Obsessed with seasons? Well, I prefer the term "fascinated," but I'll concede.
There are many wonderful ways we can use the word. Observe:
What are some of YOUR favorite seasons?
Trees have shed their autumn blush
They wait now in expectant hush
For snow to weigh their branches
Dry leaves tickle frosted ground
Searching for banks to huddle round
And whisper windy secrets
The air was brusque, now colder still
It shivers with a winter's chill
But I, inside, don't feel it
My needles and hook are bundled up
In colorful yarn and softest fluff
That transform in my hands
Cozy scarves and tiny hats
Then a pair of mittens to match
All crafted together with love
Clothed in warm accessories
We'll brave the chill and rake the leaves
To welcome drifting snow
Frenzied leaves spin in the wind
Tousled by fall's frigid breath
Hoping for a few more dances
Before being buried in winter frosting
I'm shivering on my bed
Soon to be in the bed
And I heard that snow is coming... Too soon!
We're barely in October and
The leaves still need to dress for autumn
Don't bring winter yet!
Outside I hear the wind
Gusting change through the air
I am caught between seasons
Hardly knowing which to curl up in to stay
My head knows change is good, healthy
Brings new dreams and new springs and
Growth after cold
I tune it out for a spell
Content to cozy under comforters
Pretending it will be warmer
In the morning
A friend of mine stated earlier this year that "a professional is someone who exercises their craft whether they feel like it or not." I thought that was an insightful definition. It also reminded me that all evidence points to me not being a professional blogger.
But I've also realized that that's perfectly okay. It's okay for other things to be more important than this blog.
When I'm on a project, my relationship to the internet is one of near hibernation. Then afterward, it can take a little while for my creative side to start pumping again. But whether I want to "publish" the content or not, I still enjoy matchmaking words, so I've devised another outlet to contain my writings until they are ready to see the light of online day.
A notebook. Blank, inviting lined pages.
Not a journal. In this volume lie no expectations of time or content. No theme, no rules, no pressure. In fact, I've made a bookmark to remind me of that, as well as keep my place. A place where I can write fragmented sentences and half-finished lyrics and terrible puns and first-draft thought-spills.
Some of these may make it out of the notebook. Eventually. But they wouldn't have to. Part of the purpose is to retrain my brain to not shut out 95% of the so-called dumb ideas that might visit. Because--maybe the dumb part about them could be rehabilitated somehow. That's the hope, but not the pressure!
Anyways, there you have it. My attempt to harness trains of thought before they get derailed. :) And now I'm rambling about it. But that could be a good thing, right? Better sometimes to ramble than close up inside. Looks like I just succeeded in writing an entire post about not writing a post. "Sometimes I impress myself!" (That's a quote from a movie, but don't worry if you don't recognize it; most people won't)
In other news, I just got back home from another feature film shoot. This was my 9th credit as a script supervisor, and I also did a decent voice-over role for the movie as the police dispatcher. Check out StoneTable Films on Facebook for cool behind the scenes stuff. I made some new, very good friends on this set!
After a long, hard, fabulous film shoot, the cast and crew gets together to capture the faces, the memories. Movie t-shirts are handed out, a day decided upon to collectively don the fanware, and a group photo is taken. Been there, done that, roughly a dozen times.
What I don't normally do? Is wear the shirt afterward. It sits in my drawer. Sometimes my suitcase, but mostly my drawer, because I've given up on even taking them with me on trips. When a shirt doesn't fit me comfortably, it isn't staying on very long.
Take unisex T-shirts, for example. They look great on guys, and even a lot of girls, but for me, when they fit right for my shoulders, they are too still too long and narrow to go over my hips. It feels....awkward. So the other day I decided to try and remedy the situation. I didn't want to throw out the shirts, but I knew that as-is wasn't cutting it. And if I'm already altering the shirt, why not add some extra character to it while I'm at it?
Pinterest to the rescue! There are plenty of makeover ideas out there, and a couple dozen tutorials later, I was ready to design my own. Learning my way around a sewing machine earlier this year didn't hurt my confidence for this at all, but ironically the style I was drawn toward was nearly "no-sew."
Here's a before and after for you:
Now granted, it looks better on. How's this?
The no-sew braiding can shorten or pull in just where you need (provided you design it right). You can fully customize it to your shape! This is the third variation I've tried so far.
Simple technique + endless creativity = Loads of fun + a shirt I'll wear for sure
The tan shirt I did this tutorial with only took me about two hours from start to finish (that includes taking pictures). So why don't you pull out one of your long-forsaken t-shirts, and try it out? You might just gain a new favorite!
First things first. What you'll need:
NOTE: The T-shirt I started with was a size Small, measuring 27 inches long from back of neck to seam, and 18 inches flat across at the waist. After the makeover, it measures 24.5 inches long, and 15.5 inches flat at the waist.
Ready? Got your stuff? All right, let's go!
Step 1 is to turn the shirt inside out and sketch the design. Draw a "path" for your braid about 2-2.5 inches wide, then draw "tracks" just under an inch apart. For this design I mirrored the sketch on the reverse side, so the side braid wraps around the waist in one long stretch, then down again, just like on the front.
Do feel free to create a new design (esp. the 2nd and 3rd time around...did I forget to mention this could be addicting?!)
Step 2, use a seam-ripper to open a small hole for your scissors at the start of each "track" line.
Step 3. Using the holes you just made as the start points, use the scissors to cut on the lines.
Step 4. Turn the shirt right side out again.
Step 5, braid the loops, starting at the front seam.
Step 6 is to finish off the ends by sewing them down. You can do this with a machine or by hand.
Step 7; try it on! You'll want to test how it fits at this point before you tweak anything more.
It's getting there...but I'm not quite satisfied with the fit. It looks (and feels) a bit bulgy on my left side. I have an idea, though! How about a button? I have some around that my Grandma gave me. Several good options.
So my optional Step 8 is to sew on a button, and make a buttonhole. It's not as hard as you might think. :) And yes, I do tend to make up my ideas as I go along. At least when it comes to crafting. :P
And that's it! Much better. Still has a couple inches of give all around, so it's super comfortable. What do you think?
Have you ever done a T-shirt makeover? How did it go? Feel free to leave a comment or question below!
The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.
~ Deuteronomy 1:30-31
To this place. A place of peace and rest and plenty, according to His riches and grace in Christ Jesus (not mine that I've earned, but His I've been given). I've been carried on His Spirit current...sometimes not knowing where I'll be a month or a week out. But when I know that where I am is where He has led me, it reminds me to trust him for the next step forward.
He carries us as a man carries his son. His beloved, cherished, cared for child. Do I deserve to be held in His arms, led by His hand? Not of myself, but that is really beside the point. Always faithful--that's what God is! He is true to himself even when we are not. Not because of who I am, or what I've done, but because of who He is and what He has done! And because I didn't do anything to deserve it, there's not really anything I can do to undeserve it, because it was never about me to begin with.
The gift is given. It is my choice each day to receive it, to live in the gift of grace, his mercies new every morning. This morning. In this place. In each place that He brings me to.
Then fear creeps in, planting lies of uncertainty in my garden of trust. Lies to choke the growing, rob the sunlight meant to nourish, compete for root space under the surface of our minds, our hearts. Lies that say this place has no future, this place has no meaning for the journey, no fruit worth cultivating to share. But the lies are lies, and their poison must be dug out. Not once a in a while, but regularly keeping our vigil against the unruly impostors. Infuse the soil with truth as a protective barrier!
So when I'm home, I trust. When I'm away, I trust. Trusting that this place, too, is a marker on my journey whose destination ultimately lies with Him. My life is hidden with Christ! (Col. 3:3)
The last two weeks of February, I had the opportunity and privilege to assist on a costuming team of approximately 20 ladies from 9 states, constructing period and fantasy apparel for the Oxford High School cast of "Beauty & the Beast."
We began making these costumes from scratch mid-February, and the show went live the third weekend in March. Here's the catch: the extent of my sewing experience coming into this was practically nil (save some basic mending, or putting cap sleeves on a strapless dress). It's a good thing that so many of the other girls were experienced seamstresses! They taught me so much in those short/long two weeks.
Like how to design and make a period French ladies' cap:
In fact, it turned out so well, the other girls had me model it for a small photo shoot by the ironing board--because it "looked right" (and there was, of course, ironing to be done ;) ).
I was working in the "townswomen" division of labor, so that meant helping make petticoats, shifts, caps, aprons, kerchiefs, jackets, gowns, stomachers, and stays...all tailored for individual members of the cast.
Working and living with so many girls was fun for a change, although quarters were fairly tight. Imagine a slumber party at night and work party during the day, times a few weeks. You get the idea...
Parents of cast members were generous in donating meals for us. Since I knew the kitchen well, I ended up helping supervise the receiving and keeping of meals. That was one thing that was nice about it being so cold outside: we could use the screened in porch as an extra "ice-box"!
Below you can see a few pics of our happy team at work.
Two full weeks of working with friends in a labor of love for the community; and I learned to sew. Not a bad deal!
When God gives you a call, does He get right through?
Or does He get a busy signal?
Keeping the line clear takes work sometimes. Decluttering of noise, of distractions and desires and thoughts vying for our attention. Too often the urgent overtakes the critical. Spiritual triage falls forgotten in the wasteland of looming work deadlines and constant barrage of social media notifications.
And our souls shrivel.
But Busy Is Good!
Western culture reveres "busyness" as the measure of success. The laws of supply and demand insist that the less time someone has for us, the more it is worth pursuing their attention. The heavier someone's workload, the better their skills must be. And the more exhausted we are chasing our version of a dream, the more applause we should earn. Because "busy is good!" But is it really?
Our excuses make sense. I mean, especially in the entertainment and film industry, you gotta hustle. Gigs often present themselves at the last minute, requiring shoving everything else to the side in a sprint to prepare as best we can. Long days on set leave us with next to no energy to climb into bed, much less call a family member or stay awake for a few minutes of prayer. After wrap there is that confusing season of "set lag", where our bodies do their best to recalibrate immune systems and appetites and sleep cycles amid the inevitable catching up on a mountain of mundane chores. And if you are raising a family, that adds its own set of very valid priorities and pressures.
We can't afford to take time for God. After all, we are busy serving Him! And yet, we can't afford not to.
No Time To Chew
Then, when we do make the time to take in a soul-nourishing Word, we often approach it like a task on our obese checklist rather than as a sanctuary of stillness from the rush.
A friend shared their experience of diligently going through their daily Bible reading plan. Ten chapters: check. One day, while only on chapter two, they came across a few verses that captured their heart, but resisted the temptation to stop and dwell on them before completing their allotment of chapters. Temptation? Or invitation? They hadn't gotten too much farther before the Holy Spirit convicted them of basically telling Him to "shush until they were done." If we go to God's Word to hear Him speak, why would we treat His quickening of those words as an interruption? Yet I find I relate all too well....
To be clear, I'm not dissing reading plans. Regular meals are essential to spiritual health! But if we don't chew our food, and savor the taste and textures, we won't be digesting all the nutrients from it that we could, nor grow to anticipate the feast, if we are intent on swallowing portions whole.
These are the Words of Life! Just because we have them readily accessible at any moment does not mean they are to be treasured less. For where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. (see Matthew 6:21)
Breaking The Cycle
Listen, friends, we don't have to stay stuck in this crazy cycle. I know it's usually not our conscious choice to even be in it; it just "happens" and we get too caught up in the rat-race to notice. It's like if we get a headache, and rather than drink water to treat our dehydration, we pop a pill mask the pain. But concealing the symptoms isn't a true solution!
How do we transition to a lifestyle of valuing time with God and increase our sensitivity to His voice?
One thing I know for sure, is that it doesn't happen by accident. Like with any relationship, intentionality is key for maintenance and growth. This is something I am working toward myself; I don't have all the answers, but I am "pressing on toward the goal." (see Philippians 3: 12-16) And if I were to articulate my New Year's resolution, it would be this: Pursue God's presence, heed His voice, and live how He loves.
1. Pursue God's Presence
Unfortunately, the fact that God is omnipresent (present always and everywhere) doesn't automatically keep me from ignoring Him. I want to practice being more aware of Him with me, and do more of the things I know He takes pleasure in. This also includes letting go of things I know are getting in the way of intimacy in my relationship with God. Choosing a verse to think on throughout my day, or getting the right truth-declaring song stuck in my head, are great ways to keep my focus in the right place.
2. Heed His Voice
Scripture tells us that God's voice is recognized by His sheep (that includes me!), so I don't need to worry about that. The harder part is being still to listen the gentle whisper (see 1 Kings 19). It's not necessary to be in a quiet environment physically (although it certainly doesn't hurt, right?). Being still is more of an internal quieting and perking up of our heart to hear. To heed is to "take notice of and pay careful attention to." It carries a sense of alertness, mindfulness, and high regard for who or what you are heeding. So, to hear clearly I need to listen with a willing heart that is ready to joyfully obey!
3. Live How He Loves
God loves purely and extravagantly and sacrificially. 1 Corinthians 13 is commonly called "the Love chapter" because of how thoroughly it explores the nature and power of the Love of God. The first letter the apostle John wrote (aptly titled 1 John) explores even deeper how this Love affects that way we should live. The "new commandment" Jesus gave us was to love as He has loved us (see John 13:34). Because of how He loves and restores me, I can reach out to others with that same unconditional, grace-filled, healing love.
Whether we are raising kids, making movies, or spreading kindness to friends and strangers alike, that's to be the core of our life's mission: serving as His ambassadors of reconciliation to a broken, hurting world that He died to restore. And I never want to be too busy for that!
And [Jesus] said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." - Mark 4:9
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ~ Galatians 6:9
Call it coincidence, but in the first week of the new year, a time that is infamous for vigorously begun and eventually retired resolutions, I've started both voice and piano lessons. Between lessons and practice time, that'll add up to roughly 12 hours of time each week spent sharpening those skills. I'm not starting from scratch on either front, and it's rewarding to already see some measurable progress! I'm hopeful that in a couple of months, I'll have made great strides...if I "do not grow weary."
What does it mean to lose heart? Why is motivation so often elusive?
Well, there's this quality called "discipline." And "diligence." And "perseverance." At the basic level, it's the ability to keep on with the course of action even when the "feels" aren't feeling it. To "for the joy set before us," (see Hebrews chapter 12) endure and push through the pain, soreness, brain overload, discouraging setbacks and mental blocks.
Motivation feeds off satisfaction and enjoyment. These two are sisters and best friends, so where the one is, you will not find the other far away. And while we often set goals to work toward, it is worth investing in our relish of the journey as well as the finish line.
That's why working out to music, and with a friend, helps me not give in to my sore muscles. Why treating each warm up exercise as a little song helps me not tense up from focusing too hard. Why playing a song I already love disguises the tedium of practicing chord progressions.
If it's like that for short-term pursuits, how much more for the long hauls!
Here are some ideas for keeping the mundane energized:
1. Partner up
Companionship is a surefire way to keep a task unboring. Whether unboring means irritating or fun depends on both your attitude and the person/s you are with--but at the very least monotony is held at bay! At best, you will be able to encourage each other and cheer each other on in a healthy, affirming way.
2. Eat soup with a side of chocolate (not that I don't like soup)
Incorporate an old hobby into your project, or combine the activity with another you like. Just be careful to not talk about the combo in the negative way you used to think about the less favorite of the two...or you may find the both of them demoted in your mind.
3. Write with your other hand
Stuck in a rut? Change it up! Dress up to go to the store, or turn kitchen clean up into a musical number. Figure your taxes while listening to a new soundtrack, or bake a foreign dessert to get in the patriotic spirit. Wait--what?!
4. Quit flapping and soar
Stop trying so hard to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit is working in us both to will (desire) and to act to fulfill his good purpose for us. We don't have to come up with our own plan. He's already got the perfect role for each of us. Have you asked the Director for his notes on this scene? Catch the right current and flow with it! Don't confuse being busy with being fruitful.
5. Measure twice, cut once
Some things are meant to fall away into oblivion, weights cast off in favor of more worthy treasures. The yardstick is not what pleases us in the moment, but what is pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His pleasure is the foundation of any lasting success, and we find joy by honoring him in the process as well as the product of our efforts.
Those are some things that help me. What helps you keep going when the road is rough? Please comment below! Meanwhile, I think I'll go practice "Edelweiss" on the piano....
'Tis the season of frantic shopping and gifting and Christmas partying.
The deceiver schemes to avert our gaze from the Holy. And our God is Holy-Holy-Holy! Is it any wonder that the "holiday season" is often characterized by rush, stress, pressure, and overwhelming taxes imposed on our time? Even the noble causes and good intentions can get in the way if we let them, drowning out the quiet.
Hush! Do you hear it? Are you listening? It's past the rustling wrapping paper, beyond the crunch of two-day shipping for last minute online bargains. Have we forgotten in our giving our connection to the Love-Gift himself?
Imagine yourself a witness to the single most world-changing, dimension-shattering event:
The heavens shiver in delight at the melodies of stars, celebrating the triumph of mercy poured like cleansing myrrh over our ragged attempts to reach pure.
Angels marvel at the great reversal, the Divine spirit conceived into human earth-flesh to rescue broken souls.
Darkness gnashes jagged teeth as hell's worst fear reveals itself in the face of an innocent child. Lonely shepherds from beast-ridden hills become the unlikely heralds of the mind-blowing news. The Messiah, the promised deliverer is here!
Here? Bedded in drooled-on hay, birthed to an exhausted teenage mother in a town far from home? A respectable young carpenter has stepped in as surrogate dad, and comforts his bride in the aftermath of pushing God-flesh into sin-ravaged world. Did they--how could they?!--know the enormity of the salvation this newborn had come to accomplish?
While the people of Bethlehem went about their business. Their busyness. The haggling for food at market and the scolding of wayward children and the lodging of traveling kinsmen and standing in line for Roman registration. Who had time to notice a visit from God?
Step out of the chaos for a moment. Listen for the gentle whisper:
"Be still. Know that I AM God.
I've come to be with you...to be with you.
To be with you.
Be still. Spend time with me.
Get to know my heart for you, and for others.
My dreams for our family reach into all eternity!
Rest in my love--my love that outbid sin so that you could come close to me without shame.
Grow in your knowledge of my extravagant love toward you...in you, through you.
Rejoice! The glad news is still for all the people:
PEACE! Peace between God and man!"
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. ~ John 1:10-12
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-21