Saturday, October 20, 2007

Contest: Mosaic

Blessful Writings is proud to offer an opportunity for our readers to win a free copy of Amy Grant's new book, Mosaic.

Here's what you have to do:

Write a brief letter, or essay, explaining how music has touched or blessed your life. Submit your entry via the comment link on this post. Our panel of judges will review the entries and choose the top three entries to receive
Mosaic. All entries are due by midnight October 31, 2007.

In the meantime, keep reading!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Actress to Remember: Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr worked in Hollywood in the days of elegance and discretion. Love scenes were filled with tenderness and promise, never nudity and vulgarity. If you want to see the proof, watch "An Affair to Remember" made in 1957, the movie treats romance and falling in love with the magical hand long sense gone from movie making.

Or check out "The King and I." Starring opposite Yul Brenner, Ms. Kerr portrays the heart of a woman who loved a man, through respect and understanding. Two key ingredients, so often lacking in love stories of today.

Ms. Kerr proved her versatility with the role of Karen Holmes in "From Here to Eternity." She and Burt Lancaster made sand in your bloomers look nigh on erotic. Her Broadway debut, "Tea and Sympathy" also departed from her genteel and proper persona.

Her movies continue to touch hearts and lives. The 1993 hit "Sleepless in Seattle" introduced Kerr to a new generation of movie goers.

She nearly disappeared from the silver screen by 1970, citing disillusionment with the direction of the movie making industry. Who can blame her?
Deborah Kerr said in an interview given in 1982, "Believe me, Cary and I knew how to kiss. When we did a love scene, we may not have been trying to swallow each other but, for those brief moments, we just loved each other."

She also said, "I think I understand what women see in the movie. There is a sweetness that is appealing and far removed from today's crudities. It makes them realize that the world has lost something delightful."

I think she is right.

Deborah Kerr, 1921-2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Review: Mosaic by Amy Grant

Ah! Time to review Amy Grant's memoir Mosaic. I have not read the book cover to cover yet, but I have read several of the stories. For me, it is the type of book I will pick up time and again. I will read a segment, or simply the words to a song--her songs are interspersed throughout the wonderful pages--and feel inspired, encouraged, and uplifted.

The stories are poignant, funny and real. This American icon of Christian music shares little pieces of her life in conversational vignettes. If you are looking for Amy Grant's life laid bare, every little detailed revealed, this is not the book for you. She talks about motherhood, marriage, friendship, faith, loss, forgiveness, and redemption. And of course, she shares some stories about life with the remarkable Vince Gill.

If you want to spend an afternoon reflecting on life's miracles, and crying with someone who has experienced heartaches, check out
Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far.

Best news yet: You, my loyal readers, will have the opportunity to win a FREE copy of Amy Grant's Mosaic. Come back in a few days and find out how!

Amy Grant
is the best-selling Christian music artist of all time and the first to garner the number one spot on Billboard’s chart. Since beginning her career at age 17, she has earned six Grammy Awards and twenty-five Dove Awards, and last year she received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grant’s numerous television appearances include Oprah; Good Morning, America; and Late Night with David Letterman. In 2007 she’ll tour nationwide, performing with local symphonies in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and elsewhere.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Never Forget

LCpl Jeremy Burris

On Monday, October 8th, LCpl Jeremy Burris lost his life. His patrol vehicle struck a hidden detonation device. Although he survived the initial blast, and heroically aided the other Marines to escape to safety, he was hit by a second blast when he returned to the vehicle to recover equipment.

He is the son of Brent Burris of Texas and the grandson of my Uncle Buddy and Aunt Billie Sue.

Our family sends heartfelt regrets to his family and friends who must endure this time of mourning. May God send his fullest blessings and greatest comforts during this time.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Jenessa Byers

Cancer changed the life of eight year old Jenessa Byers. Earlier this year, ABC's Extreme Makeover changed it again.

Stricken with a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma Jenessa continues to give God the glory for every milestone she reaches. Read about her challenges and celebrations on her website:
Jenessa Byers.

Jenessa is the niece of an old and dear friend of mine. Our family has been praying for Jenessa since soon after her cancer was discovered in January 2006. How thoroughly pleased I was to learn that her family--which struggles with the financial burdens of cancer--has been blessed with an "extreme makeover" home.

Jenessa is a "sparrow" in Oregon.
Sparrow Clubs is an opportunity for Oregon students to help kids who are fighting life threatening or disabling medical conditions. Students learn what it means to have compassion for others and to make sacrifices to help others.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs this coming Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Read a preview of the upcoming show on
TV Guide.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Music of Life

I was about ten years old before I cared a whit about music. I didn't own any tapes (those little cassettes with funky brown ribbons in them that were notorious for being eaten by the tape machine), nor eight tracks (gigantic cassettes which no one under thirty has ever seen) and I didn't own a record (a throw back to the first talking machines with their ridges and grooves in black vinyl). The only music I knew about was the stuff that came over the radio, nothing I took notice of then, and hymns, the mainstay of any good Southern Baptist church.

Then one day my dad bought a new pick-up. And by "new" I mean one of those old beat up kinds that he could fix up, make run, and sell when he found a new project. Under the front seat of this super cool find was a cassette. Dad brought the funky off-white, slightly smudged article into the house and asked, "You want this?"

I shrugged, but took it into my room. I didn't have any cassettes before this, but I did have a cassette player--I like to be prepared. I set up the cassette player on my windowsill and discovered the magic of The Eagles and Hotel California.

My interest in music grew quickly after that, but never attained the great depths of appreciation and association some people have. I liked to sing--or was it scream?--songs from Pink Floyd's The Wall just as much as I loved to belt out a chorus of People to People and Pass It On (radical contemporary songs found in the 80's Baptist Hymnal.) I had no idea who sang my favorite song, Running with the Shadows of the Night. I didn't know the difference between Sylvia and Amy Grant.

I have friends who can sing choruses, and even entire verses from songs, not to mention naming the artist and quite possibly what album the song is from. For example, I hated the New Kids on the Block, but one day, after weeks of LOVING a particular song I discovered to my chagrin that it was the quintessential NKOTB song. (Yeah, ok it was Tonight, I'm over it.)

My taste in music is eclectic to say the least. I still have some of those fabulous "long playing albulums" (if that phrase is foreign to you, you haven't watched Grease 2 enough) a bizarre collection of cassettes and a chaotic mix of CDs. (I started buying CDs before I bought a CD player, because I like to be prepared!)

Buried somewhere on my computer is a collection of mp3s. There is only one iPod in our family so far, but I still enjoy a bit of music from time to time. In fact, this week I discovered a fabulous group called Rescue. They are an a cappella group with a heart for ministry. The best part of the group? The vocal percussionist, reminiscent of 80s beatbox, but so much more! Check them out at

In the years since I received that first Eagles tape, I have learned the value of music. The format of music evolved. The genres of music evolved. My taste in music evolved. One thing stays the same, music touches my life. Certain songs elicit memories. Memories of people who are no longer a part of my life. Memories of dreams once chased. Memories of good moments, crazy moments, and moments best forgotten. But music brings all these things together and orchestrates the novel which is my life.