DIY Movie T-shirt Makeover
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!
Nope, I didn't take this. It's, uh, random, I guess. But I think it's pretty!
Late nights are the perfect timing for lame puns. Enter the current post title.... But then, I've been handling a lot of late nights lately. Not abnormally late, mind you. But when even somewhat late becomes normal, is that truly the new normal? In which case I don't suppose it would count as "late" after all. (See what I mean?)
On a more serious note, let me explain my most recent, if brief, abandonment of the dear blog, and a potential outcome that may result of, how shall I say this—a regular occurrence of late nights. Read: more and steady film work this year. In fact, I'm already working on my second feature of 2013, and have two more in the works!
To not drop off the face of blog-world altogether, in the absence of saner rhyme and reason, you may expect to see randomness from me about the intricacies of my trade/s...from random locations...at random intervals.
But, at least you'll know I'm still alive.
Words Of Truth
Hello again! I worked on another film production last month (Surrender), so haven't kept up the ol' blog as closely as I'd thought I might so far this year.
I just got back from a well-known Christian film festival held in San Antonio, TX, where over 2000 people gathered to appreciate each other's months and years invested in stories they were inspired to bring to life on the screen, and forge or strengthen partnerships and teams for the next project down the road.
This particular festival has a specific and clearly expressed goal of publicly recognizing and honoring films that are excellent, meaningful, and affirming of Biblical values.
Our society has been deluged with a constant stream of media, to the point where many don't even pretend to be discerning in what they feed their minds, their souls on. Art and entertainment have never been neutral. Newscasters and filmmakers (the storytellers of our day) are not so much reflections, but rather shapers of culture around them, not only by the way they present their stories (based on fictional or real events), but more importantly by the sort of stories they choose to spend their finite time on this earth telling.
As the audience, we are also choosing who we will become both by how we ingest stories and simply which stories we take in. Last week at the festival I was greatly encouraged by the stories I saw being told. Stories that I believe will change lives, that will give people hope, and the courage to then participate in giving hope to others.
Two films I had a part in working on were screened: Indescribable and Alone Yet Not Alone. It was my first time seeing either one, which made it even more exciting. The two other films I had a chance to see (between hours upon hours of speaking with various filmmakers and attendees) were Return to the Hiding Place, which won Best Feature, and The Drop Box, a documentary which won two big awards: Sanctity of Life category winner, and the Grand Jubilee Prize for Best of Festival ($101,000).
I saw it at the Thursday showing, and in my opinion The Drop Box was well worthy of the win. (trailer: http://www.dropbox-movie.com/trailer.html) I haven't found it available for purchase anywhere yet, but when it is, I'm going to acquire a copy! If Return to the Hiding Place comes to a theater near you (next month or so?), I recommend it as well. The awards ceremony was fabulous, and the last portion was especially moving. Below is a video that will help give you a taste of it.
“I’d rather tell the plainest truth with $100,000 than the most sophisticated technological lie with $10 million or $100 million.”
The 22-year-old young man who made The Drop Box has a deep vision for producing media that will present Truth. Truth is not popular or politically correct, but it is powerful in the best of ways. We must study, prepare, work and pray to handle the Word of Truth honorably, in humility and reverence toward God, not mens' opinions.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15
Stories matter, and they are worth telling well. Speaking of which, I'm actually heading out this week to go help on the script development team for another film. I'd very much appreciate your prayers for clarity, creativity, and wisdom as we work on characters, themes, plot arcs, and all the other strands that weave together to make a coherent and compelling narrative.
For now, I'll leave you with a favorite song:
What is a man to do when he finds himself on the right side of the law,
but on the wrong side of truth?
That is the question framed in Remember, a fascinating new film from father/son team Greg and Dallas Lammiman.
Remember brings us to the year 2050. In the aftermath of economic collapse the State has assumed authority over all spheres of life. Couples are matched to produce their quota of children, which are raised by state professionals from infancy until the point that they, too, enter the workforce. To foster compliance the adult citizenry are prescribed a memory-suppressant drug "to help relieve stress." The new socionomic system is carefully balanced, constantly monitored, and strictly enforced.
Capt. Carl Onoway (Justin Lewis) works for the Child Protection Agency. His job is to locate and prosecute insurgents, especially those who attempt to abduct children from the state facilities. One day Carl's routine is rocked by a strange message insisting that he remember and begin to make a difference. Further messages and encounters persuade him to rethink all he has believed.
Enter a clever twist on dual identity. Continuing to take the drug on weekdays only, he unwittingly uses his classified status at work to feed information to his weekend self, when he secretly works against the state to reunite parents with their children. His days "on the pill" become increasingly frustrating as his efforts to catch the mysterious new criminal continually come up short. Then a new law is passed—a law that puts his own wife and children in imminent danger. With the police-like CPA hot on his double trail, Carl must risk everything to rescue his family before it is too late.
Stories have a way of teaching us what we know in a way we haven't known it before. They also create valuable questions by helping us experience through fictional characters what decisions we might or might not make. If I were Carl, would I have the courage to remember? Would I choose to give up the life I know for the sake of a long-lost truth that society rejects?
In our world today, even with as messed up as some laws are, certain values have remained marvelously (well, mostly) intact. Family is still celebrated. Separating a newborn from it's mother without cause is still horrifying. Witnessing a surprise reunion of a military father with their young child wells sympathetic tears of joy.
In the world of Remember, the antithesis is preached. The God-given instinct to fight for the preservation of family is not tolerated, and living as a family is illegal. Religion is replaced with ideological pillars, the first and chief of which is "No father shall know his child, and no child shall know his father," a quote from none other than--gasp!—Plato of ancient Greece.
The contrast is startling, because in subtle ways our culture is set on a path to this same year 2050. And the responsibility is sobering. Because we intuit that the present is when we must prevent this future.
The filmmakers managed their resources well: filmed on location in Alberta, Canada with a budget of only four thousand dollars, the Lammimans created a feel of about one hundred times that. The visual effects strike a good balance and are neither mind-blowing nor distracting. The harsh lighting fits the target environment. Costumes are simple yet communicate effectively. A few performances tasted off, but the main cast is fairly solid. Unfortunately, multiple scenes suffer from poor (location) sound; the score, however, does an admirable job of supporting the story-arc. The set up lacks bang, but the pacing picks up, and lighter moments bubble into the plot appropriately.
From script to release was just over a year (that's a fast turnaround, in case you're wondering), and I am impressed with the results. Check out the bonus features on the DVD; this team made up for in ingenuity what they lacked in experience. If you have the gumption to make a feature with what most people scrape together for a local music video, remember Remember and forget the naysayers.
Overall, I give this film a thumbs up rating of three out of five stars. As a first feature from a new indie company, this is a brilliant beginning. If you like sci-fi and/or love your family and/or hope to have one someday (does that cover everyone?), I heartily recommend seeing it!
Movie Trailer/Website: http://theremembermovie.com/Remember/home.html
Buy the DVD: http://www.moviemakers.ca/store/#remember-store
Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RememberMovie?ref=ts&fref=ts
Highly recommended for ages 13+. I suggest that parents preview the movie and use discretion before showing it to younger children. Positive values are highly affirmed. An excellent catalyst for family/group discussion afterward!
More details below . . . . (SPOILER ALERT!!)
Sensuality = None.
Language = None.
Suspense = It's there, but most 10-year-olds I know could handle it. My grandma loved this movie, but was on the edge of her seat almost constantly.
Violence = Low. No blood. Guns shoot laser beams that stun or occasionally kill, police sticks buzz an electric current upon contact, and an injection-like dose of the memory-blocking drug renders people temporarily unconscious.
Drugs = Memory-blocking pills resembling vitamins are taken almost daily; these are commonly referred to as "MemRelief," but occasionally as "[prescription] drugs."
Other = Topics mentioned include pregnancy, birth, sterilization, abortion, eugenics, and withdrawal. Flashback/visions might be disturbing for a younger audience. Also, during one scene, children start screaming (first from surprise, and then mostly because everyone else is); the scene is intended to be more funny than scary, but if your child tends to imitate, please exercise caution. ;)
Feel free to ask questions or comment below.
Happy New Year!
Treasure In Heaven
Treasure In Heaven is the tale of a small town pastor who is merely going through the motions. All seems to be a smooth ride, until a stranger's quiet wisdom prompts the Rev to take a sober look at his congregation's complacency, as well as his own. No longer content with appeasing the church board, the Rev begins to take a stand for living according to scripture instead of the status quo.
Not everyone is happy about his rekindled spiritual fervor, however. When he confronts a prominent businessman about an adulterous affair, threats and rumors start to fly. Now the Rev and his wife have a choice to make: to fear man, or to fear God.
This is the second feature I've acted in, and the first to be finished! I play a girl in the youth group named Jane who is startled out of her "normal" teenage existence through the radical change she sees in the life of her pastor. The premiere of Treasure in Heaven is scheduled for Saturday, November 10, 2012 at the Cobb Theater in Leesburg, VA. Unfortunately, I'll not be in the area, but if YOU are, you might want to check it out.
Cobb Theatre Auditorium #11 Village 12 1600 Village Market Blvd Leesburg, VA 20175 (571) 291-9462 http://www.cobbtheatres.com/leesburg12.aspx
Doors will open at 9:15 AM and the movie will start promptly at 10:00 AM (i.e. there will be no movie trailers shown). The concession stand will be open.
Tickets are $5 at the door. Please bring cash as the movie showing is a special event for the theater, so will not be using the normal movie ticketing system.
Movie Trailer: http://www.tihthemovie.com/TIH_View_Trailer.html
The Cold Read
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
Savoring The Season
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
Listening to the director's vision for the scene
Some actors are notorious for injecting their own opinions into a script. Opinions on why the character is the way they are, what they should do, how they should do it, and even changing dialogue to better fit what they think the character would say. But that isn't really the actor's place.
If there is a script, it's there for a reason. The story is told the way it is on purpose! Just because I am chosen to portray a role in the story doesn't mean that I have been given creative license to decide what my character is about. My ideas about my character's arc and development will only be legitimate insofar as I am staying true to the intents of the director.
"Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?" ~ Isaiah 45:9
The director has the final word. Any suggestions must pass through the director. The rest of the team unites under his vision.
So must the actors rally to the call to action. The music has been written, the interpretation is being directed. We are simply the instruments assembled to play the notes clearly and with feeling. If my interpretation differs at any point from that of the director, and he directs a change, I must be ready at a moment's notice to make that adjustment.
By personality I am very much a planner. I like to have everything laid out and organized in my head before I make decisions. Through practice born of necessity, I've begun to enjoy some spontaneity (especially if I already suspect that the situation will warrant it :P). I do have to consciously reject rising stress, though, when encountering an unexpected curve ball.
As a Christian, however, I have not only accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, but surrendered to his personal Lordship over my life. He is my life Director. Any ideas I might have about my life's story, or my own character arc, must be subject to his plans for me. Now he has the final word and authority. He IS the final word and authority!
Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. ~ Psalm 119:89
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head...so that in everything he might have the supremacy. ~ Colossians 1:16-18
God recently gave me an apt illustration of how this can play out in my everyday life. Last week I was starting the draft for this very blog post, and pondering the implications of what it could mean, when my older sister approached me about the possibility of doing a short trip on the weekend to visit some friends. While I didn't have specific "plans" that took up my weekend yet, in my mind I was already allotting that time to prepare for some auditions I had coming up. But we took a few minutes to pray over the decision together, and I quickly realized that this was exactly what God was trying to teach me!
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. ~ Psalm 32:8-10
We did end up going, and not only did we have a wonderful visit, but I was even able to help with teaching about acting at a film workshop on our way there. :-) A great reminder that "a man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (Proverbs 20:24) Indeed, it is only by seeking his direction for us that our lives can be truly significant. It is only by following his direction that we can rest secure.
I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. ~ Jeremiah 10:23
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. ~ Isaiah 48:17
My life story is his to write. My time is his to spend. My love is his to give. My feet are his to go. My hands are his to serve. And even the smallest line in his script has more meaning than one of my monologues; the smallest role in his story more satisfying than any saga I could construct for myself.
We've got to stop being divas and let divine authority run the show!
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." ~ Isaiah 55:6-11
Yes, Lord! Amen; so be it.
For anyone who is curious about how theology and acting go together, this is the post for you! In doing my character study for my next acting role (Virginia Page in IN HIS STEPS: the series) it has struck me once again how similar it can be to learning who we are in Christ.
Coming to understand how the character thinks and how this translates directly to her words and actions echoes the exhortation to "renew our minds" and so know God's "approved and perfect will" for how we should live (Romans 12:1-2). Actions follow thoughts. "For as he thinks within himself, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) If the thoughts are in order, the actions that are "scripted" or "directed" to follow make perfect sense.
Let's take an example.
She hangs up on him. (....)
If the script indicates that my story character is acting out in anger, I must investigate all clues to discover the underlying source of what I am feeling threatened by that would cause me to lash out this way. Anger can encompass a broad range of stimuli, and is often a reaction born of fear. So how do I know what my character is afraid of? There can be multiple factors at work, and this is where context really helps.
Symptomatic emotions might be envy, bitterness, or insecurity. But when you break it down, envy is fear that what someone else has (or has the potential to have) will give them greater satisfaction and happiness than we can ever have without possessing that very thing ourselves. Bitterness is believing that what happened in the past has forever robbed you of a worthwhile future. Insecurity dons many masks: power abuse (desire for control; micro-management), doormat syndrome (desire for acceptance and approval no matter the cost), flamboyant condescension (desire for freedom from perceived constraints and disdain for limits, authority, and tradition). Any of these (which are but a brief sampling of possibilities) may manifest themselves as a simple action or exclamation of anger.
Once the source of emotion is identified, I can then construct the sequence of thoughts that would logically support and lead to this behavior/dialogue for my character in the scene. Of course the hard part, both in acting and in life, is to be aware and discerning of what our mind is dwelling on and accepting for truth, and "take captive" thoughts that do not belong in this new way of thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5). My job is to determine through careful study the thoughts that I, as my character, need to think to have the desired outcome. To do this I run them through my character's belief and personality filter.
It's the same for a Christian; thoughts will come both invited and uninvited into our heads. "But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16) Not all thoughts are welcome to stay anymore. Many must be shown the door as soon as they try to sign in. Always check them against the "guest list": is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? Think about these things! (Philippians 4:8)
We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17); "...the old has gone, the new has come!" What is our character like now? Maybe we aren't sure what it all means yet. But in scripture we have a wealth of resource at hand to delve into the depths of what we are to think, believe, and be. Not only that, but we have the help of the Holy Spirit also to teach us and lead us into all Truth. There exists no better life coach than he.
Every time we find ourselves voicing or acting out something that does not line up with the Truth of who we are in Christ, we have an incredible opportunity to stop and identify what negative belief we are holding to. Once located, to effectively remove it, we must replace it with a conquering Truth derived from our knowledge of the One who is Truth himself, Jesus Christ.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32
Disrobe yourself from the lies you are clinging to! Wrap yourself in true knowledge that leads to life—life abundant, dripping over, resplendent with righteousness, peace, and joy (John 10:10; Romans 14:17)!
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put it like this:
"To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
~ 2 Peter 1:2-11
In Christ we are new creations. The Truth will set us free to live that way.
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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