Thursday, June 27, 2013

Movies That Inspire

10 Movies That Inspired Me

I grew up in the 1970s so I am a “child of the television age” where most families had more than one TV set in the house and usually had it turned on all day long…even during dinner!
But it also means I grew up during the summer of blockbusters, a term created after the movie JAWS set box office records that summer of 1975.
My family enjoyed going to movies and drive-ins, but also watching movies on TV. I can look back and see how so many films I have watched over and over again truly influenced by desire to write stories of my own.
Here are 10 movies that inspired me:

Sound of Music- I saw this musical as a child on television and then in the theatre when it was re-released. I was so moved by the music, but also the story of how a family was created, tested, and strengthened by trials.  So moved was I that Maria’s wedding dress and veil inspired my own wedding dress and veil!

Gone with the Wind- this movie was on TV all the time when I was a kid and I watched it each time it was on! I never read the book, so the movie has a long lasting impact on me with the Technicolor, costumes, music, and set designs. But it was the story that always inspired me. A heroine who survives war and goes from being a spoiled brat to a conniving adult to a repentant sinner about to lose the one thing she never appreciated.
I walk away from that movie with a new lesson learned every time whether it’s about the civil war, how NOT to make a marriage, and how not to treat a man, to appreciating what you have and not to love money.
Such a tremendous movie!

The Godfather- We watch this movie at least once a year and every time I am amazed at the talented cast, writing, and directing. A writer can truly learn about conflict, how to build suspense, and how to create convincing change in the main character that breaks the viewer’s heart. Sigh. What a masterpiece in filmmaking.

Pride & Prejudice- I usually do not like romantic movies, but this one took a more contemporary cast and made it into a classic movie. I watched the film with the director’s commentary and learned so much more about the story and the interpretation of the story. The director directed his cast as a choreographer creates moves for the dancer. The lighting, the script, the location, the acting, and, most of all, the directing grabs me and takes me into this breathtaking romance every time. Heck, even my husband and teenage son liked it when they watched it with me. That’s says a lot!

Sense & Sensibility- Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her screenplay adaptation of this film and each time I watch it, I can see why. There is no action, no special effects, no exotic locations…this movie relies mostly on the eloquent words spoken by the actors. The commentary on this one is also most helpful in explaining the direction along with funny anecdotes that make the film interpretation even more endearing. The story is one that is timeless, yet each time I watch it, I walk away with something new.

JAWS- I saw this movie over and over again as a child and that probably explains my extreme ocean phobia. The first blockbuster in movie history, this movie never loses its impact no matter how many times you see it. This is definitely a director’s movie because the direction is what builds the suspense. Spielberg used the camera as the shark in the first part of the movie and that’s what scared the heck out of the audience more than any fake shark could! A brilliant move that happened by accident. This movie inspires me to show more and tell less in my own stories.

Lord of the Rings Series- Because my first book series is fantasy/adventure, this entire series inspired me to write my book back in 2004. I tried to read the books, but because I am so visual (remember, child of TV?) I had a hard time “seeing” the world the author had created. So, along comes these films that fans had waited decades for and boy were we NOT disappointed! Fantastic costumes, set designs, and locations inspired me to add more details into my story. The characters, the words, and the story intrigue me each time I watch. How the main character endures each obstacle put in his place helped me add more obstacles to my own story. Truly, a work of genius is the LOTR series!

Chronicles of Narnia- Another film that inspired me to write my book back in 2005. I had read the book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, to my son when he was little and the words always inspire me to try harder with language in my own book. C.S. Lewis also inspired me to put Christian principles into my story so that Christians would see them and be encouraged.

Gladiator-To me, this is a perfect movie: great acting, writing, and directing along with a fantastic musical score; the perfect movie. But what inspired me the most was the story. The heroic general who loses everything only to become a slave inspired me to take my character and put him into the most horrible situation he could face in order to learn what matters most in life: what we do now matters in eternity. Amen! I have to watch this movie at least once a month and each time I do, I walk away inspired.

Star Wars- Last, but not least, the most important movie I have ever seen. Why? Not because this movie is perfect (because it isn’t), or because it has the perfect story (it doesn’t)…but because this movie changed my life. I didn’t want to see it in theatres, initially. I thought a “space movie” would be boring, but my older brothers convinced me and away we went. I will never forget that opening scene and the first time I heard the music. I went out and bought the soundtrack with my allowance! I ended up seeing Star Wars 26 times that summer…and I was only 10 yrs old! Yes, this movie changed me and made me dream up stories and scenes for movies and books of my own. For now, I write books, but someday….movies! Thanks, George Lucas, for inspiring so many kids like me to go out and dream a little dream.

Your turn: What movie(s) inspired you to be a writer? I’d love to know! 


Ruth A. Douthitt is a writer living in Arizona with her husband and teenage son. Ruth's first book, The Dragon Forest, was released through OakTara Publishing in 2011. Her second book, The Dragon Forest II: Son of the Oath, will be released in July 2013.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What? Me Worry?

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Don't Worry! Be Happy...

That was the title of a very popular song in the late 80's. Sounds easy enough: don't worry! Just be happy!

But happiness comes and goes. You could win the lottery one minute and be a happy millionaire only to lose it all in one bet at Las Vegas and be one unhappy gambler.

I believe that's why we all should long for PEACE.

In Habakkuk, we are learning about how the prophet understood all about God's judgment, but was confused and dismayed at how God enacted His judgment.  How could He stand by and watch as the enemy of His people slaughtered His people?

Habakkuk wondered aloud how God could allow the wicked to do such things. He wondered where God was in the midst of his trial...

Are You There God? It's Me...Anxious!

I know so many times we wonder where the God of the Bible was during times of crisis. We wonder if our prayers are even heard. We sit in anxiety as we ponder the silence we receive from God who promises to always be there.

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In today's world, it is considered rude not to answer an email or phone message within 24 hours. Well, we don't want to be rude do we?

So you can see how torturous it can be not to here from God in a timely manner. Why can't God show us the same courtesy? 

We want to know NOW what's going on. We want to know NOW what the answer is. We want to know NOW what's going to happen to this or that. 

In doing this, we go against the very Word of God:

 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God..." Phil 4:6

Paul didn't say to be anxious about somethings...he wrote to be anxious for NOTHING. No. Thing.

Habakkuk learned through his trial many things about his God. And that's the very purpose of our trials: to know our God.

As we sit and wait, we should focus on who God is...not on what we want

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."  Is 55:8-9

You see that? God's thoughts and ways are NOT like your thoughts and your ways of doing things. 

Instead of making God into our image...look to who He is:

The Solid Rock

All these attributes should make you quiver with fear because no other thing in the universe has these attributes. But these attributes should also bring you comfort knowing that He has you in His hands. He knows ALL your concerns even before you speak them. 

And sometimes what He is doing in your life may not make sense, but He does have a purpose for everything He does!

“Look among the nations and watch—
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe, though it were told you..." Habakkuk 1:5

In Everything...PRAY!

Habakkuk only received peace once he talked with God. Asaph wrote the same thing in Psalm 73:

"When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me—
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end."  Psalm 73:16-17

As a mother and a wife, I try hard not to worry. Lay-offs at my husband's job, high unemployment as my son looks for work, lesson plans to be written...all this can make me toss and turn at night.

But then I pray. I enter the sanctuary of God and remember who HE is:


Amen! That's what Paul meant when he wrote:

"...but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6-7


And that's what I leave with you today. I know you are worrying about something! We all do. 

But enter God's sanctuary. Reach out to Him...about everything. 




And remember to whom you are praying. 

"If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13

Your turn:  How has God revealed Himself to you when you were in prayer about something big?


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome to Paradise!


Don't worry, this post isn't solely about my recent vacation. Instead, this post is about a lesson learned during my vacation...

Dr. R. C. Sproul often tells the story of his wedding day when he and his new bride were stuck at the airport on a cold winter day in Pittsburgh as they awaited their flight to paradise: Bermuda!

In the story, he explains how dreary the weather was at the airport and how they longed to start their honeymoon in the tropical island paradise. He equated this situation with how we Christians live:

So many times we long to stay here in the world (airport) where we think all our needs are met and yet all the while, paradise (eternity with God) awaits us. 

This is oh so true. 

Stuck at the Airport

Well, something similar happened to us only weather wasn't the problem. As we happily boarded our plane to start our long awaited Hawaiian vacation, the captain announced there was a mechanical issue with the plane and we needed to disembark.

You can imagine how disappointed we were. We had planned this vacation for over a year! But we were grateful that the error was found on the ground and not over the Pacific ocean.

As we sat waiting for an update from the crew, we couldn't help but remember Dr. Sproul's object lesson.  Are we, as Christians, truly looking forward to the return of Jesus? Or are we more than happy to be stuck at the airport: Stuck in the world as we know it?

Hey, the airport met all our needs. We had plenty of food, air conditioning,  bathrooms, chairs to sit on, and books to read. So, why not just stay there at the airport for the entire vacation?

Because we both knew that paradise awaited us!


The view from our room...

Although my husband and I had never been to Hawaii, we had heard so much about it from friends and we had seen photographs. It sounded like and looked like paradise to us!

I remember when I was younger and I heard people say that they could hardly wait for Jesus to return. "Oh come quickly!" they would say. I would disagree with them. 

I wanted to marry and have children and have a career and do fun things BEFORE Jesus came. After all that, then Jesus could come and get me and take me to His Paradise. 

What foolish thinking, huh? Basically, I was telling God that I wanted to stay at the airport even though a marvelous vacation paradise awaited me. 

I had heard so much about what awaited me when Christ returns, I had read about it in Scriptures, yet I still wanted to remain in the world because I thought it was much better. 

I couldn't help but think about this way of thinking as we arrived at our hotel room in Maui. 

We made it! Our room was beautiful, the view was spectacular, and the beach was RIGHT THERE! Yes, our final destination was much better than the airport. 

Our 10 hour delayed flight made the arrival to Maui that much better than we could have imagined. 

The greens surrounding us were greener than anything I had seen. The colors of the flowers were intense and rich. The sounds of the waves hitting the shore lulled me to sleep each night. 

And yet all this beauty is marred with sin. 

Can you imagine what God's creation looked like without sin? We stood in the green hills of the Iao Valley pondering that thought. It was more than our feeble minds could handle. 

Iao Valley
On the Road to Hana

God's Rest

The purpose of our vacation was REST. I had just completed my first year teaching middle graders and discovered that the first year is the toughest! Boy was I ready for rest and relaxation.

At the airport...
All our needs were met at the airport...

In Maui...
...but we didn't enter into that REST and relaxation we longed for. 

And that's the promise we have from God. Through Christ, we leave behind this hectic world and enter into His good and perfect peace and rest.

"...So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." Hebrews 4:8-11 That's what now awaits those in Christ Jesus. 

  • No more striving.
  • No more work.
  • No more bills.
  • No more taxes.
  • No more sorrows...and no more death. 

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

All our needs will be met! His plan is perfect! his banquet table will be plentiful. God will dwell among us. We will see Christ as He is...and we will be like Him!

Why would we desire anything else?

Peace and quiet...

So although the airport did meet our needs, there was NO WAY we were staying there for our vacation. We knew what awaited us!

As Christians, we should feel the same way about this world. Yes, our needs are met, but once we see in Scriptures what paradise awaits us with Christ's return, we should be like John:

"He [Jesus]who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" Revelation 22:21

Yes, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

When to Write

When Do You Find Time to Write?

That seems to be the question I am asked most often.

It's harder to answer that question today than it was a year ago! But I wanted to blog about it since so many friends of mine are writers looking for the answer...

I write when I run or when I ride my bike or when I hike...I write in the morning...I write in the evenings...I send myself scenes or scene ideas via email throughout the day...I write when reading a book in bed. Basically, I write all day!

So, when do YOU find time to write?

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Morning People

Perhaps it's easiest for you to rise early in the morning and sneak in a thousand words before work or before the kids get up. 

I am NOT a morning person, but since this summer is my writing time, I will definitely become a morning person and rise early to get in a couple thousand words before the day gets busy. 

For me, I started writing regularly (a book and a blog) when my son was 9yrs old. There was no way I could do it when he was little and I was working part time. It was best for me to wait until he was 9. I loved writing at night after he and his dad went to bed. The apartment we lived in was small, so it was quiet and cozy at night. I would put on my music and write way into the late hours. 

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Night Owls
Night Owls

Now that my son is older, I find it harder to write at night since the TV is on into the late hours, but I still force myself to get in a couple thousand words a night. It isn't easy.

How can a writer manage writing time with social time?

For me, I had to communicate with my family when I decided to seriously pursue a writing career in addition to my full time job as a teacher and a mom/wife. 

Blessedly, they understood!

But most importantly, God has understood and provided me the time to devote to planning and plotting a book as well as actually writing it. I admit, when I get home from work, I am beat and I usually have grading to do. So, by the time I turn on my lap top to write a chapter or two, my mind is mush. 

That's why this summer will be my writing time! I have a solid two months to devote to writing in the morning as well as in the evening after dinner. I am blessed to have this time to myself and an understanding family that supports my dreams. 

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Make the Time

I highly recommend having that conversation with your family first. Let them know your plan, but also listen to their concerns. How often will you write each week? Will you be able to spend time with them? What about activities, ministries, events?

In other words...what they really want to know is: What about us?

So be sure to listen to their concerns and assure them that they will see you, you will spend time with them, and life will continue on. Set aside special time for family each week, for exercise (stress relief time) to take care of yourself, and a date night with your spouse.

No, you won't be able to excel at each of these. Something will have to give. So, you perfectionists will have to realize you can't be perfect at everything and that's OK. Let go and let the Lord take over. 

Just write what you can when you can and here are some tips I use:

  • Plan ahead: organize your thoughts into a journal or outline of some sort. 
  • Email: send yourself ideas you have for your story throughout the day. No, you won't remember them later on, so email yourself!
  • Carry a small notebook with you at all times: jot down ideas as you're waiting in line or reading in bed or talking to someone about a book (your book). This really helps!
  • Schedule writing times in your calendar: these reminder pop-ups on Outlook really help keep you set on a writing time when you get home. Plus, the reminders get me motivated!

I hope these tips help. Yes, it is difficult to make time to write each day, but it can be done. As I always tell my son: if it's important to you...if you are truly passionate about it...then you WILL make time for it. 

Your turn: How do you make time to write each week? Do you set word count goals for yourself?