Friday, December 28, 2007


A few weeks ago, my friend Melissa told me about Jason Reitman’s movie, Juno. The trailer had me hooked along with a killer cast consisting of Jason Bateman, Ellen Page, Michael Cera, and Jennifer Garner. The movie, about a 16-year-old girl who finds herself pregnant and looking for a family to adopt her baby-to-be, is surprisingly witty, clever, honest, and free of any political agenda. It's not a film about abortion or adoption or pro-choice or pro-life; it's a film about the grit and glories of life, and about love.

While the movie tackles difficult issues of teenage pregnancy and the possibility of abortion, the writing is brilliant, wedding clever humor with serious conversations. Not only was the writing perfect, but the acting was excellent--not over the top, but the actors genuinely and convincingly depicted the characters. The music reminded me a bit of Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine, having that retro, edgy feel while simultaneously being very accessible to a variety of audiences. In my opinion, it's a must-see movie. I'd even pay full price for it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christian Fiction and Book Snobery

I am unashamedly a book snob. As such, I am also unashamedly disinterested in any sort of Christian fiction (sorry, Mom). We've all seen them on the shelves: Karen Kingsbury, Janette Oke, and, of course, the mother of all Christian fiction, Francine Rivers.

Years ago, I promised my best friend, Alisa, that I would read Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love before I died, so since I knew I'd have some extra time at Christmas, I borrowed the book from her and readied myself for some mediocre, predictable writing. Let's just say I was skeptical at best. For those who haven't read the book, it's a story that closely follows the account of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible. It's about a man, Michael Hosea, who takes a woman out of a brothel, marries her, and then loves her with a persistent, everlasting love.

For all my cynicism and doubt, the book (for a Christian fiction novel) was surprisingly good. While I still felt like the writing was mediocre and some details were cheesy, the characters were very well developed and the details of the setting and time period were well researched and authentic. What struck me most, however, was the obvious allegory of the book. So often in reading I was frustrated with the harlot who chose to be distant, unfeeling, hard, and ungrateful for the deep, sincere, persistent love that Michael showed her. I wanted to take her and shake her and say, "How can you not love a man who loves you so well? a man who rescued you from sure agony, pain, and even death? a man who serves you and delights in you and offers you to share in that freedom?" And then comes the realization that I am that harlot, that I am often aloof, detached, and calloused toward Jesus, the Lover of my soul. It was this convicting realization that made the book redeeming for me; because of it, I understand the love of Jesus better.

While I have no desire to read another Christian fiction novel, this one was worthwhile. I especially liked Rivers' personal reflection on why she wrote the novel, which is included in the back of the book. For all you book snobs out there, you may want to lower yourself just once to read Redeeming Love...unless you're a guy, in which case, you just won't like it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Anniversary Surprise

Monday Phil and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary. Well, we actually celebrated last Friday, so I didn't expect anything on our actual anniversary. I came home from work around 6:30 ready to cook dinner and watch a movie with Phil...only to find that dinner was on the table...along with wine and (gasp) a beautiful vase of red and white flowers! Phil had found a recipe, gone to the store to get the ingredients, and made a delicious chicken dish with onions and green peppers. Needless to say, I felt so very loved!

There's something really good and needful about romancing your spouse throughout marriage. Finding new ways to do that is the challenge, but it's worthwhile and brings such joy to both the giver and the receiver. I pray that God continues to teach me to love limitlessly, generously, whole-heartedly, and humbly.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Muppet Christmas Carol

If you haven't been exposed to the muppet movies yet, you would be a fool not to go out and rent one tonight. One of our favorites is the Muppet Christmas Carol, narrated by Gonzo himself, along with Rizzo the rat. It had been several years since Phil and I had last seen it, so we had some friends over, ate chili, and then settled into an hour and a half of holiday entertainment. The songs left something to be desired, but there's something utterly hilarious about watching a movie that stars puppets. And not just any puppets at that--muppets! Needless to say, it was certainly an enjoyable way to ring in the season. Other Christmas movies on my list to see: Charlie Brown Christmas, It's A Wonderful Life, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and maybe a new one: White Christmas. It may be 70 degrees outside, but it's Christmastime for me!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend with the Lumbats

This past weekend, Phil and I met our friends, the Lumbats, in Destin, FL. It was one of those weekends that felt like a week, and we certainly packed in our time with a 2-hour bike ride, multiple games of 3-on-3 beach football, and a new card game that we love called "Kings and Peasants," or something like that. They also brought along their friends, the Joneses, who were fantastic company and quick friends. It was just the rest we needed before our last few weeks of the semester!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The 55th Annual Family Thanksgiving

In my family, being present for Thanksgiving dinner is of equal importance to breathing or paying your bills. You could choose not to, but the results would be dreadful. So, nearly 40 of us gather together each year at my grandparents' house in Atlanta--great aunts, 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, 1st cousins-once-removed (whatever that means). For many of us, this is the only time we see each other all year, and in spite of that (or maybe because of that), we truly enjoy time together. I also think there's a part of us that knows that it won't always be like this.

Because we only see each other once a year, it's always interesting to see the changes in people. This year, for example, I had a cousin who was pregnant, another cousin whose 8th grade voice changed to a man's, another cousin who got his driver's license, and a great aunt and uncle who now use walkers.

Because there are many in our family who are getting older, we always find ourselves thankful for one more Thanksgiving together, one more meal shared, one more conversation, one more round of laughter, one more game of football, and one more common memory. It has now been 55 years since our family Thanksgiving tradition began, and I find myself grateful for those who started it and those who continue it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dirty Birds Drop A Turd

That's right: I am writing about my husband's favorite sport, football. While I often feel like football games should be about one half shorter than they are, this one should have been non-existent. Phil and I joined his parents yesterday in some choice seats at the Falcon's game in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the only redeeming part of the experience was the company, the new visor Phil bought, and the foam sticks they gave us to wave in the air...or at Phil's face. In addition to the disappointing final score of 31-7, a team that couldn't play offense if they were paid an extra million, and one too many 1-yard plays, I had the pleasure of having the world's loudest fan yelling in my left ear. Nothing like hearing a guy say, "If it weren't for the eye candy, this game wouldn't be worth s***!" Nothing like a football game to make you realize the ridiculous obsession Americans have with entertainment. There's a book that's been around for a while called, Entertaining Ourselves to Death that I've never read but want to. The title says it all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Morning Car Thoughts

Most mornings, I'm in the car on my way to work a little before 7 a.m., which means that I have a good 15 minutes to let my mind wander or pray or contemplate the really deep issues of why the symbols given to males and females are what they are. Yes, that was the topic at hand this morning. As we all know, males have the circle with the arrow pointing out to the northeast while females are designated a crude-looking stick figure with no legs.

Here's my interpretation: Males tend to have difficulty following through with tasks, becoming side-tracked with distractions. Hence, the circle (head) with an arrow pointing off in a non-descript direction. Females, on the other hand, are very anchored people. Their head is on their shoulders and it is clear that they are unmoving in the face of distraction or interruption.

Of course, interpretations often seem a bit like guesswork to me, so here's an alternative one: Men tend to have big heads, but are certainly not lacking in direction, and, women, while also have big heads, can tend to be so "unmoving" in nature that they can teeter on stubbornness.

And now, here's the truth about gender symbols (thank you, Wikipedia): The male symbol actually began as the female symbol turned on its side. However, the cross was later changed to be an arrow so that it looked like a spear and shield, thus preserving a sense of manhood everywhere. The female symbol is supposed to look like a hand mirror, symbolizing beauty.

John Eldrige would be proud that his "beauty to rescue" and "man-warrior/adventurer" had its roots in mythology long before he wrote any of his books.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cara's top 10 summer reading list

I know that summer is still a few months away, but here's my top ten:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
2. Kite Runner (Khaled Husseini)
3. Speak (Anderson)
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)
5. The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
6. Life of the Beloved (Henri Nowen)
7. When Invisible Children Sing (Huang Tang)
8. Saturday (Ian McEwen)
9. A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken)
10. Reviving Ophelia (Mary Pipher)

Blogging 101

Inspired by bloggers everywhere, I have decided to join the cyber writing world. Honestly, I feel like I'm betraying pen and paper by typing, but I'm trying to think of it as another outlet for writing instead of a substitution for the original form. It reminds me a bit of 5th grade, when my friend Amy "went out with" 2 guys simultaneously; I'm just courting the pen and the keyboard at the same harm in that, right? With that sorted out, let the blogging begin!