Have you ever felt PERSECUTED?

Let me start by saying…. this post is long overdue.

Six weeks ago today, I was invited to attend the Los Angeles Premiere of the faith-based film entitled PERSECUTED. I was not familiar with the movie, therefore I did a little research before accepting the invitation. After seeing the trailer (above) and reading the synopsis, I was instantly intrigued. Not only because I LOVE a good political thriller, but also because this movie appeared to cross the invisible lines drawn in Hollywood about faith-based content being taboo. So, onward I marched…

And man oh man, am I glad I did. 

Without giving away too much of the story– which I tend to do when I’m enthusiastic about a film I’ve seen– I’ll make a few key points, and you can decide for yourself if it’s worth your personal time to see it. Fair enough?

The first thing I’d like for you to know is, while I am a follower of Jesus and this is a Christian faith-based film, I would recommend it to anyone who lives in the United States, regardless of their religious affiliation. Just as I often recommend American History X to people who display racism and close-minded hatred for others. Why? Because the religious theme is not the only one present. As I watched it, I was struck by the deeper message of how easy it would be for us to be manipulated and stripped of our religious freedom at the hands of the governmental officials we’ve elected and trusted to protect them. In other words, despite the fictional nature of PERSECUTED, it hits closer to home than I’d like to believe possible. In fact, like some of my favorite tv shows–CSI, Law&Order, and Scandal, to name a few– it has a storyline seemingly plucked straight from the headlines. “Imagine House of Cards for the religious set”, says  Politco Magazine …and I couldn’t agree more!

Second, the plot is reasonably plausible. Do I think it WOULD happen? No. Do I think it COULD happen? Sure. Anything is possible, especially when the people of a nation are kept remain largely in the dark about our state of affairs. Regardless, this is not a low-budget, work of cinematic crap. It’s a well-structured, entertaining feature with a cast of respected and recognizable actors who deliver solid, believable performances. James Remar, who stars as John Luther, the nationally acclaimed evangelist standing in the way of religious reform in America proposed by Senator Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison), has a commanding presence that brought forth thoughts of Harrison Ford’s performance in The Fugitive to my mind on more than one occasion.  And the addition of real-life FOX News personality, Gretchen Carlson, as the TV anchor interviewing Remar in flash sequences throughout the film is a brilliant casting choice to further emphasize the parallel between fact and fiction. Oh..and my favorite performance of PERSECUTED was that of comedian Brad Stine, who plays Pastor Ryan Morris, the all-to-eager-to-please, right hand to John Luther’s evangelical empire, TRUTH. At first, you think he’s a nice guy, and then…BAM…he morphs into a back-stabbing, smarmy bad guy more interested in the preservation of his own fame and fortune than in doing what is morally or ethically right. What a range! I wasn’t familiar with Stine as an actor before this film, but I’ll definitely be following his career now.

Lastly, this is a film your entire family can see together, and learn from. Sure, it’s got some violence and even bloodshed, but nothing traumatizing enough to keep me from wanting my daughters to see it. Certainly nothing that scratches the surface of what we see on the news today. And honestly, the video games kids play these days are more upsetting in their content than this movie even remotely tries to be. Plus, the action sequences, car chases, and edge-of-your-seat moments will certainly keep everyone tuned in, paying attention and eating lots of popcorn. It’s a win-win, in my humble opinion.

My final advice: Open your mind, buy the DVD when it releases on October 14, or rent it on Pay Per View. If you hate it, my apologies. If you don’t, share this post and spread the word. Either way, come back here and leave a comment so we can discuss it, like grown-ups hashing out politics and religion. Deal?

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The Legend of the Dogwood

One of the beautiful things I miss about the South. Photo courtesy of Peggy Farlow

One of the gorgeous things I miss about the South.            Photo courtesy of Peggy Farlow

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. No…not because of the bunny!  Although I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy making baskets for The Beans and witnessing their delight when they see the ‘bunny tracks and jelly bean poop’ on Sunday morning. Oh… and let’s not forget the egg hunts! When I was little the Golden Egg was always a Leggs pantyhose egg, spray-painted gold and stuffed with money. Finding that thing was like winning the dang lottery, and the search for it was reminiscent of a scene from The Goonies, boobie traps and all. I am the youngest in my family by 12 years, so my earliest recollection of the annual Romine Family Easter Egg Hunt had me running around with my nieces and nephews, who were toddlers (being assisted by their parents, aka my siblings) and finally ending up in tears because I was too old to hunt with the littles and too little to hunt with the adults. What’s a girl to do?

The festivities were great and all, but my fondest memory of Easter was a story Mama used to tell me. I don’t know the origin of it, or if it’s even true, although I’d really like to go on blind faith and believe it so. And I refuse to Google it. Something tells me it may be a Southern thing, since I’ve actually never seen a dogwood tree growing anywhere except down South. Truth is, I’d all but forgotten it, when I was reminded of it via a post shared by a family friend on Facebook. Of course when I saw the post, I smiled from ear to ear, knowing I would be able to retell it to y’all.

Here it is, as told by my mama, and I suspect many other Southern mamas as well: 

There is a legend that says, at the time of Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus, for such a cruel purpose, greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this.  In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree:

” Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross– with two long and two short petals. In the middle of the outer edge of each petal, there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red. In the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember.”

dogwood

Beautiful in its appearance and message.                               Photo credit: llerrah.com

To this very day, I can’t see a dogwood tree or blossom without thinking of Jesus and His sacrifice for my sins.

May we all be reminded of His Grace and Glory this Easter as well as the rest of our days.

 

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I love dolphins. Really…I do!!!

Anytime the thought “Mama would have loved this” crosses my mind,  I know whatever it’s in reference to is a keeper. So when that was the first thing I said after seeing the trailer for “Dolphin Tale 2” I knew I needed to share it with y’all. In fact, I’m not so sure there wasn’t some sort of motherly, ‘divine’ intervention behind me being asked by GraceHill Media to sneak peek the trailer and give my thoughts. After all, the film IS due out on September 19, 2014, and that happens to be Mama’s birthday! If she were alive, I could take her to see it in celebration of her 82 years on Earth. Unfortunately, that’s not possible…so I’ll just take The Beans in her honor, and remind them how much she would have loved it 🙂 Although I haven’t had the privilege of  seeing the entire film yet, The Beans and I saw the original Dolphin Tale when it was in theaters back in 2011. All four of us were laughing, crying and cheering simultaneously. It’s just that kind of movie. So to say I am excited for the sequel is an understatement! And with the original cast (Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, and Winter the Dolphin) teaming up again to help save a new member of the Dolphin Tale family, –Baby Hope–this film promises to be just as wonderful as the first one! Don’t take my word for it though; watch the trailer for yourself below…. and check back here as September draws closer, because I might just be participating in a Dolphin Tale 2 giveaway of some kind!!

Dolphin Tale 2 OFFICIAL POSTER

 

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Fifteen.

According to the traditional list of customary anniversary presents, The Man and I should have exchanged gifts of CRYSTAL yesterday. Alternately, the contemporary list suggests WATCHES.  Ironically, both can be purchased at Tiffany. However, I am still awaiting the arrival of my Little Blue Box, convinced the delivery person got lost. After all, Los Angeles is an awfully big city and according to the map below…. I live up in the area of the REDNECKS and JCREW LOOKING MOFOS…which I suppose could be a little confusing. Maybe even scary.

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Anyway, we had a lovely dinner last night with The Beans at a favorite local spot of ours. The fact that I neither tried to find a babysitter nor entertained the thought for a moment that we would celebrate without them in tow goes to show you that after 15 years, it really IS all about the children.  Not to sound cliché, but we do only have them all under one roof for a little bit longer. Sugar Bean is going away to college in 4.5  years so we have to pack in as much family time as possible now. Perhaps we’ll take an anniversary trip on our 20th. Who knows? Regardless, I was reminiscing about our wedding yesterday and it occurred to me that I’ve never shared a single detail about it with anyone outside of family and close friends, despite it being an incredibly joyous, unique and memorable affair. WTF is wrong with me? Btw, that’s a rhetorical question. So… without further adieu, I give you…

The Top 10 Reasons Why My Wedding Night

Was Uniquely Kickass

1. It was planned and executed it in exactly 3 weeks, complete with paper invitations (pre-Evite, people), a caterer, flowers and a wedding cake. Notice I didn’t say I PLANNED IT. Every drop of credit goes to my MIL, as I was stricken with horrific morning sickness…ALL. DAY. LONG. Wait…I did pick out the bridesmaids’ dresses. Off the rack, during a 20 minute trip to  Robinson’s-May, which was about all I could manage in between jaunts to puke in the nearest bathroom.

2. Using a recipe handed down for years, and in keeping with a long-standing tradition in my Southern rooted family, we served a drink called “24-Hour Punch”. It’s been a staple at every special occasion for as long as I can remember. The main ingredient is Jack Daniels. The caterer asked for the recipe. Need I say more?

3. Although I could not drink a drop myself, I jumped behind the bar and started tending it like a pro at the reception. People were thirsty, and the bartender went missing…I suspect, after too much punch.

4. We are not Jewish, but many of our guests were, including the Best Man. So it made perfect sense to do the Horah, right?

chris:horah

me:horah

 5. My maid of honor was a VIP bartender at one of the hottest nightclubs in Hollywood, and got called in to work during the reception. Despite telling her boss she’d been drinking all day night at HER BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, had flowers matted in her hair and would be arriving in her dress, if she could find a ride to avoid a DUI…he made her show up. True story.

6. The day of the wedding, we realized our plan for playing music at the reception wasn’t going to work, so our dear friend John wrangled some equipment and became our DJ, so I would stop freaking out. You can read about him here. He’s truly a gem, and if he ever gets married, I will walk on water if he needs me to!

7. Right before the procession was about to begin, I suddenly had to pee. There was a bathroom at the top of the steps, but my dress wouldn’t fit. Obviously, I didn’t have time to undress/redress. So, two of my bridesmaids held my skirt up inside the bathroom, making sure I didn’t pee on myself, while the other two stood guard outside and held the rest of my dress, because we had to leave the door open. Now THAT’S a good group of bridesmaids, y’all.

8. There was a break-dancing extravaganza. Yep. That’s my husband folks, throwing it back to the 80’s by doing a coffee-grinder…I think.

chris:wedding:breakdance

9. Oh, but wait…the girls were not about to be upstaged! If memory serves me correctly, the photo below depicts the ‘big finish’ to a dance routine of some sort.  Doing the splits in my wedding gown. Yeah, that really happened.

me:wedding:splits

10. With the reception winding down, The Man and I hopped into a limo bound for the honeymoon suite at a hotel in the city. Once we inspected our accommodations, we decided to continue celebrating, and took off on foot down Sunset Boulevard, still in our wedding clothes… headed for the Skybar. Cars were bumper to bumper, horns were honking, and folks were shouting ‘Congrats’ the whole way. Crazy fun. Typically, it’s a tough place to get into if you aren’t ‘on the list’, but I  bartended there for a couple years and showing up in a wedding gown with my groom in tow did the trick!  Afterwards, exhausted and giddy, we returned to our hotel and passed out. That whole doing the deed on your wedding night thing? Ain’t nobody got energy for that!

And so, following a magical evening that started like this:

wedding dance

 We woke up the next morning as newlyweds and realized our cars were in the Valley, and we didn’t have a ride home.

THE END

 

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