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Tag Archives: TV

  • Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Posted on July 3, 2013 by AlexMosoiu

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    Our buyer of DVDs had a candid conversation with Michael on his upbringing, his work in the past and what he working on now.

    Alex: So we'll kind of start out with a general question about your background. How have you seen changes in Hollywood from your days in Little House on the Prairie to your dad's involvement in Highway to Heaven, and to where Hollywood is today? How have you seen it change during that time?

    Michael: Well, there have been a lot of changes that have taken place since the Little House days. So there are different aspects and components to the business, right? For example, when Little House was around, you had three major networks, and they controlled most of the content on television, maybe four networks. Now there are literally hundreds and hundreds of channels to choose from. So the idea of families sitting down together and experiencing storytelling, whatever that might be, is no longer around. Everybody has a TV in a different room. And since there's specific, narrower targeting of the audience--stuff for teens, little ones, grownups, etc.--no one's sitting down and experiencing storytelling anymore together. That's definitely one thing I've seen.

    The other side is all of the different avenues in which media is being fed to us. It's not just TVs. It's the Internet, streaming, iPhones and iPads. And so it's coming in every sort of way, and there's the emergence of these social media things like YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, and other ways that media is coming and pretty much bombarding our homes.

    Then there's the content issue. Programming content has radically changed, which to me is extremely unfortunate. Family programming is almost completely extinct. There are a few reality shows that I feel like are probably fine, the singing shows and the dancing shows and things like that, where the content is suitable for the entire family for the most part. But gone are the days of the Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven and Touched By An Angel, and TV series like that. Now, fortunately, I do have the opportunity to create a new TV series for Hallmark based on a very popular Janette Oke book, When Calls the Heart. That is actually Hallmark's second foray into TV series work. So at least now there's an opportunity for families to have an alternative to the very sexualized sitcoms or the gritty cop forensic shows that currently permeate the airwaves.

    Alex: So what do you think that the lack of family type of entertainment has done to the family unit, you know, the idea of sitting down and all watching stuff together on a regular basis? What do you think that that causes in a family dynamic?

    Michael: It's hard to probably calculate exactly what the repercussions are. I can't imagine it not having some detrimental effect to the family. I mean, technology is amazing, the way we use it, the way we can quickly disseminate information back and forth between each other. But at the same time, obviously, there is this fragmented aspect of being together, where everybody is in the same room and yet not really present with each other. They're on their phone and tweeting, or emailing or texting their friends. It's definitely breaking down the family unit in a way. It doesn't allow for intimacy to really grab hold of families. And also, I can't imagine that the increased and different content isn't breaking down the family unit as well. It clearly is. The messaging that's coming out of a lot of these shows sometimes is sexually promiscuous or shows a lack of respect for authority whether it be for parents or teachers or whoever. I mean, these are messages that our children are being bombarded with constantly--no holds barred. It seems nothing is really off limits. If you advocate limits, then you're against freedom of speech. It's always spun off in a very kind of negative tone.

    Alex: Michael, what do you think? Is life imitating art? Or is art imitating life in television and entertainment right now?

    Michael: Well, I definitely think they're pushing both, right? I think they're feeding off of each other. And I think we see that. I don't know the statistics, but I can just imagine in terms of the age of sexual contact between young people is getting lower and lower. The sexually transmitted diseases are out of control, from my understanding. Again, the respect issue for parents and teachers is completely falling apart in many areas. So, I think the media is feeding off society, and society is feeding off the media, and it's not good.

    Alex: So, let me ask you this, kind of along those same lines. You went to USC film school, right? One of the most prestigious film schools in the country, to kind of learn your craft. And obviously you grew up in the Hollywood business to some extent. What would you say, as a believer, what would you tell Christian parents whose kids want to grow up and be in the entertainment business in some way? How would you guide and direct them to be a part of the business?

    Michael: Right. Just a clarification, though. I did go to USC, but I was not in their film program.

    Alex: I guess I just assumed that.

    Michael: That was the game plan, but I ended up going to AFI for film studies.

    Alex: Got it.

    Michael: American Film Institute. I was a directing fellow there. It's a great question, because I think that many Christian parents see the business and they're terrified of what it will do to their children, and how it will affect them and the people that they'll come in contact with. It's a tough business. The film business is really, really tough. It's extremely competitive. If you're in front of the camera, your ability to make a living is very difficult, especially if you're going to keep your integrity in terms of the projects that you'll pick and choose. Because you'll see that it's a limited amount of family fare. A lot of it, especially in the younger category, is due to the fact that there are a lot of horror films out there, and teen party kinds of films. It's basically adults who run the business, and they know what teenagers want to see. So it's not an easy decision. I would say, however, at the same time, that the business is craving talented storytellers who want to tell stories that will be uplifting to families; ones that deal with issues of faith, forgiveness and love. So, I would probably still encourage a Christian family whose son or daughter is passionate about it—and they have to be passionate because this business is really tough. It's very competitive. If they're really passionate, you see signs of greatness when it comes to acting or writing, and I would encourage them to allow their children to become involved in that case.

    Alex: And so as a producer, or generator, I should say, both on the production and the directing end of Christian content, you're one of the most prolific people in our industry who generate content. How do you personally choose the projects that you get involved with?

    Michael: Well, a lot of it is generated by certain properties that I've purchased the rights to, for example, such as the works of Jeanette Oke, Beverly Lewis and Francine Rivers. The content is coming directly from like-minded storytellers, so that's definitely one avenue. Then there are other projects I'm generating, either through novels or I'm being hired to direct, for example, The Ultimate Life. So I, you know, it's a story that just needs to resonate, and then I'm going to try to either get the job or develop it. But the first thing that has to happen is that the story has to resonate with me deeply. I don't see myself as a Christian filmmaker. I see myself as a filmmaker who happens to be Christian. And I think there is a difference there.

    Alex: Talk about that difference.

    Michael: I think one main example of the difference would be that I see myself as someone who doesn't try to work outside the system, but work with the system. I don't try just to hire Christian actors and actresses. I try to hire the best actors and actresses to play the roles. That goes along with anybody else on my crew. I try to hire the best DP (Director of Photography). So I think that's probably one of the main differences. Not everything that I do has to be Christian, per se.

    Alex: Yeah, and I think from our perspective in the entertainment business, in any line of work that's what we're called to do as believers, right? Is to use our gifts and talents and apply them to being the best at that particular trade. So it's a good analogy, and I apologize for stating it the way I did. I should have stated that better. You don't find a Christian plumber and a Christian car repairman. You find a car repair guy who happens to be a Christian.

    Michael: That's right.

    Alex: For various reasons. You touched on Janette Oke. Obviously you had a lot of success working with the Hallmark Channel, starting with the Love Comes Softly series and that piece. And it's been several years now since that series started, and it had a very, very successful run. Tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Jeanette and that book series, and what that's meant to you in your career.

    Michael: Oh, Love Comes Softly was huge for me. The interesting thing about that particular property was that it took me 10 years to get made. Most people don't know that fact. But it was something that I championed for 10 years. When I started pitching it and shopping it around Hollywood, everybody just didn't get it from the title on down. They just thought it was too soft. You know, no one would be interested in this type of storytelling anymore. The Little House days are over. And then, so I knew that the next step was going to be, I needed to write the script. So I worked on it and co-wrote it with Cindy Kelly, who was a writer that I co-wrote The Velveteen Rabbit with, and had a certain amount of success with that. We wrote the screenplay and it still took a few years to finally land a home. Hallmark finally stepped up to the plate. Even they were a bit skeptical at the time, but when it aired, it ended up being the highest rated movie in the history of that channel by 40%.

    Alex: Hmm.

    Michael: And then the sequel, Love’s Enduring Promise, then became its highest rated movie in the history of the channel. Since then, Hallmark uses that particular franchise. They play that franchise more than anything they’ve produced, by far, and they've produced hundreds and hundreds of movies for that channel. So it proved the skeptics wrong, and obviously there is a powerful hunger and need for this type of family programming. To top it off, I formed a relationship with Jeanette Oke, who is really the pioneer of Christian romance fiction. She started that genre, and I have to say, she is one of the most beautiful, wonderful human beings I have ever met. Everything about her is so genuine and real. I'm honored that she has allowed me to use--and trusted me with--more of her material. I just think the world of her.

    Alex: Yeah, I've had the chance to meet her on a couple of occasions--certainly not on an in-depth level--but I would definitely agree with you that that's exactly how she comes across. So you're partnering with her again on this next project, When Calls the Heart. Tell us what that's about, the TV series idea and the movie piece.

    Michael: Yes, so the When Calls the Heart series has been a labor of love for us as well, my partner Brian Bird and myself. It is an offshoot from the original source material. The way the books are laid out, it wasn't conducive for a TV series. The setup is the same, which is that we start off with this very young, educated woman who has the desire to become a teacher. She's done all of her schooling, and she comes from this very wealthy family living in the city. She is challenged to take a job out West in kind of this unlawful coal mining town, where underprivileged children live. And she forsakes the comforts of home and goes on this daring adventure to teach these children. And so the pilot veers away from the book a bit, but thank goodness Jeanette Oke is completely in agreement with our take. The actual storytelling is in line with When Calls the Heart. But in order to keep a series going and create a world where we're not moving through the other books that we want to preserve of Jeanette's, the coal mining town that we've created, Coal Valley, is a piece of fiction that is separate from her novel. But the essence and the characters and everything are very much from Jeanette's imagination.

    Alex: Excellent. It sounds like both your fans and her fans will greatly enjoy that as well.

    Michael: I believe so.

    Alex: So you've had the chance to work with Jeanette Oke and then Beverly Lewis, which are kind of two very strong pillars in the Christian fiction community. You made movies so far out of Beverly Lewis' The Shunning and The Confession. So what attracted you to her writing, and what was different in portraying kind of that Amish lifestyle versus the more pioneer days in Jeanette Oke's books?

    Michael: Right. Well, you know, it's the fascination with the Amish. And obviously, Beverly Lewis has made an entire career out of that. I believe that the non-Amish all just have a certain sense of nostalgia for life without technology. It kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier. In our culture, technology is integrated into nearly every part of our lives, whereas the Amish pretty much avoid all modern technology, including the car, the Internet and, in many cases, even having an in-home phone. And it's all to preserve that social cohesion within their community. And I just think that when you have the modern world spinning around them at this lightning fast speed and pace, these people in like a time-stopping universe becomes just fascinating. Totally fascinating. Beverly Lewis has captured the hearts and minds of readers, and has created compelling characters that push her stories forward.

    Alex: Excellent. So we talked briefly about The Ultimate Life, the sequel to The Ultimate Gift. Share a little bit about that project and why you took it on. What is it about the story of Red that attracted you to it, and what do you hope that somebody who sees the film gleans from it?

    Michael: The Ultimate Life. The producer, Rick Eldridge, came to me last year in November and asked me if I'd be interested in directing The Ultimate Life. He gave me the script, which centered on Jason, the heir to the estate. And it got into all the machinations and crazy scheming of the dysfunctional family, and the story took place in a courtroom for about 80% of the storytelling. And I just felt like this wasn't where the story needed to go. I think what people were going to be fascinated by was the character that influenced Jason so much, which was the Red character. So in November of last year I pitched to Rick that this be a prequel, and not a sequel, that the story actually revolves around how Red became who he was, what his early upbringing was like and how he ended up becoming a billionaire and how he had a change of heart. And thankfully, he agreed, and we quickly brought on a few writers and built the story.

    I usually don't like telling what the audience will get out of it, because I feel like there are different messages that will resonate with different people depending on where they are in life. I do, however, believe that there is something for everyone in the storytelling, the innocence of young love, of commitment. You know, something that was really joyful and one of my favorite parts of this movie is Red’s young love story. I just love the innocence. I'm not saying that the 40s and 50s were perfect. But it sure was really joyful to be in that time period. That's all I can say. Just the music, and kind of innocence of romance and everything. I'm wandering a bit right now.

    Alex: Oh, no, that's okay. Yeah, the brief time that I had on set, and the interactions that I've had with Rick and the scenes I've seen of it, definitely resonate the differences in time periods. Also the timeless things—the lessons or gifts--that no matter what time you interact with, it's still a very appropriate message.

    Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, one of the big themes is gratitude. The one conclusion I've definitely come to is that if you don't have a grateful heart, you can't be a happy person. And listen, I completely understand that there is a lot of struggling going on for a lot of people in this country. But when you look at other countries and what their struggles are, as a whole, we should be pretty grateful. I know we had worked together on getting the film Jamah out, you know, you look at worlds like that, and you see the spirit of those people, and their gratefulness for basically having nothing. It's just so important to try to have a grateful heart no matter what the circumstances are that you're going through.

    Alex: That is very true. Very true. In fact, I was talking to my kids the other day, and we were talking about the scene in Jamah of the little boy and the girl having to haul the coffin halfway around the country, and thinking, my kids are about that age. Boy, you know, I'm eternally grateful that they don't ever have to live that sort of thing. So you're right. Gratitude is such a very important thing.

    Michael: Yeah. And I just want to make sure I'm clear that I'm definitely speaking to myself when I talk about gratitude. Something that I constantly need to remind myself. If I'm acting spoiled or feeling down because something didn't happen right, I try to remind myself that it's ridiculous.

    Alex: Yeah, I got frustrated last night because my WIFI was down for 15 minutes at home--it was a meltdown—so, I know the feeling.

    Michael: Right? And then you just take a step back. You go, oh, my gosh, this is ridiculous. In reality I'm so blessed.

    Alex: Absolutely. So let me ask you one more question as our time winds down. We usually like to find one crazy, off-the-wall question to ask folks. So, if you were sitting down with an 18-year-old Michael, what would you tell yourself all those years ago?

    Michael: Oh, if I was sitting down with an 18-year-old Michael.

    Alex: Like with yourself, not just a random 18-year-old kid named Michael.

    Michael: With my actual self?

    Alex: Yes. What would you have told yourself when you were 18? What wisdom would you have imparted?

    Michael: I would have told him… Just trust in Jesus. Trust Him. Trust that He's going to bring you through to the other side, and don't try to do it on your own strength. And I mean that sincerely. This is not just to tell an audience of Christians. When I was 18 years old, I was a wreck. I was a wreck. My parents had divorced, and I was completely lost in the world. And I fought. I fought The Message. I fought it all the way, all the way. I didn't want to have anything to do with Jesus, nothing. Yeah.

    Alex: Excellent. Well, that sounds like very timeless advice. Michael, thank you so much for this time; we appreciate it. We very much look forward to partnering on these upcoming projects, and I definitely look forward to our paths crossing again.

    Michael: Appreciate that, Alex.

    This post was posted in Movies, Interviews, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, TV, Beverly Lewis, Janetto Oke, Francine Rivers

  • Mother, Artist, Activist. Meet Sara Groves again for the first time.

    Posted on October 27, 2011 by John van der Veen

    Sara Groves

    Sara is a kaleidoscope of colors. With every record she creates we, the listeners, climb a little closer to her heart and discover something new about her character. Her honesty, vulnerability and artistry are what make us feel so connected and keep us so inspired. We recently caught up with Sara to hear about what big, new things are happening around the Groves home and discover the backbone of her new record, Invisible Empires.

    Family Christian: What does Invisible Empires mean and how did the name come about?

    Sara Groves: Well, I never fully know what I’m working on [when I start writing] – such as a theme, but inevitably the songs will start to overlap, and I’ll start realizing ‘oh this is all kind of about the same thing.’ It’s always a mystery for me when I’m working on a record, figuring out what the hub of the wheel is. And I feel with this record the hub ended up being a lot of what I was reading from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He talks about Psalm 127 which says “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builder builds in vain.” He says the work of man is frenetic. We chase after things, it’s futile. He says literally, man works like the devil, and then he compares that to the work of God. He says the work of God is a lot like pregnancy, you’re making a human being. You’re doing quite possibly the most important work you’ll ever do, but you’re not really doing anything. You’re just getting out of bed, and walking around and eating. As a mom, having carried three children I can appreciate that metaphor. So this whole record is really wresting with the fact that a lot of times I feel like I’m working like the devil. ‘How on earth do I get to that place where His yoke is light, where He’s making my paths straight?’ So this record is looking at the flawed areas of my life where I’m really worrying a lot [and asking], am I seeking stuff on my own and how do I work with God, letting Him work through me?

    FC: And so the Empires are Sara’s empires?

    Sara: Yeah, Invisible Empires to me talks about what Eugene talks about, and what’s in 2 Corinthians: the unseen world – the work that God does – is eternal and real. The Kingdom that He’s building is real but invisible, and then here we are building what we think is real but it’s actually virtual. I look at technology a lot because I feel like it’s something we’ve got to stop and question, ya know? Right now it’s sort of running ahead unabated and I feel like we’ve got to look at it and say ‘Ok, I’ve gained all of these conveniences, but what did I lose?’ And that to me is all part of the same idea of man-made work. We literally worship the things that we’ve made with our own hands. That’s as old as mankind, that problem. I just want to ask the questions about the stuff that falls in with man-made struggle and that frenetic life.

    FC: So the cover kind of also tells that story, right?

    Sara: Well, you’ve got the dark city which might be like man-made cities and behind is this ethereal Kingdom of God. Again, the invisible things of God are more real than the visible things of earth. And then you see a sound wave and that’s actually me singing the words ‘invisible empires’ from the song “Obsolete.” So it’s sort of an embedded message inside the cover. When people get the actual record there are midi files which look like flowers. When you play the piano in a midi file, it looks like flowers with stems and those are also decorating the artwork throughout. So we kind of merged this idea of technology and the spiritual world. We were trying to capture all of those ideas.

    FC: You’ve talked about technology and how at times it could be a big hindrance to our lives, not necessarily a convenience. How does the Groves family ‘unplug’?

    Sara: I have a friend Miranda Harris who says ‘technology is a great servant and is a horrible master.’ I feel like my job as a parent is to get technology into that place where it is under our feet, not mastering us. My husband and I really struggled with watching TV too much and our kids basically had a video game addiction. So as a family, about 2 years ago we did a media fast for the entire summer. We thought, in Minnesota you gotta get outside in the summer! So it was really hard, but we drew a deep line in the sand. [We decided] for the next 3 months we’re going to abstain from everything; we did a whole media fast. And then we talked about what we would add back in.  It was really neat. The conversations were really healthy. I think having been detoxified, my kids were able to talk about it reasonably – in the past they couldn’t even talk about it, like it was their obsession. We were able to decide that 30 minutes a day with video games was enough for us and that we didn’t want to let the TV back in because it was definitely eating into all of these things we discovered. We still to this day don’t have cable, but we do have a physical TV that we watch a movie occasionally on, but those are some steps we’ve taken. Troy and I try to keep our online life really to our business or the music, connecting with fans and stuff.  I’m not on Facebook at all. As soon as Facebook came out it was a divine moment for me because I knew it would feed into all of my vices so it was something I wouldn’t be able to participate in.  I basically heard God say, other people get to do this but you don’t (laughs). So we do other stuff that will feed into our Facebook page, like I write a blog occasionally and Troy does Twitter a lot. I just really felt that it was going to keep me away from my family, from my kids and the people that I really want to be physically there for. So anyway, that might seem radical to some people and I’m not saying that this is in anyway a judgment or a law, but those are some of the parameters we’ve drawn.

    FC: So that’s how the Groves family operates…

    Sara: Yeah, that’s how we roll.

    FC: When you look at the overall record, you do talk about busyness, technology, all these sorts of outside influences coming into us – but there are a few other themes in the record as well. What else is there?

    Sara: In ‘Finite,’ the first line of the song says, I’m not every woman, it’s not all in me. I was sitting across the table from Jill Phillips and we were both feeling absolutely exhausted, pulled in a million different directions and she said the word ‘finite.’ I latched onto that and said ‘there’s a song in that word.’ So we sat for the next two hours and worked on that. In ‘Mystery,’ I talk about trying to bring God to earth somehow as if I could specifically do that. In ‘I Will Wait for You’ I say, I’m going to wait for You now more than ever. I can work like the devil, but that can’t really be my way, I have to wait for You. So it is my weariness at trying to do all of this work by myself and trying to make the Kingdom come. You’ve (FC) followed us as we were embarking with International Justice Mission, and we still work with IJM, (we have the song ‘Eyes on the Prize’ on this record that’s about their work). But I think I jumped in with two feet and started taking off, maybe getting a little ahead of God a little bit. And I had to realize and say, Ok, I can’t change the world, God will change things through me and He can change me. I have to wait on the Lord, and say I’m waiting for whatever You’ve got for me, and I don’t want to get ahead of You anymore. And then tying that in with the idea that I want to be about Your work, not my own work, not my own kingdom but Your empire. So that’s definitely, I would say, the river that runs through the whole record. Honestly, it’s a tired mom trying to figure it all out saying ‘I think You have more rest for me than this and I don’t think that all these things I feel obligated to are You. I think I’m obligating myself to things that aren’t necessarily God-centered.’ So how do I purge my life of all the distractions to really listen for the things that God wants me to do?

    FC: Through your art you’ve certainly opened up – whether it is marital issues, strengths, weaknesses, parenting, you’ve shared a lot that maybe other artists are uncomfortable doing. It has certainly made an impact on people. When you look at Invisible Empires, do you feel that you’re following along that same path, opening up that heart again to the public and saying ‘here we are, this is our life?’

    Sara: Yeah, ya know Fireflies and Songs was a very personal record and almost every song was me lying on the operating table. With this record I did pick up again kinda like with Tell Me What you Know and Add to the Beauty where I looked at some other things that were happening in the world. ‘Scientists in Japan’ is about bioethics (laughs), that’s not necessarily where you find me at home opening up own personal heart. So I did return to some other broader, cultural themes in this record, but there definitely are some. ‘Mystery’ would be a deeply personal song about my last couple years’ struggle with anxiety and walking through fears. I couldn’t feel God in the traditional ways I had felt Him. I’ve always had very emotional connection to God. So basically in dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks I was having I had to tell myself, my emotions are not my reality. The way I feel is not real right now! I feel like I’m going to die, and I’m actually not going to die, I’m going to be okay. But I had to deny my emotions. For a good year and a half I just rehearsed that. My emotions are tricking me, they’re not reliable. And so having had an emotional connectivity to God, it impacted the way I would feel when I would pray, everything, how I sensed God. But in the place of this emotional sort of thing I’ve always had of God, this other sense of His presence has come, that I’m really grateful for. I don’t think I would have gotten there without this whole experience, but He has been so faithful to me, and so present. Not in this emotional way where I’m “Oooh! I feel Him! I feel these emotional goosebumps!” It’s just been this solidness, I can’t even describe it. It’s literally just been a season of manna. So ‘Mystery’ is definitely a song where I’m confessing that I’ve just been working at this, trying to pull God down, I’m physically tired from trying to bring ‘Your kingdom come on earth’ And saying ‘I must not be doing it right because I need a rest. But You will meet me again. You will show up, it’s not about me, it’s about what you’re doing.’ ‘Miracle’ is a very personal song about marriage and relationships. Feeling things I can’t feel, saying things that are hard to say, not just in my marriage but in friendships. So yeah, I definitely have moments where I’m writing from that very deep personal place, and then I have other things where I’m revisiting things like I have in the past, cultural movements and events. Things that I feel like I want to ask a question about before we run full force ahead (laughs).

    FC: So yeah, tell us about ‘Scientists in Japan?’ Where’d that come from?

    Sara: Well, so in the very beginning of that chapter in Long Obedience… there’s a quote that Eugene Peterson pulls out from a French philosopher and says [something like] The marker of this day is that we set great machines in motion without any idea of where they are headed – I’m butchering thisbut he says, how tremendous the means with no concept of the end. We set machines in motion without any concept of where we’re headed. We just set things in motion, set things in motion. So I was at this think tank with Christian leaders and this bioethicist look the stage. He said literally there are only a handful of us who are Evangelical in the field of bioethics, and he had spent a year of his own time going around to all of the Christian colleges asking them, begging them to start carrying at least a minor in bioethics. There’s not a single Christian college, university of liberal arts or otherwise that is carrying a minor in bioethics. And the response was the same, well, students aren’t coming here for that, they go to the universities for that. Well exactly! We’re giving the entire field over, he said, we can’t talk about these things in churches. If I were to stand up on a Sunday morning and say “Scientists in Japan are building a robot to take your job,” I would be booed off the stage. So ya know, the little feisty part of me said, I’m gonna write a song, hopefully a whimsical one, that starts with that line (Laughs). It was compelling what he said, ‘you will face ethical challenges as you care for your aging parents, unless you think about it, you will be caught off guard.’ And that spoke to me. I will one day be caring for my aging parents, and I need to know what I think about life and death and all of the things between those.

    FC: So you and Troy are working alongside Charlie Peacock on an ‘Art House north’?

    Sara: We are. We are hoping to get an offer on our house this week. We’ve purchased a 100 year old church, and the Art House in Nashville is a 100 year old church, that is also the studio and home of Charlie and Andrea Peacock. So we asked him about four years ago, ‘would it be possible for us to partner with you in this way?’ and they were excited, so we’ve been looking for properties. The byline of the Art House is ‘creative community for the common good.’ So basically the goal in the simplest form is, artists often work in isolation but we want to give them a reason to gather whether formally or informally, and we believe that sparks will fly when they get connected. So we’re hoping that people will respond to the different artist forums and things that we hold at the Art House. I really believe something creative and new that our city has never seen will be born out of artists connecting with other artists. So that’s our dream. We’re going to live in the church, we’re building out a parsonage in the basement, and then the whole building will be used for hospitality and events. So that’s where we’re headed!

    FC: Ok, so last question. We know you started homeschooling this year. Can you briefly tell us about your experience? And are you homeschooling all three kids?

    Sara: I am sending Ruby to preschool, that gives me time with the boys that I need, they’re 5th and 3rd grade. [It was] a little bit out of necessity but it was also [a result of] a neat experience with a missionary family that put us squarely in the homeschooling camp this year. A friend of ours from IJM called and said my hero in the faith is coming to the United States and he wants to meet you. He’s a missionary in Burma doing incredible, incredible things. So we cleared our calendar and they came, and they were a team, Team Eubank. And in talking with Karen Eubank (the matriarch), I just caught a vision for us that I haven’t had before. We’ve always been Team Groves but we were doing a lot of things by putting the kids in school, a lot of gymnastics and things to keep them in the sort of ‘normalcy’ of public school, whatever that is, and we just all of a sudden felt really free and called to homeschool. We really call it ‘world school,’ we like the term. It’s been surprisingly joyful; I thought it would be more stressful than it’s been. I actually feel like we’ve simplified in a lot of ways, and the boys are thriving. And I’m having fun, the teacher in me is waking up and it’s really been joyful! That’s the only word I have for it. So I don’t know how long we’re going to do this, I don’t know what God has in mind for us, but it has been a huge blessing.

    FC: Ok, we said that was the last question, but one more. Candy corn or the fake pumpkin candy corn things?

    Sara: The real deal, that’s so funny. I just went on a trip where I wasn’t with my husband or my kids and I got a glimpse of myself without any checks and balances (laughs). I didn’t mean to do this, but I went to the grocery store and before I knew it, I had a bag of candy corn and like, all kinds of terrible snacks. So over the weekend I ate an entire bag of candy corn! If my kids were there, or if Troy was, I never would have done that… but I got a little freedom and I just went nuts and ate a whole bag of candy corn. So yeah it’s definitely a favorite (laughs).

    FC: Sara, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. We love your music and message – and wish all the very best to you and your family.

    To learn more about the International Justice Mission or the Art House North that the Groves are busy creating, visit www.saragroves.com.

    Bonus video - Sara singing Eyes on the Prize

    Further insights into Invisible Empires

    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Psalm, 2 Corinthians, Homeschooling, Sara Groves, Eugene Peterson, International Justice Mission, Charlie Peacock, Technology, TV

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