How a Resume-Driven Mentality Cripples our Culture*

resume virtues I come from a long line of folks who cannot abide The Big Head. I don’t know if this malady is well known north of the Mason-Dixon line, but down here in the South, everybody knows about The Big Head. It’s the noun form of the adjective phrase “full of him/herself.” For example, you might hear it used like this: “She is so full of herself; that girl has really got The Big Head!”

My father, a first generation college graduate who finished his master’s degree in 1963 and his doctorate in 1979, has every right to have a touch of The Big Head. But he has always said to me and my siblings what may well have been said to him: “When you get so smart you think you’re better than somebody else, it’s about time you go right on back to school.” And my mother . . . listen, she could puncture a bloating Big Head with just a look.

Naturally then, when my kids were old enough to get the message, I’d say, “Children, I’d rather you be dumb as a rock than get The Big Head.” Self-confidence is one thing. But being so full of yourself as to have The Big Head? Unacceptable. Thus, it has always been my goal to raise kids with both self-esteem and humility.

Then came Facebook. And I, like every other parent in this millennium, set about posting pictures and status updates about my children. “So proud of my son for winning this award!” “Proud Parent! My daughter received that recognition!” “Off to All-State! Proud of this girl!”

But there’s nothing wrong with being proud of our children, right? I mean, it’s not like I was going on about my own accomplishments. I was simply reporting, sharing, keeping people in the loop as it were.

My children (who had apparently been paying just a little too much attention in their early days) saw it a little differently. After every significant achievement, they’d warn me. “Now Mom, don’t put this on Facebook. It feels like you’re bragging.”

The nerve! The ingratitude! The . . . truth.

I started thinking about this business of parental pride, publicized so widely through social media. According to dictionary.com, the definition of “pride” is “a high . . .  opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed . . .” Yikes. When I boasted about my children’s achievements, was I really patting myself on the back for the superiority of my parenting? (Conviction. It’s so intrusive!)

The other nagging question I had, though, was this: When my children experienced victory, was it really “pride” that I was feeling? I thought back to the times I’ve been really proud of my children. They were times that didn’t look like success at all. Like when they tried their best, failed, then got up and tried again. Times when they lost, but handled it with grace. When they acted justly, delighted in mercy, and walked humbly with God. Those were moments I “cherished in my [mind].” When they win, I’m happy for them, of course; I’m glad things went well. Those are cheerful, photograph-taking moments for sure. But pride? The times I’m proudest of my kids, I’m too grateful to snapchat or Instagram; I’m too wrapped up in thanksgiving to update my status.

In a video that has received nearly two million hits on ted.com, New York Times columnist David Brooks speaks about the difference between resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Quoting The Lonely Man of Faith by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993), Brooks describes Soloveitchik’s theory of the two Adams. Soloveitchik suggests that within each of us are two Adams: Adam 1 who values external, worldy success, or resume virtues; and Adam 2 who values integrity and strength of character, or eulogy virtues. Brooks contends that the United States values Adam 1 over Adam 2 and that this resume-driven mentality is crippling our culture.

I’d agree. And, as a product of this culture, I wrestle with this exact internal conflict that Brooks and Soloveitchik describe so eloquently. So what’s a Baptist to do? Well, I’m not sure. But I think part of the answer is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (2:3-4)

Sounds to me like a pretty good way to avoid The Big Head, don’t you think?

*This post originally appeared at baptistnews.com as “How a resume-driven mentality is crippling our culture,” on April 25, 2016. “Baptist News Global is a reader-supported, independent news organization providing original and curated news, opinion and analysis about matters of faith.” Visit them regularly at baptistnews.com.

The Bridge Between Peace and Forgiveness

peace and forgivenessThe question was always, “What if the bridge is turned?”

You see when I was in my last couple of years of high school, we lived on the other side of a swing bridge that spans the Intercoastal Waterway. My school was less than two miles from home, but because it was on the other side of the bridge, I never knew how long it might take to drive to school. If the bridge was turned to allow large ships to pass, you might wait up to 10 minutes for it to come back around. (These days, there’s a big highway bridge that provides an alternative route from my parents’ home to the high school, so the swing bridge is not nearly as big of a problem for travelers as it once was.)

Bridges. They make a real difference in the quality of transportation.

According to the NC Dept of Transportation, NC has about 13,500 bridges. We have all kinds of bridges here. We have bridges made from wood, steel, and concrete. We have highway bridges, street bridges and pedestrian bridges. We have suspension bridges, natural bridges, covered bridges, draw bridges and yes, even swing bridges.

Each year, 9,000 of those are inspected by certified bridge inspectors. And guess what? Roughly 40 percent of our bridges are “considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.” Now before you go out and trade your Honda for a hover car, know that NCDOT states that these bridges are safe but will “require significant maintenance to remain in service, and limits on vehicle weights may be required.” The price-tag on the repairs? Upwards of $9.4 billion!

Bridges offer convenience, save us time, and open opportunities to us that would otherwise remain closed, but they require significant effort to build and once they are built, the work is not done. That’s when the ongoing task of maintaining the bridge begins. And that task never ends.

Such is the bridge between forgiveness and peace.

(Want the rest of the sermon? Here’s the recording.)

Thank You #16: My Favorite Mother-in-Law

disney world

My Mother-in-Law, Joyce Lawrimore (Grandmama), with my children Margaret, Trellace, and Baker Lawrimore. And Mickey Mouse. Spring 2005.

I started dating my husband in 1985 when I was just 19 years old. I met my future mother-in-law that same year. Her son and I have been married nearly three decades and on April 11, 2016 she celebrated her 80th birthday, a birthday doctors never dreamed she would see. Since the 1960’s, she has fought a muscle disease that has transitioned through a number of diagnoses: dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and now muscular dystrophy. Whatever the doctors say, we say she’s a miracle. Today’s thank you note is to my one and only mother-in-law, Joyce Lawrimore.

A Most Excellent Mother-In-Law
(loosely based on Proverbs 31)

An excellent mother-in-law who can find?
She is far more precious than a screened in porch on a warm summer day.

The heart of her daughter-in-law trusts her, confides in her, and heeds her wisdom.
She supports her daughter-in-law’s vocation, and avocation.
She believes in her daughter-in-law, encourages her, and inspires her.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She does not take sides in conflict, but offers support to those whom she loves.
She knows how to apologize. She does not interfere.
(A rare and valuable example she is among mothers-in-law.)

She suffers medical maladies, but does not complain.
She has searched for a cure, found new treatments, and defied the odds.
She is persistent. She is strong. She is resilient.
Her family takes great pride in her.

Her potato salad is the best in the South.
No other mayo but Duke’s is allowed in her cupboard.
Her pecans are roasted to perfection.
Her fresh tomatoes are served free from their peeling.

She adores her grandchildren, but is not biased.
Her grandchildren are the most beautiful, talented, and wonderful children ever born.
She speaks the truth.

She rises while it is yet night, but refrains from judging her late-to-rise daughter-in-law.
She laughs easily, and sees the humor in painted squirrels running through the park.
Toys sing and dance in her living room.

Her faith sustains her; she is a devoted disciple of Christ Jesus.
She studies Holy Scripture.
She prays without ceasing.
She recognizes God’s voice.
She is obedient.

At God’s direction, she donates her electric organ or takes her family to Disney World.
She opens her hand to the poor; and reaches out her hands to the needy.

Strength and dignity are her clothing. (But multiple blankets keep her warm.)
She laughs at the time to come when she will run up heavenly stairs and feast on divine delights.

Her children and her grandchildren rise up and call her blessed;
her daughter-in-law also, praising God for the blessing of a godly mother-in-law.

“Many Mothers-in-Law have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a Mother-in-Law who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Happy Birthday Joyce! I love you and am so grateful for you!

 

A Solution to the Unthinkable

st baldricks pediatric cancerI met him in the playroom at Mission Hospital in May of 2007. My son was at Mission due to complications from pneumonia. Paxten was there for chemo. Or something . . .

Paxten and I soon became friends. He was frequently in the hospital and I would visit him on Wednesday nights while my children were at church. I’d have around 45 minutes to hang out with him. We played with stickers and playdoh, talked about Ben Ten and Spiderman, and played with his toys, navigating iv tubing and hospital bed limitations. He learned early on that I had to leave at a certain time and as that time drew near, he would distract me from looking at the big clock on the wall. We laughed at his shenanigans, he begged me to stay longer next time, I promised I’d try.

Not quite a year later, his hospital days were over forever. Today marks eight years since my little friend Paxten Andrew Mitchell passed from this life to the next. He was 3 years and 7 months old.

Paxten’s dad once told me, “They could find a cure to pediatric cancers, but there isn’t enough research done. That’s partly because no one wants to talk about kids getting cancer. The thing is, though, that if they would talk about it, awareness would increase. When awareness increases, so does funding for research. When research increases, cures are found.”

Research. It really is the solution to the unthinkable.

There are lots of ways you can be a part of that solution. Two great charities I recommend are Saint Baldricks and Cure. Both of these organizations work to fund research and to provide cutting edge equipment to pediatric oncologists. Check them out. Every contribution matters.

If you can’t contribute financially, there are other ways you can make a difference. Talk about children with cancer (by far the majority survive and live full lives). Remember, cancer is not contagious. Our kids won’t catch it just because we talk about it.

And hey! Just by reading this post, you’ve increased your awareness. Share it with friends, and you’ve multiplied that awareness.

What other ways might we join in the effort to find a cure for pediatric cancer? Because a cure must be found. The alternative . . . well . . . it’s unthinkable.

The Shaping of a Church*

imageThe rocks were far from perfect.

Our 30 year old retaining wall had come tumbling down, and the stone masons were tasked with rebuilding it. They would reuse the rocks, but they’d have to shape them to fit the new design. The old wall had looked a lot like a pile of rocks stuck together with some mortar. The new wall would be superior to the old one and not just because of its advanced construction technique either. It would be a real work of art: aesthetically appealing as well as structurally sound.

The work was tedious. Each mason chose a stone and with chisel and mallet, began sculpting it to fit the wall. Gloved hands turned the rock this way then that. Decades-old dirt clods fell away easily; old mortar took a bit more work. Eventually though, the mason would have to knock off parts of the stone itself. He would pound away, turning round rocks into square ones. Once he had placed a reformed stone in place, he’d choose another one and start again. The wall began to take shape. And it is beautiful.

Kind of like a church.

Think about it: we come together to build something beautiful and strong. Like the masons working on the wall, God shapes us into living stones. God holds us tenderly in gentle but firm hands, knowing we have everything we need to be the building block needed in this place at this time. Yet we’ve covered ourselves with the concealing mud of shame or conceit, vanity or self-loathing. As we are placed together to form church, God carefully, slowly, and with great love, removes as much of our muck as we will allow.

Sure enough, it takes no time for our ugly parts, the ones we wouldn’t release, to scratch against the residue of The Others. It’s uncomfortable, even painful, to have to make space for them. It would be such a beautiful church, if The Others weren’t so muddy and jagged.

“They should have let God shape that mess off of them before they came here. They just aren’t going to fit in here like that.” We wince and grumble, making a show of accommodating their faults. Meanwhile, we have forgotten our own smudges and imperfections, concentrating as we are on the defects of The Others. Too often, we leave or The Others leave, seeking a place in a different church, a different community.

And the story repeats itself: because no matter where we go, the living stones are imperfect, dirty, and broken. At least that’s what it looks like to human eyes.

But what does God see? To divine eyes, do we look like rare gems, uniquely shaped to form this particular church? Do our imperfections look like godly opportunities to grow into who we were created to be?

God calls to us saying, “Come to Jesus, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-6)

*This post originally appeared at baptistnews.com as “A ragged wall that looks a lot like the Church,” on March 27, 2016. “Baptist News Global is a reader-supported, independent news organization providing original and curated news, opinion and analysis about matters of faith.” Visit them regularly at baptistnews.com.

Principal Little Red Hen Teaches A Lesson

In my life as student and as parent, I’ve been blessed to know a number of outstanding public school principals. Among this elite group, is Oakley Elementary School’s former principal Linda Allison. What I loved most about Linda Allison was that she never put process ahead of pupil. Her compassion for students was matched only by her commitment to their success. Seriously, Ms. Allison should train new principals. She is that good.
When I learned that she was retiring (after I dried my tears), I wrote a story in her honor and later read it at her final faculty meeting. That was about 9-10 years ago. This year, my oldest will graduate from college and my youngest from high school. Their brother is finishing his sophomore year of college. But despite the passage of years, I remain so grateful to Ms. Allison for her leadership, dedication, and just her natural intuition as an educator.
So for this thank you note, I offer the story I wrote for Ms. Allison—the Little Red Hen of Oakley Elementary School. Thank you Linda Allison for setting the bar so high. I count you as one of the great blessings of my life. And so do my little chicks.

Oakley Elementary SchoolOnce upon a time there was a little red hen who lived on a teaching farm that existed solely to train young farmers. The chickens on the farm, all one big family, got together and chose the little red hen as the principal of the farm. The little red hen was honored. She found great joy in sharing her life and work with her many brothers and sisters. Together they kept the farm running smoothly.

Unfortunately, the little red hen also had to work with three other animals who thought they owned the whole farm: a turtle named Wright Procedure who moved very slowly; a parrot named Polly Tisshun, who maintained a spotless image, talked a lot, but did very little, and an elephant named Feddy Govment who thought he knew everything, even though he didn’t even live on the same farm as the little red hen.

One day, the little red hen came upon a child and his parents.

“We want our child to have the best education, the best learning environment, and the best playmates the world can offer,” the parents instructed as they hugged the child and got back in their car, “We can’t stand around talking about it though, we have jobs, you know!” The parents drove away, leaving the child with the little red hen.

“Oh my, aren’t you a fine young fellow!” clucked the little red hen as she pulled the tyke under her wing. “Welcome to our farm!”

About that time a few of her brothers and sisters came down the path and she introduced them to the child. “Let’s get busy and teach this child how to feed the animals!” She smiled at the spark in the child’s eyes and in the eyes of the teachers.

But before the other chickens could even respond, Wright Procedure, the turtle who moved very slowly, poked his head out of his shell and said, “Stop everything! Don’t do anything until we get these forms filled out. We’ll need permission from the parents and clearance from the pediatrician. Plus, we’ll need a waiver signed by each of the animals the child will be feeding. Also. . .”

While Wright the turtle droned on, several of the little red hen’s sisters took the child down to the barn and started the lessons. The little red hen, back in the farm office, filled out the necessary paperwork. She called the pediatrician who put her on hold: “Important, urgent issues demand the doctor’s attention!” Once the little red hen had completed the child’s file she went to check on the child’s progress.

“WOW!” she said to her siblings “You have done a great job teaching the child how to feed the animals. I believe we can promote the child to animal grooming.”

“Well, I certainly agree,” cooed Polly Tisshun, the talkative parrot with the spotless image. She smiled to the camera operator who had come along with her. Wouldn’t you agree, Little Red Hen that my program Accelerated Feeders has, well, haha, accelerated this child’s progress?” The camera clicked more pictures as Polly fluttered over and perched herself on the child’s shoulder.

“Well, Polly, I’d be happy to talk to you about that,” said the little red hen, as she motioned Polly off of the child and toward her office. The other chickens stepped in and hurried the child onto the next lesson.

But before the little red hen could leave with Polly, Feddy Govment the elephant who thought he knew everything, lumbered down to the barn. “Has the child mastered animal bathing yet?” he asked, his ears flopping.

“Well, no,” said the little red hen, about to explain that the other chickens were just beginning that phase of the training.

“What’s wrong with those teachers?” Feddy stomped his feet upsetting the animals and causing the teachers to cease training long enough to settle the animals. The child observed, learning, in the process, how to calm animals in the event of a disturbance.

“And anyway,” Feddy shouted, “Look at that kid! He’s not DOING anything! And the teachers are just running around like chick. . .well, like chickens do sometimes.” Feddy looked around, waving his trunk from side to side and looking everywhere except at the little red hen.

The little red hen started to explain. “The child has made remarkable prog. . .”

“Then give him the Animal Grooming Test!” thundered Feddy.

“I have one right here,” said Wright Procedure, the turtle who though he moved very slowly, always managed to find his way into the middle of any activity.

The child did not pass the test and so he had to take the actual course material. The teachers received official reprimands for their negligence and the farm was placed on probation until the child passed the test.

In the midst of the crisis, the little red hen was called away to meet with Wright Procedure the turtle, Polly Tisshun the Parrot, and Feddy Govment the elephant. A committee was formed to study effective teaching of animal grooming and the three friends recommended strategies for school reform that might, in time, bring the farm up to par. Their first recommendation: they would visit the barn immediately following the meeting. As the meeting ended, the little red hen’s cell phone rang.

“The child’s parents are here,” said the chicken on the line. We need you back here at once.”

The little red hen arrived at the barn before Wright, Polly, and Feddy did. (They had, as it turns out, been left behind.) The parents appeared worried, tired, and confused. They had seen the news and gotten the test results for the school.

“Welcome,” The little red hen said to the mom and dad, genuinely happy they’d come. She listened to their concerns, made notes for herself, and responded to their comments. They left, after a quick tour of the barn, saying they felt much better.

Time passed and in what seemed like a moment, the child had completed the requirements for Elementary Barn and it was time for him to move on. The little red hen, gathered friends and family and asked, “Who will help me celebrate this child?”

“I will!” said Wright Procedure, sticking his head out of his shell. He began designing a flow chart so that he could celebrate properly.

“I will!” said Polly Tisshun, wearing her red plume that she saved just for such occasions. “My camera crew is all set up to capture the moment.”

“I will!” said Feddy as he galumphed through the door and tried to take over the room.

“OH NO YOU WILL NOT!” Said the little red hen fluffing herself up to her full height and glaring at Wright, Polly, and Feddy. The little red hen extended her wing and gestured at the teachers who stood between the child and the three intruders.

“We will celebrate this child. We prepared this child. We taught this child We love this child. My brothers and sisters and I will celebrate this child.”

And they did. While Wright Procedure, Polly Tisshun, and Feddy Government looked on, completely befuddled.

In a continued celebration of my 50th birthday on 7-22-2015, I’m writing 50 thank you notes in 50 weeks. This one to Ms. Linda Allison is #15. Please click on the tag “50 Thank You Notes” to read the others.

Parenting: The Success of Failure

Coping with failureWhen is the last time you experienced resounding failure? When you really bombed? Remember what you learned from that? Of course you do!

See, whether we like it or not, we often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Failure underscores the lesson, highlighting it for future reference. It points to areas of growth and opportunities for improvement. Success feels good in the moment, but failure can benefit a person for a lifetime.

Still, the mother in me—and the aunt for that matter—hates to see children I love experience the pain of disappointment. I’ve seen it plenty of times though. Here are just three of examples.

  1. My oldest, an 8th grader at the time, had spent months preparing her History Day project on Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the United Nation’s Human Rights Initiative. The topic was complicated (it took me awhile to understand it myself). She’d done fastidious research, using mainly primary documents. She compiled her sources in an annotated bibliography and wrote a script which she committed to memory. She also created a backdrop, pulled together a costume, and collected vintage props. After a successful district performance, she headed to the state competition with high hopes. The results? She lost to a student whose mother had admitted to me that she wrote most of her daughter’s script.
  2. It seemed as if my son only got on losing teams. Whether it was little league baseball or church basketball, more often than not, his team would lose. No one played harder, practiced more intently, or came to games more prepared. Regardless, game after game, his teams fell short of the mark.
  3. When she was in the 6th grade, my youngest daughter challenged a teacher. It’s a long and complicated story (believe me when I tell you that you do not want me to get started on it). The short version is that the teacher was about to read aloud from a popular trade paperback (not a classic by anyone’s appraisal) that I had not allowed my kids to read due to the mature content. My daughter asked to be excused to another room. This launched a controversy that led to a number of lengthy emails that flew between the teacher and me over the course of several days. Suffice to say, we disagreed in the extreme. Shortly after that, grades were due. My daughter had an A average, but her participation grade dropped suddenly and she wound up with a B in the class. She was beyond furious.

In each case, though, my children learned more from these failures than they ever would have from succeeding in the same situation. My oldest learned that careful research is actually its own reward, no matter what an impartial judge may say. My son has developed persistence that is unrivaled; loss never diminishes his resolve. My youngest, still spunky and opinionated, discovered that true conviction is more important than academic assessment.

None of those valuable life lessons could have been acquired through success. It took failure to teach them the hard lessons.

Knowing this does not mean I want my kids to fail. I don’t. I never celebrate when my beloveds fall short of their objectives. (Frankly, if I had my way, my kids would never even have a bad hair day, let alone a true heartbreak.) When things don’t go their way, I grieve with them and share their disappointment.

But over time, as tears dry up and emotions settle, I do my best to uncover the blessing in the setback. And it’s always there. Always.

Musings on Me: 23 Truths about Me

Rev Aileen LawrimoreWhen trying to decide what to post today, I went through my files looking for things I’d written previously, but had not yet posted on my blog. I found several lists of “things about me,” likely a response to some Facebook challenge in the early days of social media when I actually accepted such challenges. Anyway, I sifted through the different lists and compiled a new one. Here are 23 things about me. Do we have anything in common?

  1. As a child, I read all the books in my library on Abraham Lincoln and on Harriet Tubman and many other biographies. Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, George Washington Carver . . .
  2. Alex Haley’s Roots was a key experience of my childhood.
  3. I have a friend from Denmark. We’ve been friends for almost four decades.
  4. My Danish friend is from Greenland; I visited her there for a month in 1982.
  5. I do not know how to knit or crochet.
  6. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was the sign language interpreter at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. Our service was televised; I appeared in an inset frame in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  7. I don’t remember much of the sign language I used to know.
  8. I get mad at Siri when she doesn’t understand my Southern accent. She’s a complete ignoramus with absolutely no Southern charm, bless her heart.
  9. My favorite color has been purple since the late 70’s. Before that, it was yellow.
  10. I loved getting up in the middle of the night to feed my babies.
  11. The worst pain I’ve ever felt was not childbirth. It was a corneal ulcer. Think open wound in your eye. Yep. That hurt.
  12. In my first job back in 1982, I worked in a seafood kitchen. One thing I had to do was to prep the food to be cooked. That included, among other things, washing the oysters. Eww.
  13. I once worked for a perfect boss and had a perfect assistant at the same time. I was not working at a seafood restaurant at the time.
  14. I’ve never said, “Gosh, I wish I hadn’t exercised today.
  15. I’ve never thought, “Having that second serving? Sure glad I did that!”
  16. On Lincoln’s birthday nearly every year (February 12), I read the Gettysburg Address and it always brings tears to my eyes. (So does the “I Have a Dream” speech).
  17. I do not play the lottery and I do not like Las Vegas.
  18. When talking about my sister, I usually call her, “My sister,” whether the person knows her by name or not. My sister does the same thing when talking about me.
  19. I have always loved church. As a child, I loved two-week long Vacation Bible School and week-long revivals. When my dad preached at revivals or officiated at weddings, I always wanted to go with him.
  20. I follow rules. I put my shopping cart back. I don’t walk until the red hand is gone and the little man appears. I go in the in the entrance and out the exit. That’s the rule. So that’s what I do.
  21. On Christmas mornings when I was young, I was always most excited to see which book I would get and would spend the entire afternoon reading it.
  22. I once catalogued the children’s books and encyclopedias in our home using some form of the Dewey Decimal system—the library catalog system that was in use at the time (circa 1972, when I was 7 years old).
  23. I can’t remember ever being bored. Seriously. I can’t. (There’s always one more book to read.)

So. Do we have anything in common? Comment below to let me know.

10 of my Favorite Classic Films

classic film

Portrait

On Friday, I posted a list of movies I’ve seen—some I liked, some that made me cry. All of those, though, were from the last 25 years or so. Today’s list is of classic films from the 20th century. No particular order here–just as they came to mind.

  1. Lilies of the Field (1963) You’ll notice pretty quickly that I’m a sucker for Sidney Poitier. This movie, though, is my favorite classic film. There’s religion, injustice, redemption, conflict, resolution, AND gospel music. Oh yeah. It’s that good.
  2. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) Sidney Poitier again, this time with Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn. Made just three years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this was a ground breaking film in its day. See it for that reason, or just see it because you get to see these three Hollywood phenoms on one screen. A real treat.
  3. Heat of the Night (1967) Sidney Poitier was busy in 1967. This film portrays him as Officer Virgil Tibbs who, after being wrongly accused, helps to solve a difficult murder investigation. (An African American man, arrested for no reason; the more things change . . ..) Plot twists and turns make this one a must see.
  4. 12 Angry Men (1957) Henry Fonda stars in this classic that follows the process of a jury deciding a murder case. With the budget of today’s movies being in the billions, it’s hard to imagine that this low-tech movie could hold a viewer’s attention. Give it a try. And prepare to be caught up in the drama of 12 people deciding the fate of one young man. I found it intriguing and compelling.
  5. Harvey (1950) James Stewart plays Elwood P. Dodd, a grown man whose best friend is a pooka in the form of a six-foot tall invisible rabbit. It’s fantastically clever and hilariously funny. Plus, Josephine Hull who plays Dodd’s sister Veta Louise, is magnificent, so much so that she won an Academy Award for Supporting Actress in 1951. I can watch it over and over again. And then watch it again.
  6. Classic FilmsBreakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) I love Audrey Hepburn’s quirky character Holly Golightly in this romantic comedy/drama. Familiar faces pop up throughout the film: Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, and John McGiver for example. This one is a real gem.
  7. Sound of Music (1965) Julie Andrews. “Do Re Mi.” Austria. If you don’t like this one, you should, so just keep watching it until you do.
  8. Wizard of Oz (1939) Seriously though: 1939! When you watch this classic, keep that in mind. Every special effect you see was done the old fashioned way: slowly and deliberately with simple equipment and creative ingenuity. Be amazed.
  9. Mary Poppins (1964) This is another one you should see for the shear history of the thing. It received 13 Academy Award Nominations and won five. While it wasn’t the first in which Disney mixed live action and animation, it was early in the process. The technical precision is brilliant. Plus Dick Van Dyke dances with penguins. So there you go.
  10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) Another Dick Van Dyke musical, this movie opened to mixed reviews, but wound up 10th in earnings at the box office that year. Not sure what I’d think of it today, but as a child, I thought it was delightful.

What are your favorite classic films? Your favorite classic actors? Comment below to share your thoughts.

My Fabulous Baker Boy

parenting sonMy son, born 3/12/96, just celebrated his 20th birthday. (Hard to believe since I surely haven’t gotten 20 years older since he was born.) I’ve always said my boy is the sweetest one. My girls agree. Here are a few things he’s said over the years that illustrate the point.

  • 2 Years: “It’s just pretend.” (He often wore this shirt that had the cartoonish face of a monster peeking out of the front pocket.)
  • 2.5 years: “Hurricane Wabbit!” (His first joke–said with a twinkle in his eye when I asked if he remembered the name of the storm we’d just been through at my parents’ home: Hurricane Bonnie. To his ears, Bonnie = Bunny. Seeing the opportunity for a laugh, he went for it.)
  • 3 Years: “Does asthma ever grow up?” (Thankfully, his did.)
  • 3 Years: “This is going to be great!” (In response to my saying in the midst of a hug, “I think we’re stuck, Baker! I guess I’ll have to hug you all day long!”)
  • 5 or 6 (?) Years: “If you come in here during the night and can’t find me, make sure you look down there.” (Pointing out the 1.5 inch space between his bed and the wall. We assured him that if we went into his room during the night and couldn’t find him, we’d be sure to look until we’d found him.)
  • 1st Grade: “I thought I was going to get to see Margaret today, but then you came alone.” (I had timed my volunteering in his classroom when Margaret was in preschool so that he would have my full attention. Later, when I asked him if he enjoyed having me there, this was his response.)
  • 1st Grade: “I’m sad because I’m afraid Arnold* won’t have any food this summer after school is out.” (Getting emotional on the last day of school when the rest of the family was celebrating. Arnold was a child with limited resources and multiple barriers. His concern was not unfounded.)
  • 2nd Grade: “Bully-Bob* said I talked like a baby today and I tried to explain that I go to Mr. Lister for speech but there were too many S’s.”
  • 3rd Grade: “First I’d want Caleb to be healed. Then I would want everyone to come to know Jesus.” (When I asked what he’d want if he could have anything for Christmas that money wouldn’t buy.)
  • 5th Grade: “I think he just picks on me because he has a bad home life.” (Regarding another child who was unkind to him.)
  • Middle(?) School: “Not many people have a mom who would help them with their homework like you help me. Thank you.” (Want the full story of that really, really long night? Click here.)
  • 6th Grade: “When I play my trombone, it relaxes me.”
  • 6th Grade: “For my birthday party, could I get gifts for Paxten instead?” (A three-year-old in our church had terminal cancer. Baker’s 12th birthday party was a fundraiser for Paxten’s family.)
  • 6th Grade: “I want to have Alfred* to my birthday party because no one likes him and I want him to feel special.”
  • 7th Grade: “I liked singing there because it seemed to make them so happy.” (After his first youth choir trip when they visited a facility for recovering addicts.)

What a blessing this funny, sensitive, thoughtful boy has been to our family for two decades. For the joy he has brought to our lives, the Lawrimore family is truly grateful.

Want more stories about Baker? Click here.

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