Idol Chatter

David_CassidyDavid Cassidy, the 66-year-old singer and actor, has announced that he is battling dementia.

Cassidy came to fame with his role as Keith Partridge in the hit ’70s TV show “The Partridge Family,” playing the eldest of five children. He began touring the world as a singer and had hit songs such as “I Think I Love You.” At the time, his fan club was bigger than Elvis and the Beatles. Teenage girls flocked to his concerts screaming.

He continued to perform for half a century. Over the past weekend, however, Cassidy was performing in California when he struggled to remember lyrics to his songs.

The star told People magazine that dementia runs in his family and it has effected both his grandfather and his mother.

“I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” he said to People, regarding the disease.

Cassidy’s mother, Actress Evelyn Ward, died in 2012 at the age of 89 after suffering from Alzheimer’s-related dementia. He was very outspoken about his mother’s battle with dementia.

“To watch someone who raised you, who was so vibrant, to watch them lose their mind and disappear is arguably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Cassidy said his diagnosis means he will take a step back from touring. He wants to focus on himself and family without any distractions.
“I want to focus on what I am … I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”

prattWhat is actor Chris Pratt’s favorite thing that he owns?

Need a hint?

It is not a car, a house or a sharp suit.

Pratt posted on Instagram that a wooden tray with an engraved picture of Jesus and the Scripture Philippians 4:13 is his item of choice. Pratt explained in the caption that his brother makes pocket dump trays that are used to throw wallets, keys, lighters, change or “pistols or whatever else we keep in your pocket so you know exactly where it is the next day. Well, he wanted to make me one and asked me what I wanted on it.”

When his brother asked what he wanted the tray to say. “I went for the usual Chris answer,” he wrote. The “American bald eagle smoking a cigar, holding a machine gun and an American flag whirling all bad ass in the wind maybe with some nunchucks or something.”

After thinking it through, Pratt wanted something more significant to his heart that he can take on the road with him. He wanted something less straight up. “So I thought about this great bible verse Philippians 4:13 which I’ve relied on for strength from time to time. And he knocks this thing out in like a day! Reclaimed wood and a wood burner.”

Pratt is open about his love and relationship with God and how faith has molded his life. “The Guardians of the Galaxy” actor talked about 1 John 2:10-11 as his Scriptural basis: “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.”

Pratt said he found Christ before his career really shot off. It began when a man named Henry came up to him and said, “Jesus told me to talk to you.” The Holy Spirit moved and Pratt started attending church. Pratt and his wife became even closer to God when their son was born nine weeks prematurely. “We were scared for a long time. We prayed a lot,” Pratt said. “It restored my faith in God, not that it needed to be restored, but it really redefined it.”

Pratt thanked his brother who was his hero when they were growing up and is, in fact, his champion today.

“Thanks to my big brother from the same mother for my awesome #cullypepper dump tray. It’s my favorite thing I have.”

What does Pratt’s favorite tray and favorite inscription mean?

Philippians 4:13means “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

In the beginniMarkKGabbyGng of the book, “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope,” Mark Kelly wrote that he and his wife, Gabby Giffords hoped that 2011 would be “the best year of their lives.” Kelly would command the last flight of the orbiter Endeavor, Giffords would begin her third term in Congress, and the two would hopefully conceive a child together.

Instead, 2011 was punctuated, first with terror and grief – then with a daily routine of hard work, occasional setbacks and personal triumphs. Together, Giffords and Kelly, a couple bonded deeply by love, learned what survival really meant after suffering a severe brain injury.

From the moment Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly found love and a new life with each other, the pretty Arizona congresswoman and the brave astronaut captured each other’s hearts.

The couple met in 2003 when both were selected to attend a young leaders’ forum by the National Committee in U.S.-China relations. The next year, they met again when the group reconvened in Arizona. At the time, Kelly was 40, newly divorced and living in Houston with two daughters. Giffords was 34, living in Tucson, 18 months into her first term as the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona Senate.

“I thought she was out of my league,” Kelly said. “She had a compelling urge to learn everything she needed to know to represent the people of Arizona. If she was working on legislation that had to do with the death penalty, then she needed to visit death row.”

It wasn’t hard for those closest to Giffords to see how her feelings were really beginning to grow for Kelly.

“I remember Gabby telling me she met this fellow and then she giggled,” said Robert Reich, former labor secretary and close family friend. “I said, ‘He must be tall, dark and very handsome,’ and she laughed and said, ‘No. He’s short and bald, and I love him.’”

Kelly was just the man Giffords was looking for. He was smart, supportive and sincere, all characteristics she had been searching for in someone. They were both incredibly smitten.

The two wed in 2007 on a beautiful organic produce farm outside of Tucson. After the wedding, Kelly returned to her job in Houston and Giffords to her work in Arizona and Washington, D.C. as a U.S. representative. The couple’s commuter marriage continued until Giffords was shot on Jan. 8. 2011 by Jared Lee Loughner in a shooting spree.  

Since the shooting, their lives have dramatically changed, now filled with work, movies, friends and ongoing speech, yoga and physical therapy for Giffords. While the couple has to deal with their share of adjustments and challenges, the six years since the shooting have brought the two closer together; they’ve learned a lot about life and love along the way.

“Now we live in the same place and see each other more often than we ever did,” Giffords said. “It’s taught me how important it is for a relationship to have a strong foundation of loyalty and respect.”

There are a number of lessons they’ve learned on their journey that have really helped keep the couple happy, healthy and moving forward. One of them is acceptance. Giffords has physical limitations and walks slower than she used to. She has nonfluent aphasia, which means she understands conversation clearly but struggles to speak in complete sentences. This experience has taught Kelly how to be a more patient person and the benefits that come with that.

“To communicate basic ideas might take 20 minutes as long as it used to,” Kelly said. “It requires a lot of patience. I never thought of myself as a very patient person, but I’m a lot more now.”

Another major lesson they’ve learned is the power of positive thinking.

“The injury Gabby suffered was horrific,” Kelly said. “It will affect her for the rest of her life. If the roles were reversed, I’d be a little bitter, but she isn’t. She pops up everyday looking ahead and trying to figure out how to be a positive force in the world. She doesn’t get down; she realizes we can’t go back in time and there’s no undoing this. There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself; all you can do is try to do the best you can do with what you’ve got.”

Finally, one of the greatest lessons they’ve learned through all of this is the value of loyalty and teamwork.

“People come up to me all the time and commend me for hanging in there,” Kelly said. “I always find that odd because what’s the other option? In situations like this, you don’t bolt and leave – the idea never occurred to me.”

While Giffords continues to rely on Kelly’s assistance, this doesn’t stop her from being a supportive partner who gives as much as she receives.

“Before the shooting, we balanced each other because he loved to talk and I was more reserved,” Giffords said. “While I was in Congress, I often looked to him for his expertise in the military and science. He looked to me for my experience in politics, business and life. Now, Mark does most of the talking but we still lean on each other for expertise. Our relationship has always been based on mutual respect and adoration.”

Every day Giffords tackles new challenges, encouraged by the fact that Kelly will always be by her side. We can all learn a great deal from their love and the incredible lessons they’ve learned along the way.  

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It’s been nearly a decade since author William P. Young’s novel, The Shack, was published, selling over a million copies within the space of a year and going on to be one of the most influential pieces of Christian fiction ever produced.

There’s a good reason why The Shack went from self-published unknown to selling over 15 million copies between 2007 and 2011: through the novel, Young taps into the collective desire for a truly loving God in a time when many have become disillusioned with organized religion.

Now, on March 3rd, The Shack is finding new life on the big screen with its theatrical debut, starring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer and Tim McGraw.

We were lucky enough to have a chat with lead actor Sam Worthington, who portrayed the character of Mack Phillips, a man who, after the death of his young daughter, spirals into a deep depression and begins to question his faith in a good and loving God. Worthington, who was changed by his experience with The Shack, reveals insights that shed light on the depth and power of the film.

Here’s what he had to say on what led him—an action hero of Avatar and Terminator fame—to the role.

“To be honest, I read the script and I can’t really tell you why I said I wanted to do it. I had a visceral reaction to the script. Normally you pick a part because of the other actors involved or there was something you needed to say in the story, but I just had a feeling about it. I called the producers and said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but this thing really got me, and I’d love to do the film.’”

When we pressed a little about what drew Worthington to the script, he revealed something that millions of readers have been saying since the book’s release: the story gave him something he needed.

“I think maybe there’s something in it of those arguments that I’ve had with the world—I think maybe it was something about this man’s emotional journey, where I went, ‘Well, I’ve been a frustrated guy. I’ve built my own Shack. I’ve got to learn to forgive.’ I don’t know—those kinds of things really echoed with me. Film making is problem solving, and these are great problems to try and solve.”

The Shack is a parable for the anger and frustration and grief and guilt that we carry and are burdened by. We build these things in our lives, and we don’t have the tools to get out of them. If the movie and the book can give you those tools and give you those lessons, that’s a very interesting message to get across. So I think that’s what I was discovering as well: what are the tools, then? How do you move through forgiveness? How do you get to the other side and gain some clarity in your life?”

That’s the thing about the Bible, as well, you know. The Bible is stories, and out of these stories you gain insight into, alright, how can I parallel that with my life, and how do I use that to make me a better person, and use the lessons they’re teaching to make me a better person? So The Shack had that same kind of effect for me.”

The film, despite its emotional content, is no stranger to humor—the surreal weirdness of seeing God making biscuits in the kitchen will put a smile on audience members’ faces. When we asked Worthington what it was like to act out a nice country dinner with the God of the universe, he had this to say.

“That’s the weirdest thing, you know. I would tell my friends what I was doing, that I’m doing a movie where a guy who spends the weekend with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And you could see my mates looking at me like I’d lost my mind, not only in what I was saying, but just in the fact that I was going to do a movie like that.

The way it works, though, is that the scenes aren’t reverential—the scenes are done on a grounded level—almost two friends—that gives the film an element of truth, and out of that the arguments get a bit more gravity. So if you look at when people pray, you’re looking at God sometimes as the closest friend and only friend you’ve got left, so it’s not like it’s too overwhelming. I said that if we approach it that way, if Octavia approaches it in a grounded way, these arguments and messages will resonate more.”

It is in that very ordinary-ness that the film is most powerful. This isn’t a story of God speaking out of fire and thunder. This isn’t a grand narrative of His plans for humanity. This is a simple story of one man spending time with his Papa, something to which anyone, secular or Christian, can relate.

Worthington concluded with what he hopes people will take away from the film.

“I think it’s a hopeful film. That’s the main thing. I don’t have a nihilist view of the world—I want movies to kind of stay with you when you leave the cinema a lot longer than just crossing the lobby, and maybe promote conversation.”

And, indeed, the film is set to do just that. In addition to Worthington, we also had the pleasure of catching up with the author of The Shack, himself, William P. Young. A cheerful and and intelligent man who simply goes by Paul, his insights into his work were profound. But he had one thing to say that encapsulated the purpose of his book like nothing else.

“I grew up a modern Evangelical fundamentalist preacher’s kid, and [the purpose of the novel] was to say ‘Look, you know, I don’t want you to try to have a relationship with the God I grew up with. But let me write, as best I know how, the character and nature of the God who actually showed up and healed my heart.”

And that’s it. That’s why The Shack has changed so many lives, and will continue to change more when it reaches entirely new audiences on March 3rd. Whatever your beliefs, this film has something to offer–the very real and very grounded struggles of the protagonist will feel familiar to many, and the tools and lessons provided by the story of The Shack might just be what you need to help you through the most difficult and confusing questions life has to offer.