Aug 29, 2017

"Old Fashioned" movie review


My family was excited when we found this movie at the library.  A Christian example of courtship?!  It sounded great!  But when we actually sat down to watch this movie, it didn't meet our expectations.  Because this movie addresses the area of romantic relationships, I thought it fit into Project Love.  =)




"Former frat boy, Clay Walsh (Rik Swartzwelder), has given up his reckless carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern town. There, he has become notorious for his theories on love and romance as well as his devout beliefs. When Amber Hewson (Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his strong faith and noble ideas. Together, they attempt the impossible: an old fashioned courtship in contemporary America."


Details:

115 Minutes
By Pure Flix
Directed by:  Rik Swartzwelder
Rated:  PG-13
Released: 2016


Negative Elements:

Okay, so somehow we didn't see that the movie was PG-13 and did see that it was made by Pure Flix.  We assumed that Pure Flix would make pure, family-friendly movies.  Well, it wasn't.

First of all, the Lord's Name was taken in vain a handful of times.  For me, that's enough to completely skip a movie.  There wasn't as much foul language as many other movies, but really?  In a Christian movie?

And then there was the adult content.  Scenes of drinking and partying were scattered throughout the film.  The movie focused too much on the topic of impurity and had sexual content.  It made me squeamish, and I could tell that this was made for adults.  I'm not going to get in detail, but it isn't a family-friendly movie.  (As an older teen, I would have preferred not watching it either)

If all that hasn't turned you away (haha), the Biblical standards weren't very good.  Although the cover references the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient, love is kind), they never mentioned it.  And (spoiler in white) the Christian character ends up becoming romantic with an unbelieving woman.  She mentions once about Jesus' forgiveness...but nothing else.  There is no radical change seen in the movie.  This seems to contradict the verses in 2 Corinthians 6 that tell believers to not be unequally yoked.  (end of spoiler)


My Review:

I feel like I'm sounding incredibly negative in this review.  I do applaud the attempt that Pure Flix made to tell a Christian romance story.  But for multiple reasons, I think they could have done better.  Although this would be an okay movie for adults to watch, it didn't portray a Christian courtship well, in my opinion.  Those of my family who watched it all agreed that Old Fashioned wasn't what it boasted to be.

I couldn't watch this movie again with a clear conscience.  It would be wonderful to find a truly Christian example of courtship, but this isn't it.


Other Notes:

A more detailed review is available on Plugged In.  I won't promise that they won't go too much into detail in some areas;  use judgement, please.

And, if you found a movie that presents romance in a Christian standard, I would like to hear about it.  I haven't had the chance to watch any in a long time.  =)

Aug 22, 2017

Project Love: the Poor || guest post




Dear Reader,

I'm here today with another guest post for Project Love!  I asked Mrs. Ewing to share with us about the topic of loving the poor.  Her family runs a ministry that shares the Gospel with the less-privileged in other countries, and it has blessed my family to watch and learn how God has used them to make a difference.

I hope this post is encouraging to you.  Step out, my friend, and let's love as our Savior has loved us.

~♥~


Hello, my name is Mary Ewing.  I am married to my best friend, Dean, and the Lord has blessed us with six wonderful children.  God brought our family together with Hosanna’s family in 2007, and we have been blessed with a wonderful friendship between our families ever since.

Dean and I have been married for twenty-five years and as we have sought the Lord’s will for our lives, He has taught us so much about His heart for the poor and needy and how He wants us to give ourselves to helping the poor and needy in Jesus name.






God’s compassion and care for the “least of these”, meaning those who are needy and who lack daily necessities, is woven throughout the Bible.  God highly values the poor and the wounded, and we reflect Him when we care for the needs of the needy, both locally and globally.

I would like to share three practical steps you can take to develop a heart that reflects God’s heart in caring for the needy and oppressed.  I encourage you that this is a lifelong process, but it is wonderful to begin now while you are young.  I would also encourage you that there are no limits to how much God can use you as a channel of blessing to others.  He delights to take His children and use them to do impossible things.







In 2002, Dean and I found ourselves in transition.  God had led him to resign a position as a pastor and we were praying about what was next. We were discussing what approach he should take in looking for a new job, and he posed the question, "Should I look for the job that will make the most money or should I look for a job in ministry that may not pay as well?" We decided to read through the whole Bible and look specifically for what it said about money, possessions, how we spent our time and what should be important to us.  We did this independently, and the results changed our lives!  We discovered what God valued and it was so different than what the world around us valued.

I am currently studying through the book of Isaiah and one of my goals is to continue to build my understanding of God’s heart for the poor and needy.  Isaiah opens his book in chapter one with some amazing words. In Isaiah 1:10-20, God, through the prophet Isaiah, tells the people He is not pleased with their religious behaviors. He uses strong language to let them know their sacrifices are not acceptable in His sight. He issues a clear and unmistakable call in verse 16 and 17.

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;  Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good;  Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor;  Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." - Isaiah 1:16-17

The Lord is saying that He is not pleased with our “religious” behaviors, but He wants us to seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless (orphan), and plead the case of the widow.  Justice in this context means caring about those who are in need and working to make things right so they have what they need.

The theme of caring for the poor is woven throughout Isaiah. Another key passage is found in Isaiah 58. The whole chapter reiterates the message of Isaiah 1:16, 17. It is a sobering thought to think that God may not be pleased with our “worship and Christian activity” if it is devoid of a true heart of compassion and care for the needy.

I encourage you to study the Word of God yourself and seek out His heart. Ask Him to reveal His compassion to you. Take notes on what the Lord shows you through His Word. The Gospels are a great place to begin and read to know God’s heart. Matthew 25:31-46 is a key passage where Jesus explains how important it is to care for those who have less than we do.






Here in the United States, it can be easy to think that the needs in the world are small.  Most everyone around us here in the US has adequate food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care and education.  Even those we might feel are “poor” here, have food and clothing.  There are true situations of need here in the US at times, but we have to look beyond the US to see an accurate picture of global need.  I recently heard a statistic that the number of people in India who live on $2 per day or less is equal to or greater than the number of people in the entire United States.  We are an anomaly.  Most of the world has great need, and it is important that we learn about their need and about what we can do to help with their need.

Here are a few ideas to help you learn about the needs in the world.  Research specific countries and look at statistics related to education, health care and poverty.  Find reputable ministries and read their literature or look at their websites to help you understand the needs they are helping with.  I would suggest that Samaritan’s Purse is an excellent ministry to learn through.  They work all over the world and seek to go where needs are greatest. Compassion International is another reputable ministry that is working to bring help to children around the world.  It is important that you and your parents investigate a ministry, especially in how they handle their finances before you trust them as credible.

Read biographies about people who are helping others in Jesus name.  Kisses from Katie is an excellent biography of a young woman who is alive right now.  She felt the Lord calling her to Uganda and went in obedience to his call.  She adopted 14 young orphan girls before she was twenty-five years old and shares a beautiful story in her book.

There are local needs too.  I encourage you to learn about ministries in your community that are helping the needy.  These could be local food banks, crisis pregnancy centers, hospices, nursing homes, jail ministries and more.  One key thing to remember as you do this research is to not be overwhelmed by the need, instead, take your knowledge of the need and say to the Lord, "I am available to be used by you, please show me what to do."



This is an exciting step!  God can and wants to use you!  Right where you are, right now, He can use you.

He can use you in ways you might think are impossible.  When we understand God’s heart for the poor and needy around us locally and globally, and when we offer ourselves to be used by Him, He will do amazing things.  We don’t always know the impact of what we do, but we can rest that in eternity we will know.  Helping the poor happens by helping one person at a time. Once we learn about the need, it is important to remember that the burden for all of the needs is carried by the Lord.  We listen to Him, and we help one here and one there.  We pray for one here and one there or we pray for a nation or an issue such as need for education.

How can you help practically?  Here are some specific ideas to get you started. Pack a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child.  There are wonderful stories on the Samaritan’s Purse website about the impact these shoeboxes are having around the world.  They are delivered to some of the neediest children around the world and whole families and villages have come to Christ because of a shoebox gift.  Pack one, and ask God if He might stretch your faith and have you pack two or five or ten?  If you want to give, He will provide.

I am aware of a young person who recently felt the desire to give to help the poor and needy. This young person did not have any income but prayed God would make a way. Three separate odd jobs came his way, and the Lord gave him the opportunity to earn money to give to the poor.

Another idea is to sponsor a child through Compassion International or another reputable organization.  Another idea is to learn of a need in the world and trust God to channel money to you so you can meet that need.  Local ideas could be volunteering at a pregnancy center, or a food bank or a sport’s ministry to kids.  I encourage you to seek out Christian ministries where the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared along with the practical help.

I hope some of these ideas will spark other ideas for you. There is so much joy that comes to us as we give ourselves, our time and our money to help the poor and needy. God’s love shines very brightly through us and people’s hearts are opened to his gospel message.

Our family operates a non-profit ministry that helps the poor in seven countries around the world. It is called Hearts of Hope, and, if you are interested, we would be glad to send you our e-newsletter each month. The e-newsletter shares what God has been doing in each country the month before and it is encouraging to see Him at work. If you would like to receive our newsletter, you could let Hosanna know, and she can connect us. The website for our ministry is:  http://www.heartsofhopeministry.com

The website does not have a lot of specific information because it could put our partners at risk. Our e-newsletter is not online and we share current photos and stories through it.

May the Lord bless you as you follow Him…

Mary Ewing



Aug 15, 2017

Project Love: Neighbors


Here's the next part of Project Love in a vlog post.  =)



Psst...if the video didn't work for you, don't fear!  Here's a link to it on Youtube.  =)


I hope that inspired you to step out and love your neighbors!  Do you have other ideas to share?  How are you going to start loving others in a new way?

Aug 8, 2017

Project Love: Hospitality || guest post


For this next slice of our blog series, I asked my mom to write her thoughts on hospitality - an important next-step in the process of loving others.  Although she could claim to be an introvert, she is so good at stepping out and loving people by welcoming them into our home with open arms.  She inspires me...and I hope what she wrote is also an encouragement to you.  =)




Hospitality.

What images come to mind when you hear that word?  Fine china?  Aprons?  Perfectly prepared food and table linens?  Does that word make you feel stressed and think of how much work is entailed?  Or maybe "hospitality" makes you excited?

This word encompasses so much more than just having a Christmas party or inviting important guests to your home.  For extroverts, hospitality might be the easiest thing in the world that just makes you so happy.  For introverts, it might seem overwhelming to actually invite people into your safe, private place called home.

If you look at the definition of what Noah Webster has to say and mesh that with what the Bible has to say, I think you will get a far wider, more relaxing picture in your head that hospitality can encompass so many different aspects to meet each of our personality needs!

Webster defines hospitality as,
"The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."
See, no mention of elaborate 5-course meals, fine china, or fancy dresses!

I have heard many people say that hospitality "just isn’t my gift." I’ve heard excuses ranging from "I'm not a good cook," "my house is not very nice," "it is just not my season," or "it would feel weird to invite people into my home."  This post is NOT to condemn you if you don’t practice this but to encourage you that it is important to practice hospitality, not just to bless others but because you will be blessed in return. Let’s start with a few verses from the Bible on this topic:
"Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." - 1 Peter 4:9
In Romans 12 under the heading “behaving as a Christian,” it explains some characteristics of Christians:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." - Romans 12:9-13  (emphasis mine)
The last passage I would like to share is in 1 Timothy 5.  It explains that if a widow's family is not available to take care of her, the church should, but it lists requirements that the widow must have in order to qualify. (and thus probably good guidelines for us as well)

  • 60 years old
  • Wife of one man
  • Well reported for good works
  • Brought up children
  • Lodged strangers
  • Washed the saints’ feet
  • Relieved the afflicted
  • Diligently followed every good work

Whew, that is quite a list.   It can feel overwhelming just to read that list, but let’s remember the heart of those qualities.  Jesus wants us to just love others, whatever that means for each person we encounter.  Most will not require their feet to be washed (thankfully), but how much would it mean to that elderly person down the street to just come over for dinner and hear the laughter of children in your home?  How about the single mom who would love to visit and have adult conversations while her children play with new friends?  Or the new couple who just moved from out of state who don’t know anything about the community - to have someone they can ask about garbage service or where to go for car repair or which veterinarian is good for their dog, Spanky?

I could give dozens of examples of people who would be incredibly blessed by coming into YOUR kitchen, feeling the love of your family, having a listening ear, and leave feeling connected and important. I know you have people in mind right now as you’re reading!! 

Now the practical part.  HOW to do this?

First, just invite them.  Does your family have anything on the calendar Friday?  Great.   Let’s invite those neighbors across that street that we have waved at a million times and don’t know anything about them.  Are they busy?   How about another neighbor?  Older person from church? 

It’s good to ask if they have any food restrictions... and go from there.  Usually Italian food or chicken is a safe first meal.  Spaghetti or lasagna, garlic bread and a salad?  Of course an easy dessert.  You can even just buy ice cream - who doesn’t love THAT?    Or some baked chicken and easy side dishes.    If you really aren’t good at cooking, how about inviting them over for pizza and picking up pizza just before meal time?  No stress!




To be helpful, I will include the recipe that I almost always serve for first time guests.  It’s very easy, and we’ve never had anyone not love it.


And that's it!  You can serve with a salad and bread if you want to.

So your challenge for the week:   Think of one neighbor or anyone else that comes to mind that would be blessed by your hospitality.  (remember: friendly and generous reception - not perfect food or spotless house.)   Invite them this weekend….and prepare to be blessed yourself!!!!




About the Author:

Misti is a tie-dye wearing, bright paint loving, homeschool mom to 9 sweet savages.  She spends her day changing the world by doing laundry, cooking incessantly, teaching students from Master's degree to preschool, helping younger, overwhelmed moms, and doing more cooking.  Living on a farm and raising an army of children is no easy job, but she loves every minute of it.  Misti is thankful to be happily married to her husband of 23 years as they live the adventure of following an awesome God.

Aug 1, 2017

Loving our Families || Discussion




July is almost over.

Actually, by the time you read this July will be over.

Isn't it crazy how time vanishes into mist?  In only a handful of weeks summer break will be over and gone.  School and busyness and life at full speed will be upon us.

It's discouraging, isn't it?

One area in particular makes me squirm.  I remember one of my little brothers summarizing my last school semester.  He said that I was always upstairs in my room.

I was doing homework!  I was reading textbooks and answering forums!  I was struggling to stay on top of things!

But all my little brother saw was a too-busy big sister not having time to just be friends.  To enjoy life.




As summer draws to a close, we need to decide who we will be.  That busy sister who doesn't have time for anything else?  Or the one who constantly focuses on love even when it's hard?

Over this last month, we've talked about family relationships.  Before we move on, I would like to get together and discuss life.  I shared about my family; can you tell me about yours?  How are you working towards developing meaningful relationships?  And how will you continue this during the busy days ahead?

God's love for us is amazing.  He has adopted us into His royal family.  He has given us a crown of talents, abilities, and *cough* time.  How do we represent His Holy Name?

If we want lives that count, let's do it.

How are you going to make a difference right now to turn your brothers and sisters into allies, fellow prayer warriors, advisers, and friends?

We need to start today.  If we don't, we probably never will.




(ps) I don't know what our cows have to do with this post, but I think they're cute.  Daisy and Tofu are part of our family too, right??  =)