The Oscars…and a Few of My Personal Favorites…

Did you watch the Oscars last night?  Confession: I did not. In fact, I have two confessions: I’ve only seen one movie in a theater in the last 48 years! I wait until they come out on video and I either know they’re going to be good…or I can keep one hand on the controller to press the fast-forward button if things start heating up. Those confessions aside, I thought it might be a good time to pass along some of my favorite finds from 2010 (even though they may have been produced much earlier):

Miss Potter,  A+, wonderful costume drama on life of Beatrix Potter

The Young Victoria, A+ based on the life of Queen Victoria. Loved it!

Invictus:  A+. Based on inspirational true story of Nelson Mendala, who became the president of S. Africa after 30 years in prison.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, BBC production, sort of a Victorian family

Oceans by Disney, A+

Flyboys, based on true story of WW1 pilots

Nicholas Nickleby: BBC, 200 min. version of Charles Dicken’s famous tale; very well done.

Toy Story 3, Pixar A+! Very sweet!

October  Sky, A Based on true story of “The Rocketeers,” 4 high school boys in West Virginia who work on how to build a rocket in hopes of winning a national science contest

The Glenn Miller Story: A+; Inspirational true, G-rated story of his band and sweet marriage to his encouraging wife, Helen. He joined WWII

Something the Lord Made, A+ (with Clear Play). Marvelous story of Dr. Blalock and his black assistant, Viviane Thomas, who made history by starting cardiac surgery

The Tunnel A+ NR 2 hr. 47 min. true story of German Olympic athlete attempting to rescue his sister after the Berlin Wall went up. German with English subtitles

Temple Grandin. A+ true story of an autistic woman who started to talk at 4 and eventually got a Ph.D. She now teaches at Colorado State U.

Bella, Christian-themed story really pro-life and not having an abortion; kids, Alan, and I all enjoyed (although the flow was a little slow)

China Cry, A+, by Trinity Broadcasting Network; based on true story of Nora Lam’s experience

An American Rhapsody. A, based on true story of couple fleeing Hungary around 1950

Little Dorrit, Lovely BBC mini-series by Charles Dickens

Extraordinary Measures, A+ (except some profanity), 2010 with Harrison Ford, based on true story of a couple trying to find medicine to help their two children with Pompe syndrome (a type of muscular dystrophy)

Places of the Heart, A:  Sally Fields and Danny Glover star in a moving story of young widow trying to survive during the depression; issues of adultery and racial prejudice but from a pretty healthy perspective

John Adams, HBO, 7-part historical drama about the Revolutionary War; largely good, but some gratuitous gore and sex that we fast-forwarded

Breach: Based on true story of biggest leak in FBI history; solved Feb. 2001; bad language; one short, bad scene; but otherwise an A+ movie

Patch Adams, based on the inspirational true story of Hunter Adams, a medical student who started an (ongoing) free clinic for the poor. Some language and crudity (actually, we have a “Clear Play” which can filter out sex, extreme violence, and bad language…it makes almost any movie “G” rated, but a fast-forward button works almost as well, except for language)

Last Chance Harvey;  A. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, unlikely friendship develops between middle-aged single British lady and older long-divorced man.  Very touching; set in London; deals with pain and loss from divorce; very well acted

Downfall: Excellent film based on memoirs of Hitler’s secretary; no sex or profanity, but extremely violent and some nudity. Heartbreaking depiction of the horrors of war. In German with captions.

Paths of Glory, Kirk Douglas, very sad WWI movie about valor and corruption in leadership, B&W; setting 1914

Downton Abby, A+ BBC mini series about English nobility struggling to save their house. This one was actually produced in 2010. The only problem is…it’s so good that they’re making another season (and maybe another and another??). At any rate, if you watch the 7 programs, you’ll be left waiting to see what will happen!!

And, the list could go on…is that 24 movies in honor of 24 categories? Maybe more, but that’s some of the best we’ve found in the last year or so. Do you have any favorite movies to recommend?

“Whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure…lovely….of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”

(Philippians 4:8)

Lois Pell: From Rest Haven to her Haven of Rest

Loey Pell graduated from home to heaven this week at the tender age of 91. She was one of those rare, almost ethereal saints who lived from birth until near death in the same home. The youngest of 10 children and one of six sisters who never married but lived together with their brother Will, using their singleness to give them more time to focus on ministering to others. This remarkable family started several wonderful ministries, including Gospel Folio Press and Rest Haven Homes, where both my parents and Alan’s Aunt Annie spent their last years. Just to give you a feel for the quality of care this home provides, when my mother moved in (after breaking her hip and with advanced Alzheimer’s), I asked her how she liked being there. “I like it; it’s safe.” My dad joined her a few years later, and I asked him, “How are they treating you?” With a bright smile he responded, “If anything, they’re too good to me!” That speaks volumes both for Rest Haven and for Lois’s oversight.

Alan spent 10 years on the board of Rest Haven with Lois, and Alan and I spent 10 years serving the medical needs of the folks there. I was really disappointed when Alan’s full-time job became so demanding that we had to give up our little Tuesday afternoon clinic. I felt blessed every week. You can never out-give God!

John Bjorlie (among others) spoke about Loey. He mentioned many of her strengths and then (with a twinkle in his eye) went on to list some of her weaknesses: she was too believing, too forgiving, too gracious, too kind…you get the picture! People sometimes took advantage of her goodness. But, can you ever be too much like the Master?!

I’ll tell you my two favorite stories about her. They may be little known, because they’re my own, but they’re very indicative of the type of person she was. Shortly after we moved to GR, she discovered that I loved flowers and so invited me over to dig out all the little volunteer Rose of Sharon bushes I wanted! I think we have about 10 now blooming here and there around our yard each August as a constant reminder of how Lois’s love sprouted many new affections in others. Also, once when our oldest three boys were teenagers, Lois drove them somewhere. Now, mind you, she was probably already in her late 70’s or early 80’s. She got behind an “elderly” lady who was traveling below the speed limit, but Lois, as always, was in a hurry! She waved her hand in the air and declared, “Sleep at home, lady! We do!” She was not only a grand person, she was a total character too!  So, we will all miss her, but I bid her a fond farewell with her own words, knowing that she is at last sleeping at home in her eternal haven of rest!

“Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven” (Psalm 107:30)

One Year’s Worth of Posts Later…

This is my 365th post since starting to blog three years ago, and I discovered with astonishment and joy that this site  has been visited almost 30,000 times! “Summer Setting” was intended to have a double meaning, expressing both the sentiment that the setting of my life is still sunny and warm—like  summer sunshine—but that I am aging and this wonderful “Indian Summer” season will transition into fall soon.  Like the shimmering sun disappearing behind a vast expanse of ocean, the summer of my life is setting.

I want to thank each person who has cared enough to look in on my life and  walk the pilgrim road with me a little. Thank you for this wonderful privilege! It’s my earnest desire to bring joy to you as I share what I’m learning about the life and love that God has granted me.

Because of my husband’s prostate cancer, I’ve been reading a lot about life and death issues lately. I found this touching quote from Walt Wangerin’s Letters from the Land of Cancer (written as he was preparing to meet his Maker): “Good night, good friends. The nice thing about these letters is that you can quit reading them at any paragraph. No guilt to you, no fear in me that I might have burdened or bored you.”

And so it is with me too! I will begin my “second” year’s worth of letters—casting them into cyberspace like crumbs upon the waters—with the hope of encouraging whomever God sends my way…and very eager to hear anything you’d like to share with me. May the Lord bless you!

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

The Last Lecture

“Brick walls aren’t there to keep us out; they’re there to show us how badly we want something.”  Randy Pausch

I’m sure my nephew Gene (above), who loves rock climbing, would identify with that wonderful quotation by Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University until he died of pancreatic cancer, just months after his initial diagnosis. When Julia heard that I was studying for a presentation of “Issues on Death and Life” for my Sunday school class, she lent me Randy’s truly memorable book called The Last Lecture, which is really more about how to live life than how to face impending death, although Randy wrote on both issues with passionate courage and irrepressible zest.  What an uplifting book!

Just to whet your appetite, here are a few witty sayings to ponder from the dozens that Randy scattered like seeds throughout his lecture: 1. If there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it! 2. You can’t change the hand you’re dealt, but it’s up to you how you play your hand. 3. Self-esteem isn’t given; it’s built by learning to do something that’s too hard! 4. No matter how bad things are, you can always make them worse…or better. 5. Be the first “penguin” (to try diving though the hole in the ice, even if you get eaten alive and fail). Be willing to gamble and be a glorious failure. Failure is often not just acceptable, it’s essential. 6. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. 7. If you can find your footing between two cultures, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds. 8. Make a decision: Are you going to be a Tigger or an Eeyore? Enjoy every moment of life!

Well, if you have 76 minutes to invest some night, you can watch his lecture on U-tube just by goggling Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.”  I think it’s possibly the most upbeat, happy lecture I’ve ever heard on how to live by a guy who was just about to die!

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)

For Women Only

Well, I didn’t mean that exactly. Don’t take it personally…it’s just the name of this book by Shaunti Feldhahn, who’s a “best selling author, nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, and public speaker…holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and has worked on Wall Street and Capitol Hill.” Beyond her professional acclaim, “Shaunti and her husband, Jeff, are active leaders in their church, leading a home group that encourages married couples toward greater intimacy with God and each other.”

So, here’s another of my Jeeves’-style “improving books,” and despite the non-PC title, I really liked it! I don’t mean to give away the punch line, because the entire book is well worth an evening’s read, but I want to quote the results from the survey that I found most helpful. When men wrote in about what was most important to them but at the same time difficult to talk about in marriage, the results (in reverse order) look like this:

5. “I need more sex.” (10%)

4. “I need her to understand my burden to provide/how draining my job is.” (10%)

3. “I need more respect, in private and public.” (15%)

2. “I wish she’d make more of an effort to take care of herself.” (18%)

1. “I want her to know how much I love her.” (32%)

Numbers 2-5 didn’t surprise me in the least and are all well worth heeding, but Number 1 blew me away! I thought it would be obvious if a man loved a woman. It looks like about a third of America’s husbands feel like they love their wives more than their wives realize. I’m really pondering that one and suspect my husband and I would fall into that group. How about you?

Favorite Sites in Chicago

I love the “Windy City!” If you only had one day in Chicago, what would you want to see? The Sears Tower would be right at the top of my list. The view is fantastic!

The Natural History Museum is my all-time favorite Chicago museum, although Shedd Aquarium is a really fun place too.

Millennium Park is always wonderful, winter and summer!

But, we were going to meet up with Jonathan, who had flown in to Chicago on business. After living in Chicago for several years during graduate school, his very favorite place to visit became the Art Institute. So that’s where we spent most of the day!

Their latest exhibition is Marc Chagall’s American Windows. Don’t you love the vibrant colors?

My favorite pictures are those depicting the life of Christ, such as this extraordinary piece on the wedding feast at Cana.

Besides the Renaissance masters, I am quite a fan of Renoir and Monet.

In fact, I am so enthralled with flower gardens in general and Monet in particular that I sweet-talked Alan into taking me to Monet’s home in Giverny once when we were visiting France. The gardens there in spring surpass the paintings! No wonder Monet spent countless hours painting all the varying shades of sunlight, shadows, and seasons near his own home!

Jonathan really enjoys modern art, and although some of it is fascinating, there are also pieces that remind me of Bullwinkle painting a snowstorm in Frostbite Falls…like pure white?… What’s that all about???

After all was said and done, Alan and I concluded that the very best “site” to see was our beloved son! What fun to catch up with him after all these months while he’s been teaching out west at Moody in Spokane!

And what a great way to celebrate the first day of our 39th year!

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8)

Presidents’ Day

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”—Jan. 8, 1790 “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” —George Washington

I, for one, am extremely grateful to live in a country where we elect our president, and I am happy to have the humble responsibilities of trying to be honest and faithful and of praying for our leaders rather than having to figure out how to do everything myself!! Can you imagine how hard it is to BE the president? What a grueling job! I am thankful for every man who has taken on such an overwhelming responsibility.

Pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2)

A Happy Thought for Sunday Morning

1.      Christ beside me, Christ before me, 
	Christ behind me King of my heart; 
	Christ within me, Christ below me, 
	Christ above me never to part. 

2.	Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand, 
	Christ all around me shield in strife; 
	Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting, 
	Christ in my rising light of my life.

3.	Christ beside me, Christ before me, 
	Christ behind me King of my heart; 
	Christ within me, Christ below me, 
	Christ above me never to part. 
Text: St. Patrick's Breastplate; adapt. by James Quinn 

38th Anniversary…and Looking Forward to What?!?

The story is told of Earl and Bubba, who were quietly sitting in a boat fishing. Suddenly Bubba says, “Think I’m gonna divorce the wife – she ain’t spoke to me in over 2 months.” Earl ponders thoughtfully and then drawls, “Better think it over………….women like that are hard to find.”
Today is our 38th anniversary! Alan was in his usual hurry, so after we got up at 5:30 a.m., shared a devotional time, and I fed him breakfast, he was off to the race track. If Alan still has any energy after he’s done with work and radiation, we’ll go out for a simple dinner… maybe to Panera. Just to hedge my bets, I’m going to celebrate by going out to lunch with Julia and then possibly over to visit a dear friend who recently returned from Mayo Clinic. I know we’re super busy now, but I think busy beats bored…You know, I’m really thankful that Alan is still able to enjoy working hard, and I  hope we don’t retire for a long time! 🙂
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)