Monday, April 28, 2008

The Kite Runner

We would like to pass along a movie recommendation.  This weekend, we rented The Kite Runner.  It is a story of two boys growing up in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion and what happens to them as a result of decisions they make (and decisions they cower away from) as well as how the destruction of their country affects them as adults.  We found it an extremely moving film.  The title comes from a sport that was popular in Afghanistan involving "battles" with kites where the string was coated with glue and very fine glass and the goal was to cut the string of another kite.  The coverage of the war in Iraq heavily overshadows any information about what is going on in Afghanistan.  Although the time frame of this film ends in 2000, we found it illuminating to learn more about that country and the changes it has endured.

We would strongly recommend this film!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seasons of life - all in one day

A lot went on on Saturday April 26. Well, I guess a lot goes on everyday, but today we saw a lot happen in the lives of those close to us.

Our friends, Brandon and Crystal Barnett, welcomed their son Austin into the world this morning at 7:00. All are doing well. They experienced the very beginning of life.

Other friends of ours, Jeremy and Shelley, attended the funeral of Shelley's grandmother today. Sadly, they experienced the very end of life.

And today, we were able to attend the wedding of my step-cousin, Phil Alexander, to a beautiful woman named Penny. We were able to share in the joy and celebration of the creation of a new family. Phil is the son of my uncle, Harold Alexander, and the last time I met him was at Barb and Harold's wedding some 29 years ago. It was great to see him and all the Alexanders again. At the reception, we were able to sit with one of Penny's sons and meet some of her extended family. We couldn't be happier for Phil and Penny!

But possibly one of my very favorite moments from todays "seasons of life" display was observing my Aunt Barb at the wedding and particularly at the reception. Those of you who know Barb are aware of her health struggles she has faced over the years. I haven't seen her as happy as she was today for a really long time, and it made me so glad to be able to witness it. Jenetta and I almost never bring cameras to weddings so we can enjoy the event and not even think about work and photos. But I wish I had brought one along to capture the scene I observed. A description will have to suffice:

After dinner and before the toasts, someone was playing music over the sound system and "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond came on. (Apparently it's not just for Red Sox games!) Barb got up and started swaying around to the music in the aisle. No one else was dancing - there really wasn't any room. It was just Barb enjoying the song by herself. The swaying eventually turned into country line-dancing, which I guess is just fine for Neil Diamond songs! She was really having a great time and people that were walking through the aisle to get another drink or go for seconds on the food had to kind of scoot around her. It was great! She had a grin on her face that brought real joy to my heart.

After the song was over, I told her how happy I was for her, and we had a nice hug. She explained that she only knows one country line dance move, but when the beat is right, she has to go for it and dance away. Good for you Barb!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

God in the lilacs

We were allowed to be a part of God's plan this week. The circumstances are very sad, but the working of God is really cool.

Two of our very closest friends are Jeremy and Shelley. They host our home group each Thursday night. Shelley is very close to her grandmother who has been fighting cancer for some time now. Early this morning, we received the news that she has gone to be with the Lord. The many months of this process has been very difficult for Shelley, and it has been tough for us to watch her feel so distraught.

On Thursday afternoon, I worked in Julian. If you don't know about Julian, it is our local mountain community. The town is at about 4000 feet and it gets some snow in the wintertime. It is known for its apple orchards, apple pies, and gold mines. The main street of Julian features many homes built in the late 1800's (which by Southern CA standards is practically prehistoric).

I met with a client at her office before we went out to photograph a home. She had a 5 gallon pail of lilacs by the front door, and I asked her about them. "They are for sale. I am trying to raise money for my daughter's athletic team trip to Las Vegas," I was told. I thought I would try to purchase a sprig or two to bring home to Jenetta. We had lilacs growing in our yard in Minnesota, and I remember my dad cutting them and bringing them into the home. Well, my client didn't really want to sell just a bit. She wanted to sell the whole bucket for $15. I felt that was too much for a whim, so I declined. "OK," she said, "I'll give them to you for $5." So I wrapped up the whole bucket's worth of purple flowers and we headed out. As I was driving home, I wondered what I was going to do with that many bunches of lilacs.

Here is where God's plan comes in.

On the way down the hill, I thought of Shelley. She and her family lived in Julian for a time when she was a little girl. I thought she might appreciate having some of them as it would remind her of home. Jenetta cut some and put them in a vase for us to bring to home group.

We didn't even see Shelley that night at her home because we later found out that her grandmother was very near to passing on. At that time, they felt it was only a matter of hours. It turned out to be two more days. During this time, Shelley's family has been very close together. They have been singing hymns and praying together at her grandmother's side.

I don't know the whole story, but what I have been told is that they were talking about lilacs and how it was her grandmothers favorite flower. (The funeral flower arrangements are all going to be lilacs.) They were saying that it would be really neat for them to have some lilacs in her room and that they thought she would like that. But it is a good hour drive to Julian, and none of them wanted to leave. Then we showed up at Jeremy and Shelley's home with a bunch of lilacs in a vase. God provided it through us! Jeremy was there to greet us and then he returned to where Shelley's grandmother is staying. We had home group without them that night. When he left, he told me about how they were just talking about lilacs and he was really touched that God had provided them. So he took the vase with him.

I think it is pretty cool to be used by God - even in a small way.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Red - Already Over video

In February, I was able to work as an assistant director on a video shoot for Red. I had a great time, and I really enjoyed working with the band and the whole production team.

They put the video on youtube. Check it out!

They are playing in Anaheim next week. Sadly, I have plans for that evening or I would drive up to see them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Our Tribute

We were saddened by the loss of Charlton Heston. So our tribute was to watch Planet of the Apes last night. Rest in peace, Taylor.

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