June 28, 2011

are you better or bitter?

I had the opportunity to attend a Beth Moore conference in Lincoln last weekend. The topic was "Knowing Better," and she split her teaching into two sections: "When 'better' is 'bitter'" and "When 'better' is 'better.'" I've dealt with bitterness in my life (and even blogged about it before, though I didn't really explain at the time that I was dealing with it), and I thought that was something I'd "overcome." God must have chuckled and shaken His head when I had that thought!

Two of Beth's four points on bitterness really hit home for me. They're perhaps not bitterness in the traditional sense of the word (I can still recall how it felt to be bitter--that ball of bile in the pit of my stomach, the tension whenever the subject I was bitter about came up--and that's certainly not how I feel in regard to these things), but left unchecked, they could certainly lead to a deep, debilitating bitterness.
  1. When better is before. Beth made a great point here when she said we tend to romanticize the past. While I certainly had the most fun of my life in college, I know it wasn't the perfect time--but all I remember are the good things. So it's easy to look back and say, "I wish I could go back!" This definitely applies to my church experience. I attended an amazing church in college. When I left Indiana, I mourned leaving Christ's Covenant behind. For the first time in my life, I had actually anticipated going to church! Not so when I arrived home. For four years, I attended two churches at various times, and I wasn't really happy at either of them. Finally, after I prayed about it, I felt God leading me to my current church. It's not perfect--and there are still aspects of Christ's Covenant that I miss--but I'm confident I am where God wants me to be. So confident, in fact, that I just became a member! So this point for me was more of a reminder of where I've been ... and a reminder not to go back there.
  2. When better is someone besides me. Beth spent much of Friday night camped out on this point ... and with good reason, as she was speaking to a group of women! We're known for comparing ourselves to each other. While this isn't an area I have much trouble with, one thing Beth said really stuck out to me: "True humility is wrapped in security." False humility--saying, "Oh, it was nothing," when praised in an effort to get the other person to reaffirm us--is actually a twisted form of pride. I'd heard this before, but it was a good reminder.
  3. When better is the route I didn't take. Ouch! This one screams "Becky!" all over it. It's wrapped up in the idea of "if only." If only I'd accepted the offer to stay on at the publishing company where I interned in college. If only I'd gone through with my plans of getting my library science degree. If only I'd pursued another job after paying off my loans. If only, if only, if only. Here's the thing--I am basically happy with my life. Of course there are things I wish were different, but over all, it's good. I like my job. I love my students. I enjoy being able to see my family all the time. But when I start dwelling on the "if onlys," I become discontent so quickly.
  4. When better is what you should have known. Can I get an "amen"? "I should have known better than to ..." Or how about this one: "I did know better, and I did it anyway!" I could completely identify with this, as I tend to continue to beat myself up over things I've done or said--sometimes even years after the fact! Here, Beth pointed out the difference between regret and repentance: regret looks back, while repentance moves on
God used this conference to point out areas in my life I need to work on, as well as to show me how far I've come in other areas. It was a wonderful time, and I'm so glad I was able to experience it with my mom!

    June 16, 2011

    what's the score? (part 2)

    Many moons ago, I wrote about my love for movie scores. I've been thinking about scores again recently, thanks to a viewing of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (which has a fantastic score that I purchased after watching the movie), and I realized it's time to update my "favorites." I use the term favorites loosely, as it seems I'm constantly falling in love with a new score, but here they are for now. And yes, I do still listen to the scores listed before--especially The Lake House. That music just touches my soul, I guess. (I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but I don't know how else to put it!)

    by Chris Lennertz. Adam is an indie film about a man with Asperger's Syndrome and the woman he loves. It's a nice little film that--in the way of most indie films--didn't have the happy Hollywood ending I was hoping for. What stuck out to me most as I watched the film was the score. I don't know if that's a good thing--shouldn't the score be there to aid the telling of the story, rather than overshadow the plot? Still, I knew I needed the music, so I found it on half.com for not very much money. In the year that I've had the soundtrack, two of the songs have found their way into my iTunes Top 25 most played. (This is a soundtrack with five selections from the score and seven songs used in the film--and they're great songs by artists including Joshua Radin and The Weepies.)

    by Samuel Sim. This music, from the recent BBC adaptation of Emma (which I loved), is just so happy! Every time I hear it, it makes me smile.

    Finding Neverland
    by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. I've never seen Finding Neverland, but I heard some of the music on Cinemix, an online radio station, and really enjoyed it. From start to finish, it's a beautiful score. It is perfect for playing at the office--or to go to sleep with!

    Mr. Holland's Opus
    by Michael Kamen. Mr. Holland's Opus is the first movie score I can remember noticing while watching a film. I saw the movie with my mom and cousins, and I loved the music. I decided to buy the score for my mom's birthday. So I went to the music store in the Grand Island Mall (back when music stores were cool and the Grand Island Mall actually had stores that you entered from inside the mall) and searched through the soundtracks section until I found Mr. Holland's Opus. Unfortunately, I didn't yet know the difference between "soundtrack" and "score," and what I bought was not at all what I wanted! Of course, Mom was very kind about it, but I'm pretty sure she would have enjoyed the score a lot more than the soundtrack. A few years ago, I finally picked up the score. It was as good as I remembered.

    Much Ado About Nothing
    by Patrick Doyle. Though I was charmed by this score several years ago (and purchased it at that time), it had completely fallen off my radar screen until I showed the film in my Advanced Reading class. As soon as the movie began playing, my love for the music came rushing back, and I've been listening to the score ever since. (If you haven't seen the movie, you should definitely check it out. I know Kenneth Branagh received more acclaim for some of his other Shakespearean adaptations, but I think he's at his best here. Also, after I watched this film with my class, I decided to watch other Branagh films, which led me to Hamlet, which led to the score, which led to this post. So if you wish I wouldn't write about music, blame Kenneth Branagh!)

    Pride and Prejudice
    by Dario Marianelli. While I prefer the Colin Firth version of the movie (which isn't to say this version is unenjoyable), Marianelli's score for the 2005 film is far superior to the music from the miniseries. The strings and piano, which feature prominently in many tracks, are simply gorgeous. I love the theme that works its way through the entire score--so beautiful!

    June 15, 2011

    mock not, lest ye be mocked

    It has been a long running joke in our office that the business manager talks to himself. His office is situated just off the main office entryway, and throughout the day, we can hear him talking. It's frequently difficult to discern if he's talking to one of us secretaries or to himself, and it has taken me years to learn it's safer not to respond to him--if he's really talking to me, he'll say it again!

    Tom is now on vacation, and I'm using his office while he's away. I've learned a very valuable lesson: what goes around comes around, and it's now my turn to be mocked. Tom's office seems to have some sort of sound amplification properties because everything that I say can be heard by people in the main office.  Throughout the day, my mom has often burst into giggles. Why? Because I've said something--quietly--that she heard. And apparently, I talk to myself a lot more than I ever thought! I'm now hyper-conscious of what I say. I feel like I'm stifling myself.

    To top it off, apparently the magic office amplification doesn't work both ways, and I can barely hear the people in the main office. When someone talks to me, I respond quite loudly, thinking that because I can't hear them, they can't hear me. My volume makes my mother laugh even harder.

    When Tom returns, I'll probably still chuckle when he says something to himself ... but I'll be chuckling with compassion, as someone who has been there!

    June 12, 2011

    an enjoyable weekend

    It's been a while since I've done a list post, but it's a pretty easy way to tell you about my weekend! Here are a few things I enjoyed:
    • X-Men: First Class. Going into this movie, I was curious, but I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as Magneto and Professor X respectively made this film absolutely fantastic. I loved the look back at their friendship and their falling out, and some questions from the first films, such as "How could they have ever been friends?" and "Why is Professor X in a wheelchair?" are answered. There's also a highly enjoyable (though vulgar) cameo by Hugh Jackman that had the entire theater in stitches. In my opinion, this is the best X-Men movie yet.
    • Prom and Prejudice. This is one of my book review books, and, as you can probably guess by the title, it's based on Pride and Prejudice. I know some people are quite snobbish about their Jane Austen and will turn up their noses at any adaptation. I, however, love a good remake--as evidenced by my affection for Lost in Austen--and I thoroughly enjoyed this version set in a private high school (so much so that I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it). A review will be coming soon!
    • Canoeing down the Platte. Those of you from Nebraska know that the words canoeing and Platte River usually don't go hand in hand. This time of the year, the river is often so low that you could easily walk across it. This year, however, the river is exceptionally high. So a few friends and I got together and canoed from Chapman to Central City. It's about 10 miles, and it took us just about three hours. The highlight? Seeing probably 20 deer--including some fawns and three deer that swam across the river. The weather was beautiful, the company was enjoyable, and Beth and I had more time to talk than we've had since she moved back a month ago. Overall, a fantastic afternoon!
      The girls in our canoe.
    • The guys in their canoe.
    •  Spending time with Val. She's moving to Indiana in just under a month, so we won't have many more days like today. We got Qdoba for lunch, watched Point Break (don't waste your time--but we'd been wanting to watch it ever since we visited Cannon Beach, Oregon, two years ago as some of it was filmed there), got coffee, and went to another movie. Speaking of that movie ...
    • Super 8. This is the new J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg film, and it's absolutely fantastic! Set in Ohio in 1979, it's about a group of middle school kids who are making a zombie film when a train wreck causes the military to overtake the town, and someone or something starts terrorizing the citizens. I can't really say any more than that, but trust me, this movie is worth your time! The cast--especially Joel Courtney as Joe and Kyle Chandler as Joe's father Jack--is fantastic. Also look for a 7th Heaven kid in a decidedly unCamden-approved role. And be sure to stay while the credits roll for a look at the completed zombie film.

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