JUNE/JULY 2021 MEDIA PICKS

I finally got to see the movie I’d been trying to go see since April!

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles

It was as good as I’d expected.

I missed seeing it in theaters, which means I had to rent it on my tablet. The cost isn’t the problem; staying awake is. I usually make it through one movie over four nights when I watch in bed. But I watched this movie in ONE sitting!

Sara, a young girl with enviable faith, has a miraculous gift of healing which both fascinates and angers those in her community. It’s a four-hankie movie so be prepared to cry.

My latest personal Bible study is on Micah and this one, part of the Good Book Guide studies, is an excellent one. Designed for use in small groups, large groups, or for personal study, it is easy to follow yet still in-depth. I will be purchasing other books from this series.

Micah has been a fascinating study because it is helping me deal with the current climate of our nation. It’s easy to get your head turned around when so many people are loudly debunking everything you’ve learned as truth. But make no mistake, louder voices don’t make truer words. In fact, it’s often the opposite. Remember, it’s the still, small voice we should be listening to.

I can’t forget the way life used to be
I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound
And I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I’d thought I’d found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul
With the wonder of His touch

With a new featured book and a new featured movie, I thought I’d go back a little with my featured song. I remember the first time I heard this song. It was like someone had reached into the recesses of my soul and poured my feelings so eloquently into song. I felt so free in Christ; I knew He’d cleansed me. Yet when I looked around, I knew I hadn’t quite received the same forgiveness from others. They didn’t know the whole story; they didn’t know the pain that surrounded my actions. But I had given it all to Jesus. While their judgement stung a little, the bottom line was that it didn’t matter what they thought. It only mattered what HE thought. And that I was His.

If you ever feel unworthy or less than in others’ eyes, just remember that you are EVERYTHING to Him. He gave it all for you; all that’s left is for you to give it all to Him.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I heard the Commodores song “Easy” the other day for the first time in 36 years. There was a reason for the delay.

I hated that song.

I’d turn it off every time it came on, as the familiar waves of guilt and shame came over me.

This time I felt the nudge from the Lord. Listen to it.

When I did, I was shocked at the positivity of the lyrics. You see, I’d been conditioned to hear two words in the song: easy and high.

I was 16 and in a halfway house for drug addicts and alcoholics. I think the program started out with licensed counselors because it was accredited. But by the time I got there, adults who completed the program and had nowhere to go were promoted to counselors. Crazy, right?

But my counselor, Bill, a laid-back black man who’d once roomed with Eric Clapton in rehab, seemed like a legit counselor. He got results. Unfortunately, he got them by using the tools of the devil.

In the 80’s the term easy was the go-to word for someone who got around sexually. It was a moniker I’d somewhat unfairly been assigned and definitely worse than being a drug addict, at least in my head. In fact, the drugs only came after the sexual abuse, a numbing tool for the pain.

So Bill would play this song over and over and all I would hear was EASY and HIGH. I was a sobbing mess each time. Shaming me was supposed to bring about a resolve to change.

Being away from my family and also experiencing the beauty of a Texas landscape completely sober was what really brought about that desire.

Nevertheless, this was the tool he used. I don’t remember the words he said. I do remember the feeling. And I hated that song.

But once again, the Lord took something meant for evil and used it for good. Because when I listened to the song earlier this week, I heard Easy like Sunday morning… Why, Sunday mornings in the South are the epitome of peace.

Yes, I am now easy like Sunday morning

The wanting to be “high” part? Well, regardless of Lionel Richie’s intent on that line, I choose to see being high as being extremely happy and free, much like the birds who visit my porch every morning.

This is not a bad song. It’s actually a great song about perseverance.

Easy by the Commodores

The lessons learned here are vast:

A) If you send a loved one to rehab, check out who is actually counseling them. (My time at this facility ended with a helicopter-and-SWAT-team FBI raid!)

B) Never use music to deal with problems. Satan uses music to fuel fires and plant discord. If you must blare something to deal with your emotions, I suggest TobyMac’s Move (Keep Walking) or Matthew West’s Hello, My Name Is.

C) Don’t let the devil keep you in bondage. I didn’t realize that little hold was still there until the song came on. You can’t afford little holds because they always turn into bigger chains.

D) Forgive! I’d already forgiven Bill (and the others involved) because they did what they thought would work. Maybe it’s my naivety coming out, but I think there was a true desire to help people. They were wrong, no doubt about it, but hanging on to a decades-old resentment, no matter how justified, will only hurt you.

I look back now on my time there fondly. I had my ever job at Denton County Hamburgers. My dad and I revisited the restaurant about 20 years ago and indulged in a Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger. That’s also where I learned how to count back change!

The horses were soothing and the Texas sunsets were amazing.

I learned how to say no (or face bathroom cleaning duties for a month) and I learned how to strip down all of my pretenses and just be myself. I discovered that girl was enough.

I met a boy whose mother I am still in touch with today.

God was at work, even then. In the midst of all that was wrong, He was still right.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING GOOD TO READ, WATCH, OR LISTEN TO?

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We are calling this May Picks since I never made it to the theater in April to preview the one movie I really wanted to see, The Girl Who Believes in Miracles. Stay tuned for a review when it eventually makes its appearance digitally.

While theaters have reopened locally, the only showings in my area have late afternoon or evening start times. This makes it difficult for me as anyone who lives on a too-narrow, low-visibility country road can tell you, driving at night is ill-advised.

At first, I thought it was a little sad that I’d turned into my grandmother at 75, unable to drive anywhere after the sun went down. But after a trip home where I spent many evenings heading back to Mom and Dad’s in the dark, I realized it wasn’t my age, it’s just my road!

Which means my movie viewing takes place primarily on my Amazon tablet. (Said country road also makes streaming on the den television less than optimal as it buffers precisely 4.3 times per minute.)

But I have found two great apps for family and faith-based movies:

Pureflix is my favorite and it’s filled with great Christian movies. The only drawback for me is that they don’t allow subscribers to download movies so you must have a strong connection to watch. I’ve found that my cellphone works best for streaming non-downloaded movies. Some favorites: Switched, Miracles from Heaven, Heaven is for Real, What If, The Ultimate Gift.

UP Faith & Family is great, too, and DOES allow downloads. This is perfect for traveling or waiting rooms. Some faves: The Baby Proposal, Instant Nanny, Twist of Fate, When We Last Spoke.

Prefer your plots in book form? I have the set for you! Christian author Lisa Wingate published The Prayer Box in 2013. It had been on my to-read shelf for nearly as long but I devoured it in one rainy week-end recently. She later published two Kindle novellas, a prequel and a sequel to The Prayer Box and I loved getting that little bit extra. It’s like having a slice (or two) of your favorite cake after indulging in your favorite meal!

Need to free up your hands and eyes and just LISTEN instead? I have an entire ALBUM for you. Some of your favorite hymns sung by the angelic-sounding, country sweetheart Carrie Underwood. My Savior has Victory in Jesus, The Old Rugged Cross, Oh How I Love Jesus, and more. Listen to Great is thy Faithfulness here.

Remember, all that you read, all that you watch, all that you listen to….should be pleasing to Him. What’s done in secret will be brought into the light….Luke 12:3