As a little girl, I went through a phase of complete adoration and daydreaming surrounding horses. So many of us did, right? Well, now my two elementary age sons are attending horse classes and they are having a blast while learning valuable animal husbandry skills. I have no idea whether they'll be able to own horses when they grow up, but if they do, I'll be over to visit often! I love seeing their eyes spark with curiosity. They are always excited when they spot a new DVD entering the house. "Can we watch it? Is it for us?"
"Race to Win" has earned the Seal of Approval from the Dove Foundation. The main character, Hannah, (Danielle Campbell) is grieving the loss of her father when they learn that their horse ranch - their home - may also be in danger. A financial crisis brings about some tough questions and challenges. Hannah thinks she has a solution, but it would require a great deal of courage on her part. Can she really take on such a big task without her father there to help and guide her? This movie will spark conversation. I will be asking my boys who they should seek guidance from when they face hard circumstances.
How can that be? Am I getting over-dramatic here? I don't think so. Watching these movies probably won't make you feel like the Heavens opened up and God the Father spoke down to you in an audible tone. That's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that these movies have real substance. Real content. They contain some "meat," in them, as older generations might say.
Courageous stars 4 men who are law enforcement officers. This is not an easy task. These guys already have training and on the field experience in some tough physical and psychological situations. They aren't only police officers; they are people. When family life, specifically fatherhood, is another front line they serve on, the focus shifts from action to intention and deep, heartfelt struggles are fleshed out on the screen. This is a movie that made me cry. Whether you'll cry or not, I can't say, but you've been warned, so if you're a bit of a softie, grab the tissues along with your snacks when you get ready for this movie.
There are some parts of this movie which may be too intense for younger viewers. We still haven't let our oldest son watch it yet. We would probably allow it when he's 12, but we have pretty conservative viewing principles for media around here. One reason for that is because, while particularly worrisome graphics are not necessarily shown, the content that is shown and of the conversations between characters may lead my younger viewers to imagine something much scarier than I want them to have to deal with right now. We have some intense conversations and nightmares on occasion from some Disney movies around here, so I realize this is not going to be the same in every family. If you have young viewers, it's always best to preview content and discern whether it is appropriate for them.
Now, I always give a full-disclosure. I did receive a complimentary copy of the Courageous DVD from FishFlix.com which sells Christian DVDs for the purpose of offering a candid review. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are honest and they are my own.
Also, you can get a $5 off coupon to FishFlix.com if you join their email list. There are two ways to join:
If you didn't see the movie WOODLAWN in theaters, or if you did and you enjoyed it- here comes round 2! No, this isn't a sequel and the story line is not intertwined with WOODLAWN's in any way, but for football fans who appreciate the encouraging, inspiring messages of films which portray the Truth and the importance of faith, this looks like a hit.
I'm not a football fan, but the plot on this one has me curious. Plus, I'm a sucker for movies based on true stories. This movie portrays the life of Brendan Burlsworth, a person that overcome adversity, an excellent example of what a hard-work ethic looks like, and whose family faced a tragedy immediately following a victory.
I am thankful for films that not only allow Christianity and morals to grace the big screen, but celebrate them boldly, without sugar-coating the Christian life to make sound like a walk in the park. As my children grow, they will face so many challenges, temptations and conflicting philosophies. While my husband and I are doing our best to prepare them for their adult lives, having materials to provide conversation starters with tangible examples is of tremendous assistance. I continue to thank God for the freedom we have at this time to talk openly about Jesus Christ and am thankful for those with media platforms who boldly stand by the Truth.
Here's the movie trailer for GREATER, opening in theaters January 29, 2016:
I plan to post a full review of GREATER between January 26-28 (and I'll post the link here also).
If you didn't see the movie WOODLAWN and are interested in a bit more, CLICK HERE if you'd like to read my review.
Having watched "Facing the Giants" and enjoyed it, I wondered whether there would be similarities with WOODLAWN. How many times can we tell the story of football teams finding faith? I now know this can be done well at least twice, and since no two football players or teams are alike, neither were these movies. WOODLAWN is a film by Pure Flix and the film is high quality. The only things I'd change would be to have the rain begin more gradually during a football game and to spend a bit more time developing the relationship between the main character, Tony, and his girlfriend. Given the length of the movie, however, I agree that the focus of the movie needed to be kept on what matters most. If you've ever sat next to me watching a movie in a casual environment, you'd understand it is a huge compliment for me to not have a long list of things I'd change in a movie. Call it the gift of criticism, or the gift of gab, or a family past-time (I will never forget my mom's continuous disappointment that huskies are used to play wolves in movies.)
Back to the movie! You may have gotten the scoop on the plot by now, so I'm not going to rehash that. You can google it if you want a summary and I'm sure someone will have obliged and done a better job than I would. I don't want to be any sort of spoiler, so let me give you some fascinating background info that you won't see at the theater. After directing October Baby and Mom's Night Out, Andrew and Jon Erwin decided to pursue reenacting a bedtime story their father, Hank Erwin, used to tell them about how he'd encountered God at a Billy Graham Rally and then reached out to a local team to spread the Good News in a time of unrest. Andrew said, “I saw this story acted out in my bedroom multiple times, where our Dad would play all the parts. He’d be running back and forth and telling us what Tony was doing and jumping up and down.”
I think we have a tendency to rush through things in our culture, so let me slow this down for a minute to drive a point home. Two men are producing a movie about the great things that God has done through their father's ministry and obedience to God's calling. Let's not get so caught up in this being a "racial tension" and "historical account" movie that we miss the beauty of recounting God's faithfulness and miracles that we witness to our children that they may be inspired and continue to proclaim the Lord's goodness. Let the timing sink in a bit. The directors' father, the evangelist in this story, is 66 years old today. Wow. Such a short time we've lived in an integrated society and what great sorrow to see continued race-based (or perhaps race-fueled) disagreements and conflict.
The main characters each bring their own perspective and struggle to the plate when trying to maneuver through the emotionally rocky and physically strenuous football season, further complicated by the mixing of religion and public school, rattling some cages. Having done their homework on bringing this historical account, director Andy stated, "... Todd Geralds, Coach Geralds’ son, had a seven-page telling of the story that his dad wrote as he was dying of cancer. And as we read that we knew his was the point of view of the cynic who is redeemed. That’s when we knew we had a movie.” There is a bit of comedic relief through the main character's mom, played by Sherri Shepherd from The View.
I always try to let my readers know where I feel movies stand in terms of being family friendly. This one gets a thumbs-up for kids 8+ in my book. The areas I would be sure to have a conversation with my child would include discussing the fact that a person is taken from the high school to an ambulance for treatment, a brick is thrown into a window near a young child, a jersey hung on a cross is lit on fire, the main character kisses his girlfriend with very little screen time developing their relationship up till that point, there is implication that a girl is beaten or injured by her father and, of course, conversations about respectful ways to address people's varying skin tones since at one point someone is referred to as "Negro." Since this is a 2 hour movie and action scenes are much more intense on large cinema screens with surround sound, it may be wise to hold off and let the kids watch this one on DVD or Blueray so you'll have the opportunity to discuss any concerning parts of the movie immediately with them, pausing the movie to break the "tv trance" and tap into the teachable moments.
This is a good movie. This is a real movie. This is a true movie with Truth in it. This is one to support at the box office and to add to the home collection as well.
***This giveaway has ended.***
If you didn't watch the first "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" movies on the Hallmark Movies & Mystery channel, you are missing out on a wonderful series. I was skeptical when I heard they follow post office employees, but the first one hooked me and I had my husband jump in and watch the second and he was pulled into the plot as well. (This says a LOT since it was past his bedtime and he's usually only a fan of war movies, westerns and Veggie Tales.) These USPS employees are detectives who take dead [undeliverable] letters and attempt to determine who they should be delivered to. Divorce papers, partially burned letters from soldiers overseas- fascinating items, not magazines and utility bills.
If the curiosity factor doesn't draw you in, the characters will. Oliver O'Tool is in charge of everything [except his crush on a coworker] and maintains a calm and cool that oozes of anxiety. Norman Dorman is the socially awkward, lovably humble geek of the group who is smittin' with a beautiful taller, Rita, who waits in a flutter of uncertainty and excitement for Norman to sort out exactly how to date. Let's not overlook the antagonist, the straightforward leader Shane McInerney, who is trying her hardest to wait patiently for Oliver's affections, but follows her heart rather than logic and speaks almost as quickly as she thinks.
The producer, Martha Williamson, also produced "Touched by an Angel," and she describes this episode poetically, “’Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream’ is an unusual balance between light and dark, comedy and drama. Our lead character Oliver said it best, ’The world is a terribly complicated place, and so much of it can be ugly. That’s why what is gentle and beautiful and joyful is worth fighting to preserve. And it’s why we honor those who fight.’ She added, “That’s why we made this movie, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share it.”
The series is a unique balance between romantic interest, suspense (both intellectual and action in this episode), comedy and wholesomeness. We need a good dose of remembering what America was founded upon, rather than being overwhelmed or discouraged at what America may have become as of recent, or where America may be heading. We need to fix our eyes on Good, lest evil shall steal all our joy.
I do recommend these movies for teens and adults, the military fire in this movie had my heart pounding a bit, so if you have a sensitive youngster around it may be too intense. Watch for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream" to premiere on Sunday, October 4 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel and I think you'll like what you see. I am looking forward to 4 new movies in the series in 2016!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love Review & Giveaway of Vintage "Touched By an Angel" Greeting Cards with CD Singles
I will be upfront. I am not a TV fan. So much not a fan, that we haven't had cable since 2004 and stopped using an antennae to get a few channels in 2008. We don't miss it. We do have a VHS and DVD player, however, so we enjoy movies. I'm always on the lookout for a movie that could be of interest to our teen, us parents, and also have appropriate content so our 8 and 5-year-old kids could sit in if they wanted to. It's not easy.
Hearing that the producer of the "Touched By an Angel" series was working on a new TV movie series for Hallmark's Movies & Mysteries channel, I was intrigued. Sounds like there is potential... After an conference call interview with writer/producer Martha Williamson, where we discussed the depth of the plot lines since this is the first of the movies, the fact that the characters were developed partly as faucets of Martha's own personality, and a good deal about Martha's pledge to never create a movie her own kids (now teens) couldn't watch, and the need for media to cover difficult topics from an honest (but not sensationalized) faithful perspective, I was really excited.
Except, that it is focused around the postal system. Hmm, sure, call it a mystery that some mail doesn't get to its destination, but this didn't pique my interest at all. The mystery, as in many good shows, is as much in the relationships presented as in the "facts" of the cases involved. My attention was captured and kept the entire movie through, not a single foul or inappropriate word was spoken, there were times I expected I'd guessed an outcome (and I was wrong) and my emotions were pulled in as much as my curiousity without being a sensationalized tear-jerker (sorry, I sometimes associate Hallmark with heavy appeals to our heartstrings from the features I used to watch on this channel years ago when I had TV!).
For being unsure how much a TV movie series could offer, but excited at a wholesome values producer out to make a family friendly series we can sit down to, I am definitely off the fence after viewing Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love. I am actually finding myself wishing we had TV so I could see the next of the series when it arrives (we won't be held waiting ridiculously long since Martha's been on a creative writing streak and they've been filming diligently). If that isn't a glowing review, I don't know what more to say! :)
I was also given 3 vintage greeting cards from the original "Touched By an Angel" series that I am giving away to readers. The beautiful CD greeting cards are part of a limited edition greeting with rare images of the Touched By An Angel cast that each contain a CD single of a song that was featured in an episode of the beloved series. They were originally sold for $5.99 each and can no longer be purchased anywhere. The film premieres tomorrow, Saturday, June 6, so when you're settling in to watch it (or during a commercial/snack break), swing back on by this post and enter to win!
Producer of "Touched by an Angel" Series working on new movies: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Martha Williamson
I had the opportunity to conference call with Martha Williamson today and was warmed by her openness, honesty, and inspirational vision for wholesome family entertainment that doesn't shy away from the tough issues faced by individuals and families in today's society.
Williamson was the writer and producer of the "Touched by an Angel" tv series that ran from 1994 through 2003 on CBS, her new film (the first of a series) "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love" premieres Saturday, June 6, on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. I will have the opportunity to view the film in advance and I'll be writing up a review, so be sure to check back!
This was a hard watch for me because I am sensitive to blood and gore. It was not constant, overwhelming, or done poorly, but the 2 short portions where children were mutilated and/or killed were very difficult for me to see. This wasn't done like in cheap horror films where the goal is to shock the viewer. These scenes were done for mature audiences to try shed a least a thin ray of light onto the nightmare that is a reality during wars with enemies who have no regard for the sanctity of life or innocence of children. PTSD is real; it is common, particularly for veterans. We need to have our eyes opened to the sacrifices our military personnel have made and our hearts need to be filled with compassion and understanding so that we can support them as they adjust to living the "good life" they fought to protect. We think of the American lifestyle as being so busy. Always somewhere to go, something to do, a cell phone to check or answer. All of these activities must be shockingly trivial wastes of time to someone who has made life or death decision day in and day out for weeks or months.
“American Sniper” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own “American Sniper” via purchase from digital retailers. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will donate a portion of the proceeds across physical and digital sales to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). One dollar of each purchase will be donated up to $1,000,000 from April 21, 2015 through , void in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and South Carolina. To get involved and learn more, visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.com.
I also have a copy of "American Sniper" (DVD, Blu-ray Disc & digital version) which I am fortunate enough to be able to give away. Grace Hill Media was kind enough to offer it to me, along with a copy for my review, and I extend it to my readers. (I also want to credit them for sending me a THIRD copy designated to be given to a veteran, how awesome is that?)
You may enter to win by putting your name and email address into the form below. This is NOT subscribing you to my blog or to any newsletters, you will only be contacted if you win so that I can obtain the mailing address where you would like the movie sent. Take a moment this Memorial Day to give a heartfelt "thank you" to a veteran and say a prayer for those serving our country and for those suffering with PTSD.
One of the most beautiful themes I saw in this movie was encouragement. Far too often I think we as parents fail to encourage our children to follow God's calling for their lives. I think we often do well encouraging our children to be obedient to God and encouraging our children to be obedient to our perceived calling on their lives. (I.E.But you're so good at piano, Emma, it would be a shame for you to quit now when you could use this talent for God's glory some day!) There is a gentle encouragement toward individuality and creativity that lines up with God's will in the way Shem is interacted with throughout the story, and it is beautiful.
True to Veggie Tale style, a lot of creative license is taken in retelling this Biblical account. If you, like me, believe a worldwide flood truly did happen in Noah's time, please do NOT look to this or any other animated video to give you an accurate account. The ark was in the shape of a giant orange slice. The moral of this movie is clearly marked "A Lesson in Trusting God," not "A Historical and Scientific Documentary Proving the Bible's Accuracy." One thing worthy of commending, however, was that the flood was shown as being caused by both water coming up from the ground and rain falling down from the sky, which is consistent with the fountains of the deep opening up as mentioned in Genesis.
The backgrounds and visual effects seemed to be a higher quality, or perhaps just a more modern touch has brought them up-to-speed. If you haven't given Veggie Tales a thought since Dave and the Giant Pickle came out, or you're kids were a bit bored with them, give Noah's Ark a shot, and it just may surprise you. Christian cartoons can keep up with the times, and you won't have to worry about any questionable or unwholesome content. That's a good value in today's entertainment society!
In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to publicly thank Grace Hill Media for providing me a copy of the Veggie Tale's Noah's Ark DVD in return for providing a review. I was not in any way required to provide a positive review, my opinions are authentic. Since this IS a product I am happy to recommend, I am also excited to offer a copy as a giveaway for one of my readers!
***Sorry, this giveaway has ended. **********
If you are the winner, I will send you an email at the address you provided on Wednesday, February 25, notifying you that you've won and requesting your mailing address or PO Box so that I can mail the DVD to you. The subject line of the email will be "YOU WON A VEGGIE TALES DVD!" If the winner does not respond via email by Tuesday, March 3, they will forfeit the prize, and another winner will be chosen at random.
Having mentioned tragedy, I also want to mention that there was no scene in this film that I would be uncomfortable watching with my 4 year old. Everything was done tastefully, moving the plot along at a good speed without any swearing, violent scenes or nudity- actually very little (if any!) immodesty at all! Probably the only area a person may be offended in this movie, (unless you believe all fast music or dancing is evil/forbidden- in which case, this movie is NOT for you!) is that the character, Ryan, repeatedly asks out a girl despite her indicating that she was already dating someone. There's no indication that she "cheated" in her previous relationship, and little emphasis is given on this, so we assume it wasn't terribly serious & she broke things off with the other gentleman.
This is a music themed movie, so the more you like the genre of music played, the more you're likely to connect with the main character. I was concerned it would be too much of an Elvis impersonator knock-off, but I was pleasantly surprised that the music is NOT an effort to recreate Elvis's music. Thank goodness- call me young, but I really don't care for Elvis's music. Nope. That's just me though! The film also didn't over-emphasize the connection between twins. I am not saying this connection isn't real, or that it isn't phenomenal, but we all know how shows can easily slip into cheesy mode when they try to recreate such things that are fascinating in real life on the big screen.
The only thing that I found a bit disappointing was the lack of the movie to redeem its portrayal of religion and the Christian lifestyle fully. The father/preacher is often shown (which we know can be accurate for some people) as overbearing, legalistic, narrow-minded and strict. As the movie wears on, he learns to accept that his son will not grow up to follow in the footsteps his father has imagined, but will take the initiative in guiding his own life direction- chasing his own "calling" as the movie often refers to it. I had hoped, that like in the movie "Grace Unplugged", the main character would not only find their own calling, but use it to glorify the Lord. There's no real indication that was the case with the all-star that grew out of such a unique family background in this movie though. He finds his own way, and does it successfully, apparently with or without God's help or involvement. It could be inferred that he was following the Lord as he pursued "his calling", but it could just as easily be inferred that he walked away from the faith as it no longer implies that he reads the Bible, attends church, prays, or sings any songs to the glory of the God Who created him and blessed him with such a beautiful voice for singing. Capitalizing on the gift without acknowledging the Giver is a pretty common thing to do nowadays, and probably makes this movie better received in non-Christian audiences.
Bottomline: Good family-friendly movie that isn't encouraging an immoral lifestyle, but doesn't encourage an intimate walk with Christ or involvement with the church either. Middle ground, mediocre, the kind we're all most comfortable with because it doesn't challenge us.
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I am not much of a blog reader. There's only a couple I check on occasion:
Love this girl's writing... feels like she's a long distance friend. Well, her sister is my long-distance friend, so that probably helps. Either way, what an inspiration and encouragement- you just need to check out some of the places life has taken Leah and be strengthened and inspired by the love that oozes (yes, oooozes) from her heart for Jesus, His people and His creation!
If you like nummy recipes, or have special dietary needs (or both!) check it out. ALL of her recipes are Vegan, and many can be made gluten-free. I stumbled upon it when searching for dairy/egg free treats to make for my kiddo and have gotten hooked on several recipes. Okay, "hooked on" doesn't portray it well enough. How about "addicted to"? That's more fitting. Will definitely be going back for more!