Every so often, I’m invited to cool events as the result of my incessant over-sharing here  at a calibama state of mind. Some are blogger networking soireés, others are invitations to be part of the audience for a talk show, and others are opportunities to attend private screenings of great films before they are released.  That’s what happened last week, and the film sent such a positive message, I want to tell y’all about it so you won’t miss it once it opens in theaters this Friday!



**A talented young singer and aspiring songwriter’s Christian faith and family ties are tested when she defies her worship-pastor father and pursues pop-music stardom in GRACE UNPLUGGED, a moving and inspiring new film that explores the true meaning of success.

Grace Trey has just turned 18 and aspires to do more than sing in her church’s worship band, which is led by her father, Johnny Trey, a one-time pop star who gave up his life in secular music when he became a Christian. Grace longs to escape his shadow and make a name for herself singing songs about something other than God, but Johnny warns her that fame is not as glamorous as it looks and reminds her that serving and worshipping God with the talent she’s been given is a far more worthwhile goal.

When Johnny’s former manager, Frank “Mossy” Mostin shows up 20 years after the two parted ways to offer him another shot at the big time, Johnny declines the opportunity. But Grace takes it – without telling her parents. She records a cover version of her father’s old Top 10 hit, runs away to Los Angeles and, under Mossy’s guidance, begins to taste the kind of success she’s always dreamed of, landing on the charts herself, attracting the attention of the entertainment press, even dating a popular TV star.  But with each rung of the ladder she climbs, Grace feels pressure to compromise her Christian values, and her relationship with her parents gets further strained. Even as plans move forward for her to record a follow-up album, Grace learns not everyone who says they’re on her side really is. The one exception is Quentin, an intern at her record company and a fellow Christian who urges Grace to reassess her choices and put God first again in her life. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her faith … or …rediscover it?


Ironically, the screening was scheduled for last Wednesday evening, which happened to be not only the eve of Sugar Bean’s 14th birthday, but also the night she attends her beloved youth group meeting at our church. And as much as I adore attending a private screening (and even more so the party that usually follows) I must admit, when Sugar Bean opted to attend youth group instead of the movie, I smiled a bit. Okay, a lot. Because raising a teenage daughter in LA is really tough, and there is always a moment of pride when you are presented with unequivocal evidence your angel has her priorities aligned properly: God, Family, and Fun. In. That. Order.

Our very important scheduling conflict did not, however, mean all was lost. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, and a great girl named Briana at Grace Hill Media, who hooked me up with a digital link, and provided me with log-in credentials…we were able to enjoy the film from the comfort of our own home, snuggled up together in our jammies. And it’s such an amazing, feel good family flick, that was an outstanding way to experience it. Quality mother/daughter bonding time is always sheer perfection! And the icing? The film is partly set in Birmingham, Alabama, which is not far from where I grew up, so I recognized the scenery. That’s always fun!

Anyway, the film itself is just the kind of movie I love to show The Beans. It’s packed with teenage angst, disobedience and rebellion. Wait…what?! Did I just say that? Yes. Yes I did. It’s incredibly relatable, and the rebellion is dealt with sensibly; emphasizing faith, family and the importance of remembering your roots, following your beliefs, maintaining strong morals, and trusting God to lead you along the path to where you belong. It’s packed with teachable moments. Yes, it’s a Christian film. But it’s much much more than that, so don’t shy away from seeing it, even if your spirituality and faith is rooted elsewhere. Because with all the horrifying images and behavior exhibited these days by the very pop stars whom our youth once viewed as ‘role models’, this movie is a gust of fresh, clean air our children can breathe in and be inspired by. The character of Grace Trey is just the kind of girl anyone would be overjoyed to have as a daughter, and fortunately….I’m pretty sure I’m raising three of her, with help from positive works of cinematic brilliance like GRACE UNPLUGGED. 

Starring AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollack, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch, and Jamie Grace, GRACE UNPLUGGED arrives in theaters October 4 from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. Inspired by a true story, GRACE UNPLUGGED is directed by Brad J. Silverman and produced by Russ Rice, the team behind NO GREATER LOVE.

AJ with Dad Performing In Church[1]

Grace Piano & Guitar[2]


You can visit the official website, view the trailer and follow the journey of this film by clicking the links below:


Official Trailer:





**Denotes synopsis provided by Grace Hill Media. All images provided by Grace Hill Media, with permission from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

The opinions stated here are entirely mine, and mine alone, and I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for my review. 

On top of Forgiveness Mountain

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Pretty bottles of poison, huh? Actually, I don’t know what the heck is in them, but given the nature of this post, and the quote I’m borrowing from  I’m just gonna stick with the assumption they have poison in them. Besides, one of them has a skull on it, and another has a pentagram. That can’t be a good sign. So there.

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die.”

Honestly, that’s the best advice/reason I’ve ever seen about forgiveness, because grudges are toxic…even lethal…substances we carry around. They consume our insides and warp our sense of reality. And with 3 Beans and The Man to take care of, I’m already teetering on the verge of insanity most days anyway, so I’ll pass on the help. Thanks. Admittedly, I’ve fallen victim to grudge holding. Hell, I’ve dragged my family into it, and I’m not proud of that, to say the least. Sometimes being human really is an impossibly heavy cross to bear. 

Anyway, back to forgiveness.

Mama always told me, “Look for the good in people, even if you have to use a magnifying glass once in a while.” Pretty sage advice, I believe. She also taught me to be forgiving and compassionate, with the knowledge that nobody is perfect. Especially me. Despite the handful of times I mentioned previously…when I fell into the grudge trenches, grabbing those within my reach on the way down…I’ve always been generously forgiving. Sometimes to a fault. It also takes A LOT to make me angry enough to cut someone out of my life to the point of holding a grudge. And by a lot, I mean major betrayal, heaps of heartache, or life-altering actions….over an extended period. Usually. But I do have a breaking point, and it has happened. The good news is, as I’ve gathered life experience, resulting in more gray hair than I want, I’ve also developed a keener eye for people with agendas. Thus, resulting in a tighter circle full of loyal people whom I would trust with the lives of myself and family, rather than energy vampires who suck the life out of me or threaten to wreck what I’ve got going on. Must be true….wisdom comes with age, huh?

For the past few years, our little tribe has been on a seemingly never-ending hike over some very rough terrain. Let’s see…there has been betrayal by friends and/or trusted business associates, job related shake-ups, financial destruction/rebuilding, addiction and recovery, not one but two family moves, and the deaths of two beloved family pets. Clearly, our plates have overflowed with a variety of things. And that’s just the general Cliff Notes summary. Plenty of other less devastating, yet still significant hurdles have presented themselves along the way as well. But, in the spirit of my mama, and her wish to always focus on the good, and avoid shrouding the entire span of time in darkness, I will direct you to some positive times. Like thisthis and this. And this. OH… and this, of course. But, suffice to say, we’ve learned enough life lessons in the past 8 years to keep The Beans’ (along with their children & grands) karma cards free of a balance for quite a while. Just about the only things we haven’t had to endure are divorce and the terminal illness or loss of a family member. God-forbid any of those happen!! Seriously. I know The One in Charge thinks I’m a bad-ass already, as evidenced by the weight of what I’ve carried in the past. So I’d prefer not to be reminded again just yet. All good for now, and honestly…I could use a rest.

Did you hear that? (please say yes)

Fortunately, it seems that prayer has been heard, although I’m understandably hesitant to hold my breath, or sigh in relief just yet. I mean, you never know…right? However, I am happy to report….as we waded through the muddy water, and slid down slippery slopes into deep valleys at times…we also managed to simultaneously climb a mountain called FORGIVENESS. Mostly of those who betrayed us and of each other, but especially of ourselves. Oh and the view from atop, looking down at the distance we’ve traveled is a marvelous one indeed. The words “I FORGIVE YOU” have never felt so powerful and freeing as they do in my life today. I’ve said them before, but the sound of that phrase now is the equivalent of harp strings plucked by angels’ fingers. Oh, and the bottles of poison? They have been emptied, their contents replaced with the liquid of GRATITUDE. As the saying goes…“To err is human; to forgive is divine”. So so true. I’m proud of how much The Man and I have grown–as people–and the resilience we’ve had in the face of all sorts of things. The Beans will be stronger and smarter as the result of it, I hope.

And more appreciative.

And kinder.

But most of all, more….



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Easter…not just about eggs.



Truth be told, I loathe decorating eggs. Just not a fan of boiled eggs, unless they are destined for devilry–complete with pickles and paprika. And I don’t like those stupid plastic ones either. Mostly because I find them all over my house for months to come, filled with rancid jelly beans and crusty chocolate footballs. You probably call them eggs, but face it…they look more like footballs, don’t they? I am rather fond of the mythical, cotton-tailed, candy bearing critter who leaves baskets full of sugar for The Beans to rip into before church services on Easter Sunday. Okay, really….I just enjoy wearing my crafty hat while embellishing the baskets to the point of embarrassment.  What can I say? I’m a creative soul who is really good with her hands.

Seriously though, Thank GOD…literally…Easter is not just about eggs or candy.

Now, to be fair, we as a family, have only been attending church on a very regular basis for about 3 months. The Man was raised in the Catholic church, but never really adhered to it, as far as I can tell, and I being Protestant, don’t quite understand a lot about Catholicism. So, when Sugar Bean was small, we decided to attend church as a family, and settled on an amazing Episcopalian church. Catholic enough for him, Protestant enough for me. We both got it. However, we moved far from that church in Beverly Hills, and enrolled our kids in Presbyterian school, because it was the best one around, and public was not an option at the time. Soon after, we began attending the church affiliated with the school, and really liked it for several years. Then, another move forced us to find another place to worship, where after just a short time we feel like part of  the church family. You know, like regulars at “Cheers”—where everybody knows our name…lol. It’s obviously meant to be our church home. And now, at 41, I am grasping the importance of deep faith along with an understanding of The Bible. Although I grew up in a Christian family, who attended church regularly when my brothers and sisters were small, by the time I came along….I assume my parents were just plain tired. Which meant we went on holidays mostly, and I don’t ever remember attending Sunday School as a child. And my knowledge of the Bible? Skeletal at best. But I am making an effort to educate myself so I’m prepared for the questions The Beans will inevitably have when they reach that point wanting to know “If God made us, who made God?”  Which, of course, I won’t know the answer to, but I want to at least try and communicate effectively.

My most vivid childhood memories of Easter involve the exquisite dress my mother would make for me to wear each year. Of course, I have carried on the tradition in my own girls, complete with gigantic satin bows in their hair to match. In fact, they have each worn some of THE very dresses I wore, as I cherish them dearly and have taken good care of them. But I am also doing my very best to make them understand that it’s not about big baskets of goodies, or eggs, or fancy dresses. And I was reminded of my efforts quite exquisitely, when I picked Butter Bean and Sweet Pea up after school on Good Friday.

Butter Bean said, “I’m sooo excited for Easter!” “Me too,” squealed Sweet Pea. Expecting the answer from both girls to be “Because the Easter Bunny comes,” I asked why, and beamed when Sweet Pea said she was excited for church, and then elaborated on why. “There are good friends there, and we learn about Jesus. I love Jesus.” In true Butter Bean style, she still hailed the Easter Bunny, but I know she understands. She just LOVES chocolate.

As a family, we are going through a bit of a difficult time. We need our Faith now more than ever, to lean on, and turn to, as guidance towards light overshadowed by darkness….albeit temporary. The Man is making huge strides at developing a Faith similar to mine, and we are discussing attending classes at LCPC in order for us to learn and solidify our knowledge together. Now, that’s not to say we will agree with everything we’re taught. I  mean, I am, after all….a liberal Christian. WHAT?!!! Yes, I said it. I firmly believe that Jesus LOVES EVERYONE, and to quote my favorite blogger/author, Glennon Melton, ” Jesus is forever tries.” He never gives up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves. I just pray he’s prepared for the Minklers…because I’m pretty sure I’ll be blowing up his shiny white, straight line to Heaven phone more than once over the next few years. Probably forever. He died for us. I really owe him A LOT of attention.


Anyway, here are The Beans, with some precious friends after church this morning.

Easter Angels in their Sunday Best

Easter Angels in their Sunday Best

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10 Reasons I’m a Bad-Ass

well, there's #1

most important reason

(If I knew whom to credit this photo/saying to, I totally would. Unfortunately, Mama Google left me hanging.)

Judging by the fact the last list I posted here sucked 499 people in to read it…in one day...I thought I’d give you some more fat to chew on. You can thank me later. Or never. I’m cool with that.

Let me start by saying that given the festive and colorful life I’ve led, I should be a DEAD ASS. So that, folks, begins the list:

#1…I’m alive.

And have been called a force of nature by at least 2 people, who aren’t related to me and don’t know each other at all.

#2…I can bleed for 7 consecutive days without dying, or showing visible signs of injury.

All bets are off for others showing signs of injury, either physical or emotional, if they happen to be in close proximity during those 7 days. You’ve been warned.

#3…I can pitch a tent, start a fire, rig a pole, bait a hook with a LIVE worm, cast a line, reel in a catch, and then clean, fillet and cook it. Oh, and I can forage greens to sauté as a side dish. In other words: I know how to camp…low-impact style. Don’t mind squatting to pee in the woods either. Yes, I’m a happy camper!

But to be fair, I enjoy 5 star hotels and room service too. I’m flexible like that.

#4…I can say my ABC’s backwards in less than 6 seconds. It’s true, I swear. My daddy taught me how when I was 6 years old, and Sugar Bean timed me about 3 months ago, after I taught her and my other 2 Beans.

Useless, stupid human trick, I know. But try it…it’s fun.

#5…The very first time I ever played Texas Hold ‘Em Poker was with 2 of my older brothers and 3 of my 20-something nephews at our family Fourth of July shindig one year. I took all of their money. One of them even had to write me a check. Could have been beginner’s luck, but was likely because I’m a bad-ass.

FYI–I didn’t cash the check, or keep their money. I’m a bad-ass, not a bitch.

#6…My homemade chili won 3rd place fin the Beverly Hills Chili-Cook Off one year. Didn’t take the top prize, but I cooked 6 gallons and there wasn’t a drop left. So the crowd liked it, which is so much better than winning.

Friends sometimes call and ask me to make it for them, because they crave it. Now THAT’s bad-ass.

#7…I have a Smokey and the Bandit t-shirt, and know the words to the theme song, because my sister let me watch the movie when I was about 8 years old and I’ve never forgotten them. She also taught me the lyrics to a famous Jimmy Buffett song around the same time, so now…

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good God Almighty which way do I steer for my Cheeseburger in Paradise

#8…My alma-mater holds 15 National Championship Titles. Enough said, except ROLL TIDE ROLL.

#9…I was in the cast of HAIR! at the University of Alabama the year it celebrated its 25th anniversary on Broadway. We sold out every performance….and yes…I participated in the nude scene. BUCK NEKID. Even during tech/dress rehearsal under full-flourescent lighting with about 15 people seated in the audience whom I’m certain had zero interest in seeing me naked.

I assume, once word got out that dancers were taking off clothing on stage, all the campus frat boys voyeurs stormed the box office, & bought a ticket. That would explain 8 sold-out performances, huh?

#10…Without hesitation, I would trade places with the one person in my life whom I know is struggling the most right now if I was sure it would end all the pain, anxiety, stress and hurt.

Why, you ask?

Because God thinks I’m a bad-ass too, and I can handle it.


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