Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Disney movies! Because I love them so much, I’m not going to explain as much about them in this post, because I will have plenty to say when I finally have the chance to review each of these. I was so excited about this list, I couldn’t even contain it to only 10 movies! For this post, I am only going to list next to the title my favorite of the overall themes of each film to give you a taste of my thoughts. Some of you might find it interesting which ones on this list are ranked in each place. Let’s take a look:
When I review these movies, I will find both the positive elements of the plot and the negative elements of the plot, in hopes that you will be challenged to see them from a new perspective. There are others that I may review in the future that are further down my favorite list as well. There are two movies in particular that I will review that are not on my list – The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog.
I hope you enjoyed this short post about my favorite Disney movies. Tune in next week to find out about my favorite movies series and favorite Christian books.
* Although I have written a post that compares her admirable traits in the two different Disney portrayals of Cinderella, I plan to specifically review the animated version eventually. To read this post, click here
For the next two weeks, I want to do something a little different. I have mentioned before how much I want to do media reviews, most specifically of movies (especially Disney movies), books, and Broadway musicals. In order to help me organize my ideas for which things to review, I will make a few lists of my favorites in these categories. I will do two both weeks. These posts will not be super long, but will hopefully give you a taste of the types of stories I want to write about and dig deeper into the messages they are trying to convey.
Today, I will list my favorite Broadway musicals. For most of these, I have seen a stage production of these musicals, a few of them a Broadway level production. A few of these I haven’t seen on stage, but I am in love with the film version. For the reviews I plan to do in the future, I plan to compare and contrast film versions of the musicals if they exist. For now, I will give a brief explanation of where I saw it performed (if applicable) and the main reason I love the story. I hope to do reviews on all these musicals in the future, so stay tuned! Here’s my top ten favorite Broadway musicals
8. Phantom of the Opera
This is one that I haven’t seen in a stage production, but I very much enjoyed the film version of this musical. The main reason I love it is because of the story of redemption. This one is definitely high on my must see list!
1. Beauty and the Beast
This is not only my favorite musical, but also my favorite film of all time. I had the chance to see a local production when I was in high school and loved the stage version as much as I loved the film. The main reason I love it is because of the redemption and transformation of the Beast (are you noticing a pattern here? lol) It’s truly is one of the greatest stories of all time. I want to see a Broadway level of this one so bad!
[Note: When I review this story, I will focus on the film version, but also highlight differences from the stage play]
There you have it. These are my top ten favorite Broadway musicals. Number #11 on my list, which I do also plan to review, would be Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. There are a few other plays that are not on this list that I plan to review in the future as well, including In the Heights, Chicago, Cats (which I will see for the first time this summer!), and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I also hope to someday see the stage versions of The Lion King and Aladdin. Stay tuned to my blog to find out more about these musicals and what Christians can take away from these stories.
[If you haven’t yet, you can also check out my first Broadway review of the premiere musical First Wives Club by clicking here]
September 20, 1997 was a sad day. I had only recently turned 7 years old, but I remember well when my mom told what happened the night before: Christian artist Rich Mullins had died in a bad car accident. My mom was especially sad by this news, partially because she was pregnant with my little sister at the time, but also because my mom had followed Rich through most of his career. She actually got to see Rich perform in the living room of one of her church's elders while he was still a student at Cincinnati Bible College (pretty cool, right?). She was only in high school at the time, but she still lights up when she talks about it. It made be sad to find out he had died, because of how much I loved his songs, even at a young age (mostly Awesome God and Sometimes by Step). Although I was a little young to understand all that happened, I sensed that the world had lost a wonderful man.
I don’t think I could have possibly realized how amazing he was until I really got to know the heart behind his music. Fast forwarding to 2006, I was in a Christian school choir as we were deciding what to do for our spring program. Our director decided that we would do a Rich Mullins tribute, and we would write skits that complimented the themes of his songs. We liked the idea, because most of us remembered his music from our childhood, but I don’t think I could have imagined the impact learning his music would have on my life. Aside from all the fun we had making 80’s get-ups and doing our performance barefoot, we learned so much more than we could have imagined.
I had almost forgotten about the love I had for Rich’s music until about the time I had heard about the movie Ragamuffin two years ago. I became so excited to see the portrayal of his life that I went back to his music and fell in love with it all over again. My favorite CD to play in my car right now is Songs, and it has been that way for over a year. There is so much depth and wisdom in his lyrics that stands out above all the rest, even almost 18 years after his death. In honor of his legacy, I want to share some of the life lessons I have learned from his music.
Loving Our Lord and Savior should be #1
When the skies were starless in the void of the night (Our God is an awesome God)
He spoke into the darkness and created the light (Our God is an awesome God)
The judgement and wrath He poured out on Sodom; the mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not too quickly forgotten that our God is an awesome God
Unfortunately, I think that too many of us have forgotten how amazing our God truly is. Many people forgot that this verse is even part of the song Awesome God. It reminds us that not only is God amazing because of His power, but He is also awesome because of his mercy and grace as demonstrated through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He has the authority and power to judge us and condemn us, like He did in the days of Noah or what He did at Sodom and Gomorrah. But He chose to give us grace through His Son, giving us the ability to receive His salvation. If we take the time to think about how powerful that is, that is when we are compelled to declare that our God is awesome.
Rich talked about what he believed to be the most theologically profound statement: Jesus loves me. If we truly believe that Jesus died for us on the cross, then we really should be assured beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus does love us. You don’t die for something or someone you hate. If you know God is awesome and that Jesus died for you, then living your life in light of this truth should be your first priority in life. You should be able to live your life in the assurance that He will always there for you. These are truths declared in many of his songs, like My One Thing and If I Stand. It really challenged me to think about these things from this perspective. I imagine you can see why.
Jesus is the Answer
When we did the program for my high school choir, I had one of the solos on the song My Deliverer. This is a special song from Rich’s last project, The Jesus Record. About 9 days before he died, he recorded the songs for this project on a cassette tape in an abandon church. These are the only recordings that exist of Rich performing these songs. After he passed away, his Ragamuffin Band (with the help of a few other artists) recorded his album. Rich never had the chance to see the impact this song or any of the other songs on The Jesus Record had. After having to perform this song, I believe this song to be one of his finest. This is his original demo for the song.
It’s a reminder that a deliverer was what the world wanted from the beginning, and that Jesus is that Deliverer. This world sometimes seems like it’s falling apart at the seams, but it is important to us to remember that Jesus has already delivered us and will continue to be there for us because He conquered death to deliver us. A similar hope is reflected in one of my other favorite songs of his, While The Nations Rage.
Where are the nails that pierced his hands?
Well, the nails have turned to rust, but behold the man
He is risen, and He reigns
In the hearts of the children rising up in His name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood
Well the thorns have turned to dust, but no so the love
It is given, no, it remains
In the hearts of the children who will love while the nations rage
Even when it seems like nothing is right in the world, we can find our solace and hope in the love demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus. He can hold on to this hope while the world wages war all around us. When we don’t know how to carry on or we don’t have the answers, we do know that we have a deliverer that gives us hope while the nations rage. What a powerful truth.
There’s A Cost To Genuinely Follow Jesus
One of his best quote was: “Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won't also cost you yours.”
Rich was one to remind Christians constantly that Christianity is not about being comfortable. Being a real disciple of Jesus is a serious challenge and not for the apathetic. We are not just to hear the word; we are supposed to do the word. Rich reminded people of this in both serious and humorous ways. One of my favorites was his song Screen Door.
My school choir performed this song as well, although we tapped the rhythm on our legs (more like the studio recording) rather than using the cups. Not only does this song illustrate his creative genius, but it also makes a valuable point. An inactive or passive faith isn’t just a bad idea; it’s pointless and stupid. There is no reason to have a screen door on a submarine. We need to have an active faith and to do what the word tells us to do when we recognize its instructions.
This is often easier said than done. Rich pointed out that our closeness to God is determined by our obedience to Him, not our feelings. But obedience isn’t usually easy and is often sacrificial. Three of Rich’s song come to mind: Alrightokuhhuhamen, Hold Me Jesus, and Sometimes By Step. All these songs have great messages. Alright illustrates that it is always better to do what God asks and just be willing to say yes than to fight him. Hold Me Jesus says a line that has proven to be true at many times in my life: “Surrender don’t come naturally to me.” A little later, the songs says “Your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin.”
Of all the songs Rich wrote, Sometimes by Step is probably my favorite, mostly because I have carried its message with me the longest. The chorus was written by his friend “Beaker” and is still commonly sung as a worship chorus of its own. I loved that chorus when I was a girl. But the verses Rich wrote are just as powerful. My favorite is the second verse.
Sometimes I think of Abraham, how one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land, and I am that no less than he
And on this road to righteousness, sometimes when life can seem so steep
I may falter in my steps, but never beyond Your reach
This verse compliments the chorus Beaker wrote perfectly.
Oh God, you are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek you in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
Step by step you’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days
This song is such a powerful declaration of what we should do with our daily Christian walk. The verse reminds us that others have struggled on this path before us and that we will also struggle, but never fall out of His reach. So beautiful. I hope and pray that I never forget it.
A Legacy of Joy
Rich said that he hoped to leave behind a legacy of joy, and I believe that he did. There was darkness in his past and sin that he struggled with throughout his life, but Rich found joy in the hope in his salvation that he wanted to share with everyone. He was totally in love with his Savior and he couldn't wait to meet Jesus. Many of his songs spoke of his longing for heaven, and Rich often struggled with “fitting in” within the context of Christian community. He knew better than most people I know that this world was not his home. I am glad to know that Rich no longer has that struggle and that he is now in the presence of his Savior. One of the only reasons it makes me sad that he is no longer with us is because I wish I could have met him! It’s amazing to see the impact his life and music left, and that it continues to speak to us today. I hope that by sharing about what I learned from Rich’s testimony, you will be encouraged to learn more about this incredible man, listen to his music, and learn how to pursue the love of Christ every day, step by step.
[If you are interested in reading my review of the movie about Rich Mullins, Ragamuffin, click here]
Three years ago today, God’s plan to bring awareness to the orphans crisis was fulfilled through me and the girls on my dorm floor. It was such an incredible experience that I will never forget and left a profound impact on my life. In celebration of what God accomplished in this time, I want to share the full story about the experience, based on some previous writings. I hope that in this story you can see how God desires all of us to response to this need, and how God was a part of what happened on my dorm floor that semester.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV84)
This verse has taken on a whole new meaning to me. It is basically telling us that looking after widows and orphans isn't just a good idea; it’s a call on every Christians’ life. It’s of equal importance from keeping ourselves from worldly pollution. It has become clear to me that specifically in regards to orphans, part of what looking after them means is bringing them out of their distress by helping provide them with a forever family.
At the beginning of that semester I ask the girls on my dorm floor to help me raise money and awareness for the fatherless. We started by collecting change on our floor as part of Show Hope’s “Change for Orphans” campaign. I also made bracelets made out of strips of bandannas to remind the girls to pray. I did everything I could to inform the girls that were helping me about what Show Hope is all about and the need to care for orphans. Then about the middle of the semester, I invited an adoptive father, Troy Nelson, OCC’s executive director of admissions, to tell us about his and his wife’s adoption of a little girl from Taiwan. Troy talked to us about the blessing that she had been on their lives and how much they learned to trust God through the process of adoption. This was about the time I began to notice a difference in the girls’ hearts towards the project.
As the semester continued, I began to realize that one of the biggest reasons I had become so interested in the orphan crisis was the family and friends in my life that were adopted. This was the motivation of many of us involved in this project, and I didn't want us to forget our gratitude for those who have been adopted. So we decorated one of the walls in our dorm hallway with posters of the children in our lives that are adopted, posters of Scriptures about adoption, and posters that explained the ministry of Show Hope. We had posters that represented the adoptions of 20 different children. We made the posters on bright-colored scrapbook paper that filled that section of the wall. We had it on display during our dorm open house. It was a fun project that eventually had a big impact.
As that semester was coming to an end, I was concerned that we would not raise the all the money I had committed to raise. My request to be allowed to take up an offering during our open house was denied and it almost seemed like a dead end. Then we saw God work when we were given permission to do a presentation and an offering in our weekly chapel service. I prepared the presentation that I gave by myself on May 1, 2012. I was pretty nervous about it, since it would be the largest crowd in front of which I had ever done a presentation. I was told just before chapel that most offering bring in between $300 - $500, but not much more than that. We were praying that we would be able to match our goal (since we only had about $65 at that point), but we had no idea what was about to happen.
Later that day, I was told that without our money, they brought in over $600. This was our final total.
Needless to say, we were all pretty excited! When I told the girls, we cheered joyously together, and rejoiced at what God had done through our efforts. As we talked about what happened, the girls told me that there was something different about people’s reaction to the offering appeal that day that what usually happened with chapel offerings. They noticed a change in the way people reacted as they collected the offering. More people gave than usually, even the people that didn't usually give. One of the girls even told me, “It seemed like everyone wanted to give to help orphans!” I knew in that moment that God had worked on our students and faculty to compel them to give, and we had been a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We took these pictures at our last weekly devotions for the year, in celebration of what God had done through us for the cause of adoption.
God was at work during this time in so many ways. This project helped to unite my dorm floor in a special way, for we became a lot closer through this project. Our view of adoption was forever changed and our trust in God has increased. But most importantly, our passion for the fatherless has been kindled and we are all grateful to know that we helped bring another child into a forever family. I can’t wait to see what God does in each of our lives as we continue to care for His children.
Part of me is still in awe of what God was able to accomplish through my dorm floor that semester. I still have a scrapbook containing all the posters we made for our adoption wall, and I love to look through them every once in a while. I continue to marvel at the stories that were shared and the results of our efforts. By all logic, we shouldn't have been able to raise all the money we did. We shouldn't have been able to even work out to do a chapel offering, but God blessed our efforts for His glory. I was just blessed to be a part of His plan.
Since this time, although I have not done any other fundraising efforts, I continue to be a voice for the fatherless in whatever ways I can. I have become sensitive to find the stories of those that have been adopted, and have found great joy every time I heard a new one. I have come to view those who have been adopted in my life to be a blessing that God chose to be in my life. My personal desire to adopt internationally continues to grow (although I want to be married before I pursue this path). God has heighten my awareness and sensitivity on this issue, and I am still amazed that He laid this on my heart and gave me the passion to do something about it.
I am so grateful for those who have taken up the call to bring children out of their distress and into a forever family. I am grateful for the girls on my dorm floor that helped me take up this huge call to make a difference in the lives of orphans. But most importantly, I am thankful for the One that brought me out of being spiritual fatherless and chose me to be His child through the sacrifice of His Son. That should be our ultimate motivation to "pay it forward" and make a change for orphans. I encourage everyone to see what they can do to learn more and be involved in some way with the miracle of adoption. You won't regret it.
[If you are interested in learning more about the heart and ministry of Show Hope, watch the video below, and visit their website: showhope.org]
[If you are interested in reading my advocate story on Show Hope's blog, click here]