heaven is for real…

a true-to-life story of a 3-year-old boy’s visit to Heaven while on the operating table for a ruptured appendix.

Before watching the DVD, Heaven Is For Real, this evening, neither my husband nor I had heard about the book or, for that matter, the incident upon which it was based.

According to Colton Burpo, while out-of-body he saw…the surgeon performing the operation…his dad praying in the hospital chapel…and his mom phoning a church member requesting that she call others to pray for her son whose death seemed imminent.

Colton went on to say he saw the church where his dad was the minister. Opening its door, the youngster entered and sat in a pew towards the front. Instead of an altar he saw the blue sky with clouds that were transformed into translucent angels. They began to sing as a choir. Walking down the aisle towards the boy was a man, clothed in a white robe. He spoke, asking Colton to join him.

The three-year-old explained that the man’s name was Jesus and that he had “markers” on his hands and his feet. Evidently, marks left from the nails which had hung him to the cross.

In Heaven, Colton saw a horse that belonged to Jesus. The youngster also met relatives born before his time…”Pop,” his dad’s grandpa…and an unborn sister who hugged the brother she never knew.

Describing Heaven as a “beautiful place,” Colton never faltered in his belief that he had been there.

A story of faith simply told. It moved me more than many a sermon I’ve listened to on a Sunday morning sitting in church. 

Struggling to reconcile his son’s story with his own adult rationale, Colton’s dad was finally able to find resolution.

When reciting the prayer The Our Father, we recite, in part,on earth as it is in heaven.

In speaking to his parishioners, Colton’s father explained that Heaven is apparent in our daily lives… in a parent’s love for his child…in a neighbor’s going to the aid of a neighbor…in the lifesaving skills of a doctor. The minister goes on to ask why it is  we overlook these acts as evidence of Heaven’s existence. What he said gave me pause.

Why do we as a society dwell ad nauseam upon our transgressions against one another, while giving only a passing nod to the commission of good deeds?

I believe Colton Burpo. I may never share his experience, but that in no way invalidates his. I happen to feel he hit the Powerball Lottery to end all Powerball Lotteries. I feel blest just knowing that…

…someone saw heaven!

………hugmamma.

Click on the following to view Colton Burpo’s story.
http://cbn.com/tv/embedplayer.aspx?bcid=1398887148001

 

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nurturing thursdays: love among the ruins

Yesterday my daughter and I saw Meryl Streep’s latest film, August: Osage County. Other famous actors were cast, among them Julia Roberts.

We were prepared for some light-hearted fare, a comedy with a sprinkling of drama. Instead we were thoroughly surprised by the heavy drama about which there was very little to laugh.

The byline should have read…tragic mayhem in a fractured family. The film was reminiscent of  holiday dinners one hears about where family members spew venom across a table of delightful goodies.

If I had to describe the film in one word it would be…ugly. 

While both Streep and Roberts seem to be aging beautifully without the help of bottled potions, their depictions of the main characters  was anything but. I’m certain neither actress is really like the persons they portrayed, a bitch of a mother whose daughter followed suit.

I’ve always felt that parents play a big role in determining the outcome of their offspring. After all, we are their first role models, like it or not. Like the monkeys, our children imitate what they see us do. Understanding what it is they’re doing comes later, sometimes much later. Like when we’re adults unable to change who we’ve unwittingly become.

The silver lining to an otherwise tragic story is that we can break the pattern. We needn’t continue the legacy of bad parenting. It may take all that we have to cut the ties that bind us to an abusive past, but for the sake of future generations we must. Otherwise, endless lives continue to be heaped upon the landfill of lost souls.

August: Osage County is rife with lost souls…Streep’s husband who commits suicide because he can’t continue living with a venomous wife…Streep’s sister who ceaselessy hurls abuse at the son she fathered with Streep’s husband…Streep’s daughters, Roberts who has taken up the mantle of her mother’s razor-edge tongue, and her sisters of whom one can only find love with the brother whom she thought was a first cousin, and the other sister who is marrying a lech because he promises her an island honeymoon.

Perhaps the film’s characters are over-the-top, but I’m sure we all know someone who has suffered the effects of  abuse that made its way from one generation to the next.

Love is key to finding one’s way back from a life of purgatory on earth. Love of one’s self, nurtured by the supporting love of others.

…a big step forward is not being closed off to love…

………hugmamma.

...a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations...

…a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations…

what would you do?…if there were no more days left?

After lunch and browsing the aisles at my favorite garden nursery, Molbak’s, my husband and I decided to take in a movie at the iPic Theatre. Yes. The same one where the seats recline and cocktails are served. We opted for the normal seats this time, not wanting to doze off, even for a few minutes, as we did when we saw Men In Black 3.

Two Weeks (The Office)

Two Weeks (The Office) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scanning my cell phone for movies at nearby theatres, the only one of interest starred Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley. He’s funny; she’s a beauty. The title seemed to spell…light entertainment, Seeking to Find a Friend for the End of the World. My favorite movies are ones that make me laugh. If there’s romance, all the better. Hubby’s okay with chic flicks…now and then. Especially since I’ll go with him to action films…now and then.

Neither of us was prepared for what we saw.

Dodge, Carrell’s character, is abandoned by his wife at a stoplight when the radio announcer reminds listeners that the apocalypse is bearing down upon them in the form of an asteroid. Apparently she’d been having an affair and decided to end her days with her lover, rather than with her husband.

Penny, Knightley’s character, is distraught that she’ll never see her family in England again. She regrets having wasted her life with loser boyfriends.

When friends and strangers alike seem hell bent on re-enacting Sodom and Gommorah, the twin sin cities from the Bible, Dodge and Penny flee the scene. He promises to help her get home to her family; she returns the favor offering to help him find his first true love, a high school sweetheart who writes him a letter of regret for having dumped him way back when.

I won’t give away the whole story in the hopes that you might go see the movie yourselves. The twists and turns are unexpected, oft times funny, sometimes touching.

The bottom line? Given a short time to live before the destruction of the world as we know it…how would you want to spend those last days? Would you want to wear everything of value like one character who donned her fur coat, diamond tiara, bracelets and necklaces, and attempted to seduce Dodge? Or as another character did, would you screw every woman you could…just because? Or like a third character, would you hire a hit man to help you commit suicide.

 While the images above seem bizarre, you have to wonder what it would really feel like to face armageddon, the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil? According to the Mayan calendar, isn’t that suppose to occur on December 21, 2012?

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World made me think…and wonder…and decide…what’s really important to me. But is that how I’ll feel when and if, the end comes for all mankind? Can I be as certain of myself when times are good…as when times are horrific?

stock photo : The end of the world…what about you?…

………hugmamma.

64 years later…???

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t there when he was pulled from his warm, inner sanctum screaming at the top of his newborn lungs. And for obvious reasons. I was probably just a thought away from conception myself. Funny, how 2 infants, complete strangers at birth, are  inseparable soulmates 42 years after tying the knot. From umbilical cords to marital ties, a quantum leap…taken…one step at a time.

Faced with the conundrum of celebrating yet another birthday, I happened to mention it to my hairdresser Zorianna. We’re best buds, having my “crowning glory,” my hair, in common.

“I’ve no clue what to do for my husband’s birthday. After 42 years, what can I give him that he’ll really like. Men aren’t really into chachkas like we are.”

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To which Zorianna brilliantly responded, “You should take him to the iPic Theatre in Redmond Town Center!” Thanks to her, hubby and I had a fantastic date night on his birthday.

Prior to the movie, we snacked on seared ahi tuna atop won ton chips. While I sipped on a delicate blackberry mojito, the birthday boy guzzled a tall glass of a real man’s beverage…beer. A half-an-hour later we made our way to our plush, reclining seats. Yep! You read right. We were going to lie down in public to watch Men in Black III in 3-D! And like the Greeks and Romans before us, we were going to be further wined and dined…lying astride our couches…underlings running back and forth to do our bidding. Well, not quite…

Eating our Angus sliders and truffle french-fries in the dark was a trick. Trying not to dribble ketchup down our fronts was impossible for my husband. He remarked a couple of times “I shouldn’t have worn this shirt.” It was comfy…but white.

Struggling to add cream and sugar to my coffee in the dark without spilling it on my lap was a juggling act I thought I’d lose. You see the cup’s cover was not giving up its grip without a struggle. Me and the plastic cover battling it out in the dark, while Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were duking it out with gross-looking aliens on the big screen. I could appreciate what they were going through.

An hour into the film, I think hubby and I both nodded off. I don’t think we snored. At least I hope not. Thankfully, I’d selected 2 seats with aisles on either side which put some distance between us and our neighbors.

Not being a fan of the Men in Black films myself, I thought this, its third, was pretty good. The story line was a little sentimental, to my liking. The action was fun, without being loaded down with a lot of blood and gore. What there was of it was more corn than protein. Albeit at times it was both…corny and cheesy. 

We decided, hubby and I, that as a destination iPic is a once-in-awhile luxury. Twenty-two dollars a pop for each member is fine in small doses, as is the decadence of dining on gourmet food while covered with a light blanket. Comfy, cozy…but more preferable…

…in the comfort of our home…and on my wonderful…memory foam mattress…aaahhh…

………hugmamma.  😉     

New luxurious movie theater coming to Redmondof course…we didn’t have to recline…but hey, when in rome…  😉

twilight…rethinking kristen stewart

The Twilight Saga (film series)

Image via Wikipedia

A year ago when I began this blog, I noted in my page Top Honors that I wasn’t a fan of the young actress Kristen Stewart, the much-envied heroine of Twilight. While I’m still not a die-hard fan of the film, I must admit to liking some of its elements. 

Twilight’s fear factor reminds me of older films like the Mummy. Permitting myself to be scared out of my wits is secondary to the story embedded within such films. An unlikely suitor pursues the love of his life, taking on all opponents without thought for his own safety. I’m also a sucker for action. Who isn’t? But I don’t relish movies that unwind like balls of string, gruesome slaying…after gruesome slaying…after gruesome slaying. Definitely not my cup of tea.

Stephenie Meyer on her Eclipse tour in 2007.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve not yet read Stephanie Meyer‘s books upon which Stewart’s character is based. I’m sure she evokes all that Bella is…a painfully shy teen, totally befuddled by life, swept off her feet by gorgeous, bad boy Edward, who happens to be a vampire. This, however, wasn’t enough to make me a fan of the actress or of Twilight, for that matter.  

My initial interest was the same as every other red-bloodied female…Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, the gorgeous vampire. I wanted him for my daughter. She wanted him too. We would laughingly commiserate on ways for her to meet him. I even emailed Ellen de Generes, wondering if she could introduce the 2, and perhaps arrange for them to go somewhere for coffee. No surprise that Ellen never got back to me.

RobertPattinson

Image by i heart him via Flickr

Mine was probably the same fantasy as millions of other mothers, and women, wanting one on one time with the man behind the vampire. If Pattinson were in need of blood donors, there would be no shortage of females lining up to let him drain them dry. Somehow…I don’t think my daughter or I would be up for that. After all, there are a lot more fish in the sea. I must admit, however, that Pattinson is one great catch!

Now perhaps you’ll understand my previous indifference toward Stewart. Although I still don’t think of her as a great actress, I think she does an appropriate job with Bella. In fact the two might be interchangeable. What has influenced my change of heart is not only her on-screen persona, but Stewart’s off-screen personality as well.

Kristen Stewart at Hollywood Life Magazine’s 7...

Image via Wikipedia

While she takes acting seriously, Stewart seems less impressed with all the movie star hype. Appreciative of her fans, she explained in a recent interview she feels they relate to her, because they see themselves in her. That if it weren’t for all the hoopla, she and they would be the same. Can’t say I’d go as far as to say that, but I like that she did.

My daughter also pointed out that Stewart loves to cook for the film crew. And according to those who know her well, she’s a jokester. Something I’m sure she has in common with Pattinson. The few times I’ve seen him being interviewed, he looks and acts like such a goof-ball, not the super suave hunk he portrays in films. Good for both he and Stewart for being themselves, instead of playing the Hollywood PR game. 

A screenshot depicting Edward and Bella in the...

Image via Wikipedia

My daughter and I think it’s wonderful that Bella’s and Edward’s characters have found their counterparts in real-life lovers…Kristen and Robert. We sincerely wish their relationship longevity…as all the glitz and glamour fades into the background.

Meanwhile i’ll be catching 40 winks at midnight tonight…

…while my daughter…and millions of other bella wannabees…crowd theatres…for a glimpse of their vampire heartthrob…not that i blame them…

………hugmamma.  

“the help”…a “black eye”…in american history

The HelpMy daughter and I wanted to see The Help the day it opened, and we did. From its ads on TV, I thought the film would be belly laughs from beginning to end. So I wasn’t prepared to cry, as I did, throughout most of the last half of the movie. Told from the viewpoint of one of the Black maids, Aibileen, the story centers on life in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s.

Capri Movie Theater

Image by Mr Jan via Flickr

Often until something is placed in front of us in black and white, or in this case in technicolor, the situation between Blacks and Whites in America is an event that occurred outside our realm of consciousness. We know it in general terms, in statistics on the evening news. “The Help” brings the Black struggle down to gutter level. A hard-working mama eking out a living for her family for less than minimum wage, a job description that entails everything and anything the White woman of the house decides it is, banned from using the White toilet and having to go outside the house to pee and poop, raising the White children as their own so their mothers can be society’s butterflies, fired on the spot for being an embarrassment in front of White acquaintances.

Cover of

Cover of Gone with the Wind

Yes, Black maids were gainfully employed, but at what price to themselves, to their humanity? A couple of the stories told by maids made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. One had been willed by mother to daughter, essentially enslaving the Black woman to the family as an heirloom. I thought slavery went out with the likes of Tara in Gone With The Wind?” I mean wasn’t that a long time ago? Another, an  elderly maid, attempted to shorten her walk to work by cutting through open land. One day she met up with the landowner who threatened to put a bullet through her with his shotgun, if she continued to trespass. Lucky that she worked for a beneficent employer who bought 2 acres of land through which his maid could walk freely to get to his house.

The “last straw” that convinced Aibileen to cooperate with the young, White journalist who wrote “The Help,” was the death of her 23-year-old son. While on the job a truck ran over him, crushing a lung. The foreman threw the young man’s body onto the back of the pickup and drove him to the Black hospital, where he dumped him on the ground and drove off honking his horn to alert the staff.

While “The Help” is fictional, born of the imagination of author Kathryn Stockett, herself a native of Jackson, Mississippi, I’m certain she had enough familiarity with the community in which she grew up to know the truth of what occurred behind closed doors, and in public. She may or may not have witnessed the horrific transgressions detailed in her novel, but the moral fibre of her hometown was ingrained into her being, just as it is for all of us from the time we are born into our own neighborhoods and towns. They make us…whether we like it or not. Of course change can be had…

but sometimes the price can be…one’s life…alive…or dead………hugmamma.

(Note…of course I highly recommend you see “The Help.” There are comedic moments…that lighten the tragic undertones threading through the story.)

fantastical!…harry potter

harry-potter-book7

Image by Colin ZHU via Flickr

Last night was a first for my husband and me. We’d never, at least not as middle-agers, stood in a line waiting for a movie to begin at 10:30 p.m. But in recent months we’ve become more adventurous. We’ve been stepping outside the box, so to speak. Rather than resort to our nightly ritual, me blogging, and him snoring in front of the TV, we decided to go for some hamburgers, followed by Harry Potter in 3-D. I felt giddy to be out so late, with the younger set. Fortunately, there was no crowd, the line was pretty short, the theatre rather empty for the final episode in a blockbuster series. Perhaps the earlier shows were fuller. No matter, we had a great time. Even better because there were probably less than 80 in attendance. We could all spread out, watching in relaxed comfort. No need to elbow neighbors. I was on an end seat; my husband had no one seated on his other side.

harry potter review harry potter review harry ...

When the show ended, I remarked a couple of times how the 3 main actors had started down this path as middle-schoolers, and now they were all young adults. That’s a long time to have been involved in a project, and one that made them all millionaires. I’m sure they couldn’t have known their amazing, good fortune. Just as J.K. Rowlings couldn’t have known that her fantasy epoch would make her the first billionaire author. Their lives have been as fantastical as the fantasy with which they were all involved. They certainly hit the lottery, big time! But I think we did as well.

Author J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter an...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a wonder how Rowlings penned a fantasy so rich with twists and turns, and imagery beyond compare, and concocted a phalanx of characters the likes of which boggles the mind. The author seemed to fill every nook and cranny of her unfolding wizard’s world, with details that enriched and enhanced her storytelling. I couldn’t have imagined everything she imagined, not if I tried for a million years. It’s certain she researched some aspects, but it’s more likely she is a creative genius. I think Rowlings has carved out a unique niche in this generation’s literary archive.

We’re indeed fortunate that J.K. Rowlings sat down one day to apply herself to paper. Otherwise a literary rock star might have gone undiscovered. And Harry Potter’s adventures would never have materialized. And what a loss that would have been.

In a recent interview, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, 21-years-old, reportedly said     

     “I think about being Dad quite a lot, …I can’t wait to have kids.” 
     So the next time Radcliffe revisits Harry Potter, it may be reading those adventures of a magical boy to his own children.
     “I imagine I will,” Radcliffe says, his eyes glistening. “It will be very, very strange, though.”  

made me feel like a kid again…hugmamma.

green lantern…who?

Showcase #22 (Oct. 1959), the first appearance...

Image via Wikipedia

That’s the reaction I got when telling Sylvia what hubby and I did yesterday. Don’t think many members of my gender, and age, are too familiar with superhero, the Green Lantern. But since my husband sits through chick flicks, like the Twilight shows, I figure it’s only fair to ask what he’d like to see…once-in-awhile. Have to say…I really, really liked it. As we exited the theatre I even said “Sign me up for the next one!” And I meant it.

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern.

Image via Wikipedia

Catherine Banfield

Image via Wikipedia

Good vs. evil without a whole lot of bloodshed is okay with me. I don’t need gore to get the message. Action, I can take. But it has to be great action! Green Lantern had it in spades as far as I was concerned. The main actor wasn’t my “cup of tea.” He was fine. A little too goofy looking, with eyes set too close together or something. The girlfriend was gorgeous. I kept staring at her eyelashes, wondering if they were fake. I’m pretty sure they were hers. Their childhood friend who becomes Green Lantern’s earthly enemy plays the part well. I wonder what he looks like in real life. He looked pretty homely in the movie, as he was supposed to be. I only recognized two other actors. Angela Bassett played an assistant to Susan Sarandon‘s ex-partner in real life, Tim something or other, who played a senator and the father of the homely character. No big name actors, as far as I was concerned. But then again, I don’t know many of the ones from this generation. My favorites will always be from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hands down, I’ll watch black and white oldies on TV anytime.

But every so often it’s good to step outside the box…and my comfort zone…

and live it up…ha, ha…hugmamma. 

self-publishing…quality still matters

I recently attended a lecture about self-publishing. Quite a few were in attendance. I’d not realized how many wannabee writers are out there. Of course there were probably a handful of published authors in the mix. Already speaking when I arrived was self-published author Nathan Everett. He had quite a lot to offer about the design of the self-published book, so that it will closely replicate one that’s hot off the presses of an established publishing house. I liked that idea because I’ve seen a couple of self-published books that resembled pamphlets. I didn’t think they were worth the $8 or $10 asked. I love books, but they need to be worth their weight in cold, hard cash, especially in the current economy.

Cover of

Cover of Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Everett was a good speaker, so good in fact, that he convinced me to purchase his book Steven George & The Dragon. At a hefty price of $15, it sucked me in because of its well-designed jacket. Reading the first few paragraphs also convinced me that Everett’s self-publishing efforts were well worth the price. Or so I thought. The following day I settled into reading the 171 pages of fantasy. I’d not read this genre since childhood. Sorry. I’ve NOT gone ape over the Harry Potter or Twilight books, although I enjoyed the films. I’m inclined to read celebrity biographies, another kind of fantasy. But where I relished the aforementioned fantasy films and bios, Everett’s book was disappointing.

The upside of self-publishing is obvious. A writer can get his work out to readers without using middlemen. That, in turn, allows her to keep most of the earnings, a small percentage going to the company enlisted to do the selling. The downside may not be as blatant. Just because everyone can self-publish, doesn’t mean everyone can write well. I don’t think I’ll purchase another of Everett’s books to see if his writing gets better as he goes along. That’s too expensive a venture for my pocketbook. As it is, I’m not certain I can make it past the first chapter of his dragon book. See if you agree with me after you read the following sample from Steven George & The Dragon.

Once upon a time, there was a dragon-slayer named Steven George. He could not remember whether he had volunteered for the task or had been chosen. He did not know when he would be called upon to slay the dragon. He did not even really know what a dragon was–aside from the fact that it was fierce, and to be feared, and it breathed fire. He knew, however, from his earliest memories that he was the one who would one day slay the dragon. …

The dragon–Steven assumed–lived high on a mountain on the other side of a wide river. Steven had often seen plumes of smoke rise from its peak. Dragons breathe fire. There was smoke on the mountain. Therefore, the dragon must live there. If Steven could just figure out how to get across the wide and treacherous river, he could walk up the mountain, slay the dragon, and be home in time for dinner. But there was no way across the river. So Steven planned his strategy carefully. Exactly 10,230 steps downstream, an equally wide and treacherous river joined the one near his village, and became even wider, more treacherous, and impossible to cross. Steven determined to walk upstream until the river narrowed or became shallow enough to cross, and then he would come back downstream on the other side to the dragon’s mountain.

Steven was ready to shoulder his pack and step off his front stoop–the first step of his journey–when his sweetheart approached.

Phoenix Dragons

Image via Wikipedia

“Steven, dear, I’ve packed you a lunch,” she said. She handed him a small parcel wrapped in oiled skin and looked at him lovingly. “So now you are off to slay the dragon. My hero. All my life I will pine away on our doorstep, dreaming of my brave dragonslayer. People will nod their heads when they pass and say, ‘She loved Steven George the Dragonslayer.’ Poets will write of our love and how you rode off to meet the dragon to protect your village and your love. I am so proud of you.”  

 What was even more disconcerting was the counting of steps as the hero made his way in search of the dragon.

…looked sadly at his sweetheart and took step number one. Two, three, four, five, six. Steven always counted his steps. As long as he knew how many steps from home he was, he knew where he was. Steven had counted the steps to the river, the steps to the pastures, the steps to the field. Steven had counted the steps between his home and his mother’s home. He had counted the steps around the village long-house. Knowing the number of steps he had taken was a comfort to Steven. 14, 15, 16, 17.

Steven walked at the steady, measured pace of 80 steps per minute. …As he moved forward–35, 36, 37, 38… He walked on through the village–51, 52, 53, 54. …as he walked through the village–69, 70, 71. …and continued counting only his footsteps–91, 92, 93. …as he stepped boldly out of the village–103, 104, 105.

And that only took me to page 4 of the book. I may attempt another try at reading Everett’s writing, but probably not in the near future. I credit him with making a living at book designing, as a paid consultant, and book selling. I guess the beauty of being responsible for the total package means the writer can find his own niche among readers. And truthfully, I think that’s the hard part…for either self-published or traditionally published books.

Complete set of the seven books of the

Image via Wikipedia

 Mr.Everett did indicate that his book was intended for an audience of 13-year-olds. In my opinion that age group is more sophisticated and discerning than either Everett or I were at that age. Youngsters these days are masters of the internet, and totally captivated by J.K. Rowling‘s literary master-pieces. I don’t see them reading about Everett’s Steven George.

I had a similar experience with another self-published author a few years ago. My husband and I met the woman on one of his business trips. We had dinner with her and a traveling companion, a young niece. The woman was writing a piece about my husband’s company for AAA magazine. Early in the conversation she told us that she’d just published a book. I don’t think she mentioned that it was self-published. She explained that it was a children’s book, whose idea was spawned from her relationship with her own toddler.

Upon returning home, I went in search of the title at our local Barnes and Noble. A clerk helped us locate the book. Upon seeing it on the shelf I immediately knew it had been a self-publishing effort. Rather than a substantive book, it was a pamphlet. The jacket was mint green with a simple drawing on its cover of a child. Leafing through the pages, I felt no excitement, only monotony. The illustrations lent nothing to the story. Even $5 would have been too high a price for me to pay. I don’t recollect what the actual cost was. I returned the book to its shelf, and left with a disdain for self-published books.

Nathan Everett’s book demonstrates how far self-publishing has come in the design and appearance of the finished product. Purchasing his book was influenced more by my wanting it to serve as a model, when I decide to self-publish my own work. In that regard, I know I’ll reap the benefits of the $15 spent. I consider it a small investment. But the biggest gain already realized is knowing what’s written between the covers, had better justify going the whole 9 yards to self-publish.   

just because it can be done…doesn’t mean it should…and that’s the $64,000 question…with which i’m still wrestling…hugmamma.

“balancing action and inaction,” life

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Palm Sunday, signifying Christ‘s triumphal arrival into Jerusalem. A week from now we will be celebrating His resurrection from death. That is the pivotal point for all Catholics, when we are saved from eternal damnation. And so today begins the holiest week in the Catholic Church, and the busiest. Each day provides us an opportunity to participate in the ritual leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

During Jesus life on earth this next week, Holy Week, unfolded as his own personal hell. He went from riding on a donkey, his followers waving palm branches as they honored Him, to being scourged and made to carry a wooden cross, upon which he would then be nailed, a sign over his head mocking Him as king of the Jews.

The Passion of the Christ

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Actor/Director Mel Gibson‘s movie shown several years ago, was the most horrific representation of Christ’s suffering from the moment He was struck repeatedly with leather straps whose tips bore lead beads, to the crown of thorns shoved mercilessly into his scalp, to the huge nails that were hammered into his hands and feet. I was unable to watch most of the film, and I tried to muffle the sounds by shoving my fingers into my ears. I hadn’t imagined how overwhelmingly gruesome the depiction would be. That is one movie I will never be able to watch again. Never.

I find it difficult to fathom the suffering human beings can endure. After today’s lengthy reading of the scriptures, Father Brian launched into his homily. The contrast was jarring. Somber words one minute, near-shouting the next. A mimimum of movement one minute, bold, sweeping ones the next. He spoke of a friend with whom he visited in Bellingham, a town bordering British Columbia. It was almost as though Father was speaking of Job, the man who couldn’t get a break from the bad stuff life was throwing his way.

Andy, Father Brian’s friend, was married, with a baby on the way. At about the time he and his wife learned of her pregnancy, he was stricken with cancer throughout his abdomen. He was going through chemotherapy treatment, which left him depleted. Advice from friends and loved ones runs the gamut from fighting the disease with all of his might, to letting go and allowing God‘s will be done. Needless to say the ordeal has Andy wafting in and out of depression. Somewhere along the line, the doctors discovered that the cancer has spread throughout his spinal column.

Jesus calls Lazarus to Life

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Wouldn’t it be nice if Father Brian had the ability to relieve Andy of the cancer, by performing a miracle? That’s what the non-believers taunted as Christ hung on the cross. If He was truly the Son of God, then why didn’t His Father rescue Him? That, as we know, was not God’s will.

While Andy’s situation exemplifies human suffering at its worst, Father Brian drew a parallel between his life, Christ’s life, and our lives. Though our challenges may not be as great as theirs, like them we vacillate between agressively promoting that about which we are passionate, to passively accepting our fate and putting our lives into God’s hands. We are constantly seeking the right balance. In doing so Father concluded that we should not only pray for guidance, but that we should also find someone with whom we can openly share our sorrows.  Both will enable us to shoulder whatever burdens we will bear throughout our lives.

a fine balance…this gift of life…hugmamma.   

 

365 photo challenge: wonder

Never thought I’d one day see the real thing, when I developed a crush on actor Louis Jordan who starred in “Three Coins in the Fountain.” But I did!

 

and the trevi fountain was truly a WONDER to behold!!!…………hugmamma.

“just go with it,” and we did

My daughter convinced me, at the last minute, not to see “Black Swan.” I knew it was “dark,” and so was prepared for a Stephen King style thriller. But I wasn’t aware there was raw sex thrown into the mix. My daughter’s words were “raunchy,” “out there,” and more to the point, “sex between the 2 main actresses.” I might have stomached such scenes in my early 20s, when hormones were raging. But not so much into my “golden years,” and definitely not in a packed theatre. Yikes! I definitely didn’t want to hear the heavy breathing of strangers seated nearby. Double yikes!!

More disturbing to me, however, was the need to depict Lesbianism in its most damning, stereotypical imagery. Just when strides are being made among that community to show themselves to be upstanding citizens like their heterosexual counterparts, a much-hyped film with an Oscar for Best Actress, regurgitates the bad press that should remain ancient history. Been there. Done that. Don’t need to go there anymore. Was there a real need for explicit sex scenes between the 2 women? Did we need to remind people about their homophobia? Might the gay community have been spared the potential for a public relations setback? You who have seen the film will have to answer that one. I’m speaking “blind,” and it’s only my opinion.

Cover of

Cover of Cactus Flower

Opting to seeJust Go With It instead, turned out to be a happy surprise. Adam Sandler is not a favorite of mine, but after seeing him in “50 First Dates” with a definite favorite,  Drew Barrymore, Sandler is “growing” on me. Not until the credits were displayed did I know that the show was a remake of an oldie, but goodie,Cactus Flower.” Filmed in the 70s, I think it was a career booster for Goldie Hawn, but I only had eyes for the great Ingrid Bergman, and ears for the dead-pan humor of Walter Matthau. It’s good I didn’t know earlier that this later film was a remake. I might’ve spent the evening making comparisons. Instead I thoroughly enjoyed “Just Go With It” on its own merits.

Nicole Kidman at Cannes Film Festival 2001

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I’d forgotten that I’d read in a review that 8 weeks of the film were spent on the island of Kauai. Seeing the green, lush beauty of a Hawaiian island brought huge smiles to our faces. Since it was the backdrop for most of the film, my husband and I obviously never stopped grinning, except when we were laughing. And seeing both Nicole Kidman, in a supporting role, and Jennifer Aniston do a pretty mean hula was an added bonus.

But the scene that brought tears to my eyes, and a lump to my throat, was a closeup between Anniston and Sandler. Watching her face as she listed things which she loved about him, I felt as though I were looking into the eyes of a good person, not just an actress. Never far from my mind, whenever I hear her name or those of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, is the pain Anniston must have endured throughout her marital breakup, and even years after the dissolution. The media scrutinized her every look, her every move, her  relationships, her breakups. While the hurt may have shown in the probing paparazzi photos, Anniston said very little. And she was probably entitled to say a lot.

Having seen Jennifer Anniston only a handful of times in films, and maybe a few dozen times on television, I was noncommittal one way or the other. But tonight I came away feeling like she’d be a good BFF, not for me obviously, but for someone who travels in her celebrity circle.

a full thumb’s up for Jennifer…and half-a-thumb for Adam…hugmamma.