A couple months ago, my daughter and I went on a Daddy Date to the movies. I can't remember the movie we saw but I sure remember a preview from that night. After the preview our eyes met and we both said to each other, "That looks awesome!" It was a preview for the new Unbroken movie in theaters, December 2014.
Interested in the storyline behind this screenplay, I picked up the book and began reading the story of Louie Zamperini. I had no previous knowledge of his story. The fact that I was enjoying the book so much made anticipation for the movie even more appealing. A friend of mine, Russell, built even more intrigue when he said, "Will, you are going to love the ending of that book!"
That comment motivated me to put my head down and finish Zamperini's story. For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, here is a brief summary: imagine a story of a troubled boy who unexpectedly became an Olympic athlete. He joins the Army Bombarders in WWII only to have his plane crash into the Pacific Ocean where he and two other men were stranded for 47 days on a life-raft. They were rescued, not by Americans but by the Japanese. They were taken to prison of war camps where they were tortured relentlessly.
Angelina Jolee's screenplay ends with his rescue from the camps and his subsequent return to America and a disappointing handful of sentences are given for the rest of his story. What movie-goers didn't experience was, for me, the most compelling storyline of Zamperini's life.
Louie did something that most men would never have the fortitude to do. He returned to Japan, sought out his captors, who beat, belitted, and tortured him. Redemption, not revenge, was the purpose of Zamperini's return.
You see once returning to America after his initial imprisonment, Louie married. Post-Tramatice Stress Disorder affected him severely. One night he recalls waking from a nightmare, strangling his wife. She decided to divorce Louie but fate intervened. His wife went to a Billy Graham crusade and returned to her husband at told him, "If you want to save this marriage, you will come with me tonight." During those nights underneath a revival tent Louie surrendered his life to Jesus. This decision is what brought Zamperini back to Japan.
Restoration was what drove Louie's return to Japan to face his captors. Redemption would draw enemies to look one another in the eyes and seek forgiveness for their horrors.
I want you to hear the rest of the story from Zamperini himself. Give a few minutes to hear his testimonial . . .
At our Journey Church Staff Christmas Party we all went around the table and answered the question, “What’s your family’s Christmas tradition?” I got the best idea from this conversation (All creative credit goes to the Deal Family).
Now that I have teenagers, some of the “present opening mystic” associated with Christmas morning has begun wane. In hopes to spice things up a bit Tarah and I put together a Treasure Hunt for Browning Christmas 2014.
Once the kids went to bed, we cleared out all the presents from under the tree, leaving an absolutely bare tree-base. Then we took all of the kids’ gifts and hid them in discrete places in and around our house (Piper’s in the trunk of a car, Jedidiah in a closet, and Ethan in our neighbors house). Then we made riddles that led the kids to their presents. We placed the riddles in envelopes and hung them from the tree.
On Christmas morning, Ethan was the first down the stairs. He made his way alone to a giftless tree and said, “They gave our gifts to needy kids; this is going to be a sad Christmas.” Ethan told us later, “I went back downstairs three times to confirm what I saw.”
When Piper awoke she noticed the envelopes and hope remained. Tarah and I were retrieved once Jedidah woke up and the treasure hunt began! Piper quickly solved her riddle, Ethan solved Jed’s for him, and they were all stumped for a minute with Ethan’s riddle.
It was all pretty fun and made for a memorable Christmas. We finished the day with some of our more established traditions: eating pancakes & bacon, seeing a movie, and having Chinese Food for dinner.
Here’s to Christmas 2014!