Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New VeggieTales coming this weekend-- It's a Meaningful Life!

Have you ever wondered... What if?

What if my life had taken a different direction? What if I had made different choices? Where would I be, today? Happier? More fulfilled? Would my life have had a clearer meaning or more purpose?

I admit this is a strange way to begin a movie review. Especially since I’m reviewing the newest VeggieTales’ episode, IT’S A MEANINGFUL LIFE. But when you sit with your kids and watch this particular Christmas-themed episode, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a pre-school show that just might get the moms and dads thinking along the lines of, What if?... And then, using God’s Word, perhaps answer those very soul-searching questions.

Now, on with the show!

It’s a Meaningful Life, starts sometime in the past. Stewart (Larry the Cucumber) aka: The Green Machine, was playing the biggest football game of his life! His whole future was riding on his performance in last the few seconds of this game! But, instead of leaving the field as a hero, he left the field injured. Someone else, by pure coincidence, became the hero that day. That one moment in time changed Stewart’s life-plan, forever!

Move ahead to present day; Stewart is married to the lovely Donna (Petunia Rhubarb). They have been blessed with a beautiful family and live in a modest home located in the same town in which they grew up, Rockwell. Stewart, who once dreamed of leaving Rockwell, for his own fame and fortune, has instead settled into this life and taken over his father’s toy train manufacturing business.

While Stewart’s life seems happy enough, there is a piece of his heart that lacks true contentment. One of the most poignant moments in the movie, is the prayer that Stewart prays, as he feels his life no longer has meaning. “God, why did I end up like this...I was going to do something... special...instead I’ve ruined everything...”

He literally embarks on an incredible journey, hopping on the “What If Express”, which enables him to see a glimpse of what his life would be like IF that football game had ended the way he had always hoped.

Stewart learns that his life is part of God’s plan, and his life has greatly impacted the lives of so many others!Especially his own wife and children! He learns that God’s plan for our lives is truly the perfect plan...and that our lives are, indeed, meaningful when we follow that plan.

Finally, he learns contentment.

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for good and not disaster; plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Maybe it’s my age. Hmmm...where DID my 30’s go, anyway? Maybe it’s the fact that I have asked those very same “What if”questions a lot more frequently over the last few years. Whatever it is, I highly recommend this episode for the entire family!! This is one DVD that you’re definitely going to want to enjoy with the kids!

VeggieTales', It’s a Meaningful Life is such a well made, well written and beautifully produced show. Yeah, I’m a fan, and you probably wouldn’t expect me to say anything too negative-- but I was truly blessed by the theme in this particular story! Director, Brian Roberts, did a fab job in the driver's seat of this episode!

The music in this show is great! Kudos once again to Kurt Heineke for the score, and Mike Nawrocki and Mark Steele who once again knocked it out of the park with their great lyrics! Oh, and Moms, you’re going to crack up at the Silly Song, Goodnight Junior.  Although, my personal favorite is the song, Precious Girl.  Losing my dad last year, this song brought me back to the times when I was a little girl and relied on my own dad to make whatever problem I was dealing with, go away.  There's just a special bond between little girls and their daddy's.  Great song!

Once again, the people at Big Idea have joined forces with one of Christian entertainment’s top names! This time, Steven Curtis Chapman. His beautifully written song, Meant To Be, which plays over the credits, will have you tearing up as you think about how very special to God your own precious children are, and how He has a master plan already in place for each of their lives!

This Christmas season, Big Idea has also partnered with the Steven Curtis Chapman Foundation, Show Hope. This organization has a heart and a mission to care for orphans around the world. They help fund adoptions and even provide life-saving medical care when needed. A truly amazing organization, which YOU can help over this Christmas season! For more information, go to

It's a Meaningful Life releases this Saturday, October 2 at all Christian retailers; and this coming Tuesday, October 5 to all general retailers. You can also just stay at your computer and simply order this episode right here. Be sure to check out some wonderful specials Big Idea has going on especially for the Christmas season! Don’t forget to also check out some of the newly released CD’s, which the kids will love to listen to on those longer car trips to grandma's!

I’ll be posting my EXCLUSIVE interview with the show's director and my good friend, Brian Roberts, on Monday, October 4. He'll tell us more about the making of this episode, and give us a great insight into the overall development process in making these wonderful shows . Plus, he answers some very intriguing questions about our favorite Veggies, Bob and Larry!  I'll be giving away a copy of this newest VeggieTale's to one lucky person who comments on Brian's interview! You definitely won’t want to miss it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Excuses, Excuses...But I'm Back Now!

Slacker!!  Me, I mean! That's just the only word that comes to mind about my lack of blogging these past couple weeks!  I'm sorry for dropping the ball on this.

A lot has happened, and I wanted to fill you in on some of the exciting news.

First, school has started.  We are off and running, and after about three weeks of trying to get things into sync, I think we finally have our groove down.  David is attending Biola Star for most of his core curriculum, once a week--and then follows a syllabus the remainder of the time.  He is also taking two electives at the Jr. high, four days a week.  All I have to do is get him from point A to point B on time!  It's good to have him so self sufficient this year!

Joe is in 2nd grade and we are plowing through our curriculum!  He's also taking a couple of electives this year, so I find myself in the car A LOT more than last year!  In fact, I have a much busier schedule this year, by far!  But---it's all working out, thankfully.

I'm so happy to announce that I've been brought on to work with Phil Vischer's marketing /web site team for his new children's series, WHAT'S IN THE BIBLE?   I'm loving it!!!  I get to blog on their site twice a week and get paid for it!  Nice!!  So, you can probably guess where most of my 'good' writing has been applied these past few weeks!

Hoping to get back on track with this blog, I will be reviewing the newest VeggieTales' episode, IT'S A MEANINGFUL LIFE, and interviewing the director of that particular show, Brian Roberts.  As with my other Veggie reviews, I will also be facilitating a DVD give-a-way on this site!! So--stay tuned!!

I'd love to shamelessly plug the WHAT'S IN THE BIBLE site, and while you're over there, check out the blog posts.  I write my portion of the blog every Tuesday and every other Thursday.  I'm hoping to develop a stronger interactive community over there, so stop by and comment.  Also, the web site is going through some major changes that will coincide with the launch of the new curriculum packages!  You're going to LOVE this site and the entire series, as well!  I promise!

Talk to you guys again--soon!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marriage is What Brings Us Together...Today!

Unconditional love is, by definition,  to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions.

As parents we can all probably relate to this type of love. When the doctor places that newborn baby in your arms, the feeling of unconditional love envelopes each of us.  Thankfully, because that same creature who we love so very much will in fact challenge that love many times over the course of a lifetime.  But,'s there. That love that says, "I will love you completely-- no matter what."

My challenge is to apply that same idea of love to my marriage.  Do I love my husband unconditionally?  Is this what God asks of us?  --Because guarding my heart is pretty important-- and what if I get hurt? And sometimes he really bugs me! Realizing I, too, can be a little difficult... I bet he has just as much trouble loving me, unconditionally. Probably.  Ha!  Likely!

First we have to look at how God created marriage. Was it to create children, enhance society or was there something deeper in His plan?  The example given to us in Ephesians 5, is very much in sync with that of the Trinity.  "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:31, 32)

Jesus leaves the Father-- Secures His Bride through his sacrifice-- The church (Bride) now belongs to Him.  

Marriage could then be called the "earthly" relationship which allows us to better understand the mysteries and truths of God's unconditional love towards us. Perhaps a revelation of His love (agape) but in a way, which we can hopefully understand a little better.  If we are saved by grace, I would assume that God's grace and His unconditional love sort of dovetail into each other.  

That's huge.  

"I love you--no matter what." Realizing it would have been a lot easier if parental love rather than marriage would have been the example. I've heard it said that God, while in love with us, isn't AS interested in our comfort, as He is our character.  So, easy or not, that is the walk He has asked us to make, together in marriage, with Him as our example.

My focus is to devote myself to my marriage; to my husband.  Maybe in a way which I haven't thought about since the kids came along.  I need to prayerfully look at my actions, words and thoughts towards him as truly love giving, rather than focusing on what he's doing, or not doing FOR me.  

I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to dwell on his faults as a basis for me to withhold my love, shelter my heart from possible hurt, or love him conditionally based on the past hurts or failures.  In return, I can hope that he will also love me, unconditionally, in spite of my many faults and failures.  

Realizing that God's plan is so diametrically opposite to the philosophies taught by the New Age worldview, I must gird myself in His truth and example, and once again come to the place where His Word resides in my heart.  “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Here is a passage that was read at our wedding, and probably yours, too. Today I am reading these words with a new perspective:

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. 1Cor. 13: 4-7

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Funerals Are Odd Things...

Funerals are odd things.

I never know how to act at a funeral.  Is somber the right attitude? If so, how somber? Should I smile or would that look too out of place?  "It's good to see you..."  is a phrase that we all have said at such a rather inappropriate time.  What we really mean to say is, "It IS good to see YOU... it just stinks that it has to be HERE!

Life goes on, right?  When you are the one going through the personal loss, it seems amazing that the earth doesn't somehow open up and swallow you, in your grief.  But in reality-- Life DOES go on. Laughter occurs, even in the middle of utter sadness. Memories are shared that make you both tragically sad and yet exuberantly happy!

My own mortality is ironically measured in the aging faces of the cousins with which I shared so much of my youth.  Those wonderful memories; the Christmas Eve dinners that would find the older generation busy in the kitchen making homemade tamales and beans, as the cousins played tag in the backyard. Those lovely, warm Fourth of July nights that would include cumbias and salsa dancing under the flickering lights of the patio.  The many, many dollar-dances and Chicken-dances that we have enjoyed at each other's weddings. The intense laughter! All those great memories...

Now, life just seems so much more...serious.  We cousins are together, still, but much less frequently.  It seems as though we are now taking turns burying our parents. Surreal. How did time go by so quickly?!

Such strange emotions all at once.  Funerals are odd things.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

CAUTION: Prayer Can Be Difficult...

Confession time: Sometimes I am just so self-absorbed!  My barometer of empathy rests on what it is I have personally gone through...and you know what?  That is shameful!

I'm currently following three friends on the Caring Bridge site.  If you are unfamiliar with that web site; it's a site where people who are dealing with life-threatening or life-altering diseases and medical conditions can set up a home page.  Friends can follow their daily/weekly progress in a blog-esque sort of write up that is done by either the patient or a family member.  There is also a personalized guestbook where friends can respond to the blog, add notes of encouragement,  or any other written sentimentality that they wish.

Caring Bridge is a great innovation for communication between those who would otherwise not know the day-to-day happenings or be able to communicate as effectively with a friend /loved one who is facing huge physical and emotional challenges while going through difficult curative treatments or palliative care.  It gives us a means to love out loud and show support.

This morning I signed into Caring Bridge and saw the names of the three people I am currently following.  One with stage III Cancer, and two with Traumatic Head Injuries.   I caught myself internally stepping back for a moment.  The very scope of what these friends are facing has sort of brushed by me.  I feel a sense of empathy.  I'm ashamed to admit that I sometimes tune in to their painful, fearful, faithful and hopeful pages with a thought that sort of sounds like, "There but by the grace of God go I..."  Geesh!  How selfish!!  From where does true empathy come?  Must we HAVE to encounter the pain to understand it?  -- YES! I believe we must.

Now, I'm not suggesting that I want Cancer...or that I desire to know what it is like to see the motionless body of my child lying in a bed; knowing that he is physically alive in all ways, but that after one year his brain is still trying to heal ENOUGH to allow him to acknowledge anything.  But until I can prayerfully place myself into the uncomfortable shoes of these friends-- I can not show empathy.  I can not take on their needs, and in intercession, bring them to the Throne of God.

I must connect with the pain.  And in doing so-- feel the pain.  Take on the pain.  Embrace the pain.  Through the pain, will come the abandonment of human strength and the beginning of our reliability on the strength of God.  It is a brokenness that we, as prayer partners, need to feel to adequately pray for the person we have chosen (or have been asked) to pray for.  All other prayer, while good, is not personal.  It is general.

Throughout the last few years I have come to think of prayer--true prayer--to be a workout!  When we take a person's needs to the Father, perhaps we SHOULD be exhausted afterward.  I think I finally realize why.  Maybe it's because, for just a moment,  we are able to put on that empathetic cloak of pain; illness; hopelessness; fear; or despair in order to stand in the gap for them, in prayer.  It's uncomfortable.  It's something that at times I can't get off quickly enough.  It just hurts!  It is in those moments we can truly see what our dear friends and family are going through-- and it reminds us that they can not take off that pain.  It is theirs for an entire season!--And only God knows how long that season will last.

I encourage all of us, as the Body of Christ, to take prayer seriously.  Not to make the statement, "I'll pray for you" just a rhetorical Christian response...but rather a promise to take action.

Step into the gap.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do You Have a Plan?

In business we are taught to have 5 year and even 10 year GOALS.  A business plan is a necessary element of most successful businesses, however large that business may be.  What's your plan?  What's your mission statement?  These are things we have all heard, some of us have even authored such plans.

What about life?  Do we need to write down a plan for our lives?  Should we have a general direction in which we will focus our attention?  It makes sense, doesn't it?

But we are followers of Christ.  The question that first comes into my mind is, who owns my life?  Have I given it to Jesus?  --And if I have given it to Him, is it not up to Him to take me wherever He wants me?

Is that faith? Or is that just an easy out for NOT having a good enough plan?

This verse may clarify things:
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…" (Psalm 37:5-7a, NIV).

If someone were to have asked me back in the year 2000 to write out my 10 year plan and what life would look like TODAY, I can assure you it would have looked NOTHING like it looks in reality.

My husband would have remained totally healthy.  A lifetime of facing the possibility of him falling out of remission to a life threatening disease would definitely NOT have been a part of my plan!!  My children would be in public school, and I would be a nurse practitioner, working about 20 hours a week.  My youngest son would have been a daughter (since that's what I assumed we would have back boy and one girl) and he would NOT have  been diagnosed to be on the Autism spectrum!  We would have been living in a larger home, debt free, and traveling to our hearts desires.  

But instead, God used the unplanned stuff that happened in life, in spite of MY plans, to bring me closer to Him.  To bring me to a place where we I am working for His Kingdom, and a place where my heart is much less ego-centric, narcissistic, and materially absorbed.  Through the pain and suffering, God has changed me!  I'm not going to kid you, the journey totally stunk a lot of the time... but I really like where God has placed me.-- And I have my eyes set on eternity with Him, not just the few years on this Earth.

I guess I'm still not sure if we should go through life totally without a plan. Maybe we need goals.  Perhaps we should have some sort of life-destination in mind.   All I know is that when God moves us along the paths of life, we can seldom know- from one minute to the next- where it is He is going to take us; how we're going to get there; and sometimes we may not even know WHEN we've arrived!  If that's not faith... holy cow!-- I don't know what else to call it.