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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Facing the Unknown–My Messy Beautiful

When I first received the email from Momastery detailing The Messy Beautiful Warrior Project, I knew I wanted…no…HAD…to be a part of it. You see, the whole reason I started this blog is because of Glennon and the shameless truth-telling and hope-spreading she does everyday when she shows up for her Monkees, as well as the rest of the world. Truly a force of nature that one. With all her brokenness, and honesty about the brutifulness of life, she sets me free over and over again by reminding me it’s okay to let the world see me. Shame doesn’t lie in honesty. Peace does. And when you come clean, you often discover not only are you not alone, but you’re in amazing company…and together we’ll make the best of what’s around. The last part is a line from a Dave Matthews song. I feel the same soul connection to him that I do about G…I’ve just known him longer.

Completely blurry and imperfect...but you can see the joy!!

Me and Glennon. Completely out of focus and imperfect…but you can see the joy!!

But I digress.

This post is about how my broken, messy path in life has qualified me as a warrior and equipped me for future battles.  If you follow my blog already (thank you, btw), you may have read this. If not, then welcome! The aforementioned post is not required reading by any means, it’s just a prequel…sort of.  But onward we march.

I grew up in a small Southern town, where people not only knew each other, but could also greet the skeletons in their respective closets by name. In fact, trying to keep secrets was as useless as a trapdoor in a canoe. Perhaps that’s why, once I managed to recall and assemble the memories from my fractured childhood, I felt perfectly comfortable…even relieved…writing about them for the world to see. Except for one, which continues to haunt me to this very day. In fact, my heart is racing and my hands are trembling as I sit here on Good Friday, about to lay my soul bare just before attending a prayer vigil at church. No time like the present, right? Okay, no more stalling.

When I was in the 3rd grade I had a very good friend–let’s call her Ginger–because that’s not her real name. She lived just down the street from me, so I used to walk to her house to play and vice versa. Although we lived very close, we went to different schools.  Her mom worked at a local elementary school, so Ginger was allowed to attend that school because logistically it was easier. The only time we saw each other was after school, on weekends, during holiday breaks or for sleepovers. Ginger lived with her mama and adoptive dad. Best I can remember, Ginger’s biological father either died when she was a baby, or was never part of her life. When her mom married Guy (also not his real name) he adopted Ginger so they all had the same last name. Or something like that. Sorry for the hazy details. Maybe that’s what happens when you suppress memories for 30+ years and then try to drudge them up?

Anyway, Ginger was the only child in her house. Although her mom and Guy tried to have a baby, I think I remember overhearing Mama say–in a hushed tone– they were unable to conceive. In hindsight, this was perhaps a God-send. What I  remember in shockingly vivid detail though, is one afternoon in particular. I was at Ginger’s house, and I’m not sure why…but her mom wasn’t there. Guy was in charge. We were playing in her room and he came in and sat down on her bed. Then he began stroking my very long, straight hair while saying, “Your hair is pretty. If I ever have a little girl, I want her to be just like you”, despite the fact Ginger was sitting right there listening. I’m sure that must have upset her, and evoked resentment. Just writing it makes me sick to my stomach. Sometime after that, could have been days or weeks…the phone rang at my house, and it was Ginger asking me to come over and spend the night. I covered the phone, turned to Mama and explained how I didn’t want to go and “would she please tell Ginger’s mom I couldn’t”?  She obliged, and may have asked why I was adamant about not going, but I don’t remember her pressing the issue. Again, it’s all foggy.

Eventually they moved away, out of state. I have no idea why. Maybe a change of employment, maybe a guilty conscience. Who knows? Ginger and I kept in touch by writing letters. On real paper, with stamps and everything! Then one day, maybe during 4th or 5th grade, I was in class and the office aide came to get me because my mom was on the phone and needed to speak to me. Thinking about that day still makes me shudder. Mama was calling to tell me that Ginger and her parents had shown up for a surprise visit. Oh, and Ginger and her dad were coming to pick me up from school early! A feeling of panic set in, but I internalized it, careful not to draw attention to myself while standing in the school office. I told her I wanted to stay at school, and begged her not to send them. By then she had to know something was amiss, because let’s face it…what kid doesn’t want to leave school early? Seriously.  Nonetheless, they picked me up…but Mama was with them. Thank you, God. After that I don’t remember seeing or talking to them ever again. If I had to speculate, I’d be willing to bet both my parents suspected Guy of molesting me, but couldn’t prove it because I was too afraid to tell them anything. Apparently, they decided it best to make sure the friendships were simply severed. Since they lived out of state, it was easy enough to just…lose…touch. Figuratively, and literally. Amen.

There are few things in life I’m fearful of. Among them…snakes, water I can’t see through (oceans, lakes, rivers, etc), suffocation (I’ve been in anaphylactic shock numerous times due to medication allergies, so I know what it feels like) and… that man’s face. Yes, I remember it. If he were to pass me on the street, I would stop dead in my tracks. His gaze haunts me, and the sound of his voice in my head is frightening. He is my Boogeyman, but the exact details of why are no doubt lying just beyond the reach of my cognitive memory. Both my parents are in Heaven now, so I can’t ask them what really happened. Nor do I blame them for not pursuing the matter. Living in a small town is both a blessing and a curse sometimes. Thus far, just the flashbacks have made me hyperaware and vigilant when it comes to the safety of The Beans. I’ve made sure they understand never to be afraid of tattling on anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable. Even adults–especially adults. Be warned: come after me, and I’ll fight ’til I fall. Hurt my babies? God have mercy on your soul. My survival is a testament to sheer will, considering all the things I’ve endured, and if this tiny little five-foot-one-inch warrior can walk through the fire of life unscathed, forgiving along the way…well then…so can you.

So I guess that’s it. Not a secret anymore, and if knowing I’m a Messy, Beautiful Warrior helps someone else drop their armor and face their own battle then it’s definitely been worth telling.

Now. Back to Dave….

Hey my friend
It seems your eyes are troubled
Care to share your times with me
Would you say you’re feeling low and so
A good idea would be to get it off your mind

See, you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
And so can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We’ll make the best of what’s around.

(The Best of What’s Around; RCA Records, 1994)

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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Put it in the universe.

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I was going to wait until tomorrow to jump back up on the blogging horse, but then something happened in the car today that reminded me of happy times, prompting me to start early.

So here I am.

You are likely wondering why these pictures are leading this post, right? Or not….but I’m going to tell you anyway.

The first thing to know (if you don’t already) is I put the ‘fan’ in FANactic when it comes to all things associated with the Dave Matthews Band. I’ve been a stalker fan since they’ve been a band (1991), and have attended an obscene number of shows. There are some very uncanny coincidences associated with my love for all things DMB.

~~ Dave and I were both born on January 9th, although he is 5 years my senior.

~~ He has a song titled “Dancing Nancies” which I used to think was about me, until I read somewhere that it’s about male transvestites in the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

~~ His charity organization is called “The Bama Rags Foundation”. I’m from Alabama, but he is not.

~~ My first choice for college was a small, private liberal arts college in Virginia called Sweet Briar College. I applied and got in, but couldn’t afford to go, and instead accepted a scholarship to the University of Alabama. Dave met his wife at Sweet Briar College.

~~ I haven’t missed a tour since they started doing them, and often attend concerts alone if The Man is busy and I can’t find a running mate.

~~ When I turned 30, I said to The Man, “On my 35th birthday, if we have more money than we know what to do with, will you please hire Dave to play at ‘our’ party?”  He said, “Of course, Baby Girl.”  **Side note: I did end up meeting Dave, but it wasn’t because The Man hired him, and he wasn’t playing at our birthday party…lol. Through a strange twist of fate, a dear friend was able to hook me up with a gig working as an extra on the single episode of “House” Dave played a role on, and ironically enough…we taped the day after I turned 35. I made sure to introduce myself, even at the risk of being tossed off the set. He knew exactly who I was (apparently he’d been told I would be there?) and wished me a happy belated birthday.

Anyway, the pics above were from the 2nd crazy coincidental meeting we had. Below are a few facts leading up to these photos:

1. These pics were taken in 2007, on Sugar Bean’s 8th Birthday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA.

2. About 3 weeks before these were snapped, a publicist friend of mine who knows of my obsession, called and said he was having brunch with another friend who used to be Dave’s publicist, and wondered which show in LA I was attending on that tour, in case she still had connections and could set up a meet and greet. I told him the show in Irvine, because Sugar Bean was going with me as her birthday present. Unfortunately, he called a few days later and said she no longer had an “in”. No worries.

3. Exactly 2 days before the concert, while I was in hellish traffic on the 405, my cell phone rang. I answered, and a girl named Lauren said she was calling from “The Warehouse” (the official DMB fan club…which I am a member of) and wondered if I was attending the show in Irvine later that week. I told her I was planning on it, and then she asked if I would like to meet Dave before the show. I think I muttered something to the effect of “Oh holy hell…did Alfred put you up to this?”  She said she didn’t know an Alfred, but my name had been randomly selected by the fan club as the winner of a pre-concert “meet & greet”…for reals. I continued to grill her, until I was satisfied I wasn’t being Punk’d, and promptly wet my pants, grinning from ear to ear all the way home. YES. THAT REALLY HAPPENED.

4. I took that t-shirt away from her once we got home and promptly stored it in an air-tight container. It’s never been washed and she will only get it back at my death.

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How about that grin???

Proof positive that it pays to put things into the universe if you REALLY want them to happen, huh?

Now…why am I telling you all this? Because I want to. And because it’s relevant to the happy time I was reminded of today in the car.

Each time I gave birth, I was listening to music through headphones. Guess what artist was playing? If you answered “Dave Matthews” you win a gold star! Now, in fairness to each individual life I brought into the world and because each of the The Beans has her own unique personality. Despite the fact, I didn’t know what each bundle of joy would be like once she was born, I chose a different song for each one, and put that on repeat until they entered the world. They all know what their song is, both by name and when they hear it, as well as what their sisters’ songs are. Call me crazy, but it’s an important detail in my estimation.

Sugar Bean’s song is ‘Jimi Thing’, Butter Bean’s is ‘Trippin Billies’ and Sweet Pea’s is ‘Rapunzel’. Of course these are also 3 of my all-time faves, hence why I chose them 🙂

Anyway, today when I picked Butter Bean and Sweet Pea up from school, ‘Jimi Thing’ was playing on the stereo, and was quickly identified by Butter Bean as Sugar Bean’s song. Oh, and if you are wondering if I’m “that mom” who rocks out with the windows down while in carpool line….I TOTALLY AM. Wouldn’t have it any other way. But I digress. Back to the conversation that ensued:

BB: This is SB’s song!!

Me: Yes…it is 🙂

SP: What’s my song again?

BB: Rapunzel

SP: Right! Now what is that song about? Princess Rapunzel, or another Rapunzel?

BB: Mama, what’s it about?

Me: Oh…I’m sure it’s about Princess Rapunzel (smiling devilishly).

Thank God they didn’t inquire about the meaning behind ‘Jimi Thing’, right? 

 

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What’s In My Purse?

So…in lieu of my somewhat usual, “It’s Friday…For Real” video blog, I decided to post something equally intriguing.

I hope.

The thing is, I’m battling bronchitis, which kind of makes me sound like Froggy when I talk, so I really didn’t want to be on film. And that’s just my voice. Haven’t been sleeping well…so…you know, I’ve got the next trendy line of dark-colored, luggage hanging under my eyes.  Call me vain. Whatever. Back to my purse. Which, speaks VOLUMES about a lady, right?

Here’s the photo. I’m gonna list the items, but it’s up to you to play “I SPY” and spot them, because I don’t have the slightest clue how to add arrows and labels and all the other stuff on top of the picture to make it look really cool.

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In no particular order….

1. Star Student Report for one of The Beans. This is to let me know she can read, write and compute numbers as well as, if not better than the other students who took the test. I don’t put much stock in these reports. My kids are bright, and happy.

2. The Warehouse envelope my DMB tickets arrived in 2 weeks ago. Haven’t posted about the concert yet. I’ll get to it. Promise.

3. An appointment card for The Beans for their next dentist visit….in 6 months. They just went yesterday, so the card has not yet been lost.

4. A really long ass receipt from CVS. 3 items bought. Lots of coupons…I WILL NEVER USE, because I will forget I have them.

5. Multiple pens & a Sharpie. If this needs an explanation, you either don’t have kids or don’t live in LA. God Bless You 🙂

6.  A Gerber camping knife. Goes everywhere with me, and I can open it with one hand. Comes in handy more often than you think, and solicits very quizzical looks from the other moms when I whip it out after someone asks for scissors at a PTA meeting.

7. My cobalt blue Stella & Dot Tech Wallet. I LOVE THIS. You should get one….here.

8. A black headband…because you just never know when you’ll need to pull your hair off your forehead, revealing some wrinkles. Seriously.

9. A Stella & Dot look book. What? I’m a stylist, and I like to book and sell on the go 🙂

10. My keys. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

11. A zippered, fabric pouch/coin purse. I may or may not have stolen this from one of The Beans. It holds metal money nicely, and LA is full of parking meters.

12. Various coupons for sandwiches at different places. Maybe I will remember I have them one day when I’m hungry. Who knows?

13. Union Square Scarf in Midnight Bloom from Stella & Dot. I adore scarves. They are the PERFECT accessory. If I don’t have one on, there is usually one in my bag. Honestly, I feel naked without them.

14. Residual checks from SAG-AFTRA. One belongs to Butter Bean, who said the F-word in a movie 3 years ago, and the other belongs to me for voice-over work on a TV show. Mine is for $0.03, after taxes. Hers is exponentially larger.

15. A red, “wallet” thingy that holds important papers. It should be in a safe deposit box somewhere, probably. Although I think the only thing in it now is my marriage certificate? Don’t ask.

16. A slip from the USPS to pick up a letter. Funny thing is, they are supposed to knock on your door to try to deliver it first. Didn’t happen. I was home all day. Postman was apparently too busy to climb the driveway to the door. Hmmm….

17. My Passport. Because you just never know when you may need to hop a flight and skip town, right?

18. A 4-leafed clover I found in Toronto the last time I visited. I have a gift for finding them, but this is the only one I’ve ever found in another country 🙂

19. Mini-look books from Stella & Dot. See #8 above.

20. My actual “How Does She Do It”  bag from Stella & Dot. Have you still not checked out the line? Shame on you!

21. An Epi-pen. Because I am allergic to a lot of shit. Mostly pain killers and antibiotics, but still. You can never be too careful.

22. Various receipts tucked inside a small journal. I have a crappy filing system and I like to write stuff down when it pops in my head. What can I say? There may be a method to my madness…

23. A book of sticky notes. My upline, S &D sponsor, Heather, gave this to me when I went to Vegas for HOOPLA. It’s been in my bag since, and I’ve used it many times for lots of stuff. So it stays.

24. The metallic pouf that matches my bag. Wouldn’t you like to know what’s INSIDE? Um…no.

25. Tiny hair clips. I’m letting my bangs grow out, so I usually need something to clip them back with. Just got a new pack, and decided my purse was the safest place for them, since I have 3 young girls who live with me, and are always in search of hair accessories. And they have been known to bring home lice from school. Just sayin’….

26. A prescription bottle. Enough said.

27. A rat-tail comb. It gets tangles out. Not without a fair amount of screaming though. You’ve been warned.

28. Notes on a script I am now collaborating on. When it’s done, I’ll let you know 🙂

 

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