This past week I had the privilege of teaching at a film workshop in Denver, CO, with my brother and sister, who are also heavily involved in the film industry. I spoke about what scheduling looks like, and explained a sample call sheet, but the bulk of what I shared had to do with acting: auditioning, character study, and what it's like on set.
One of the topics that came up was the "cold read." That's a casting term for when an actor is asked to audition with sides (scenes from the script) that they have not previously studied. You haven't had time to warm up for it, so it's called reading it "cold."
For acting, the first time I did a cold read was about a year and a half ago. I had studied on how one should approach it, but was still nervous about the actual execution (ominous word, I know, but it captures well the essence of the moment). I had five minutes with the script before I was "on," and the adrenaline from the focused energy made me feel like I'd been running after an active three-year-old for an hour with no breaks. No, it was not comfortable to do. Yes, I was apprehensive. But it was also surprisingly fun! (Especially when they called the next day to offer me the role)
As far as my life goes? "Cold read" situations pop up with disconcerting frequency. By God's grace, I have but to ask to receive inside tips and wisdom on how to handle them.
There are several keys to keep in mind when faced with a cold read. They are much the same as an ordinary audition. The main difference is being able to snap into a faster gear to prep. Here goes:
God has information about the situation (script) that you don't. He can give you wisdom about how to go about things that will make sense in the actual context—even without you knowing what that context is!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Stress (dismay) isn't going to help anyway. When the thought comes: "I can't do this!", simply agree quickly. "Sure enough, 'I' can't do this. However, there's this other factor to take into account. God is going to help me. That means that not only can I survive this, but I can certainly 'take possession' on top!" Leave your worries with him and enjoy the experience.
The temptation is to dwell on what we don't have to go on. The if-only's can be exhausting! But what DO you have? Start there. God can show you how to use it in unexpected ways. (Go read the rest of the story to find out how the widow used her oil)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Indecision is a fearful stance toward something which you feel in the dark about. The key is to walk in obedience to the light you already have. Be courageous! We do not walk alone. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no. Don't waffle between them in the "maybes."
Even if you can't get it word for word, try to understand each point being made. Speak according to the need. Don't just put words out there that won't propel the situation in the right direction.
In regard to life's unexpected turns, don't spill out whatever comes to mind to say. Words are powerful! Have an arsenal of faith-building words at the ready in case you need to remind yourself that if God is for you, who can be against you? What you're facing might be new to you, but that is not a good reason for your trust in God to falter. His power and wisdom and love remain unfazed.
~ Psalm 32:8-9
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
~ Isaiah 30:21
Don't get stuck on a certain way to do things. If a yes-no option isn't clear at the outset, or you see a a roadblock ahead on the route you had chosen, feel free to mix it up. Let the Holy Spirit guide you on your way; keep your satellite reception strong for the Gospel Positioning System.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:12-14
What if the decisions you made weren't the right ones? What if you completely misread the script? What if you stumbled on your lines, or failed to reach that level of emotion you were going for? Let the Director give you his feedback. That's what counts, anyway.
Is God not bigger than our mistakes? Of course he is! Let him be your judge, your coach, and your teacher. He understands what we're going through.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8
Last week we wrapped principal photography on a movie entitled Christmas Grace, produced by Bright Horizon Pictures and Crystal Creek Media.
Doing winter scenes in summertime highlighted for me another application of being "prepared in season and out of season." Aside from accepting the physical discomfort of warm clothing in warm weather, there is a certain mental preparation to embrace the switch-up instead of rebelling against it.
Seasonal confusion is not exclusive to the film industry. I had plenty of practice growing up in adapting to different situations, many times without much advance notice. I was also blessed with a large family going through it all with me, modeling and training flexibility, patience, and joy under stress. And recently, God is leading me to an greater appreciation of seasons, and the importance of living and trusting Today.
God is with us in the storms that roll in and whip the hair in our face until we can't see. God is with us when the fruit that we thought should be ripe is still green with the slightest streaks of color showing. God is with us when the leaves of our dreams start to grow on branches that were bare for months and years.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Here is my current version:
There is a time to travel and a time to stay home,
a time to pack and a time to unpack,
a time to junk a car and a time to buy one,
a time to stay awake driving and a time to stop and rest,
a time to cry and a time to laugh,
a time to grieve and a time to twirl around...
A time to memorize and a time to improvise,
a time to submit an audition and a time to wait for a verdict,
a time to wear make-up and a time to wash it off,
a time to be "talent" and a time to help as crew,
a time to dress a set and a time to tear it down,
a time to be outdoors and a time to stay out of the sun...
A time to sleep in and a time to get up early,
a time to plan ahead and a time to be spontaneous,
a time to embrace and a time to step back,
a time to socialize and a time to be alone,
a time to keep and a time to give away,
a time to call and a time to let the other call first...
A time to be stubborn and a time to relent,
a time to be serious and a time to be goofy,
a time to hold up bravely and a time to let down,
a time to be silent and a time to share,
a time to remember and a time to forget,
a time to forgive and a time to be forgiven.
All of these seasons I have roller-coastered through in the last month, and/or I am riding them out now. Opportunities to remember the "secret" have abounded. Every moment presents a choice to live fully, joyfully. In spite of scenes that seem out of order, in spite of emotions that threaten to homestead in the suffocating prairie of Worry, in spite of plans made and unmade, choosing to live THIS day that the Lord has made, and be glad in it!
No matter what the season, there is a purpose for it. And no matter how the seasons may change, or how slowly or quickly according to our minds:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
~ Romans 8:28, 31-32
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~ Matthew 6:33-34
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning." ~ Daniel 2:20-21
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." ~ 1 Peter 5:6-10
My faith muscles are feeling sore lately. That's a good thing. It means they've been used, and are in the process of getting stronger! I'm doing my best to keep my spiritual protein (challenging and encouraging scriptures) intake high so those muscles have something to build with.
This chapter in my life, as with many, has involved a great deal of travel. One of the advantages of spending copious amounts of time behind the wheel is that I get to listen to music to keep awake. My car is from a decade that used cassettes, so I have a stash of oldy-goldy tapes to mix in with more recent MP3s (via an adapter). Here are some songs that have been a deep encouragement over the last weeks:
"Uncharted Territory" ~ Rachael Lampa (2011)
So unlike me, what's going on
I'm usually not the one
To be afraid, hesitate
Second guess what I've done
Am I over-thinking it, complicating it
Should I let go and let it be
Never done this before how am I supposed to know where to go from here
No prescription, no rules, no direction, no signs that will make it clear
Like the first man on the moon, Columbus 1492
Like baby steps, and babies don't worry, so why should I
Sort of unprepared, just a little scared
Say go get it girl, grab a hold of it
Look inside myself, find buried deep
Patience; don't give up on me
Am I over-thinking it, complicating it
All I gotta do is do it
"The Plan" ~ Steve Green (1998)
I don't need to have the plan in hand
I don't need to have the end in sight
All I need to do is follow you, wherever you lead
And do what you ask me to
Trusting you, Lord, with all my heart
Following you all my days
Whether I can or can't understand
I'll acknowledge you in all my ways
Though I am pressed on every side
I am not in despair
My faith in you will carry me through
Though I may not see where You're leading me
"Crazy" ~ Mercy Me (2002)
Why I would I spend my life longing for the day that it would end
Why would I spend my time pointing to another man
Isn't that crazy
How can I find hope in dying, with promises unseen
How can I learn your way is better in everything I'm taught to be
Isn't that crazy
I have not been called to the wisdom of this world
But to a God who's calling out to me
And even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would be crazy
To choose this world over eternity
And if I boast let me boast of filthy rags made clean
And if I glory let me glory in my Savior's suffering
Isn't that crazy
And as I live this daily life I trust you for everything
And I will only take a step when I feel You leading me
Isn't that crazy
I have not been called to the wisdom of this world
But to a God who is calling out to me And even though the world my think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would be crazy
To choose this world over eternity
You can call me crazy...
What do you think? Yes? No? It depends?
In theory, we intellectually assent to the faithfulness of God, his goodness, his love for us. In practice, many of us hold inherent in the meaning of blindness, or not seeing yet, an uncertainty and fear of what might or might not happen. Can we call this faith?
It would seem that we have confused ourselves about the nature of trust. Trust is an "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." (Merriam Webster) So, really, it's only a blind trust if we have not grown acquainted with the person or thing in which we have placed our trust. It is through the knowing that trust grows. Our trust is MEANT to grow. As we learn to know and "see" the source and foundation of our trust, it won't shake us up to not see the rest.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:1-2, 6
Trust grows as we deepen our relationship with him, grow our knowing him. That is where the assured part comes in. First we take a step of reliance, then it is assured by experiencing the evidence of God's unchanging integrity and the dependability of his promises. We come to trust him! When we let fears and uncertainties bring thoughts into our minds of doubt, we need to fight back with what we know about God and his unfailing love. He is so worthy of our trust.
If our trust in God feels blind (in the sense that the "not seeing" engenders fear), could it be that we simply do not know his character (Jeremiah 9:24)? His infinite ability and strength? Know that he is the very essence of truth (John 14:6; 18:37)? That he is by definition love (1 John 4:16)? That he has given all that he has to make us members of his own family—we who have no ability in ourselves to become worthy or deserving of this marvelous mercy?
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." ~ Matthew 6:31-34
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. ...I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-34, 38-39
He who provided a steady miraculous flow of oil from the widow's jug and flour from her jar (1 Kings 17), who made ravens carry meat to satisfy a prophet's hunger in time of famine (1 Kings 17), who floated an ax-head to repay a loan (2 Kings 6)—how will he not also supply my every need? For I know whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12), and he is ever faithful. Yes, even in spite of me!
"...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. ~ 2 Timothy 2:13
As a good friend of mine says, "it's great to know that God's provision doesn't depend on our ability to worry about the future." It is not as if we have to get in "x" days of worrying before handing it over to God, to ensure that he knows exactly how important our problem is. We can give up our cares, worries, and stress to him right away, because he already cares.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
To cultivate an unshakable trust we must grow in our knowing of God's:
Don't just take somebody's word for it, not even mine! Your God-trust will be much stronger if you go directly to the source yourself. The Bereans had a great habit: "...they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11)
Feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. :-)
If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:13-21
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
~ Ephesians 6:19-20
I grew up the daughter of Christ ambassadors. I grew up learning how to be an ambassador myself, yearning to give my life in service of the One who calls.
Call me he did! Out of "my country and my father's household" to a place that he "would show me" (Genesis 12). Now I live the life of a nomad, settling here for a season, moving there for another, and yet another brief sojourn somewhere else, as God leads. Just last week I was affectionately referred to as a vagabond (a wanderer without a permanent home, who moves from place to place).
At times I wonder if there is a "promised land" season for me in this life, one of "permanent residency," or if it will be a perpetual cycle of arriving, serving, and forging deep friendships—only to have to move on again. This keen awareness of pilgrim status can be as unnerving as it is exciting, if I let it.
How to rejoice in the Lord's beckoning when friends' tears burden the heart? How to comfort when I am grieving alongside them? I am at a loss. So I rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15); and I am weak, yet He is strong. I know this. I have leaned and cried on His shoulder many times before, and He wipes away my tears, helps me smile again, both inside and outside.
Ultimately, I am not even a citizen of earth, but of heaven. This world is NOT my home! Why then do I long for a space to call my own? The promise remains: He has "gone to prepare a place for" me (John 14:3)! That I may be where he is, and see him face to face.
That's the hard part about not being with someone—the lack of face to face time. Technology lessens the pain of separation with live-time contact through phone, Skype, chat, instant messaging, and so on. But these interactions, blessings though they can be, are but seeing "through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
I guess that's why there's the idea of being ambassadors in the first place. Jesus was the "exact representation" of God (Hebrews 1:3). He helped us know what God was really like. He came to earth to have some face time. Now we are his witnesses:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.~ 1 John 1:1-4
Being an ambassador is more than living in a foreign location. Representation goes much deeper than geographical presence. It entails an awareness of delegated reputation and responsibility, along with a mindset and lifestyle of submission to the commissioning authority. In this case, that authority is God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. ~ Romans 6:4-7, 10-13
In the words of William R. Wallace: "Every man dies—not every man really lives."
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. ~ Romans 8:5-6
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ....For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I...have become a servant.
~ Colossians 1:9-14, 19-23
Unrelenting focus. Real purpose. True fulfillment. Now that's a life worth living!
Have you ever felt this way?
Unlovable. Unacceptable. Unwanted. Not enough. Too much.
Many children in the foster care system grow up this way, with this unvoiced feeling of being "beyond acceptance." Some go to extremes to try to earn affection; others stop trying altogether and retreat into a shell of the person they could be. Still others act out in anger and hurt, certain that that is the only sure way to get the attention they so desperately crave.
As believers, we are called to look after the orphan and the widow. God cares deeply about these family-less kids, and he "sets them in families." (Ps. 68:5-6)
There is a powerful family film that was recently released onto DVD, called "Beyond Acceptance." It tells the story of Evans, a foster care child, and the Border family, who choose him as their first placement. The Borders quickly discover that Evans has deep-rooted issues that will try their patience and love past what they can take. It is only when they reach past themselves that they can find the strength to keep caring. But despite their efforts, Evans seems incapable of trusting them. (And I think I'll kinda stop there....because I don't want to spoil the ending!)
While I didn't work on this film myself, several very good friends of mine did. In fact, my brother and I had the privilege of attending the movie premiere in Kalamazoo, MI last August. It really impacted me.
Adoption is something I think God may call me to in the future. It is a beautiful picture of the way God chose us for his family, and loves us in spite of ourselves. Maybe God is calling your family to this magnificent path. If he does, he will also give you the grace to walk in it. But no matter where you are right now in your life, don't miss out on opportunities to help those around who may already be on that journey.
The struggles foster and/or adoptive parents and families face are real. They are tough. There is also real hope. Real joy! If you or anyone you know of is contemplating adoption, please see this film! It will touch your heart; it might even change your life.
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I know, I know—I already posted once tonight. But when you learn of a secret that's meant to be shared, don't you ache to share it? Actually, this secret has been out for a while, but sometimes it is what's hidden right in front of us that takes the longest to find.
How many times do we wish we had a power-boost button to push? For believers, it could be the solution is as simple as the search for the proverbial spectacles. ("Oh, lookey, they're on me head! 'Magine that!" <sheepish grin>)
Paul said he had learned a secret. A secret that led to "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
Here it is: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
Selah. (That is a Hebrew word used often in their poetry and psalms that means "now think a minute about what was just said and let it sink in before you rush on to the next phrase")
Now just in case you didn't Selah, I'll say it one more time: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." In the Greek, the word translated "rejoice" from Paul's letter is "chairos." It means to "rejoice, be exceedingly glad, to thrive." To thrive.
"Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy are in His place." (1 Chronicles 16:27)
"But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness." (Psalm 59:16-17)
Do you get it? Are you GETTING THIS? This is huge! I have learned the secret!
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18
"...always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father..." Ephesians 5:20
"...strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father..." ~ Colossians 1:11-12
Give thanks >> choose and receive joy >> renewed strength...to do all things!!
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." ~ Philippians 4:4-5
Paul told the Philippian believers repeatedly to Rejoice. Why? What does that even mean, anyway? Okay, let's look it up.
(intransitive verb) To feel joy; be glad, take delight in.
(transitive verb) To make joyful; gladden.
So...it's a verb. What's the big deal? Well, for starters, it means it's not something that "happens to me." I am not a passive player in the process of awakening Joy. Just like the holiday season has to have a reason, so does joy. No, it doesn't depend on circumstances, on everything working out how we thought it should, on being in control, on having everyone think well of us, on anything that contributes to earthly "happiness." Joy is not an earthly phenomenon! Joy has a very definite, singular reason, and it's a reason I have to choose. The act of rejoicing is how I choose the reason that ignites Joy. I have to rejoice IN something.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:47)
Rejoice IN THE LORD. Always. D'ya wanna hear it again? REJOICE!!
"It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of Joy Himself." ~ C. S. Lewis
Rejoicing occurs in a posture of worship. It's surrendering to the glory of His splendor, delighting in the power and beauty of His grace. Falling head over heels. In Love. Delighting, drowning in Love-light that drives away all fear, all darkness, all pride...all dissolving in importance compared to giving ourselves fully to Him.
"Everywhere Jesus went, joy tagged along." (Michael K. MacIntosh, The Tender Touch of God)
Joy is not found stranded by itself in a forgotten corner, nor prancing amid glitzy thrill rides at life's amusement park, but flowing from a Person. To know this Person is to know joy in all it's resounding stillness and shouting glory. In his presence in fullness of joy, and my cup runs over with its sweetness.
"Joy is merriment without frivolity, hilarity without raucousness, and mirth without cruelty. Joy is sportive without being rakish and festive without being cheap. Joy radiates animation, sparkle, and buoyancy. It is more than fun, yet it has fun. It expresses itself in laughter and elation, yet it draws from a deep spring that keeps flowing long after the laughter has died and the tears have come."(Sherwood Wirt, "Jesus, Man of Joy") Thirsty, I drink, and my heart is quenched at this fountain. Planted by streams of living water, my soul-leaves will not wither. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) I draw my nourishment from this vine of which love is the life-blood (John 15:1-17), and joy-sap runs, circulating nutrients that burst into fruit. Much fruit.
Fullness of joy!
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to dance. Loved the dizzying wind rushing past my uplifted face; exulting in the grandeur of my long twirling skirt; pointing my toes as I stretched to full height, my arms encircling imaginary beach balls as I spun and spun again....Or spreading my hands wide as I speed-turned in a stretch of grass, like Maria in The Sound of Music.
One day I realized that I had stopped dancing. Not on purpose. I'd just gotten busy with other things. I guess I still wanted to dance, but now it felt awkward, like a new teenager trying to get used to their skin again. Come to think of it, I was.
Have you heard Michael W. Smith's instrumental album "Freedom"? It's a soundtrack-like collection he composed over a decade ago, now. I was playing it one day and, realizing I was alone in the room, got up and simply started to dance again. Stepping, balancing, sweeping spins. And I began to cry healing tears. Healing a hurt I hadn't known was there. I felt God so close. He was right there, holding my heart ever so gently. I'd let a beautiful expression of worship fade away with time, but God was giving it back to me with joy unspeakable.
There are other joys I'm in the process of getting back. I'd fallen out of my (formerly) regular strength-training routine; last night I did a set of shoulder exercises, and I am already starting to notice the benefits. This last weekend, after an eleven-week hiatus, I got my clarinet out and played a few songs. In the busyness of my summer, I let this blog slip a little. But today I am posting!
Wholesome habits can slip away through neglect, and it's often hard to break past motivational or fear-based barriers to recover the discipline. But if the rewards are worth the effort, let's go boldly the throne of God's grace to obtain help in our time of need.
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." ~ Galatians 5:25
How are we to live by the Spirit? One step at a time.
One step in His time.
It reminds me of the expression "to waltz right through." Whoever came up with that must have been a girl, and had a good partner. ;) Trying to waltz with a guy who doesn't know how is frustrating. But when he leads well and you're paying attention, it's easy to follow.
What is the next Spirit-step for you?
So. Here's a little of what's been going on:
1. Wrapped on principal photography for "The Rev" last weekend (NEW title coming soon! Keep an eye on the website for a preliminary trailer: www.glorystreamsproductions.com). It was a great experience working with everyone on that. :-)
2. Gearing up for the 3-Day Advent Film Workshop next week (lots of exciting new speakers and topics). You can see the workshop schedule here.
3. Took a day "off" today to pack for a 5-week stint in TX on the set of "Indescribable."
4. Bible study this afternoon—Proverbs 1 and 1 John 2 = awesome stuff!
5. Looks like I'll get to bed before midnight tonight (which will be a record for recent history).
6. I have much to be thankful for. (Cue song: "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart...")
So yes, there has been a lot going on recently, and it's going to stay pretty busy for a while yet. (In fact, my blog posts may be a little irregular for a month or two)
Here are some verses that have been tumbling around lately in my dizzified heart:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Hebrews 4: 9-11, 15-16
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. ...We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
1 Peter 4: 10-12
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Isaiah 26:3-4, 7-9, 12
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
The summary? That even in the midst of all the busyness life can throw at me, God's goodness is my shadow, His grace is more than sufficient, and I can trustfully rest in His peace as I do each task in HIS strength. Furthermore, He gets all the credit. :-)
Goodness gracious! It can't get any better than that.