Category Archives: Movies

PUNXSUTAWNEY PROZAC, TAKE TWO

In honor of Groundhog Day, I decided to re-post a previous blog entry. If you’re familiar with the Bill Murray classic, you’ll realize how clever that is.

I’m not as stir-crazy today as I was when I posted this four years ago, but I can feel myself creeping in that direction…and we still have six more weeks of winter – no matter what the groundhog says.

So, I thought this would be a good reminder to myself, and I hope it blesses you, too.

 

PUNXSUTAWNEY PROZAC, PLEASE – Posted March 23, 2014

Groundhog Day2

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

The cause of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again.

This winter has put me in the shoes of Phil Connors. Bill Murray’s performance in this role makes Groundhog Day a classic in my book. I love the movie. I like living it less.

I feel like I’ve been stuck inside doing the same routine for about five months now, and that does not go well with my personality. Although I am very much a planner and like to be organized, I start to go a bit crazy if things don’t switch up every so often…in a controlled way.

From wearing practically the same seven outfits every week because nothing else is warm enough, to doing the same exercise routine too many mornings in a row because it gets me to work at the same time each day, to driving through yet another snow storm (even on the first day of spring!), to rehashing the same problems around me that have been going on for years…it’s gotten old.

As I mentioned in my previous post: If my joy is based in the weather, I’m looking to the wrong Son.

But, God has also revealed to me that part of the winter blues is simply boredom. So, in addition to prayer to stay focused on Christ and find joy there, I have made little changes, and plan to make more. I’m doing things to alter my surroundings, shake things up, and shift my focus from the winter routine. It’s surprising the difference small things can make.

groundhog-day4

  • I did a different workout one morning – and a different one the next.
  • I ate dinner at the dining table in my basement for a change of scenery.
  • I checked my email while sitting in the basement, rather than my usual spot upstairs.
  • I had pizza for dinner on a weeknight, even though that’s usually a weekend treat.
  • I changed my commute by taking a different route to work. (and it turned out to be faster!)
  • I started reading a new book.
  • I made a list of Spring Spruce-Ups for my house I want to complete in the upcoming weeks.
  • I wore a shirt that had been tucked away in my closet for a while.
  • I am going on a two-night romantic get-away with my sweet husband.
  • I switched my morning Bible reading from the middle of the Old Testament to Psalms.
  • I wore a crazy green hat to work for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • I went through my books and cleared off two entire shelves by selling and gifting books I no longer want or need.
  • I went through my closet and donated any winter shirts I still hadn’t worn this season.
  • I met a friend at Dunkin Donuts on a Thursday night – a time usually reserved for household chores.
  • I plan to shift the focus of my prayers to include more thanksgiving.
  • I blogged about feeling like Phil in Groundhog Day.

I also plan, with God’s help, to change my attitude. If you think about it, when did Phil’s fate change? When he accepted it and tried to make the best of his situation. When he got the focus off himself and began loving and serving others. My hope is to do the same.

Now it’s your turn.

Better weather should be arriving soon. Maybe tomorrow even. But, maybe we can make today tomorrow.

grondhog day5

My challenge to you is to share your seasonal secrets here.

Have you done anything to fight the Polar Vortex in its attempt to suck the joy out of life? Is there something you would recommend to shake off any melancholy mood that Jack Frost tries to bring with him?

What’s your Punxsutawney Prozac? Respond, repost, and revive another reader’s spirit.

Did Jesus tell jokes?

Have you seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? If so, the scenes that stand out in your mind are probably those of Jesus beaten, tortured, and crucified. Eleven years after the movie release, I still vividly remember the 39 lashes (although not all of it, because I eventually had to close my eyes.)

With footage like this in the film, you may be surprised to discover which scene was actually most memorable for me. Here it is:

The last few seconds of that clip. That’s what really got to me. Jesus. Lord of all creation. Savior. Creator. Lamb of God. The Great I Am. Being playful with his mom. Laughing. A bit of a jokester as he splashes Mary.

This nearly blew my mind. It was a whole new image of Jesus I had never considered or imagined.

I do realize the “invention of the table” scene is not taken from the Bible, but from Gibson’s creative license. It still made me pause and ponder.

Jesus sitting on the mountainside, teaching his disciples. Jesus calming the storm. Jesus turning over the money changers’ tables. Jesus in the temple, listening and asking questions. Jesus healing the blind man. Jesus weeping. All of these I had easily envisioned for years. But, Jesus laughing? Smiling in amusement? Joking? This was a side of Jesus I had never even thought might exist. It never really crossed my mind to wonder if Jesus, sinless perfection, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, would ever have a lighthearted moment.

While out fishing, would he enjoy a good laugh with Peter? As a child, would he spin the dreidel with the other kids? While walking with his disciples, would he ever make them smile with a joke, or was it all parables and prophecy? This was a whole new side of my Savior I didn’t know. Does it really exist?

I’m not sure. I do know we are created in His image, and we humans like to laugh, to smile, to joke around, to enjoy moments of amusement both big and small. Is this modeled after our creator? Does God have a sense of humor, as they say?

I do know picturing Jesus’ laughing sets me free in ways the images of his death do not. I’m not simply set free from sin, I’m free to enjoy life. Free to laugh too. Free to have moments of absolute silliness and it’s absolutely ok.

This is a freedom I need to enjoy more, and I don’t believe I’m the only Christian out there for whom this is true.

I recently realized I am a lot more serious than I used to be. Some of the freedom and carefree enjoyment of each moment has slipped away. Not that I never crack a joke or laugh. I can be goofy around you if I am comfortable with you. I seem to be silliest with my sister. That’s probably because making my little sister laugh has been one of life’s greatest pleasures for me since my 40th month of life.

At other times, though, it seems to have gotten harder to experience this freedom. So, I ask myself – Why so serious? I think I can understand why, and I suspect similar events and thoughts are stealing the laughter away from other serious Christians as well.

I suspect events of the past few years have added the seriousness to my disposition that I don’t much care for. My father passed away, adding sorrow and a renewed sense of our limited time. My close friends have experienced some serious life struggles, causing me to realize a need for greater intentionality and deeper conversations and relationships in my friendships. My husband and I became group leaders at our church, adding a weight of responsibility for the discipleship of others.

Added to these events is the knowledge that people around me all day long are not following Jesus. They don’t know Him. If I accept the whole kit and caboodle of Christian beliefs, that means these people are on the road to hell. Fellow commuters in the cars next to mine. Coworkers at nearby computers. Shoppers in line with me at Walmart. Members of my family tree. Lost.

Add to that the fact that my time is limited. Before I know it, another 36 years will have passed and I will be pushing eternity. And that’s if I make it to the normal life expectancy. We all know, (at some level, even though we don’t like to dwell on it) that our time could be up any second. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow. This truth was driven home by a serious car crash in ’09 that involved me, my husband, and our SUV rolling over on the highway several times. It could easily have been fatal. Time is short. Maybe shorter than we think.

Heavy stuff. It weighs me down. There’s so much at stake. I feel so much pressure that there’s so little time and every conversation and every moment needs to be meaningful. I must be intentional with my time and efforts. At any moment, is there something else more important that I should be doing? A different conversation I should be having? I can feel that weight draining away the joy, the playfulness, the humor, and the lighthearted enjoyment of life in each moment.

I don’t think it’s healthy to be that serious. But, with all that I’ve mentioned going on in the world around me, it’s easy to do. It fills me with questions.

How can we be conscious of the world’s need for God, our limited time, feel the weight of it all, and still laugh? Is it ok to take things lightly? How can we not be serious?

Does Jesus model this? Can I still see Jesus laughing? Is that really his demeanor? Is it ok if it’s mine?

Am I too serious? Are many of us too serious as Christians? Do we take ourselves too seriously? Life too seriously? Make Jesus too serious?

What do you think?

What’s the healthy balance?

I apparently haven’t figured that out yet.

But I’m pretty sure I need to lighten up. 

 

 

Punxsutawney Prozac, Please

Groundhog Day2

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

The cause of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again.

This winter has put me in the shoes of Phil Connors. Bill Murray’s performance in this role makes Groundhog Day a classic in my book. I love the movie. I like living it less.

I feel like I’ve been stuck inside doing the same routine for about five months now, and that does not go well with my personality. Although I am very much a planner and like to be organized, I start to go a bit crazy if things don’t switch up every so often…in a controlled way.

From wearing practically the same seven outfits every week because nothing else is warm enough, to doing the same exercise routine too many mornings in a row because it gets me to work at the same time each day, to driving through yet another snow storm (even on the first day of spring!), to rehashing the same problems around me that have been going on for years…it’s gotten old.

As I mentioned in my previous post: If my joy is based in the weather, I’m looking to the wrong Son.

But, God has also revealed to me that part of the winter blues is simply boredom. So, in addition to prayer to stay focused on Christ and find joy there, I have made little changes, and plan to make more. I’m doing things to alter my surroundings, shake things up, and shift my focus from the winter routine. It’s surprising the difference small things can make.

groundhog-day4

  • I did a different workout one morning – and a different one the next.
  • I ate dinner at the dining table in my basement for a change of scenery.
  • I checked my email while sitting in the basement, rather than my usual spot upstairs.
  • I had pizza for dinner on a weeknight, even though that’s usually a weekend treat.
  • I changed my commute by taking a different route to work. (and it turned out to be faster!)
  • I started reading a new book.
  • I made a list of Spring Spruce-Ups for my house I want to complete in the upcoming weeks.
  • I wore a shirt that had been tucked away in my closet for a while.
  • I am going on a two-night romantic get-away with my sweet husband.
  • I switched my morning Bible reading from the middle of the Old Testament to Psalms.
  • I wore a crazy green hat to work for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • I went through my books and cleared off two entire shelves by selling and gifting books I no longer want or need.
  • I went through my closet and donated any winter shirts I still hadn’t worn this season.
  • I met a friend at Dunkin Donuts on a Thursday night – a time usually reserved for household chores.
  • I plan to shift the focus of my prayers to include more thanksgiving.
  • I blogged about feeling like Phil in Groundhog Day.

I also plan, with God’s help, to change my attitude. If you think about it, when did Phil’s fate change? When he accepted it and tried to make the best use of his situation. When he got the focus off himself and began loving and serving others. My hope is to do the same.

Now it’s your turn.

Better weather should be arriving soon. Maybe tomorrow even. But, maybe we can make today tomorrow.

grondhog day5

My challenge to you is to share your seasonal secrets here.

Have you done anything to fight the Polar Vortex in its attempt to suck the joy out of life? Is there something you would recommend to shake off any melancholy mood that Jack Frost tries to bring with him?

What’s your Punxsutawney Prozac? Respond, repost, revive another reader’s spirit.

For Crying Out Loud

Saturday night: It was one of those movies with an impossible soundtrack. Dialogue is at a near whisper and action scenes threaten to burst eardrums, making it impossible to find a comfortable volume. Not wanting to miss any of the Oscar-caliber acting scenes of 2010: Moby Dick, we opted for cranking it up.
 
Our friends, who appreciate a bad movie as much as we do, were enjoying the whale-chasing with us. Partway through, I was suddenly asked to pause the movie. As I pushed the button, the immediate silence that would have followed was shattered by an ear-piercing “Mom-eeeeee!” from our guest room, where our friends’ children had been put to bed before the movie. Mom quickly ran up to check on them. I sat, amazed at Dad, whose ears had picked up on the cry to which I was oblivious amidst the fray coming through the surround sound.
 
It turns out, we had Ahab and friends pumping through the speakers a bit loud for our friends’ daughter, who was frightened by the blubbery growls. (Little did she know that it was the B-level special effects and acting that should have been giving her nightmares.)
 
A little while later, after fears were calmed and concerns addressed, we resumed our movie at fewer decibels. The incident was soon forgotten.
 
Sunday Morning: Church service. Our pastor preached on Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
 
As he spoke about how we are to call out to God, my thoughts (and, I later discovered, my husband’s) immediately went back to the night before. I wish I could put a sound bite here of that cry that was echoing in my mind so clearly. Those little lungs had been calling out with such urgency, intensity, determination, and faith.
Urgency – she needed help, now.
Intensity – you could hear the sheer emotion in her voice.
Determination – she was not going to give up until she was heard over the noise around us.
Faith – she knew her cries would be answerd if she called.
You could tell by the yell that she was just going to continue to ramp up the urgency, intensity, and determination until her parent was by her side. 
“Mom-eeeee!”

Hmm…

She called out. She was calling with everything in her. Her Father heard her.
Are my cries like this?
When I call out to my Father, do I call out with everything I have?
Are my prayers filled with the same qualities as the cries of a child?

I pray they will be from this moment on.

Spoiler Alert

Wait! Stop! Don’t tell me! I haven’t seen it yet!

How many times have I said something along these lines, in a frantic attempt to stop someone from ruining the end of a movie? Seriously, it’s close to a state of panic at times. I always try to be careful about what I say, too, making sure I ask if people have seen a movie before discussing it in front of them. I would not want to commit this atrocity! How would I ever forgive myself?

A friend of mine argues for the “5 year rule,” meaning, if the flick has been out more than five years, people have had plenty of opportunity to see it, so there is no guilt in revealing the conclusion. I tend to disagree. Maybe they’ll still watch it some day, and I certainly don’t want to be the one who ruined the surprise.

Why is this so important to me? Knowing the end takes the fun out of watching, right? It seems pointless to invest the two hours if the outcome is already known. Viewers want to see for themselves how things turn out, not be told beforehand. For me, the adventure, surprise, and fun of the entertainment are, if not completely spoiled, at least dimmed.

So, why am I so different with life? The not knowing, the lack of control, the unexpected plot twists – why not embrace these too? At times I get consumed with the thought of dying. It could happen any day, any way. Then comes eternity, and I want to know exactly what that will be like. But, do I really want to know the details of it all? Wouldn’t that take away some joy during life? Why be so paranoid about ruining the enjoyment of a Hollywood production, and yet be obsessed with knowing the end of my own movie? Wouldn’t I spoil that too, by seeing the end first, by knowing the conclusion before seeing the rest in its entirety? Do I not trust God, as director and producer, to know best what should be revealed when in the story, and to write a script with the right ending?

Instead of worrying about what may happen in the next scene, I could enjoy the current one, and look forward to seeing where it leads. Instead of filling my mind with scenarios, playing out every possibility in an attempt to prepare myself, I can sit back and wait for the Writer to reveal things. Better than Spielberg or Lucas, He knows best what I should see now and what should remain a mystery.

Besides, while I think I am the star of the show at times, it’s really not about me:

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

All things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:16

And as for death and eternity, Paul points out in Philippians 1:21 that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

So, while I realize I do have my part to play, maybe I should be less concerned with knowing exactly how things will turn out, and more concerned with trusting God and letting the movie play out. Grab some popcorn, and enjoy His feature presentation.

Such Times

I recently watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy again. This scene keeps replaying in my mind, the quote having an impact like never before. Maybe it will for you too.

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. 
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

 

Esther 4:14b: And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?