The Beauty of “War Room:” Don’t Believe the Bad Reviews

Last Wednesday I heard about the Kendrick Brothers’ movie “War Room,” at choir practice.

Our choir director said it was a prayerful movie and that anyone of faith should go see it. That despite the title, it had nothing do with actual, political war. That an unbeliever who saw this movie would be convinced of the power of prayer.

I was sold immediately. I’m a believer, but it sounded like just my kinda movie.

Thursday night, the next day, I was invited to my parents’ for dinner, along with a longtime family friend. She’s a mother of five, a grandmother and a devout Catholic woman– I grew up next to her family.  I had planned to invite her and my step-mother.

Once I brought it up, SHE said she had heard about the movie and planned to invite ME! We both enjoy movies and are single. My step-mother ended up canceling, but she and I kept our plans.

We decided to share a medium popcorn and she asked for butter– just like me. Apparently there wasn’t enough salt, so she poured a heaping pile of it in some napkins, then folded it up into her purse so that we could disperse it in the middle as we ate our way through it. It made me laugh.

I was so glad she went with me. Like me, she’s a movie talker!

After, she wanted to stay and watch the credits. We were the last to leave. Afterward, we went for dinner, which I hadn’t been expecting. I had the best time.

I won’t spoil it- -but I will share a few details.

It’s an ambitious movie that works because it’s focused on one small family, and the way the one family member’s decision to surrender to a disciplined prayerful life transforms the family’s circumstances in every area.

The hero is an elderly woman named Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie). I think she deserves an Oscar.

She’s got the sternness of Madea, with a little more empathy. She’s a small woman of fire– but she commands just as much respect as Madea. She’s the kind of woman who commands your attention. The kind of woman who refuses to accept your facade, no matter how good you think you are at hiding the pain. The kind of woman who reminds you that you deserve love. That you are accepted and forgiven, no matter what. The woman who teaches you about God’s grace.

Miss Clara notices something amiss in her realtor, Priscilla, and buts into her business in the loving way that older people tend to do. She wants to know about her marriage, her daughter, if she has a relationship with the Lord.

It parallels “Fried Green Tomatoes,” in that a woman’s life is set right by a deep friendship with an older woman, a mentor, who helps another adult woman who feels a bit lost.  This woman could have given up on a marriage that was held together only by contempt. Their own daughter felt unloved as a result of their constant fighting– there was no affection present at all. On the brink of infidelity, both partners in this marriage might have abandoned hope and ended up divorced.

But Priscilla (Elizabeth Jordan), the wife and mother who befriends Miss Clara, is so desperate she is open to prayer,

Miss Clara challenges her to fight FOR her husband, rather than with him. To fight in Jesus’ name.

And it’s Priscilla’s devotion to changing HERSELF, accepting her husband and loving him as is, and praying unceasingly for him, her daughter, and her own change of heart– that is what inspires.

It’s about acceptance, surrender, owning responsibilities, about amends.

About passing on your faith and what you’ve learned with others.

It’s about creating a physical space in your life to be with God and his Word– to pray for those you love most.

It’s about the Bible.

It makes me want to overhaul my own space– to create my own War Room. To eliminate the clutter.

To put the focus back where it out to be: on God.

I heard a lot of “That’s right!” and “Uh-huh,” and “AMEN!” in the rows surrounding us.

I know I will see this movie again.

Please, give it a chance. Even if you’re a non-believer. Especially if you are.

Advertisements

About People

That’s what prayer is, for me.

My favorite way to pray is connected with others in a group. Of course I pray alone. But the power is undeniable when you’re surrounded by others and you’re all in it together.

Today I’ve been blessed to stand connected hand-to-hand with others in prayer, twice. First at Mass. And just now with a small group of friends. I was stressed, and I mentioned this– not expecting anything. One friend went out of their way to assemble a few people together to pray with me over the situation that was worrying me.

And just that small act of faith alone reassured me.

If these people were willing to take time out of their day to pray over me, and one by one say a quick intention on my behalf, I have nothing to fear.

A Serious Runner?

“You look like such a serious runner!”

That’s what Eleise said last time we ran, on Wednesday. It was a quick one.

I loved hearing that!

And now it seems I’m dealing with my first injury. Which both makes me feel like a hardcore athlete and also anxious.

I JUST started! Coming up on a month. Just when I’m starting to get good.

It was Friday night that I strolled into Barnes & Noble and my left leg twisted. I felt a little pop and then my left knee buckled backward. Intense pain. I felt very unsteady and the only way to alleviate it was to stand in place on my right leg, gripping a display table. I pulled my left leg up behind me, holding it in place. I tried to walk and was unsteady. I got a few steps, then it happened again.

“I am way too young for this,” I thought.

Dejection. Then annoyance– what had I done wrong? I’ve been so careful not to push too hard as I’m starting out.  I’ve tried to be consistent with my distances but also not aggressive about beating my times and extending my runs just because I feel optimistic.

I’ve been trying to run smarter, not harder. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe it’ll clear it up on its own.

I was there to meet someone, so I didn’t go home. The pain lessened.

But I asked a few friends and was told to get it checked ASAP.

Because of work I couldn’t go yesterday– and calling off was not an option. Today isn’t either. Monday it is.

As per instructions given I used rest, ice, compression and elevation. It seems to be working.

I’ve always been quite resilient and healed quickly. I always always go to the doctor, just to be safe.

I’m still young.

So I’m going in first thing Monday morning.

I feel optimistic. I felt no pain today with the wrap. But when I unwound it tonight, the tenderness at the back of my knee was definitely there. But it’s not a throbbing pain. It seems fine now, hours later.

Already, I miss running. It’s become something I look forward to, part of my routine.

I hope it’s minor and won’t take more than a week or two– worst case scenario– to heal. That’s what I’ve been told to expect.

Also sadly, yesterday, just hours before it happened– a new friend invited me to join her, her husband and a mutual friend in a 5k in a few weeks. It would be my first!

I want to go. If I can at least walk it. Too soon?

I have no idea. I can only pray.

I want to recover and grow as a runner.

Maybe God’s telling me to slow down?

Please send a prayer for healing my way! Any advice, fellow running bloggers and readers?

Comment away!!

Where’s Mr. Miyagi? I wish he could do that hand-rubbing thing on *my* knee right about now!

Like Danielsan, I want back in the action.

A Soul on Fire! Singing, Sushi and Running

This was a great week for me– I gotta tell you!

Yesterday morning on the way to work I was listening to Christian radio and heard the perfect song– “Soul on Fire,” by Third Day. Even better, the lyrics talk about RUNNING!

I felt like God was telling me, “Keep it up, kiddo!” That’s the song I’ll be thinking of as I run.

It was a bit chilly tonight but I put on a stocking cap and a hoodie and I was good to go.

I took two days off running this week, Thursday and Saturday, to give my feet a break. Eleise and I kept to our schedule of three runs, and tonight I did .96 by myself without stopping! I checked my phone at the end of the block and then kept going till I hit 1 mile! And then I walked a bit, and ran to finish my goal of 1.75 miles– I made it 1.81 by the time I got home.

I’m getting mindful of what I’m eating, as well. I had a good lunch with my Dad today after Mass, and later tonight I passed on cheesecake and coffee.

Wednesday night was our choir’s last rehearsal of the summer! I had such a good time and will miss them for the next few months! Our choir director, David, ran threw several songs so that I could get up to speed and they could review. Rehearsals are laid-back and equal parts fun and music education.

The best part of our rehearsals is always at the end, when we stand in a circle, hold hands, and pray for whomever we feel called to with our intentions, be it out loud or just in our hearts. I specifically asked if we could get all of us together after Mass today and take a few quick pictures of us looking all spiffy in our choir robes! This is also the last week we’re wearing them– they’ll be taken to get cleaned and we’ll resume them when it cools off. Although I’ll miss the pride of wearing one, I do admit it’ll be a nice reprieve in the coming heat!

The whole choir (those I’ve met, some are currently not singing right now) wasn’t quite there today, but we got most of the group who have regularly been at rehearsals since I joined. I asked a tall gentleman to take pictures of us and he did! He was kind enough to take several, and I found two I really liked. We are diverse, happy, and coming together to share our joy in the Lord! I was so proud to post it today on Facebook.

And as for the sushi, I declared last night Date Night for myself and my book and went out for sushi! Why not? I got a lot done this week! I wanted to celebrate. I put on a cute outfit, a bit of perfume, and brought a book with me. Between the meal and the words, I had a great time.

Today is just one of those days that I feel grateful, motivated, and healthy.

I’m ready for June!!

Several Little Prayers, Hands Held, and Myriad Kisses: Leslie and Joe’s Wedding

Tonight, my best friend said “I do!” to the man for whom she prayed to meet.

In fact, they both pray. That’s what makes it so amazing.

The glue of their relationship is good, old-fashioned faith. It was so refreshing to behold.

I wanted to speak up at the reception, but was too shy. So this is my belated well-wishing speech.

The best moment of their wedding, for me, was just before the vows.

They had begun standing facing each other, holding both hands. I noticed he caressed her hands with his thumbs. They were both so calm. And mostly, they made eye contact the entire time.

The intimacy was astounding, just witnessing it.

As the officiant prayed over their impending marriage, Leslie and Joe stepped in together. So naturally– like magnets. Their arms and hands were relaxed. Toe-to-toe, their foreheads touched gently. With closed eyes and flickering smiles, they leaned on each other and listened.

Together, they prayed over their future as husband and wife. Just watching them, I had a deep feeling of peace.

The reason Leslie is my best friend is likely the same reason she captured Joe’s heart: she’s a woman of indefatigable faith. Knowing her has inspired me and helped me grow in my own faith. And although she’s a Non-Denominational Christian and I’m Catholic, we always find the middle ground: a love for God and Jesus. She knows her Bible. She has deep convictions, to which she adheres. But she truly loves and accepts people with unconditional love and friendship. She’s the one I call when upset– I know she’ll listen quietly, with attention. She doesn’t gossip. Your secret is always safe with her. And she always remembers.

She makes sure to “like” or comment on every post I write– because she knows how much it means to me.

She’s been my rock– always reminding me who I am, to never settle. To rely on God’s timing. To remember that what I want– a sober, Catholic man– IS possible. And that I deserve it. She makes me laugh. She enjoys doing the same corny things I do. She moved to Texas not long ago because she felt God calling her to go and I miss her dearly. She indulged my propensity to take silly pictures every time we got together. As single gals, we spent a few Christmas Eve’s together. They were our Christmas sleep-overs. We’d watch a movie, cuddle up with her American Bulldog, Hodgins, and then in the morning, wake up and listen to Bing Crosby on vinyl and make pancakes. We bowled together on NYE, both sober. We went to see a hair metal tribute band at several venues. One time I got horrendously lost, and it took me seriously a full HOUR and a half to arrive. Rather than do the easy thing and venture inside to watch the show, Leslie sat at a table near the door, keeping a vigil until I arrived. Because that’s the kind of friends she is– she cared more that I got there safe. She wanted to be available to text or answer if I called, to help direct me. Talk about a wonderful selfless gesture. And when I arrived, she didn’t glare at me or lecture me about making her wait, like many would have. She merely ran at me in a full-force hug, squealing with glee that I was THERE! It was a St. Patrick’s Day show. We ran in together and danced front row and took pictures as always.

She is the Elinor to my Marianne. She and I watched “Willow” together– my first time ever! She loves Madea.

Leslie is a prayer warrior. How many times we’ve cried over the phone to each other, prayed it out. Or when I was dejected or feeling frustrated, she’d text Bible verses to me. She gives her full attention. She’s always excited to pray. When she does pray for me and with me, her words sometimes surprise me, because she always sees the best in me– things I don’t always notice in myself, but desperately needed to know. Affirmations that fit right into my heart.

Before she moved, she bought me a little red pin button that says “You are Loved,” in red and white, so that I wouldn’t feel alone without her.

You see the light of Christ in her, if you’re lucky enough to know her. She’s the kind of woman who shines a light for God without trying. It’s in her generosity, her patience, her empathy.

Her beauty radiates. She is a woman comfortable with herself, secure in the love of God. She knows that she is the Daughter of a King.

She was the first person ever to call me her “Sister-in-Christ.”

My dear Leslie, I wish all the joy and blessings that the hearts of you and your Joseph can hold.

I love you, I miss you, I look up to you.

Although I was flying solo yet again tonight– I usually am at weddings– tonight I felt hopeful.

And although I’ve questioned myself for ending relationships because of religion, tonight I was reminded that I’m on the right path.

Because you showed me that I deserve and want a man who will also pray WITH me, and FOR me.

You showed me, and all of us, that it’s POSSIBLE. Thank you.

I leave you with *my* favorite Bible verse, which I feel you embody:

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

And I’m delighted that I caught the bouquet!!

That’s gotta be good foreshadowing.

A Gift about the Wrist and Medugorje

This morning I was talking to a new friend who asked about my necklace– with the Blessed Mother gold medal with roses around it.

Twice now, a woman has complimented it. I’ve been quietly hoping someone would notice. The first woman said it was “pretty” but never indicated she recognized it as religious.

When I explained to this woman today, she replied, “I have a devotion to the Blessed Mother, too.”

That made my heart swell. That’s a Catholic phrase— “a devotion to _____.” A moment of connection.

Simply, a devotion to any saint or Mary herself involves frequent prayer for their intercession, and a particular interest in reading about their lives and learning about their personalities and miracles on their behalf. We may connect with a particular aspect of their story or feel comforted, as if they offer a specific comfort that we need. We may feel a strong connection as if they are helping us on our journey, in small coincidences and signs that bring us resolve and assurance of the validity of our faith.

We may want to visit their shrines or make a pilgrimage to different sites known to be under their influence.

Devotion toward Mary, mother of Jesus, is called Marian devotion. There are distinctly Catholic terms of endearment for her, such as Our Lady, or the Blessed Mother. She has myriad other titles, but those are some of the most common I’ve noticed.

After this woman’s compliment, I noticed her bracelet. Very simple with wooden beads with a cross on it. I told her I liked it.

She smiled and took it off, offering it to me.

I was floored, especially when she explained she had received it the same way. A woman had given it to her just that way– she was passing it on to me.

As I held it and examined the cross, I saw the word Medugorje written in faint gold ink. It sort of glimmers– but you wouldn’t necessary notice it unless you were looking.

Medugorje is a city where the Blessed Virgin Mary is known to appear on a regular basis since 1981– many of the Faithful make pilgrimages there hoping for a miracle. People of all faiths, not just Catholics, flock there. Conversations and healings are common for those who make the journey to a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

This is also the second time since December 2014 that a stranger (both women) randomly gave me something associated with Medugorje. Immediately, no hesitation, with a smile.

I know many would dismiss these instances as superstition. But for me, they are affirmative and wonderful.

I have a new Catholic friend and a beautiful bracelet to remind me that Our Lady is with me.

Now that’s a blessing.

Confession and Peace

Tonight my parents invited me to go to Confession with them, at their parish. We had dinner first.

I was very sincere in my Confession, as always. I even cried a little bit. It always feels good, that release.

And I admit, I was a bit disappointed in the priest’s response– he gave me a pretty standard penance and absolution. I wished he had been more specific, more personal and comforting. But priests are human– maybe that’s just not his strength.

He WAS a very good listener. He didn’t rush me along or interrupt me at all. I really appreciated that. That, in itself, is a skill.

But nonetheless, I’m glad I went. Confession has been a yearly tradition between my father and I. Diane went with us tonight, which was nice.

I found the most relief once I exited the Confessional and kneeled in the pew.

I realized that the interaction with the priest is only one PART of Confession.

The part I like best is just being there quietly with my family. And seeing all around me, other faithful Catholics who are penitent.

The humility, the quiet. People praying, eye closed, hands folded.

A lot of people identify Catholic, but don’t fully engage with it. Actually going to Confession indicates someone is more devout, more serious in their practice.

Yes, you can pray on your own. But the fact that you care enough to GO to Confession– that’s the point.

This is one of the best parts of being Catholic.

Just seeing other believers together in the same room.