2019 Year in Review

2019…an interesting year to say the least.  And the 2010s were an interesting decade to say the least.  I can’t say I’m not sad it going away, this has to have been the toughest decade I’ve been through.  But it speaks to God’s grace and mercy that I did.

 

Final reading list for 2019:

Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Why We Love The Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck

To Live is Christ To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Good Faith by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons

Creature of the Word:  The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger

On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior

Growing Down by Michael Kelley

Holy Superheroes!: Exploring the Sacred in Comics, Graphic Novels and Film by Greg Garrett

Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters by William Tsutsui

 

This is the 15th year of keeping track of books I’ve read. Here’s the number breakdown:

2005: 19

2006: 20

2007: 18

2008: 22

2009: 29

2010: 24

2011: 15

2012: 14

2013: 9

2014: 7

2015: 13

2016: 12

2017: 12

2018: 7

2019: 10

 

Here is what I learned in 2019:

1.) Share a kind word to someone each day.  It means a lot not just to the person but to you as well.

2.) Do whatever you can for people and if you’re not able to, give it over to God.  He’s ultimately in control and can trust He will get it done.

 

Highlights of 2019:  Getting to visit my friends in Kansas.  Going to a Titans game with my best friend.  Winning trivia contests with some friends.  Opportunities to preach.  Got to see the NFL Draft in person in Nashville

 

My hope for 2020:  To be more like Christ.  To express myself creatively again.

 

I hope that the new year and new decade brings new hope and new opportunities to you and that God may bless you throughout it.

My Favorite Films of 2019

2019 was an interesting year in film (both in the theater and streaming).  There were some really great films I saw and some meh.  But I wanted to highlight my favorite films of the year.  So here they are (in no particular order):

Modest Heroes

This was actually a set of three short animated films from Studio Ponoc (the same studio that did Mary and the Witch’s Flower) but I would put it on my list.  They each told their own story (one about two young siblings trying to survive without their parents, a kid with a food allergy trying to live a normal life, an seemingly invisible man trying to navigate the world) but had that theme woven throughout of being heroic in lives that on the surface don’t seem pretty heroic.

Apollo 11

A documentary on the Apollo 11 mission leading up to, the actual mission and the return home.  I saw this film in IMAX (which was the best way to see it) and it did not disappoint.  I loved how the film needed no voice over narration.  The footage spoke for itself and brought to life what the mission was all about and the impact it had and continues to have on us.

Wonder Park

This animated film was so much fun (and pretty original too).  It’s about a young girl named June who creates a theme park through imagination called Wonder Park and finds out it’s a real place but is in complete disrepair and it’s up to her and some of her imagined creations coming to life to help restore the park to its glory.

Okko’s Inn

Based on a manga of the same name, Okko’s Inn is the story of a young girl named Okko who loses both her parents in a car accident and is sent to live with her grandmother at an old inn.  While there she’s able to see spirits and interact with them.  She also starts working at the inn and through this learns more about herself and her family.  I loved the animation and the story.

The Sun is Also a Star

Based on a book of the same name, this story tells a love story between two unlikely people over the span of a day.  I loved the story and the cinematography.

The Best of Enemies

Based on the true story of two people who were polar opposites living in Durham, North Carolina in the 1970s: C.P Ellis, a local KKK president and Ann Atwater, an organizer within the local black community. When the issue of school integration came to the forefront in Durham the two were put together on a committee to work through potential solutions. Through this, there developed a friendship and the film shows how their lives (and the lives of the people in Durham are changed).   I feel like this film is getting overlooked for awards season but it is deserving of some recognition.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The next film in the Legendary Monsterverse series, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was all that a kaiju fan like me could want.  Godzilla taking care of business.  The first appearance in American film of Mothra and King Ghidorah  Lots of action and callbacks to old Toho films.  If I had to say the film I was most hyped to see, this would be on the very short list and it didn’t disappoint for me.

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

A spinoff of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Hobbs and Shaw was definitely fun and entertaining with two characters who were polar opposites and who seemed to get paired up more often than not.

Blinded by the Light

Based on a true story, Blinded by the Light told the story of a young immigrant in Britain in the 80s who latches onto the music of Bruce Springsteen.  I loved the integration of music into the story and loved how it was in essence a soundtrack throughout the film.

Brian Banks

Also based on a true story, Brian Banks told the story of a young man wrongly accused of assault and who served time and after he got out fought to clear his name of the crime.  I knew the story going in and it was portrayed very honestly and spoke to the heart of the true story.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Based on the book of the same name, the story is about a dog named Enzo and his life with his human Denny and family.  It had a lot of elements I love: sports (with racing), family, a dog, compelling story.  I thoroughly good film.

After the Wedding

This film is a remake of a 2006 Danish film of the same name, After the Wedding tells the story of a young woman who is working in an orphanage in India who gets a call from New York to meet with a donor about money for the orphanage.  When she gets to New York she is invited to a wedding and at that wedding encounters an old lover, who turns out to be married to the executive at the company who is giving the donation to the orphanage.  To me, this is the underrated film of the year.  The performances are tremendous particularly of Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore.

Abominable

A fun animated film that tells the story of Yi, a young girl living in a big city in China who encounters Everest, a Yeti on the run from scientists and a collector and who wants to get home to Mt. Everest.  Yi along with Jin and Peng, set off to help return Everest to his home while also taking in the sights of China.  I loved the story and animation in this film.  Such a great and heartwarming film.

Joker

A retelling of sorts of the origin story of one of the most well known super villains, Joker is in one word: intense.  Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is intense.  The cinematography is intense.  The score at times is intense.  It is simply an intense film.

The Current War – The Director’s Cut

Based on the story of three men who helped changed America through their work in bringing electricity to the masses: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.  I loved the performances here with Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Nicholas Hoult.  They were tremendous and the story was well told and compelling.

Midway

Based on the true story of the events leading up to and the actual Battle of Midway, Midway was an epic war film.  Though I prefer the 1970s version better than this one.  I did enjoy a lot of the performances and the visuals were very stunning.

Ford v Ferrari

Based on the true story of the big rivalry between Ford and Ferrari and the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Ford v Ferrari to me is my film of the year.  Matt Damon gave his best performance as Carroll Shelby.  Christian Bale is tremendous as Ken Miles.  The visuals are stunning  The story is compelling.  Overall, this is my film of the year.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

“Inspired” by a true story (weird but that’s what it says in the film) of a Esquire reporter and the interview and budding relationship that took place between him and Fred Rogers.  Tim Hanks was tremendous as Mr. Rogers and the film was so emotional.  There were moments throughout were I was welling up with tears because it was so moving.

The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is the story of two people who in the late 1800s set about to break the world flying altitude record in a balloon.  This was such a fun film.  Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones were great in their roles.

Little Women

A new adaptation to the classic book, Little Women tells the story of the March family and the highs and lows they experience growing up together.  I loved the film.  I thought it did a great job of telling the story and making it its own while not losing sight of what makes the story real and compelling.

Updated 2019 Book List

Here is the updated book list for this year:

Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Why We Love The Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck

To Live is Christ To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Good Faith by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons

Creature of the Word:  The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger

On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior

Growing Down by Michael Kelley

Updated 2019 Book List

Here is the updated book list:

Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Why We Love The Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck

To Live is Christ To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Good Faith by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons

Creature of the Word:  The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger

 

 

2018 Year in Review

2018…the year is finally coming to the end.  This has been one of the toughest years for me.  I would say right there with 2013 with the level of toughness it’s been.  But by God’s grace I have made it to the end of the year.

Final reading list for 2018:

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Replant: How Did a Dying Church Can Grow Again by Mark DeVine & Darrin Patrick

Transformational Discipleship:  How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley & Philip Nation

Street Gang:  The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

The Stark Truth:  The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History by Jayson Stark

Here We Stand:  Enduring Truth and the Reformation of the Church edited by Michael A. G. Haykin

I Will:  Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom S. Rainer

This is the 14th year of keeping track of books I’ve read. Here’s the number breakdown:

2005: 19

2006: 20

2007: 18

2008: 22

2009: 29

2010: 24

2011: 15

2012: 14

2013: 9

2014: 7

2015: 13

2016: 12

2017: 12

2018:  7

Here is what I learned in 2018:

1) Show love and grace to everyone.  You never know who is hurting and could use the support.  Even more so when you’re hurting love others.  It is helpful in healing.

2) Take it one day at a time.  Literally take things one day at a time.  Sometimes that’s all you can do to make it through the day.

This is a unusually short year in review.  Like I said, this was a very tough year for me.  I hope that 2019 will be a better year than 2018.  That is my prayer for me and for you

The Five: Five Coolest Sporting Events Seen Live

For this edition of “The Five”, I thought I would take a look at the five coolest sporting events I got to see live.  I’m a huge sports fan across the board and there’s a lot of games I’ve been to (and places/events I still want to see.  But up to this point, here are the five (in no particular order):

1.) AFC Wild Card Game January 8, 2000 Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans

The game that became known as the “Music City Miracle”.  It was my first ever NFL game in person.  It was a big enough event in and of itself being a playoff game and it being the hometown team.  Even more so to have an epic play that propelled the Titans on a playoff run into the Super Bowl.

2.) 2000 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final March 11, 2000 Saint Louis vs. DePaul

This was cool for several reasons.  It was the first time I got to see Division I basketball and it was a conference tournament final.  Some friends of mine from college and I drove down to Memphis to see the game in the Pyramid.  The game wasn’t as memorable as just the experience with friends.

3.) Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals May 19, 2009

This was in a lot of way just a typical MLB regular season game but the circumstances behind the game and in the game make it memorable to me.  Earlier that month at seminary, there was a chapel that involved the manager at the time of the Kansas City Royals and the general manager.  There were some giveaways at that chapel and that included tickets to a game.  Well one of my friends ended up getting a four pack of tickets and asked some guy including me to go.  So this was the game the tickets were for.  The seats were lower level kinda near home plate not too far from the players’ families section.  During batting practice I ended up with a baseball and would later get it signed by the manager.  Then the game itself, the Royals were down three runs in the bottom of the 9th and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth (including two back to back home runs, a walk, a triple and a sac fly) to win the game 6-5.

4.) Houston Texans vs Seattle Seahawks October 16, 2005

This was my first primetime NFL game that I got to see in person.  It was cool to see the Seahawks play in person during their first Super Bowl run.  I had gotten tickets from a friend of mine and was able to sit lower level right in the end zone where I got to see a lot of scores from the Seahawks

5.) Memphis Grizzlies vs Seattle Supersonics December 31, 2005

This was a great game not just because it was two of my favorite teams playing each other but it was also New Year’s Eve and after the game got to watch fireworks to ring in the new year at the Space Needle.

So that’s my five (for now).  What would be yours?

Updated 2018 Book List

It has been a long time since I updated the book list for this year.  I got bogged down over the summer and didn’t read much.  One book really bogged me down (haven’t finished it yet and had to switch to another).  But here’s the updated list:

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Replant: How Did a Dying Church Can Grow Again by Mark DeVine & Darrin Patrick

Transformational Discipleship:  How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley & Philip Nation

Street Gang:  The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

The Stark Truth:  The Most Overrated & Underrated Players in Baseball History by Jayson Stark

Five Year Anniversary

Today marks the five year anniversary of this blog.  When I started this blog, I was in a real rough spot in my life.  And to be honest, that hasn’t changed that much.  These last five years have been some of the hardest, toughest, depressing years of my life.  This blog has helped in dealing with some of that but even still it has been a struggle.

Each time I reach this anniversary I hope that there will be some good news, something that will be a turning point.  But here I wait still.  God ultimately knows what the future will hold but in the meantime it has been tough in the waiting.

There have been seasons with this blog when there has been a lot of content and also times when there hasn’t been.  That has been a struggle as well.  When you don’t have the words to express the emotions and thoughts you feel.

If you have been with me all this time, thank you.  May this next year of blogging bring newfound hope and a turning of the corner in my life.

“Purpose in Pain”: Thoughts on Brian Dawkins

Everyone that knows me knows I’m a huge sports fan.  Among those is football.  I love playing football and I love watching football.  This weekend was the induction ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  And I was sitting in a hotel room in Arkansas and happened to turn the TV on and caught the majority of the event.  And at one point I tweeted that it felt like there was a church service going in in Canton given some of the speeches.

The one that really resonated with me with Brian Dawkins.  Dawkins was a defensive back who played mainly for the Philadelphia Eagles (also some time with the Denver Broncos).  His speech got into not just his career but more importantly his faith in Christ as well as the pain and struggles that he dealt with including dealing with depression.

What really stuck with me was when he said the following:

“See there’s a purpose for my pain.  There’s a purpose for my pain.”

Those words stuck with me.  They stuck with me when I immediately heard it.  And they have stuck with me these several days later.  These last five years or so I’ve dealt with pain.  Emotional pain, mental pain, spiritual pain.  It has been a season of my life that has been a tremendous struggle.  There have been more rough days than calm days in these last five years or so.

And so when I heard Dawkins’ speech and he was mentioning those words, they resonated with me.  I need to be reminded that there is a purpose for it.  I may not fully understand the reason for this pain, ultimately the purpose is for me to get closer to Jesus and to point people to Him.  If there’s anyone that knows purpose in pain, it’s Jesus.

If you have not seen his speech, take some time and watch.  It is worth it:

MoviePass Adventures: Month 6

I’m into my 6th month of MoviePass and should get more interesting given it’s starting to get into a more film heavy season.  Here’s what I saw in this month:

1.) Tomb Raider

Based on the popular video game franchise, Tomb Raider tells the origin story of sorts of Lara Croft, adventurer who is seeking the truth about the whereabouts of her father while having to deal with the mysterious organization Trinity.  I thought it was better than the Angelina Joile versions.  As a whole I thought it was a decent film.  The villain was not as good as he could’ve been and thought that kinda dragged the film down.  Otherwise I liked the film.

2.) Pacific Rim: Uprising

The sequel to the 2013 film, this film takes place 10 years later after the end of the Kaiju war.  Jake Pentecost (son of the character that Idris Elba played in the original) and a new group of cadets and pilots have to stop a new kaiju threat.  As a standalone film, I really enjoyed it.  As a sequel to the first film it fell flat in a few spots.  The main one being it never addressed what happened to the main character Raleigh.  But as a whole I really enjoyed it.

3.) Midnight Sun

A remake of a 2006 Japanese film, Midnight Sun tells the story of Katie Price, a girl with a rare disease that prevents her from ever being out in sunlight.  She falls in love with the boy down the street, who doesn’t even know she exists.  A chance meeting one night a train station leads to both of them meeting and falling in love.  I liked the film.  I really enjoyed the cast especially Rob Riggle was great as Katie’s dad.  It is kinda a sad film so be prepared for that.

4.) Paul Apostle of Christ

The film is based on the life of Paul of Tarsus, who helped spread the gospel of Christ to Asia Minor and into Europe.  The main focus of the film is the later years of Paul’s life, during his second imprisonment in Rome just before his death.  There are a few flashbacks but for the most part sticks to these later years that aren’t really covered in the Bible.  Overall, it’s a pretty decent film.  I liked it and was for the most part faithful to how scripture portrays Paul.

5.) Ready Player One

The film, based on the novel of the same name, takes place in Columbus, Ohio in 2045.  A tech genius created a virtual world called the Oasis and left keys within it that if collected would unlock a secret Easter egg & control of that entire virtual world.  Wade Watts is among those seeking those keys and at the same times keep control of the Oasis away from those who want it only for greed.  I really enjoyed the film.  It’s a lot of fun and a lot of 80s/90s references abound.

6.) The Miracle Season

The film, based on the true story of the 2011 West High School Girls’ Volleyball team, tells the story of the Women of Troy and their run to the state championship after losing their star player Caroline “Line” Found to a tragic accident at the beginning of the year.  The team must overcome the tragedy and go ona miracle run to qualify for state and try to defend their state championship.  They have a great cast that includes Helen Hunt and William Hurt and it’s a compelling film.  I would add it to my list of favorite sports films of all time.

7.) The Miracle Season (second viewing)

8.) Rampage

Based on the video game, Rampage deals with some evil corporate scientists, the military and The Rock.  It’s a pretty fun escape film.  It’s the kind of film you just go and have 2 hours or so of escape.  I had a fun time with it.

9.) Sgt. Stubby:  An American Hero

Based on a true story, this animated film tells the story of a stray dog named Stubby who is adopted by an American regimen and goes off to World War I and helps save lives of American and French troops.  He was even awarded the rank of sergeant and is the highest decorated war dog in American history.  The animation was pretty cool and the overall it’s a very entertaining and underrated film.  Definitely worth checking out

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 37

(Number of unique films seen overall:  35)