5-star-movie reviews





Another five hearts! Why: (besides it’s Oscar time)
1. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam
2. Coherent storytelling. I was expecting some inner artsy
Hollywood navel gazing; it’s not. But, this is an
Operatic story of passion (the suffering of love), hatred
and vengeance.   Opera characters and events are
over the top. The language and violence are
over the top, too.  But here’s a person, a mother,
who cares enough to take a bold action; one that
makes her unpopular.  Made me ask myself, do
I care enough, like her, and take that action I need
to take to show my love?
3.   Love changes one character, and that changes
another… and another, and drives the action!  That’s
great story writing and message!
Frances McDormand wears crappy overalls and her hair is a mess and no makeup (?) and she still comes across with a feminine side… how does she do it?  Because she cares!  I want
to be like that although not quite as violent…



Psalm 15:4 “…honor the faithful followers of the Lord…”

I could hear the awe combined with joy in her voice:

“You’re Andy Telford’s granddaughter?!”

Andrew Telford and his twin brother Huey were born on a farm in 1895. His parents Thomas and Rose had immigrated from Ballymena, Northern Ireland to Canada after their marriage in 1881.

“If you weren’t born on a farm, you need to be born again,” I often heard my grandfather, who my cousins and I called PopPop, comment.

He served in France in World War I.

His parents were not church goers. He heard his brother in law Roy speak on John 5:24 at a street meeting. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who send me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

Years later PopPop wrote, “After I was converted a friend said to me, knowing that I was saved, “How do you know you are saved?” I said, “Well, something happened to me.” He said, “A lot of things happen to people, and yet they are not saved.” I said, “Well, I haven’t sworn since I was saved, and that was three weeks ago.” He said, “A lot of people have not sworn for a month, and yet they are not Christians.” “Well,” I said, “I read John 5:24 and believed it.” He said. “That’s good.

Andrew Telford wanted to know God. He jumped on a train for Chicago and the Moody Bible Institute. He arrived at the school, and told them he wanted to be a student.

“I’m sorry,” the secretary at the desk responded. “You have to apply to be a student here. There are papers to fill out.”

The president of the school at the time, James M. Gray, heard about Andrew Telford. Impressed with his initiative, he said, “We’ll make an exception. Andy will be a student and can wash dishes in the dining room to pay for his room and board.”

That’s a story I heard about my grandfather from Uncle Tommy. PopPop lived to be 102, spry and eager to drive himself to preach in churches until he was 95, so I have many firsthand memories.  He was a big part of my life until I was 42.



“I don’t believe in God,” I announced to my fellow four year old friends and Sunday School teacher, Miss Watson, as we sat around the formica table at Berachah Church one Sunday morning.

Miss Watson, young and pretty, jumped.  She stopped passing around the lollipops she brought each week, to keep us quiet while she taught the Bible lesson.

“You can’t see him,”  I continued. This the obvious reason he did not exist.

When class was over, she hurried to warn my father, the Sunday School Superintendent.

He listened sincerely, then later he and my mother had a good laugh about it.  I was four.  This became a classic family story.  In my Christian Ed classes at Wheaton, I learned that Piaget’s theory of children’s cognitive development would support their lack of concern.

I am here

Now 62, I still struggle with the invisible.  A few years ago, I painted the words “I AM here,” from John 6:24, in various spots around my house, as a visible reminder of God’s presence and reality in the day.  I used a shiny translucent white, so that the truth is only seen when the light catches it at a certain angle.  Most of the time it is hidden from view.

My father died in 2014, and my mother in 2015.  Now they are invisible, too.  But still very real.

The Shape of Water




Why I loved this movie:

  1. There’s a point, but you have to figure it out.  I wasn’t sure where it was going, and as a person who goes to the movies a lot, I love that.
  2. There’s a bad guy, a terrible, powerful guy, but he cannot overcome love.
  3. The good/‘normal’ characters are looking for something: love. They have friendships, and jobs, but are looking for something more.
  4. Made me think about my search for love/God. Oh yes, this movie is all about God.
  5. Twists of humor like Russian spies.

However, although some have used the word ‘fairy tale’ and/or ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ this is no children’s movie.  There is sex, blood and torture.  Not too much, but enough to prove this is a movie about real life.  Present term:  ‘magical realism.’


Star Wars




Rotten Tomatoes’ critics on this film: 90% approve/ Audience: 50%.  Big disparity.  What’s going on?  I looked at some ‘audience’ reviews.

You’re wimps!  This is a great film… what’s wrong with you?

  1. Great minds discuss ideas
  2. Average minds discuss events
  3. Small minds discuss people

Complaining reviewers didn’t like some of the events and people, which tells you about them… never mentioned the ideas that the story hangs on:

  1. Hope (the Resistance) will triumph
  2. Evil will not
  3. Leave the past behind…
  4. … and keep fighting

Creative, believable and fascinating characters/acting:

  1. Rey – powered by the Force female but also conflicted… great to watch… she’s the next Jedi so of course the film’s title has a double meaning.  And her ‘parents are nobodies.’  Love that theme because aren’t we all ‘nobodies.’
  2. Kylo – LOVE a villain that is physically normal looking, hallelujah, and also conflicted…  their relationship/dialogue/everything – works!  He should get an Oscar.
  3. Luke – conflicted too! Love it.  Life’s not simple, we’re all struggling with stuff. Don’t like seeing Mark Hamill aged but he’s still a hero and a Jedi.

I ask myself, who is the audience for this film?  Little kids?  Would they understand the inner conflicts of the leads?  Probably not, but nothing inappropriate for them except Snoke might be too vividly disgusting.

Thought provoking,  inspiring heroes (Poe and Finn light up the screen!) and visually exciting.

Look out, I’m feeling like a Jedi Warrior!

A great film changes you.

Explain something from nothing.

Annemarie, the teacher, stops talking mid sentence.  She glances at the clock on the wall: 12:30.   Rising from her chair, she heads to the whiteboard, picks up the marker, and scribbles, “Blue.”

Was the ink blue?   I should know.   The second week of class she had taught, “notice everything.”

I’m one of a dozen in her Memoir Writing class.  For eight weeks we gather in chairs around the formica table in a study room at Countryside Library.  Each session ends with a ‘prompt’: our writing assignment.

First I think: “oh, no, everyone’s going to write about being depressed.”   Second:  “that’s my favorite color…wait, white is actually my favorite color, being the presence of all colors.”  Then, “think harder… Dad’s eyes were the most beautiful blue.”

I signed up for the class to be accountable to write about my Mother and Father, and the house where we lived on Abbott Avenue.  I try to tie each week’s prompt to that.

I hear singing: “I’d rather be blue, thinking of you, I’d rather be blue over you, than be happy with somebody else….”

My little sister Pam, only 4, and I, fifteen, belt the tune into the mirror, our arms around each other, in the 5 x 8 foot bathroom.

“…Blue over you, I’d rather be blue over you, than be hap hap happy with somebody else else else else else!”

I fell in love with Barbra and “Funny Girl” in high school.  Every afternoon after school I’d lay on the living room floor listening to her albums, singing every word by heart.

Born for the stage, Pam practiced the song from the “Funny Girl” album with me.  Even at one year of age, she had been a star: the Christmas angel in the annual church pageant.  Dad, spiffy in navy suit, carried her in her taffeta dress, shiny black Mary Janes and gold tinsel halo, up the steps for the finale.  She smiled and glowed, capturing the congregation’s hearts.  Dad was so proud.   His delight deflated, after the show, when someone remarked, “Your granddaughter looked so cute!”

Annemarie asked a few weeks ago in class, “Does anyone sing in the shower?”  She was probing us on how we express ourselves.  I did not raise my hand.  I sing.  But the shower has poor acoustics.

The bathroom where Pam and I sang duets had excellent sound quality.  The mirror was our audience; our television camera.   The sound of our voices blending and bouncing around the room energized us.

We loved us.

But nothing else was lovely about that bathroom.  Four sisters squeezed into it every day for daily routines.  Small does not necessarily eliminate beauty.  My mother spent time and love decorating her house.  But Dad had chosen the wallpaper for the bathroom, when we were out of town visiting family.

A color blind person in an unlit factory created the turquoise with brown daisy patterned mess.  I can’t understand why Dad, a fairly artistic person, thought anyone would like that wallpaper.  Was it low price? To him, choosing the paper and getting it glued to the walls was a gift of his love to Mother.  He was so proud of his work.  So eager to show her.

Mother was not a crier.  But she could have.

On that ugly floral wallpaper opposite the toilet, she hung a small wooden plaque with the quote:

“Why were the Saints saints?

Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful, patient when it was difficult to be patient; and because they pushed on when they wanted to stand still, and kept silent when they wanted to talk, and were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable. That was all. It was quite simple and always will be.”

Mother, always a teacher, had placed that plaque in a spot we would see every day.  So the wallpaper stayed.

Where do these stories come from?

From the prompt…

What has come from the stories we write and hear each week in the five minute timed readings we share?

Delight and awe.  We’re revealing ourselves to each other.  I, we, want to be known.  Each story is a surprise.  For me, to only look at a person doesn’t help at all.   As I write, I think I know myself.  Think I have a plan.  But writing takes me where I did not expect to go.

From a “blue” prompt  on a whiteboard, jump to the idea of ugly wallpaper.  Then jump to love, which is the story I always want to tell.

Thank you, Annemarie.  Thank you, Countryside Library, for providing this magical learning space, with the giant window framing the tree that reaches into the azure sky.


Before and After

Pertinent for BSF friends studying Romans 8 this week:

I used to interpret Romans 8:19 as ‘the creation is waiting to see which people are actually God’s children.’ Confession: I am too judgmental and sometimes look at people that way: “they can’t be Christians because of the way they’re acting,” so it will be interesting to see, one day, who the real Christians are!”

Heard a completely different, excellent interpretation by our pastor Dr. Phil Burggraff, “it’s not really ‘who’ – it’s ‘what.’ What Christians are going to eventually be like in Jesus Christ. That meaning fits this passage. Intriguing. All creation is waiting to see our ‘before and after’ and who doesn’t like a good ‘before and after!?’

My grandfather’s Bible, the old King James (which I struggle to understand because of its language), is clear in this actually: “The creature (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

Who are we in Christ today, and what will be like when we are like him (‘glorified’)? Wow!

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