Deceit and Honor

Have you ever had anything stolen from you. I have. It felt horrible to know that something I treasured had been removed without permission.

I wondered about the person who did it. I wondered if they felt bad about it and did it anyway because of greed. I wondered how anyone could do that. I thought people wanted to walk in honor.

I know there are a lot of really nice people around – and yet one bad apple can ruin a happy moment with a deceitful act. Read more about deceit and honor on my devotional blog Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Agatha Christie

The Agatha Christie rose was named to honor the author of the popular Miss Marple and Hercule Poriot books. The rose was introduced in 1990 by Kordes from Germany.

This vigorous grower can climb up twelve to fifteen feet. The moderately fragrant, light pink flowers decorate this disease-resistant climber.

Beautiful pink Hybrid Tea shaped blooms show up well against the dark-green glossy foliage.

Libeled Lady, 1936

Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow team up with William Powell and Spencer Tracy for this romp to the altar and back again. Jean Harlow, as Gladys, has marriage on her mind. Spencer Tracy, as Haggerty, is thinking of everything else. He is the conniving Managing Editor of the New York Evening Star, the paper that printed a scoop that never was. The Allenburys will sue the newspaper for their mistake unless Haggerty can find a way to make them change their minds. Myrna Loy, as Connie Allenbury, is quite bored with men until she meets William Powell, as Bill Chandler. Of course, she won’t give him the time of day until she gets to know him. And he makes sure she gets to know him. A beautiful performance by all four actors.

When Connie Allenbury sues Haggerty’s paper for five million dollars because they printed a false accusation that she was a marriage-wrecker, his goal is to get a good picture of her with a married man so the false accusation will become true and the suit cancelled.

The four big names in this romantic comedy deliver the entanglements and conflicts audiences love. I usually try to figure out what’s going to happen next, but the twists kept me pleasantly surprised.

William Powell is indispensable as Bill Chandler, the ladies man who can talk anyone into anything. He had already started working with Myrna Loy in their Thin Man movies. The Loy/Powell pairing produced many fine films.

Jean Harlow, the platinum blonde to whom all other bombshells had to measure up, died at age 26 less than a year after this movie’s release. She was buried in the gown she wore in this film.

Making Things Happen

What do you do when you don’t get what you want? Do you throw a fit, sulk, or pout?

That's what children do. But we know better, right?

When some people discover that all their efforts to get what they want have been ineffective, they pray.

Sometimes we, as adults, try our best to make things happen, and then we get so frustrated that we finally go to God. But He’s been waiting for us to come to Him the whole time because He’s the one who makes things happen.

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I’m taking a look at a woman who prayed for the ability to bear children. Join me.

Relationships Are Funner With God

My kids enjoy seeing my brother’s kids every year. They used to be a lot closer in size than they are now, but they still party like there’s no tomorrow when they see each other. Their love for each other makes even the adults smile.

I get to see my brother and sister fairly often. We love to make each other laugh. I like to listen to them sing. (They’re really quite musical.)

We try to keep our relationships filled with God’s love so there isn’t any room for an argument big enough to separate us. If anything does get in the way, we all know that God is able to do a relationship renovation. If anyone can help, God can.

Join me for more thoughts on relationships at Seek God With Me.

On A Killer's Trail by Susan Page Davis

Kate Richards, new on the job at the biggest newspaper in Maine, wants to be one of the best reporters in the country, but that would take time.

Portland police captain Connor Larson and his wife Adrienne welcome Kate into their home for a few reasons, one being the fact that Kate and Adrienne are sisters.

Police detective Neil Alexander used to date Kate, but he’d ruined any chances he might have had with her because of his lifestyle back then. However, he’s changed. He has become a Christian and is determined to act like it.

While Connor and Neil struggle with a case that seems to have no end, the clues aren’t leading them to a perpetrator they can arrest. Instead, they get more deeply entangled in questions.

Author Susan Page Davis is from Maine. She’s familiar with the icy streets and freezing rain. She knows about many of the book’s details first-hand. I think that’s why she kept my attention through the story. Since I'm from Texas, the details she provided helped me see the story better.

Davis has more books coming out. Her next Love Inspired Suspense release will be Hearts in the Crosshairs (October 2009). For more on this terrific author, check out her web site.

Kings Row, 1942

Starring Robert Cummings as Parris Mitchell, Ronald Reagan as Drake McHugh, and Ann Sheridan as Randy Monaghan, Kings Row was nominated for three Oscars: Best Cinematography of a Black and White film, Best Director, and Best Picture.

Drake and Parris grow up in a small town with the intention of staying best friends for life. The trust and innocence of childhood shields them from the darkness lurking in their own hometown.

Having aspirations to become a doctor, Parris is grateful for the opportunity to study under the father of his girlfriend Cassie. He wonders about Cassie’s secretive family, but can’t get too nosy or he’ll risk losing his teacher.

Turn of the century medicine draws Parris to study in Vienna. But back home, Drake has plans to become a businessman in the field of real estate as soon as his inheritance is paid. His plans are hindered by two men attacking from different areas of his life. Parris worries about his friend and hurries home from Vienna. He hopes he can use his new medical skills to help him.

This film shows the two young boys growing into men and the changes that take place as their naiveté and big plans are destroyed. Questions pile on top of each other as the story unfolds. And like every good story, the answers stay hidden until the end.

I enjoyed the happy-go-lucky Drake with his confident, boyish tongue clicks. Parris was the picture of manners and compassion. Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan are the stars of this film. Both produce stunning performances.

Twenty-three years later, Ronald Reagan used one of the lines from this film as the title of his 1965 autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me?

God Heals Parents

When you hear someone announcing their pregnancy, do you rejoice with them or grind your teeth?

I’ve known women who have had a difficult time becoming a mother. Pregnancy doesn’t come easy to some couples. I don’t know why. I don’t know how they feel when they hear a birth announcement just after they find out that their latest attempt at starting their family has failed.

God has a plan.

I don’t know what God knows, so I have to trust him. I have to abandon my way of working things out and find out how to implement God’s ways.

Join me at Seek God With Me for more discussion about children.

Pride N Joy

The 1992 All-America Rose Selections winner Pride N Joy is a miniature rose whose orange petals are enhanced by yellow on the reverse side. It has also been described as a salmon rose. This rose was hybridized by William Warriner and introduced by Jackson & Perkins in 1992.

I really don’t know much about this rose. I picked it because of its name. Since I'm focusing on children this month, I wanted to find a rose that reminded me of the kids.

A mini rose is the perfect plant to use as a gift, especially one whose name is an expression mothers use to describe their children.

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter

While reading Surrender Bay: A Nantucket Love Story, I was swept away by the power of persevering, unconditional love. This allegory, slathered with emotion and conflict, transformed a normal love story into an incessant tugging at the reader’s heart.

Samantha and Landon, best friends since childhood, have some things to talk about. However, Sam won’t talk. Her battered heart hasn’t healed, but has been guarded, stashed away to protect what was left of it.

At several points in the story, I got the idea that Landon’s love was Christ-like. This is a trait I’d like to see more of in novels and in real-life relationships.

Of all the heroic qualities I could list for Landon, I’ll stick to just three. He’s caring, patient, and driven. These three stand out because I saw Sam’s need for persevering love, and these three qualities ganged up on her and made an impact. His unquenchable love for her took over when human reasoning fell flat.

Are You A Novelist?

Are you a novelist? Then you’ll be interested in attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference.

I’ve been to a few of them, and they’re awesome. I won’t be there this year because I’m a mom, and I have responsibilities around home this year. When I’ve been able to get away and get involved in the conference, I’ve learned a lot. However, this year because of my beloved children, I’ll need to purchase the recordings– I love that I can do that!

The ACFW conference is in Denver next week, September 17 – 20, 2009.

This year’s keynote speaker is Debbie Macomber. Maybe you’ve read her novels, maybe you knit, but with more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide, you will learn something about her success story by attending the ACFW conference.

If you’re a first-timer, you’ll want to attend the first-time attendees orientation on Thursday afternoon.

Whether you need to attend the Foundational Basics workshop by Jim and Tracie Peterson or the University of Fiction “5 Hour Degree” workshop by Allen Arnold and Karen Ball, you can find a class for any skill level. There are classes that teach on characterization, point of view, plotting, and dialogue. You can even take classes related to the business side of publishing.

You’ll enjoy listening to novelists, agents, and editors in the workshops they will teach. Plus, you'll get to speak to these awesome publishing professionals at lunch and dinner.

In addition, there are late night chats with editors from a variety of publishing houses on Thursday night. The agents take their turn on Friday night.

If you can get away to Denver next week, do it. Your fiction will thank you.

Blessing Your Kids

When people talk about the economy these days, they have tension in their eyebrows. Personally, I don’t care what the economy does because God is my provider in any economy. When business is booming, God provides for me. When the nation mourns a bad economy, God provides for me. God’s power is not affected by our economy.

However, our obedience affects God’s power in our lives. He tells us to do something so he can reward us. If we refuse to obey because we live in fear and because we don’t trust God, we end up tying his hands. He’d love to bless us, but he won’t bless us for our disobedience.

As a parent, I understand this.

I feed and clothe my kids no matter how they behave, but I can’t take them to a special evening out when they’ve been rebellious all day.

I love to do special things with my kids just like God loves to bless me with special moments. When I trust God and obey him, I build up an inheritance that I can share with my kids and grandkids. Just like my grandparents handed down a reverence for God, I can keep the flow of God’s blessing open toward my descendants.

Read more about choosing an inheritance for your children at my devotional blog Seek God With Me.

Child's Play Mini Rose

Child’s Play, hybridized by Saville and introduced in 1991, was a 1993 AARS winner. It’s one of the very few miniature roses who have won that award.

It can easily rise from the ground to be two feet in height. It’s also a little more winter hardy than your average hybrid tea. With its light, fruity fragrance and its disease resistance, Child’s Play makes a wonderful patio plant.

This easy to grow rose produces wonderful color in a small space. The white flowers trimmed with pink edges could be perfect for your window box.

The King and I, 1956

Yul Brynner stars as King Mongkut of Siam. With his exotic good looks and confidence, he’s the picture of masculinity. He made having a bald head handsome before Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise. Yul Brynner’s chest showed in costumes for two of his 1956 films The King and I and The Ten Commandments.

Deborah Kerr stars as Anna, the teacher who was hired to teach English to the king’s children. She struggles with learning Siamese culture, but falls in love with the children.

Marni Nixon sang Deborah Kerr’s songs in this film. Nixon is famous for dubbing songs in The King and I, An Affair to Remember, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady.

Kerr was introduced to the American public with her starring role in the 1947 film The Hucksters. One of the taglines for that film was “Gable’s New Star is Deborah Kerr (rhymes with star).” She was nominated for six Best Actress Oscars from 1949 to 1960, but never won.

The King and I won five Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Art Direction-Set Direction/Color, Best Costume Design/Color, Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound-Recording. It was nominated for Best Picture, but that was the year Around the World in Eighty Days beat out The King and I, Giant, The Ten Commandments, and a William Wyler film I’ve yet to see called Friendly Persuasion.

Shout Out to God

Planning a party for Labor Day?

Many will gather their BBQ tools and get the charcoal ready for the annual holiday coming up next Monday. We love to relax and eat until someone has to get a crowbar to get us out of our chairs.

But do we really rejoice?

Sure, we go to football games and scream for our team. But have we rejoiced over meaningful and eternal things until we’re hoarse?

Today’s devotional blog post gives an example of how men, women, and children rejoiced because of what God had done for them. They rejoiced so loud, they could be heard probably in the next county.

Join me at Seek God With Me.

William Wyler

This month, I focused on Family. I reviewed a family of roses, a book in a series about a family, and a movie about feuding families.

This month alone, I reviewed four of William Wyler’s films. You can see those reviews by following the links below.

Respected Hollywood director William Wyler was known for forcing actors through many takes so the actor could get to that last take where the spectacular would happen. Of the 31 actors he directed in Oscar-nominated performances, thirteen of them won the Oscars.

In 1935, he directed The Good Fairy, which starred Margaret Sullavan who was married to him at the time. In 1938, he directed Bette Davis in Jezebel. Bette Davis and Fay Bainter won Oscars for their performances. In 1939, he directed Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier as the frustrated hero Heathcliff. The Best Cinematography Oscar was the only Academy Award Wuthering Heights won, despite being nominated in eight categories.

In 1941, he directed The Little Foxes, starring Bette Davis, but none of the nine Oscar nominations received the winner’s statuette. In 1942, he directed Greer Garson in the classic WWII film, Mrs. Miniver. Her Oscar was just one of the six awarded for the work in that film. In 1949, he directed Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress. That picture won four Oscars including Olivia de Havilland’s for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In 1953, he directed Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. Three of the ten Oscar nominations, won their category. In 1958, he directed Gregory Peck in his role as the hero James McKay in The Big Country, with Burl Ives as the patriarch of one of the feuding families. Burl Ives was the only one to receive an Oscar for work on that film.

In the 45 years he directed movies, he was nominated twelve times for Best Director. He won the Oscar for his work on only three of those movies: Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Ben-Hur (1959).

Mrs. Miniver, 1942

Mrs. Miniver was a popular war film which starred Greer Garson in the title role with Walter Pigeon as her husband Clem Miniver. The story is about a woman who remains hopeful and strong through trying times as WWII comes close to home.

Mrs. Miniver, gathers her family around her in a bomb shelter while her oldest son performs his duties as a pilot in the RAF. Her husband is called away to use his personal boat in defense of his country, but she bravely carries on for days without him.

When a German plane goes down and the pilot is missing from the wreckage, the village wonders what could’ve become of him. Mrs. Miniver finds him hidden in the bushes and handles the situation with courageous strength and compassion.

The movie also covers one of my favorite topics: beautiful roses. In the village, their local gardening competition allows some of the characters to show that they truly care about others. The rose competition in the midst of air raids shows that they tried to continue in the usual traditions in their daily lives while the war raged on.

I enjoyed the emotional story directed by William Wyler and how well it was acted. Mrs. Miniver won 6 Academy Awards including: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Greer Garson, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Teresa Wright, Best Cinematography in Black and White for Joseph Ruttenberg, Best Director for William Wyler, Best Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay for George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, and Arthur Wimperis.

Greer Garson caught up with Bette Davis to tie the record of most consecutive Academy Award nominations. Garson’s awards ranged from 1941 through 1945. Another of her records is in the category of longest acceptance speech. The delivery of her Thank You for the 1942 Oscar she won for playing Mrs. Miniver lasted well over five minutes.

Also nominated for an Oscar was Henry Travers who played Mr. Ballard, one of the competing rose growers. I remembered him because of his role as the angel Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life. He was Mr. Ballard in 1942 and Clarence in 1946.

You want more power?

Years ago, (and now sometimes on reruns) I used to watch the old TV series Home Improvement with my family. We would laugh together as we learned that, just like Tim the Tool Man, everyone wants more power.

If it's power you want, there's a way to get it. But strangely, power goes hand-in-hand with submission and obedience to God.

Think of yourself as a power tool in the garage or a vacuum cleaner, or an electric ice cream maker. You need access to real power or you won't work very well. We get our strength when we hook up with the One who is our power. Our worship, prayers, and acts of obedience are the electrical cord that keeps us connected to the power.

We think praying for a parking spot and getting it is power, but we don't know power. God has so much more to show us than we're ready to see.

If we would all grow up and allow God to really use us, we would see true power. Real Power.

We would see .... as Tim the Tool Man would say, "More Power".

For more on this discussion, check out my devotional blog Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Sunny Knock Out

The Sunny Knock Out Rose, the newest member of the Knock Out rose family, debuted in 2009. The original Knock Out rose debuted in 2000. This newest release is the seventh variety of the family, and it was developed by William Radler, the same rose breeder who developed the other Knock Out roses.

Just like the other roses in the family, it is a fabulous landscape rose, but with a slightly more compact and upright habit than the original Knock Out rose. Its unique quality is the fact that it’s the most fragrant member of the Knock Out family.

Its blooms are three inches in diameter with five to seven petals per flower. Although it has bright golden flower buds that open to a buttery yellow with deep yellow centers, the petals quickly turn a creamy pale yellow and then fade a little more over the next couple days. The flower’s color stays more intense during the cooler parts of the year. And the bright yellow contrasts nicely with its dark, semi-glossy foliage.

Sunny Knock Out rose is a tough and hardy shrub type rose with outstanding disease resistance. It blooms early in the Spring, thrives in heat and humidity, and continues blooming until the first hard frost.

For a low-maintenance, trouble-free rose garden, roses in the Knock Out family seem to be one of the top picks. They’re a great plant for hedge, border or foundation planting.

Jezebel, 1938

Bette Davis brings multifaceted emotion to the role of Julie, a stubborn conniver who won’t be happy unless she gets what she wants. Julie is a Jezebel character in the way she wants to control her man. She wants to make him do her bidding and come running back to her after she crosses the line with him. She’s the woman who willfully and selfishly defies convention and doesn’t mind keeping tongues wagging at her shocking behavior. She rather enjoys the attention.

Henry Fonda plays Preston Dillard, a man in love with Julie and probably wishing she’d been disciplined a lot more in her growing up years. George Brent adds a lot to the story as the dueling Buck Cantrell. Preston represents the North and Buck represents the south in the way they cling to forward thinking (Preston) or the traditional rules of the South (Buck).

The story is about the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in the 1850s and how that impacted the plans of a spoiled young woman and the man she loves. The writing is so well done that you don’t really know what’s coming up even though every turn of the plot was set up in advance.

The movie, with its complicated plot, was directed by William Wyler. It came out after Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With The Wind, and before Scarlett O’Hara hit the big screen. The audience was ready for a beautiful antebellum setting. Academy Awards went to Bette Davis for Best Actress in a Leading Role and to Fay Bainter for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

I loved how Julie’s character was shown through her clothes. She wore a riding habit to a party she gave and arrived late for. Julie wore red to a ball where all single girls wore white. The red dress had as much of a destructive effect at the ball as the yellow fever had in New Orleans. Everyone shunned the red dress almost as much as fever victims were shunned a little later in the movie. Costumes designed by Orry-Kelly made an impact in the story, even the plain dark cloak Julie wore to escape in the night.

The Good Fairy, 1935

A young orphan, Lu Ginglebuscher, is hand picked to be an usher at a movie theater where she meets a man, Detlaff, who eventually takes a liking to her, to the point of being protective when he sees that her naïveté will get her into trouble.

Margaret Sullavan, as the friendly and likable Lu, is unaware of the dangers in the world outside the orphanage. When she is noticed by a rich man, Konrad, who wants to be known as a ladies man, Detlaff comes to her rescue. But she wants to be a Good Fairy for someone since she has the attention of someone with money. She works on a plan to hook up Konrad’s money with someone she picks out of a phone book. When she finally meets this stranger, they find they like each other and eventually fall in love.

I enjoyed seeing Frank Morgan as Konrad. I kept waiting to hear him command, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” But he would have to wait four more years before he turned into the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.

Beulah Bondi, who played Dr. Schultz, was also in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. In fact, she played James Stewart’s mother four times.

Cesar Romero had a brief role in this film, but it was early in his 65-year career. His other roles ranged from a Latin lover to The Joker in 20 episodes of the Batman TV series to 50 episodes of Falcon Crest.

Want to know God?

Do you know God?

Would you like to know him better?

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I’m sharing a Bible verse that gives us hope. It encourages us to ask God for things that will help us understand him better.

Romantic Roses: Rainbow Knock Out

Hybridized by William Radler; introduced by The Conard Pyle Co., Rainbow Knock Out Rose is a 2007 All-America Rose Selection. AARS roses have all been put through a two year examination where they were tested on their disease resistance, flower production, color, and fragrance. These tests are judged in 23 gardens across America with all climate zones represented.

Rainbow Knock Out Rose, a compact landscape shrub rose of Coral/Salmon petals with a yellow center, has short stems bearing glossy, dark green leaves. The small blossoms start out as pointed buds which develop into five-petaled flowers two inches in diameter.

This variety has the same resistance to disease as the other roses in the Knock Out family. It is also winter hardy to zone 4.

The Big Country, 1958

One family struggling against another is a theme that has endured through the years. When each family is too proud to negotiate peace, it forces the hand of death. You’ve heard of Romeo and Juliet and the Hatfields and McCoys. Now meet the Hannasseys and the Terrills.

William Wyler directs this film about taming a long-time feud between two families. The camera tries to make you feel like you’re out there with the dust and the dirt. The writing twists produce a story that is expected but not stale. Big-name actors, classic plot, and a camera panning across a sweeping landscape gives the impression that this is a really Big movie.

Gregory Peck plays James McKay who doesn’t intend to let either of the families boss him around. His non-violent approach seems strange to the feuding families.

Jean Simmons is beautiful as ever as Julie Maragon, the woman whose land everyone wants – at a fair price. (Right.) Her friend, Miss Terrill was beautiful enough to bring a gentleman home to meet her father. The women did a great job in their roles. Both want a man, but don’t “need” him. Plenty of males to choose from, but they had manners enough not to fight over the one gentleman in town.

Charlton Heston gives a powerful performance as Steve Leech, the foreman who doesn’t give respect to those who don’t earn it. Strictly loyal to his boss, he must’ve been the son his boss never had.

Burl Ives plays Rufus Hannassey, the patriarch of a family who just wants to get his cows to the river during the dry spell. He’ll listen to reason if there’s any to listen to. Buck Hannassey is played by Chuck Connors who was an NBA and a Major League Baseball player before turning to acting.

Who Wants Ice Cream?

In my family, both in my growing up years and in my mothering years, kids have always loved ice cream. It’s sweet, cold, yummy. And there are so many varieties to choose from. Almost everyone has a different favorite flavor. But almost everyone likes vanilla.

So in my family when someone asks, “Who wants ice cream?” Everyone gets excited. There’s a rush to the kitchen. The games and discussions cease, and the hands reach out for their own bowl of ice cream.

That’s what I think it should be like when we talk about forgiveness. I’ve tasted forgiveness – and I like it. I don’t know very many people who haven’t tasted it. It’s more important to receive than a bowl of ice cream.

So why do some people act like they don’t get to have any?

Read more on this discussion at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Pink Double Knock Out

It is said that the Knock Out Roses, a family of roses whose introductions began in the year 2000, are the most disease resistant roses around. That and the fact that they are low maintenance in other ways as well delights owners of the Pink Double Knock Out Rose.

This perky bubble gum pink version of the Double Knock Out Rose is a compact shrub rose which brightens landscapes almost all year through.

Its foliage is vigorous and has a nice color. The deep green leaves enjoy a touch of blue and maroon. Its underside is also maroon. However in the fall, the leaves turn a deep purple with rich maroon undertones.

The blossom’s fragrance is slightly spicy mixed with a light tea rose scent. With a bloom cycle of about every 5 to 6 weeks, The shrub is almost always in rebloom mode. Many rose growers practice deadheading to encourage more flower production. Deadheading is cutting off spent flowers just above the last leaf so that the plant produces more blossoms. This only works on roses that are able to rebloom.

But the Knock Out Roses are self-cleaning so there is no need to deadhead.

The Pink Double Knock Out Rose is one I would love to try in my yard. The tough plant with its vibrant flower is a definite temptation.

Roxanne Rustand's Wildfire

Snow Canyon Ranch is a Love Inspired Suspense series featuring the McAllister family living in the Wyoming Rockies. Claire is the mother of three sisters who have had their share of bad times. In Wildfire, the final book in the series, it’s Tessa’s turn to tell her story of conflict and love.

Tessa’s life has been challenging, but she has run the ranch to the best of her ability. However when drought and money problems combine with a criminal element, Tessa is at her wit’s end.

It’s a good thing her former boyfriend Josh came along when he did. Or is it? He’s as helpful as he can be, but he’s there with limited power. And he reminds her of pain from years past.

What’s a girl to do? Welcome whatever help Josh can give or send him away?

Raging fires, burglaries, gunshots and motorcycle accidents draw the characters to rely on God more than they ever have.

Who Am I?

People used to run away from their comfortable surroundings to go “find themselves”. Does anyone do that anymore?

I agree that people often discover more about themselves when they struggle with conflict. You might default to a calm “fix the situation” attitude, or you might be caught off guard by the ugly anger that comes with your frustration. A new setting often provides the conflict that stirs up what's in you. Don't be surprised if something heroic comes out of you. If you love people, self-sacrifice isn't usually something you plan.

If you’re tempted to go off somewhere to find yourself, let me make a suggestion. Pick up a Bible and read about the one who designed you to be the way you are. Discover who you really are by finding yourself in Him.

Read more about this kind of personal journey at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Knock Out Rose

The Knock Out Rose from Conard-Pyle, the first in a family of roses, is an AARS Winner from the year 2000. Others in the family include: Pink Double Knock Out Rose, Rainbow Knock Out Rose, and Sunny Knock Out Rose.

This shrub rose is like every rose: it requires some maintenance for maximum impact. But no coddling. Even though you’ll want to go out often and check out the rich cherry red flowers which bloom continuously, it has proven to need very little upkeep compared to others.

I’ve never owned one of these, but I might try it since it’s drought tolerant and disease resistant.

The pictures I’ve seen of it show it off with a profusion of color covering a mass of bushes. Newer bushes still impress, but older beds thickly studded with blasts of color make the whole landscape a knock out.

Camy Tang's Deadly Intent


Naomi Grant is in charge of her father’s exclusive Sonoma spa while he recovers from a stroke. She has more responsibility than ever, but she can keep up with it – until Devon walks in.

Dr. Devon Knightley is the ex-husband of one of Naomi’s clients and has dark, urgent eyes which affect Naomi. He demands, politely, to see ex-wife Jessica Ortiz who is relaxing somewhere in the spa. When Naomi goes to find her, Jessica is bleeding to death in her massage room. A murder? In her spa? Naomi’s worries have only begun.

With the evidence stacking up against Naomi, her Aunt Becca tries to help all she can, but she can’t solve the mystery or keep Naomi from looking like she’s guilty.

I rejoiced in the suspense and the romance and the clues to the killer’s identity. The red herrings were effective. However, I quite enjoyed discovering at the end that my guess about the killer’s identity was correct. The satisfying ending made me want to go back through the book and find all the clues that I hadn’t caught the first time through.

I recommend this book. Camy Tang gives us a fun story and makes us care about the hero who is rightly concerned about Naomi’s safety.

Bio:

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 24 copies of her latest release, DEADLY INTENT.

Camy's Hero: Dr. Devon Knightley



This is Devon Knightley, hero from Camy Tang’s latest release, DEADLY INTENT. She twisted my arm—er, asked me to blog for her on Laura’s blog today.

I was watching the TV show Royal Pains the other night and one of the characters mentioned something that is true for most men: We will do something moronic at least once in a relationship with a woman, usually more than once.

(I would be tempted to say that a woman would do something silly at least once in a relationship with a man, too, but the estrogen levels in the room are a bit high at the moment, so I’ll refrain.)

Seriously, my moronic moments in my life number in the dozens. Not the least of which was marrying my ex-wife, Jessica Ortiz. A close second is my reluctance to take a risk again and ask out Naomi Grant after my divorce.

I have no problems taking on the challenge of a difficult surgery—I’m orthopedic surgeon for the Oakland Raiders—but as soon as I realized I was starting to be attracted to Naomi, I backed off. Didn’t even ask her for her phone number.

As you can see, I’ve been King of the Morons once or twice at least.

Luckily, in DEADLY INTENT, I get a chance to see Naomi again. Granted, it’s not the most romantic of circumstances—I show up asking to speak to my ex-wife, Jessica, and then Naomi happens to find her bleeding to death in her own massage room. Doesn’t look good for either of us, to say the least.

But, just because a man has BEEN a moron doesn’t mean he will ALWAYS be a moron.

At least, that’s my hope.

Read DEADLY INTENT to find out how our ill-fated romance ends up!

Thanks for letting me blog today, Laura.
Devon

DEADLY INTENT:

SCENE OF THE CRIME

The Grant family’s exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation—not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon’s reputation is at stake...and so is Naomi’s freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect—Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim’s ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn...and whom can she trust?

Bio:

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 24 copies of her latest release, DEADLY INTENT.

In the Battle

In the battle between good and evil, isn’t it comforting to know that good is right behind you?

Isn’t that what we want? We want to know that we’re not alone in our battles. We want to know that we’ve got backup.

Today at Seek God With Me, I’m on the last post of my series on Psalm 23. Come join me.

Operation Petticoat, 1959

Cary Grant played Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman, the captain of a WWII submarine stuck with some army nurses and a pink sub. Tony Curtis, now 84 years old, played Lt. JG Nicholas Holden when he was 34.

This film, directed by Blake Edwards, was shot in the Florida Keys and in San Diego. This wasn’t the first time Tony Curtis was on a submarine. According to imdb.com, he worked as a crewman on a sub. He was honorably discharged from the Navy when he realized that the GI Bill would allow him to go to acting school.

The writers were nominated for an Academy Award. A Golden Globe nomination was received for Best Motion Picture – Comedy, and for Cary Grant’s work, a nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor – Musical/Comedy.

The nurses added to the comedy. Joan O’Brien played Lt. Dolores Crandall, and classy Dina Merrill played Lt. Barbara Duran. Marion Ross who played another nurse, Lt. Colfax, went on to gain a household name as Marion Cunningham of Happy Days.

Tony Curtis was thrilled about being in a movie with Cary Grant. “He could have picked anyone, but he allowed me the privilege to be in the movie with him.” He called Cary Grant “the greatest movie actor of all time.”

1959 was a busy year for movies. Cary Grant was in North by Northwest which also released that year. Tony Curtis was in Some Like It Hot, which released earlier that same year. Arthur O’Connell played Chief Machinist’s Mate Sam Tostin. A popular character actor, he was in four movies which released that same year: Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, Hound-Dog Man with Fabian, Anatomy of a Murder with James Stewart, and Gidget with Sandra Dee, James Darren, and Cliff Robertson.

Enemies Looking On

Do you need encouragement?

God gives encouragement through people and through Bible verses. One particular verse that encourages me is Psalm 23. My series of devotionals on this Psalm is continuing on Seek God With Me.

Today’s post deals with the Lord as provider. In verse five, we see a picture of protected triumph. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Is your cup overflowing? Check out my blog for more.

Shenandoah, 1965

Civil War era farmer Charlie Anderson hears the cannons and gunfire, but isn’t interested in getting involved with either the Union or the Confederacy because this isn’t his war. As long as the soldiers stay off his land, it doesn’t concern him. However when his son is taken prisoner, Charlie gets angry because now it concerns him. He has to find him and bring him home.

James Stewart is Charlie Anderson, a widower raising six boys and a daughter to have manners and work hard. In her debut film role, Katharine Ross plays Ann, James Anderson’s wife. Jacob Anderson is played by Glenn Corbett, and Patrick Wayne plays his brother James. Corbett and Wayne did another film together in 1971 called Big Jake which starred John Wayne.

Denver Pyle plays their church’s pastor who was funny when trying to preach to a church full of people who were distracted by the Anderson family who came in late and whispered down the long row of people to get the fishing line out of the youngest one’s hands during church.

The scene where Charlie has a talk about women with his daughter’s new fiancé is very well written. Men don’t understand why women are the way they are. They didn’t then, and they don’t now.

If you agree that James Stewart is an awesome actor, you’ll want to watch this one again. But be aware that every time I watch this movie, I’m wishing for tissues, so be prepared for the tear-jerker moments when you watch it.

Battling Fear

Dozens of movies have shown people quoting Psalm 23 when they are in fear for their lives. When they know they’re going to die, they somehow remember the words to that specific psalm.

Why?

It is very comforting psalm. It’s always good to know that God watches over us and will be with us while we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

For more on receiving comfort for your dark days, join me at Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: National Trust

Hybridized in 1970, this crimson red Hybrid Tea has a mild fragrance. It is resistant to black spot and mildew. While you will enjoy the fully double flowers of this profuse bloomer, it is moderately thorny.

Battling the heat of a Texas August might be difficult for this rose; although, it is said to grow well in zones 5-9. Zone 5 is northern Kansas, 6 is southern Kansas, 7 is southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, and 8 is central and eastern Texas. Zone 9 is where I live.

I haven’t tried out this rose in my yard. Many roses do well in Spring and Fall, but can’t take the heat of our Summers. I would love to test this beauty and see how well it holds up since it’s supposed to bloom continuously from mid-spring to early fall.

Although I haven’t verified this information myself, I read that this is one of the 4,500 roses in the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden in California. I’ve been there years ago on a vacation and found their displays to be inspiring and refreshing. So I may have seen this flower up close in that beautiful garden.

This shrub with its abundant dark green leaves is also sold as the “Bad Nauheim” rose. Bad Nauheim is a city in Germany whose air is sweetened by a field of roses. The city also boasts the world’s only rose museum, but is most famous for the spa where international celebrities relax.

Deep Blue by Tom Morrissey

500 sit ups every morning is not the only impressive thing about Beck Easton. Mr. Easton is a gentleman. He’s a hero in every sense of the word. He’s smart, athletic, and he has a tender heart. But the most impressive thing about Beck is his self-control.

When Jennifer Cassidy came to ask Beck to help her discover artifacts and clues to solve the mystery in Cecilia Sinclair’s Civil War era diary, he starts to like her right away. Who wouldn’t? She’s cute. But after spending some time together, he can’t just say goodbye. Jennifer’s in a situation that’s too big for her to handle alone.

After looking at a few artifacts and discovering there’s more to the mystery than Jennifer originally thought, Beck sees that her life is in danger. However, she continues her search for more clues while Beck keeps an eye on the people following her.

I enjoyed reading about Beck, the diver. I’ve taken one trip 35 feet underwater and saw what that world was like – and loved it. I also enjoyed reading about Beck the pilot, Beck the Christian, and Beck the boyfriend.

Christy Award finalist Tom Morrissey writes deep novels. Yucatan Deep and Deep Blue are two among his other high action, high tension novels. Morrissey’s August 2009 release, Pirate Hunter, should be excellent as well.

The Glenn Miller Story, 1953

Wow! The Glenn Miller Story has a fun beat, a little romance, and a lot of stars.

James Stewart shows the heart of trombone player and band leader Glenn Miller as he struggles for enough money to start the band, struggles to get married to the girl he couldn’t stop thinking about, and struggles to find that “sound” he was looking for.

The six-foot three-inch frame of James Stewart towers over petite June Allyson, who plays Helen Berger Miller. Harry Morgan (a familiar face best remembered from the TV series M*A*S*H*) brings a smile in his role as Miller’s long-time friend Chummy MacGregor.

The Glenn Miller sound was a hit then and still is today in the hearts of those who, like me, can’t listen to it without tapping toes and nodding to the beat. My husband and I danced to Glenn Miller music at a New Year’s Eve dance several years back. When music is this good, it stands the test of time.

Appearances by Frances Langford, Louis Armstrong, Ben Pollack, Gene Krupa, made the film even more enjoyable. I played the Gene Krupa scene for my husband who walked through the room just after it. And who doesn’t love Louis Armstrong?

This movie was released the same year as Hitchcock’s Rear Window, in which James Stewart also starred.

James Stewart portrayed a soldier who died in the service of his country in 1944. Stewart knew about being a soldier since he was the first movie star to enter military service for WWII, which he did eight months before Pearl Harbor. After he joined the Army and became a pilot, he flew 20 combat missions during the 21 months he served overseas. He also served in the Air Force Reserve after the war, retiring as a brigadier general.

The Sound of Peace

After every battle, there is peace. A rest from fighting.

The soldiers are called back home with the sound of peace. This reminds me of a couple of Bible verses. John 10:4 turns our attention to the voice of the shepherd. They know his voice and follow him home. Psalm 23 also focuses our attention on a good shepherd who guides his sheep in paths of righteousness.

Read more at my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, about the peaceful voice of the shepherd who calls to his sheep.

Romantic Roses: Fourth of July

The Fourth of July rose will add excitement to your yard. I’ve read that you’ll want to walk by this rose a few times each day to catch that sweet, fresh cut apple scent as much as possible. Since it’s a repeat bloomer, you’ll need some room on your arbor for this bright, colorful, fast-growing beauty.

Hybridized by Tom Carruth and introduced by Weeks in 1999, this red blend climber is hardy and vigorous. If you’re in zones 5 to 9, you’ll have an easy grower on your hands.

This eye-opener became the 1999 All-America Rose Selection, the first climber to take the honor in 23 years. From 1940 to 2009, only five climbing roses have been named as AARS roses. Other climbers achieving AARS status are: a salmon rose called America from 1976, a yellow rose called Golden Showers from 1957, a yellow rose called High Noon from 1948, and a red rose called Flash from 1940.

Independence Day, 1996

Aliens invade Earth! This classic alien invasion movie is funny and endearing. Instead of coming off corny and stupid, it has the audience cheering at the end.

In early July, an alien mothership and her smaller ships attend to the work of demolishing major cities. The fate of the entire world is left to a handful of remaining Americans who figure out how to stop the invasion and fight for their freedom.

A rousing speech by Bill Pullman who plays President Whitmore ends with a passionate declaration that July 4th is our Independence Day. That speech, according to imdb.com, “was filmed on 6 August 1995 in front of an old airplane hangar. The hangar once housed the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima exactly 50 years earlier on 6 August 1945.”

You didn’t see very much CGI in this film since it “holds the record for most miniature modelwork to appear in one film. It is said more miniatures were used for this film than in any other two films combined. Due to the advances in digital technology since this film's release, most experts believe this record may stand forever.”

I love the quick-witted comments from Judd Hirsch, Jeff Goldblum, and Will Smith. I read that most of the dialogue by those actors was unplanned.

Brent Spiner plays crazy Dr. Brackish Okun very well. You could tell the good doctor didn’t get out much.

A Warring Soul

On Saturday, we celebrate Independence Day, a day to remember those who have battled against our enemies so we can live in freedom.

I’ll stay with the theme of War on this blog and post reviews of WWII movies (of which there are a multitude to choose from). The contemporary novel I’ll review later this month makes reference to characters from the Civil War era.

Today’s post on Seek God With Me, my devotional blog, continues my Psalm 23 series. It focuses on the way we have to battle against the stress and pressure this culture uses to tear at our soul.

Double Minds by Terri Blackstock

Bestselling suspense author Terri Blackstock’s book, Double Minds, is an interesting look at how people can show both compassion and greed. When Christians battle against the sin in their lives, they often feel weak.

Do we let the side of righteousness win, even though it’s a hard battle? Or do we succumb to the Beast (sin) that looks good but isn’t?

How is Christian songwriter Parker James going to move from obscurity to fame and fortune? Her journey gets more confusing when the desk where she works as a receptionist turns into a crime scene.

I thought I had figured out who the killer was in the middle of the book. My guess was wrong. I loved that there were enough twists and red herrings to keep me wondering. The ending was satisfying and logical.

I was hooked into the story about Parker, a songwriter who has exceptional talent, but little hope of becoming rich. She seemed like an underdog I could cheer for. The people in her life gave her encouragement about her talent, but they also made her realize that nobody’s perfect.

Parker’s brother, Gibson, is a homicide cop who wants Parker to stay out of the way while the police get answers and arrest the killer. He works to protect his sister, but he isn’t the hero of the story. Les Paul, Parker’s other brother isn’t the hero, and neither is her dad. Her dad’s an alcoholic who wants to prove to his family that he can stay sober.

Serene, who loves Parker like a sister, is the young Christian singer who wants bigger audiences so badly that she’ll starve herself to get there. Parker’s mom seems perfect, but even she has a weakness, albeit a minor one.

Does Parker have what it takes to succeed in the music industry? Not if the killer finds her first. Parker must push herself to make things happen for her career while keeping her eyes open for clues to who the killer is.

Snorkeling

The beauty of snorkeling is seeing the colorful fish dancing around the rocks ten feet away from me or closer.

The beast of it is when you can’t seem to stay in one place because the waves push you toward the dangerous rocks or into the fishies’ personal space. Or when the waves stir up the sand and limit visibility.

Read more about my recent beach vacation on Seek God With Me, my devotional blog.

A Lady Takes A Chance, 1943

John Wayne is a beast, and Jean Arthur is a beauty. She’s adorable, smart, and determined. She knows how to get what she wants. And she learns about how to live by the rules of the west.

Almost like Star Wars, the beginning of A Lady Takes A Chance starts with words.

“Once upon a time…”

Then came the words. “It was so long ago that people drove sixty miles an hour.” It's funny, when you compare 1938 (when this story was set) driving speeds with 2009 driving speeds. I can remember, like it was yesterday, following someone going 60 mph down the 65 mph speed limit highway. And I wasn't around in 1938.

Molly (Jean Arthur) is on a bus tour that will cross the country all the way from New York to Puget Sound. Phil Silvers is outstanding as the bus tour director. She’s expecting to see The Waterfall of Seven Delights, but when she misses her bus halfway across the country (distracted by Duke, played by John Wayne), she would settle for “a waterfall with one delight.”

This is full of horse-lovin’, rodeo-watchin’, beer-drinkin’, western tough-guy action. Molly sits on the bar while the men throw fists, chairs, and each other. It just wouldn’t be a western without a barroom brawl.

After Molly meets Duke Hudkins (while she was taking a picture of him on a bucking bronco at a rodeo, and he fell off the horse and landed on her), she was immediately infatuated. And strangely, not hurt.

Later, Duke’s friend Waco tries to set things straight for Molly. “Love is the best thing there is, I guess, but you’re barking up the wrong cowboy.” She responds, “Any fella that can love a horse can love a girl.”

Molly finally gets back on the bus with the others and goes home disappointed and missing Duke. The men who kissed her farewell show up again and welcome her home, but she’s underwhelmed. How can this city girl find love after all she’s been through? Which man should she turn to for a life of joy and excitement?

According to IMDb.com, John Wayne got his nickname (Duke) after his dog. I’m going to assume his role in this movie was named for him and probably written for him since he was the leading actor in all but eleven of his films. A reasonable assumption since he played 142 leading roles.

Seeking the Provider of Beauty

There are those who love a good devotional. Every Wednesday on my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I give a verse to feed your soul and an application or story to go with it.

This month, I'm strolling through Psalm 23. Many people have memorized this popular psalm. If you haven't and you'd like to, I'm going pretty slow so you'll have time to memorize the whole psalm by the time I move on to something else.

For instance, this week, I'm only using a part of verse two.

Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

If I were a sheep (a real one, the four-legged type), sitting in a field of soft, sweet, green grass, I'd be pretty happy. I wouldn't have to get in the car and drive down to the store and make decision after decision about what to eat. The food's right there at my feet.

Of course, sheep don't usually have cars, but that's beside the point.

I'm an American female who owns a car. I do make decisions in the store about what to eat. And I happen to like vegetables. So when I read about The Good Shepherd giving me a green pasture to lie down in, I get happy.

I’m not your ordinary American. I actually LIKE vegetables.

My niece keeps telling me she likes my salads, possibly because she likes to cook and enjoys the variety of ingredients in my salads. I’m a little picky when I want a salad. I choose fresh, colorful ingredients. Having lots of different colors in the salad bowl keeps me from getting bored with food. Being bored at a meal is such a shame. I like exciting flavors or surprising food pairings. I like trying new things.

When it comes to the Lord’s supply of my daily food, his generosity is thrilling. I can feed on His words of life in the Bible and find unexpected moments of revelation. He also provides experiences with flavorful food for my body. He fills me with good things for my belly and for my soul.

Romantic Roses: Beauty of Rosemawr

Beauty of Rosemawr. Without having seen its picture, I can imagine an elegant, delicate flower just from the sound of its name.

The beauty of it is: This is a fragrant rose that blooms continually. Vigorous and showy, this easy to grow rose is a deep pink with white veining. It’s hardy in zones 9 to 7.

The beast of it is: No one can agree about it. Some say it was hybridized by Van Fleet and some say by Conrad & Jones in 1904. They also disagree over which category it should be in. Some say the roses are Chinas, and some say they’re teas.

I’d love to try one out. However, I’ll have to wait and see what the husband says. He’s in charge of the plants at our house. I don’t mind. He’s made great decisions in the past.

Taming of the Shrew, part 2

Katharina’s younger sister Bianca can find many suitors pining away for her, but their father has insisted that Bianca will not marry until after a husband has been found for Katharina. Not an easy task since Katharina is an untamable wild cat whose temper tantrums are well-known around town.

Petruchio is a poor man from Verona who has come to town to “thrive and wive”. His intention to find a rich young woman to marry is greeted with much pleasure by those who want Katharina married so Bianca can marry as well. After seeing Katharina’s wildness, Petruchio accepts the challenge to tame her.

Elizabeth Taylor gave a stunning performance as Katharina playing opposite Richard Burton’s heroic Petruchio. Their chemistry brought intensity and humor to the screen. Richard Burton’s voice was strong and rich in the moments he burst into song. Quite enjoyable.

Rollicking fun is the only way I can describe the scene where Katharina runs from Petruchio before he announces their engagement to her father.

I’ve seen it a few times and always enjoy Elizabeth Taylor’s acting. Richard Burton doesn’t play the traditional hero, but a great one nevertheless.

It was a lot of fun to see the changes that take place over time in Katharina. I saw her learn patient submission. When she treated the workers in her new home with kindness, there was a hope in her face that hadn’t been there before. She came from tearing down to building up, and she glowed with glamorous glee in the end.

Young Michael York was a starry-eyed lad in love with the golden-haired good sister, Bianca. His strategy to win fair Bianca and the conflict that followed was well-done and humorous.

This film, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, was nominated for ten national and international awards, and it won four.

In the list of credits on the back of the DVD box are the words “with acknowledgements to WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE without whom they would have been at a loss for words”.

Taming of the Shrew, part 1

One of the most famous movie stars is Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Known for her movies, her beauty, and her marriages, she also has made a name for herself as a most effective Aids activist. In 2001, she was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Clinton for giving hope to millions as an early crusader for Aids research.

For sixty years, Taylor has worked in films and has generated an enormous amount of publicity, mostly regarding her private life. Her famous face has graced over 200 magazine covers, including the cover of Life magazine about 10 or 11 times. She was in costume for Taming of the Shrew on the cover of Life magazine on Feb 24, 1967.

Elizabeth Taylor performed with Richard Burton for the first time in Cleopatra. Because of her star-power during that film, she was able to demand the first ever one million dollar salary for an actor. Her long love affair with Richard Burton began during the filming of Cleopatra and continued through two separate marriages to each other. During their first marriage, they filmed The Taming of the Shrew, which I will review tomorrow.