Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Pioneer Spirit: Alive and Well

This last week I had the privilege to accompany my friend and newly published author, Mindy Obenhaus, to beautiful Ouray, Colorado for a marketing and promotion trip for her debut novel, "The Doctor's Family Reunion."  The book takes place in Ouray, so what better opportunity to make sure the local bookstore and library had copies on hand.

Ouray is a beautiful, historic town in southwestern Colorado. As I learned more about the history of the town, I was amazed by the courage it took for the earliest inhabitants to settle there. It is a town surrounded by mountains (rich for mining), and the terrain is rough.  Even today's roads are narrow and filled with switchbacks that make traveling in any adverse weather a challenge.

But the beauty and majestic scenery of this town make it all worth it.  And I soon discovered that the pioneer spirit is still alive and well today. In talking with merchants and business owners, I quickly learned that once most people arrived in Ouray, they never wanted to leave. (Believe me, I understand that sentiment).  And so, they took a leap of faith.

Take the new owners of the wonderfully restored, historic Beaumont Hotel, Chad and Jennifer Leaver.  They lived in Colorado Springs and came to Ouray to celebrate Chad's birthday and enjoy a weekend away.  That birthday weekend turned into a life-changing event as they discovered that the Beaumont was up for sale. Something hit the heart of both Chad and Jennifer and they took a great leap of faith, gave up their jobs in Colorado Springs, and purchased this wonderful property.  They changed their entire life to live in Ouray and own this hotel/restaurant/spa.  (If you're there, you MUST try the fried Brie at the Beaumont Grill. SO GOOD! And take the daily tour of the hotel with Brian. It's great. Tell him I said hello.)

What kind of courage does it take to uproot your entire life like that?  It must be the same spirit that our ancestors had when settling the western states.

Brandy Ross of Switzerland of America Scenic Tours and Jeep Rentals had that same spirit, when she left Arizona to settle in Ouray.  I think there's a reason Brandy and I clicked so well this week. The tagline on her website asks "What's Your Adventure?"  And following my own advice from last week's blog to "live an adventurous life"... well... it seems like we want adventures and leaps of faith in our lives. (And  yes, I highly recommend doing a Jeep tour with Brandy's company. What a wonderful experience I will do again and again every time I'm in Ouray!)

Others I talked to in Ouray said similar things...that the first time they laid eyes on this town they never wanted to leave and they did whatever it took to make it work.  There's the gal who works as a cashier at the grocery store by day and a restaurant hostess by night. She does what it takes to live in such a beautiful place.  Many others work two jobs or take seasonal jobs to enjoy a life like nothing else in Colorado.

We all love to dream about taking a leap of faith like Chad and Jennifer, and Brandy have done. I think that pioneer spirit still resides in all of us, even in a small way.

For most of my fellow writers, it's the perseverance to keep working on their manuscripts and do what it takes to make them shine and get them published.

For others, it could be home-schooling their children and providing the opportunities for more educational field trips, and living that adventure together as they grow into adults.

And for someone else, it's a missionary trip through their church.

So, what's your adventure?  What leap of faith do you want to take, whether it's something as big as uprooting your entire life, or as little as being a pioneer in your current job?

After visiting with the wonderful residents of Ouray, Colorado, I can only applaud them and admire their pioneer spirit.

It inspires me to take my own leap of faith, however big or small that might be.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Live an Adventurous Life

This past Sunday, our pastor concluded his sermon series entitled "Empowered."  We've been reading from the book of Acts about the early church.

In Sunday's message, he talked about living an adventurous life... a brave life.... a life for Christ. 

He noted that in today's world, when we travel, we'll pray for safety.  But do we ever pray to have an adventure? Do we pray to have God use us in a courageous way to touch others, no matter what we're doing? 

I love this idea of living an adventurous life, not just a safe life.

I've seen a saying on the internet recently that says:

"Life isn't meant to be easy, it's meant to be LIVED.
Sometimes happy, other times rough...
But with every up and down, you learn lessons
that make you STRONG."

As long as I'm strong in the Lord and doing what he wants me to do... then how can we go wrong?

My husband and I have always had a philosophy about our marriage: it may not always be easy, but it's worth it.

So, next time you're praying, don't pray to be safe -- pray for an adventure!  It will be worth it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Let's Go to the Movies...Or Not

This week's post is purely my own opinion about the state of Hollywood movies these days, so some of you may disagree with my thoughts. That's fine. I welcome varying opinions and ideas.

My husband and I enjoy watching movies and go to see them frequently.  Anything we miss on the big screen, we will usually see on pay-per-view.  If you've been to our house, you'll see a half-way decent DVD collection as well.

Unfortunately, this past weekend we went to see a movie... and ended up walking out of it.  It reached a point where the violence and carnage were just too much.  We didn't need to see all of that graphic detail. What was the point?  Just for shock value? 

Plus, we didn't care about the characters. There wasn't anything truly redeeming or heroic about the main character that made me care if he reached his goal.

It seems like we are at the point in movies where the filmmakers don't trust their audience to use their imagination or be able to discern what's really going on with the story, unless it's shoved down our throat.  Every violent, awful detail is now shown, up close and in your face.  

And there are some movies where you cannot distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. Everyone is out for themselves or for revenge, and there's nothing redeeming about any of the characters.

This sparked a discussion between my husband and myself about "growing older" and our "changing tastes" in movies.  Well, in this area, I'm glad to grow older.  I'm sorry we wasted our money on the movie this weekend, only to walk out of it.

Now my husband understands why I tend to watch certain movies over and over again. Most of the new stuff stinks.

Of course, I blame my film crit professor from the University of Texas (Hook 'Em Horns) for my analysis of movies and watching them again and again.

It was because of his class that I became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies (pre-"Psycho").  Hitchcock was a master of suspense by allowing the audience to use their imagination.  Sometimes your own imagination is scarier than what you are bombarded with in some of today's films.

Take "Rear Window." When Raymond Burr's character is climbing up the stairs to Jimmy Stewart's apartment. The audience hears the outside door slam,  the sound of the footsteps as he climbs, the pause outside the door, Jimmy Stewart's face and his feeling of being trapped with no where to go are all evident, just from the sound of heavy, slow footsteps, and a bead of sweat coming down Stewart's temple. The audience is scared right along with Jimmy!  Yes, there's a "fight" scene, but it's tame compared to today's fight scenes.

It's still a wonderfully, suspenseful scene with zero blood and gore.

I hope there's more of a demand for cleaner movies -- still fun, still suspenseful, still romantic -- without gratuitous violence, nudity or crudeness.  Truly, it can be done.  The group who made "Facing the Giants," and "Courageous" among others is trying to do this.  They don't have the top-notch actors (I don't mean to offend there), and Hollywood money backing them up yet, but at least the stories they're telling are appealing and life affirming.

At some point, we have to quit paying to see the overly violent, made with the jerky camera (why this is suddenly so popular, I'll never know) film, and let's get back to stories about characters we care about.

Will Hollywood listen? Well, I'm not the audience demographic that they make movies for. I can only hope my children and the younger generation are really thinking about what they're filling their minds with and where they're spending their money. I guess that would be my prayer.... that we all pay closer attention to what we fill our minds with.

Oh, Jimmy Stewart, we sure could use you now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Last Normal Day

What if today was the last "normal" day of your life?  What if everything changed tomorrow?

It happened earlier this year with the devastating tornadoes in Moore and Shawnee, Oklahoma.

It could happen to me when it's time for my annual cancer screening (MRI, Mammogram, Sonogram day).  What if I don't get the "all clear" words that I'm praying for?  What if there's a recurrence?  

Any recurrence would be scarier than the one before. Because cancer comes back.  It really needs to just leave me alone!

Back to today -- how am I going to spend today?

It really is true that time, friends, family are all so precious. Even after having cancer twice, I still take so much for granted, although I try to hang on the special moments.

It's too easy to get back into the groove and grind of daily life. 
But we all need to take a moment and ask, "what if this is the last normal day?  What if everything changes tomorrow?"

What will you do with today?

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Different Perspective: A Follow-up

In a new perspective that relates to my recent post on "What Drives You?" (http://www.talkingamongfriends.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-drives-you.html#links
my friend, Ashley Clark offered these thoughts on her blog:


Take a moment to check out her post.

I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts on either post.