GRACE UNPLUGGED

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!

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**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]

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

Website: www.graceunplugged.com

Official Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0zIUGjIR1Q

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/GraceUnplugged

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/GraceMovie

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**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. 

Wisdom from a cookie

I really love fortune cookies.

I really love fortune cookies.

The Beans and I have begun a tradition…of sorts. On Friday nights, we go and have sushi (bank account willing, of course) at our favorite spot. Often, it’s just us girls, as The Man is usually working…to pay the bill…lol 🙂 No matter what everybody orders, the meal always ends with the same thing: FORTUNE COOKIES. Truth be told, it’s my favorite part, but I rarely give the little slips of paper much thought after reading them. Unless we happen to be blessed with pearls of knowledge that look like the ones above.

These were our fortunes one of the last time we went to Zen, a favorite spot. Gotta love a restaurant with that name, right? I was so impressed by the treasure trove of wisdom, I snapped a picture. And now I’m writing about what each statement means in reference to the one who pulled it from its crescent-shaped cookie.

 

It’s important to you that money not be important. 

This was mine, and it couldn’t be more true. Personally, I would prefer returning to the days of bartering for goods and services. Money fuels too much of our lives, and I can’t stand being dependent upon it. If there’s not enough, people are unhappy. If there’s too much, people are unhappy. Where is the balance? There isn’t one, as far as I can see. Money can’t buy happiness. Sure, it can serve as a band-aid for a much deeper seeded issue. But at the end of the day, the wound is still there, festering underneath.  Honestly, I believe my family is better off without an abundance of the nation’s currency. That being said, if I won the lottery…I’d cash the check. And go eat sushi.

It’s time you asked that special someone out on a date.

Sugar Bean pulled this one. Still scratching my head over what it’s meaning could be. Seriously…she’s fourteen. She can’t date. Hell, I don’t even allow her to wear makeup to school. Apparently, this one needs some time to reach its full potential. Three years sounds about right, don’t ya think?

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles by it.

Since this one belonged to Butter Bean, I can only assume it’s a reference to the fact that she’s our family’s math whiz. On several occasions during the last school year, she actually helped Sugar Bean with her math homework. She was in third grade, and SB was in seventh. Therefore, Butter Bean kept SB’s candle lit by sharing her mathematical genius! Thus, saving SB’s butt from being grounded under less than favorable math grades. Go figure.

It’s not the plan that is important, it’s the planning.

Ahh….Sweet Pea….my planner. Always coming up with elaborate schemes and agendas from the depths of her imagination. She makes calendars, books, drawings, etc….all depicting grand plans for us and her friends. And it keeps her occupied for hours. Which gives mama time to clean house, workwrite or play on Facebook. Yes, it’s all in the planning 🙂

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On top of Forgiveness Mountain

Photo credit: HelloGiggles.com

Photo credit: HelloGiggles.com

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 HelloGiggles.com  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….

FORGIVING.

 

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Like mother, like daughter…and some horn tooting :-)

It has come to my attention over the past 6 months, that two of  The Beans are gifted writers. Sugar Bean is making straight A’s in Advanced English, and Butter Bean was named “Writer of the Month” for her class in December. Woo-hoo…they can take over the blog when I die, right?!

So, it really came as no shock to me yesterday when I picked Sweet Pea up from school and she announced that she’d been given an award for writing at the morning assembly. Another chip off the old block….yippee 🙂 Normally, I would have been there to see her receive the award, but for some reason, I didn’t get a notice about her accomplishment. Apparently, the Korean Parent’s Association presented awards to the students based on an essay each of them wrote about New Year’s Resolutions, to commemorate Lunar New Year.  And Sweet Pea was one of two students to win in her class. She received the certificate pictured below, along with a Barnes and Noble gift card!!

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 This in itself had me BEAMING with pride. 

What brought me to tears, literally, was when she showed me her essay. It’s short and simple, but so powerful. Especially to a mama who is trying very hard to make sure her Beans realize the importance of  these lessons, through living examples like this.  Anyway, here is what she wrote, and illustrated. I believe it speaks for itself:

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If you look closely, you can see the two kids depicted on the left are saying ‘No toys’ and ‘No fair’, and on the right, there is Sweet Pea holding bags of toys to give them as they exclaim “Toys!”, “Yay!”. What an incredible drawing. Even if My Bean is the artist, and I do say so myself.

I wept silent tears of joy all the way home from school, knowing that even when The Beans have bratty, selfish moments, and I would swear it’s not….parenting by example really is sinking in 🙂

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