Melissa’s Un-authoritative Midrash on the Academy Awards

So, did you watch the Academy Awards 2009 last night?

I almost missed it myself but thanks to a true friend of popular culture who thought to remind me, I caught the last several hours. Most award shows can’t sustain my attention but last night I thought the presentation was stunning.

I had several favorite moments but since it is Monday and we all have way too much to do, I’ll just give you two:

1) The dance tribute to the Musical for once again gaining momentum. The stage was full of fun performers like Beyonce’, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Amanda Seyfried all celebrating the once much-loved genre making its way back into mainstream popularity. Oh and I feel like inserting here: I still don’t like Musicals. I’m just not sassy enough to appreciate Musicals but my personal deficiency at this point does not steal my joy for those who are.

2) The gathering of five female Hollywood hall of famers (Shirley MacLaine, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Halle Berry) to recognize the five female nominees for best actress in a leading role (the nominees were: Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet). Shirley MacLaine’s speech to Anne Hathaway was so kind and gracious that I could barely make out that hideously mean yet brilliant character Ouiser from Steel Magnolias. And then I remembered why she was on the stage in the first place.

For those of you who didn’t watch, Kate Winslet won the much-coveted award for best performance by an actress in a leading role. One of the delightful things about watching the Academy Awards is that actors/actresses who often play it cool and composed can’t help but get expressive. Even though they’re all dolled up, they appear surprisingly taken off guard and even corny. I found the moments of cheesiness to be a little bit refreshing. For instance, the exquisite Kate Winslet was no longer a calm and sophisticated socialite restrained in a tight corset like she once was in Titanic, for she resembled a giggly little girl whose bursts of excitement hindered her words from keeping up with her heart. She even waved to her Daddy out in the crowd. I loved when she said:

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror. And this (holding up her statuette) would’ve been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now!”

Oh the glory of seeing the fruit of one’s hard work and determination actually realized. You can almost be emotionally moved by it.

I bash Hollywood quite a bit. I’m especially hard on the women. I wonder if it has anything to do with how beautiful they are…? But, I’ve gotta admit, those chics work hard! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that they are dang good at what they do, even if we personally wouldn’t morally approve of the movie they star in. Now, you’re thinking, “Do you have any idea how much they get paid, Melissa???” Point well taken. But still.

I’m taking their example of hard work and excellence as a challenge this week. Notice that I didn’t say I am taking their moral excellence as a challenge. Please don’t misunderstand me. But back to the point– Since I am paid to be a research assistant what this means for me is sitting down with my technical books, articles, and commentaries and reading them like Angelina Jolie would read her script. Now you might think that my job sounds fun and easy, but it isn’t all fun and games. There are days I read small print for eight hours straight. Did I mention I have bi-focals? That’s because I never wear them. Anyway, there are times during the day when I get bored and want to take a nap just like you probably do. I love my job and I find great satisfaction in it but it is still a job and sometimes it is very hard.

This week I don’t want to just do a good job; I want to do an excellent job. From the corporate woman, to the student, all the way to the stay-at-home Mom, we’ve all been given important and often daunting tasks. Let’s be excellent at what we do here on this earth. We may never single-handedly change the world and get to sport Oscar de la Renta evening wear all at the same time but we can be excellent in the various spheres of influence we’ve been given by the Lord.

And on a broad spiritual level, may we continue to persevere in our callings and prove ourselves to be good stewards of our time and resources so that one day we may taste sweet and ultimate victory. A life lived excellently as unto the Lord. No earthly acknowledgment, not even Shirley MacLaine’s toast to Anne Hathaway, could ever hold a candle to the Master’s words:

“Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.”


158 Responses to “Melissa’s Un-authoritative Midrash on the Academy Awards”

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  1. 101
    Jill_in_AL says:

    So many mornings I say to the Lord…Lord, make me HIGHLY EFFECTIVE today!

    I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or my own time, I don’t want to ever be a slacker, and I want to bear much fruit.

    Great post, siesta!

  2. 102
    GentillyIzzie says:

    Girl you got in my business with this post. Lately I have found myself in the comfortable rut of just getting by… and you are so right that is not good enough I should be doing it with excellence in mind. So I am now pulling myself out of that rut and doin it right. Thanks for the challenge!

  3. 103
    Pastorswife says:

    Girlfriend, I SO needed this post. Didn’t watch the Awards, got home too late from Church and have a houseful of men 🙂 not at all interested in drama of any sort unless it contains humor. Back to point, Excellence. It can be so hard to remember that even though our job may never be acknowledged by another and our deed done in quiet may never be known by any other but the Lord Himself, it is still an honor to do it excellently; to reap the reward of knowing that we have taught our children, cleaned our house, loved our husband, taught our bible study, done our job etc. in a way that we can present it as a an offering without spot to the Lord. Thank you for keeping the standard high.

  4. 104
    Hope says:

    Thank you for this encouragement. Such a wonderful way to view things like the AA’s. I have been prodded by the Lord (again!) to bloom where I am planted. Because of course it is He who has planted me. I want to bloom in excellence!!!

  5. 105
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    I DID WATCH…And I too was so moved by the presentation of best actress…I love how you brought it back around to one day hearing, “Well done good and faithful servant.” How amazing it will be to hear that…

    And I KNOW you love your Starbucks…but that is where I work and sometimes the people I serve are NOT NICE! So…I am going to pursue excellence even when they are mean…I promise I will NOT hit the decaf button when they are mean! hahaha! Seriously…LOVED this post!

  6. 106
    Anonymous says:

    May we all as daughters of the king take this thought of working hard towards excellence for the Lord! Interesting that we look at the Oscars and Hollywood and are dazzled and amazed by them and their accomplishments. Hmm..I wonder if Almighty God is dazzled and amazed by them as well. I think he is dazzled and amazed at his children humbly obeying Him and being delighted in His Son. May we pray for every one of those five women on stage last night…for their salvation if they don’t know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Because the truth is…no matter how many Oscars they have on their mantle, no matter how hard they have worked for them, if they died tonight without Christ Jesus, they would have nothing.

    Thanks Melissa for the post. You are a wonderful and inspiring young woman of God.

  7. 107
    Staci says:

    Your last paragraph was a fellow Siesta grabbing my hand and pulling me on toward the goal. I so needed the encouragement to continue the race tonight.
    Thank you – I’m pressing on!

  8. 108
    Jennifer's Blog says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I needed a reminder. <— This coming from a mom of a 15 year old boy who is not behaving well these days. To be quite honest, I've been wondering where this child came from!
    God has called me to be the mother of four wonderful children I wouldn't trade for the world! He is my oldest and my first teenager. (There are still many days when I feel like a teenager myself.) I know God has placed within me everything I need to be his mother — HIMSELF!
    I long to be the excellent mother he needs and I pray I can get this flesh out of the way long enough for God to do His work! :o)
    Thanks again! {{hugs}}

  9. 109
    Anonymous says:

    And this on Monday morning too! Let’s hear it for Monday mornings…some make you want to climb right back into bed!!!

  10. 110
    Anonymous says:

    Well done, dear one- You, your mom, dad and sister are evidence that the work you pursue on God’s script is a serious and time consuming one, worthy of an “Academy Award” in the screen play of life- much harder than any film representation. I greatly appreciate that our Lord has sent you as one of my directors- some time we are a difficult group of actors!!!!- Lots of love- Kathy

  11. 111
    Maria says:

    Well put Melissa. I didn’t get to see the Academy Awards, but I did see a remarkable performance tonight at my small group. The Holy Spirits performance in Video 4 of Esther: If You Remain Silent…well all I can say is I can’t remain silent!!! I had a healing tonight…Fear NOT!!! for He is with me!!!!… will anyone rejoice with me?? Praise you Father. You are my remarkable God. You Never Fail ME In these studies. You are so AMAZING, I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER!!THANK YOU, FOREVER GRATEFUL FOR HEALING ME…again and for showing me areas I didn’t even know it was fear……JESUS PRAISE YOU. MY ONE AND ONLY!!! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!! I LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU!!!!

  12. 112
    DigiNee says:

    Bravo Melissa, bravo!!! Good word!!!! Seems the Holy Spirit was amovin’ last night during the Academy Awards – can’t wait to see you all on the red carpet as we join together to honor our Lord on that final day! Woo-hoo! Excellence it is . . .


  13. 113

    Hey Melissa: Great post today! I no longer watch TV [except INSP or TBN] thanks to God and your mother. It’s that Babylonian mentality thing that she taught about in Daniel and that commitment in Believing God with giving up something for 9 weeks – only it’s now going on 2 1/2 years. Just never wanted it back and it’s freeing.

    Loved your point at the end about excellency. After all, God gave us “His Excellence” – King Jesus!

    Isn’t our excellence the least we can give back in return?

    Looking UPward and Choosing JOY,

  14. 114
    Anonymous says:

    Well said I myself don’t watch but I do get a glimpse of the magazines at the check out counter. I got a twelve year old daughter and I have to pursue excellence and be an example for Her. I pray that the Lord helps me in this area .

  15. 115
    Moose Mama says:

    Yes, and Amen! When I remember WHO my Boss truly is…it’s easier to do it for His Glory!

    Melana in Wyoming

  16. 116
    AbbyLane says:

    i am just saying. confession time. i have a huge girl-crush on kate winslet. have for as long as i can remember. (i also have this same issue with meryl streep. 🙂 ) i just think she [kate] is super, and have loved everything i’ve read about her fighting the “norm” to be worried about the number on the tag in her jeans. she is a normal woman and abnormally good at her job. love it.

    have been thinking about this certain thing myself lately–excelling at the tasks the Lord has given me. i mean, most days for me are filled with cleaning toilets and changing diapers, but those are Jesus’ sweet children i’m watching, so i’ll do it with a happy heart. 🙂 thanks for this…love your heart.

  17. 117
    hisfivefooter says:

    Thank you for a very “current” post! You took a pop culture event and turned it into something applicable biblically. The body of work represented by those women is actually amazing. Thank you for not being legalistic and allowing others to enjoy a good film with good acting. A large portion of us watch movies and the women who are in them. We relate to them on an emotional level and with their characters. I love the fact that the idea of that can relate to a biblical teaching and value system. Very approachable and realistic post. Thank you.
    Lisa in Kirkland, WA

  18. 118
    Becky says:

    Melissa, Very well said. We should all strive for excellence in our lives with the LORD because someday we will be reward with something much more valuable than Oscar. We will receive crowns from our LORD to be laid at HIS feet. That is the best reward ever.
    Attalla, AL

  19. 119
    Joyce says:

    I loved what you had to say today.

    I also love that you use a word like midrash : ) I had to look it up. It’s only 8:30 and I’ve already learned something today.

  20. 120
    bigdogmom says:

    I didn’t watch the academy awards but am getting what you are saying. I have been doing my fair share of complaining about my current situation, walking around feeling all sorry for myself, and of course, unappreciated at the same time. I was reminded in a book I am currently reading about doing all things unto the Lord. At the moment, I wanted to hurl the book I across the room. Instead I closed the book and logged onto LPM. Here is this post from you speaking that exact message. Guess it’s time for me to get off my pity trip and start remembering that it is not all about me. Whew!
    What a confrimation. Thank you. Now, let’s see how to put this into practice and let it sink like an anchor deep into the nooks and crannies of my spirit.

  21. 121
    Anonymous says:

    “This week I don’t want to just do a good job; I want to do an excellent job. From the corporate woman, to the student, all the way to the stay-at-home Mom, we’ve all been given important and often daunting tasks. Let’s be excellent at what we do here on this earth.”

    WOW oh WOW…I have read this blog since its beginning and have never commented but when I read the above lines, the Holy Spirit in me jumped yet again……the Lord has been working on an area in my life and By Golly I think I finally got it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o)

    Praise God that He is longsuffering because I am sure He has been suffering A LONG TIME for this to finally sink in my think skull all the way down to my heart!!

    Paula S
    NS~ Canada

  22. 122
    Anonymous says:

    Well done, Melissa!! Thanks for this terrific challenge. God bless you!

    Karen, Stayton, OR

  23. 123
    Anonymous says:

    Feeling very overwhelmed at work this is the post I needed to read before I left to begin my day at work. Lord, help me to pursue excellence today,,,
    Thank you Melissa just what I needed to hear.

  24. 124
    Rita Scott says:

    Melissa, well done. We truly do need to practice excellence. It would be too easy to nap every afternoon (I so enjoy an afternoon nap!) and put aside those things to which God has called us.

    I am reminded of 2Peter 1:2-4 which says: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
    Let’s lead the charge and be “women of excellence among the people of God”!

  25. 125
    Jennifer in NC says:

    Thanks for redeeming my Hollywood bitterness! There’s always something real and true behind every fascade, right? I think this lesson on pursuing excellence in the things that are enduring is a great one!

  26. 126
    Donna says:

    Thank you Melissa. I am sitting in a classroom waiting for it to fill up with students. I want to give my best to the Lord and to them this morning.

  27. 127
    Dee says:

    Thank you for this post – I agree!
    Being a woman of excellence – what a blessed calling!

  28. 128
    Anonymous says:

    I loved your post Melissa on being “excellent women”. However, I do take issue with Hollywood women being thought of as being excellent. They could have done so much good along the way, however I can’t think of one right now that I would put in that “category”. They are so morally corrupt I get sick thinking about it and we have so many youth hanging on them. Don’t get me wrong, I pray for them. I DO NOT want one of them to spend eternity away from our Savior. BUt they certainly seem bent on heading that way. If we watch these kinds of shows and they get decent ratings won’t they continue to put them on. The movies that won (and no I didn’t watch them I heard about who won)were outrageous. I certainly would not want an award for what they did.
    We need to pray that our youths eyes are so opened to the “opulence” of the world and what it does not give them. I feel like sending them all the Daniel Study.
    Sorry I went on for so long, but I needed to respond to that display they put on.
    I will strive for “excellence” in my life. My God is a great God!!
    Bible Bunny in No MI

  29. 129
    Anonymous says:

    And didn’t you love that Kate Winslet honored Meryl Streep as she accepted her award stating that she and the other nominees were fortunate just to be in the same category as “Meryl Streep!” who had just broken the Oscar record with 15 nominations. Made me think that we have a kinship with Someone infinitely more excellent than Meryl… and how am I honoring Him with my words today?

  30. 130
    Walking on High Hills says:

    I am in tears, because i am with you siesta! What more pleases the Father than our heart felt excellent working woman attitudes towards whatever it is we do!

    good post!

  31. 131
    Shannon says:

    Beth, I know exactly what you mean. That silent scream still haunts me and it’s been years since I even saw the movie! Meryl Streep has said she shot the scene in one take because it was so emotionally exhausting–she had toddlers at the time and it hit too close to home–and has never watched it since!

    My mom refuses to watch it, along with “Old Yeller” and “Brian’s Song.” Her rationale is this: “Look, I know the dog dies in Old Yeller, the kid dies in Brian’s Song, and Sophie has to send one of her kids to the gas chambers in Sophie’s Choice. There’s enough misery in the world I can’t avoid but I can avoid those three, and I mean to.” And so far, she has been faithful unto that promise.

    But I still find it one of those scenes that, without being physically gruesome, brings home the horror of man’s inhumanity to man in ways that few other films ever have.

  32. 132
    Nicole says:

    Thank you for a nice reminder! I want to run this race with excellence. I don’t want to cross the finish line on my hands and knees but standing tall with my head held high, waiting to hear from my Lord.

  33. 133
    Lauren Kelly says:

    Melissa, loved the meaning behind this post and loved the recap of the Oscars!!!! Thanks for always challenging us!!!:o)

  34. 134
    bigdogmom says:

    Oh yeah, I wanted to mention that I think I finally know what happened to the joy and peace in my life. I haven’t felt too special, lately, although that is a longing in my heart. It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I knew I had the Father’s approval. There was a time when I knew that I knew that I knew I was smack dab in the middle of God’s will for me. It was when I was pursuing a life of excellence.Sometimes, it was sheer determination that got me through some tough times. There was victory, though. I long for those days. And now, thanks to your post, Melissa, I know I will have them again.

  35. 135
    Angela Burtis says:

    Melissa, you used the word “midrash”. I wondered where I recently heard (and learned) that word. I know – from reading Margaret Feinberg’s “The Organic God”. Is that where you learned it too?

  36. 136 says:

    beautifully said. thank you so much for this post, melissa!

  37. 137
    Anonymous says:

    this is like a beit midrash..or a melissa, Amanda or curt midrash!!!! thanks!

  38. 138
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you! A good “perspective setter” for the day. Loved it. Your renewed quest for excellence began with that blog post. Outstanding. Sister in Christ, Christine, Boise, ID

  39. 139
    Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife says:

    I don’t know of another person who would think to use the words midrash and academy awards in the same sentence. You are too fabulous. :))

  40. 140
    Charlotte says:

    I am a nurse practitioner working in the daunting field of public health. I see the least of the least who sometimes, admittedly, are doing the least of the least for their own health so that I(we) have to do more and more . . . So, literally, when I think about “running the race with perseverance that is marked out for us”, I am applying it to my day-by-day job with the aggravations and burn-out and RE-minding myself minute by minute, not only am I lucky to have the job, the job is part of the race. God hears my expressive self on this issue daily.

  41. 141
    Anonymous says:

    Bobbi, if you’re reading: Thank you for being so honest. You put to words what I’ve been feeling for too long: “I haven’t wanted excellence in quite a while, I got preoccupied with enduring. And now that I think about it, it has been rather miserable, this constant dread of needing to complete the next task.” Thank you so much for that.

    So Melissa, when I first read your post, my thought was that I just didn’t have the energy to pursue excellence throughout each day anymore. When it truly “matters” (in my work, in interaction with others, in studying God’s Word), of course, – but in things that can slide (eating well, exercising consistently, keeping our house in tip top shape), it’s become drudgery and definitely not my best for Christ and His kingdom. I used to pursue excellence in every area of life – but somewhere along the way, over the last few years, I lost that drive.

    I didn’t think I’d respond to your post based on how I first felt reading your last paragraph, but now, after reading Bobbi’s post, I’m ready to be on my knees for this in a completely different way.

    I love how God used both of you ladies to move my heart – a great game of Siesta tag team. Just like Paul and Apollos. 🙂

    Linda in MN

  42. 142
    Anonymous says:

    Melilssa and Beth,
    I don’t know if you will really read this comment or now, or whether just the staff screens them, but I really felt like this touched my heart and you need to know it. This morning, we saw the video session in Jesus, the One and Only where Beth describes Melissa, sitting in Beth’s chair, having her time with the Lord and telling Beth that she wants to develop the same deep relationship of having the Lord talk to her through the Scriptures, as she knew was happening to her Mom. It was powerful
    It must thrill your heart to see this come to fruition!! What a testimony, what an encouragement, what a legacy. It gave me goosebumps.

    Tremont, Illinois

  43. 143
    Kristi says:

    Oh, thank you so much for these words of encouragement. I needed them tonight. I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother of five. I am feeling a little more discouraged than normal as we have some sickness going around the house. Thank you for your insight, Melissa!

  44. 144
    Kristib says:

    I loved how the five past winners spoke so sweetly to each of the five nominees. As a pastors wife I hope that I would remember to speak so sweetly to those who will follow me in doing what I do.

    Sometimes it is hard to pursue excellence in the face of adversity. But our Lord is in charge and he will enable us to accomplish the impossible.

    Thank you Melissa for this post!

    Much love!

  45. 145
    Lynnette says:

    Unable to be at Bible study with Beth tonight (that hasn’t happened in a few years – good thing I can go at 5pm next week) so I thought I’d get a blog fix while stuck home for minor medical reasons! I saw the Academy Awards and enjoy the pagentry but have little desire to have anything to do with that life. However, Melissa, thank you for the reminder of our excellence needed in any field. I also like Twinkle’s heavenly image of another award show.

    Reading Melissa’s original post, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8 NIV) Better a crown in heaven than any little statue that is a weak treasure to store here on earth, even if it’s from Hollywood 😉 Now, if I can simply de-clutter from my house/life the too many trinkets I’ve collected or “earned” over the years. Onward, to excellence!

  46. 146
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    Mrs. Melissa:) This post is a good challenge for me too. I have been praying that I would view my job as a mission field (it very much is), and that I would be a bond-servant of Christ in my attitude, doing everything as unto Him. I had a test of sorts at work today. I want to pass that test. I want to love Him with all my mind, heart, soul, strength AND to love others as myself. I do want to persevere in my calling, and be faithful, found faithful in the end…for my Father to be pleased with me is the ultimate-to know Him. To love Him…

    Blessings, Love and ((HUGS))


  47. 147
    MistyMae says:

    I love your comment on Katie with being composed in the movie an on the stage she was giggly girl! I often have thought that about women on TV. The women on TV can keep her house clean, kids clean, kids behaved, go to work, sit with kids for hours and have a five course meal made for her family and still go to be at a reasonable time. It is impossiable. I have tried it. Do not get me wrong. I feed my kids, I spend time with my kids, I cook meals, I clean. I als often reflect to Beth’s comment about her “supperman” I have a supperman. He will cook when I am working late! But the only person I can be is me! Those women protray a falsehood!

  48. 148
    Lindsee Lou says:

    This was such a wise, encouraging post, Melissa!

    First off, I LOVED the musical number, however, I am a huge fan, so of course, that would peak my interest.

    Secondly, thank you for the encouragement about persevering through our callings and being excellent about it. Sometimes I settle just enough to get by. Or I just get plain discouraged and want to throw the towl in! So, thank you, friend. You spoke a true word.

  49. 149
    Redeemed says:

    I just read Melissa from CA’s comment and totally agreed. Although I appreciate the encouragement to be women of excellence no matter what we do, I’m not necessarily on board with the example of Hollywood. There are so many more worthy examples we can emulate instead of a self-gratifying, self-glorifying world such as the entertainment industry. Let’s not forget that we can be fed the Enemy’s lies in all different forms, but do we recognize the lies when they are packaged up from glossy, well-dressed, eloquent, designer-clad celebrities???
    I’m just saying……

  50. 150
    Groovewoman ♫ says:

    Melissa, good word today lady.

    I want to be excellent in my work as a stay-at-home Mom and at times, I just don’t feel like doing anything. That is the wrong mindset to have. This is where the Lord has me and I need to be doing it with Excellence. Thank you for that reminder! I loved when you said:

    “Let’s be excellent at what we do here on this earth….. but we can be excellent in the various spheres of influence we’ve been given by the Lord.”

    Although honestly i struggle with this being a stay-at-home mom and I don’t feel like being with a 2 year old all day is being part of a “sphere of influence”, if you know what I mean. But I know that that is something the Lord is having to do some working on me! 😀

    Thank you again for your post today Melissa.

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