On the Reels of a Dream

Everyone has dreams of accomplishing something that he or she has always wanted to do.  Some people love discussing their dreams.  Some prefer to keep it private and personal.

I discuss my dream sometimes, but few people take me seriously.

I want to make a short film.

Crazy dream for a recent college grad with a part-time job.  And despite indications otherwise, I really do try to be practical.  I have no money to make a short film.  No finished script.  No actors.  No sets.  And no extra time to get off work and no money to get any of it done.

But I know a few local actors who are pretty spectacular.  I have a standard video camera, a trunk full of props, a small collection of costumes, 2 boxes of patterns, several story ideas, a partial storyboard, and a big imagination.

Stories have always excited me.  There are few things that can engage me more than a well-told story.  For over 10 years, I’ve wanted to be a storyteller.  But telling stories is a challenge.  It takes good ole’ hard work to make stories and tell them well.  Then, there’s the worry that no one will like the story/book/poem/film.  More than that, though, there’s the worry that you will waste your audience’s time.  You see, no one has to read your story (unless it’s classwork).  No one has to read this blog.  An audience chooses what to read and what to watch.  You, as a storyteller, are invited to tell your story.  That, my friends, is a privilege.  And while that thought makes the task more difficult (after all, who wants to waste their audience’s time), sometimes you just try your best and keep moving forward, learning from your struggles and failures.  And keep dreaming.

Every once in a while, I run across something that reminds me of my dream.  Last month, it was this beautiful Kodascope projector, complete with case and reel.

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I don’t know if I’ll ever actually make a short film.  But hey, I can dream, can’t I?

But Rises Up Again

“Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

You’ve seen the commercials.  Often overacted, these advertisements present an elderly person lying on the floor just out of reach of their phone, or in my favorite  one, a man deliberately throwing his cane down the stairs.  Regardless of their quality as commercials, the danger presented is very real for many seniors.  Falling down the stairs when you’re 13 may sprain your ankle.  Falling down the stair when you’re 85 can be devastating.

People generally try to avoid falling down.  Our world is sprinkled with well-intentioned warnings to prevent pedestrians from falling down.  Use handrails.  Step down.  Caution:  wet floor.  Despite all these warnings, we can still trip on stairs, slip on water spots, and fall unceremoniously to the ground.  If you fell and injured yourself in a public place, you would ask for help.  “Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

What bothers me is Christians’ reluctance to admit we’ve fallen spiritually.  We don’t want to talk about sin.  It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable.  Often, there’s an unspoken guideline in many Christians circles:  if you have problems, save it for the counselor.

Thing is we all have problems–of differing kinds, of differing intensities–but still problems.  God calls us to confess our faults to one another in James and in Galatians He calls us to bear one another’s burdens.  He calls us to edify one another and to be honest, not lifted up in pride.  In Philippians, He calls us to build one another up in unity and to be like-minded.

What keeps us from speaking with others about our struggles?  Shame?  Fear of being judged?  Probably it is a combination of factors.  But Christ has made an end to our sin.  He conquered death and sin on the Cross.  “In that He died, He died unto sin once, but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves dead unto sin, but alive unto God” (Romans 6:10-11).  Rejection?  If we are in Christ, nothing can separate us from His love. “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate me from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39

God’s church should reflect His character and build each other up.  We cannot build each other up if we allow Christians to struggle in isolation.  Sometimes, Christians find themselves at a loss as to what to do with confession.  We want to help those who need it, but maybe feel unqualified to help.  Sometimes, Christians don’t want to open up about sin because we don’t want to “relive” it as it were.  I can’t tell you where the perfect medium is.  All I can do is encourage you to not be afraid to go to someone you trust and ask for prayer.  And if sin is overwhelming your life, don’t be afraid to say “Help.  I’ve fallen and I need help up.”

“When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Christ there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the Sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.”–Before the Throne by Vicki Cook

 

Done Grousing

It seems that each WordPress login brings the need to apologize to my followers.  In the Chrysalis has had an appalling lack of posts.  For my negligence, I sincerely apologize.

My goal is one post a week.  I’ve spent the last several weeks grousing that nothing I write is as good as other people–so why try.  However, no one ever wins the comparison game, so I gave it up.  Pity parties are a terrible waste of time.  So, stay tuned for more posts–real posts with content that lasts longer than ten seconds.

All At Once

The weatherman says that the air will be no warmer than 45 degrees Fahrenheit and that it will rain most of the day.

But in our house, spring has arrived.

About two months ago, my dad came in carrying two matted leaves.  “I brought you something,” he said, grinning.  Knowing (and sharing) my family’s facetious sense of humor, I assumed the dry and crackly objects had stuck to his coat as he came in the house.

“Thanks,” I replied, moving toward the trash can.

“Don’t throw it away,” my mother interjected.  “It’s a cocoon.”

There, wedged ever so precariously between the two leaves was a brownish coil perfectly camouflaged, except for the faintest hints of white webbing.  I searched for a wide-lipped jar to house our newest neighbor and had to hope the Vlasic pickle jar would be big enough for our mummified friend.

For two months, the brown leaves in silence sat on the kitchen window seat.  Some days, I’d wonder if the cocoon would ever open.  Would it be a beautiful butterfly?  Or perhaps it would be some sort of un-winged, pestering grub like the kind that move into our mailbox from time to time.  Some days, the cocoon was no more than a fixture on our window seat, a companion to the expired seed packages, ceramic candle-cover, and coupons.  But one day—yesterday to be exact—it was spring in our house.  And I came home to find something big and brown with wings and six legs leaning against the side of the pickle jar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time is so deceptive.  We wait for things, building up hopes and fears.  And when spring comes, we find life is entirely different than we expected.

We didn’t have a butterfly.  We didn’t have a grub.  Inside our Vlasic pickle jar was some variety of Saturniid moth.  I named him Galdalf as he resembled the large moth who helps the imprisoned wizard in The Fellowship of the Ring.

We researched moths last night, looking at the pictures of Polyphemus, Cecropia, and Luna moths.  Gandalf didn’t seem to fit any of the pictures.  His wings looked brittle and patterned with alternating shades of brown.  The eyes on his wings were dark, not white like a Cecropia moth.  He definitely was no luna.  And his shading didn’t meet the criteria for a Polyphemus.  He was brown and too big for the pickle jar.  And that was all we knew.  That’s okay, I thought.  He’s a Gandalf moth.

Gandalf grew stronger overnight.  When I reached the window seat, he was upside down, clinging to the top edge of the jar. We went outside and gently unscrewed the lid.  Gandalf slid out stiff.  He stood upright, his wings perpendicular to the railing, and promptly fell over.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He really looked pathetic.  I, in my ignorance of moths, feared he had died already.  We chanced a touch to his frail body and saw a glimpse of his wings, much more colorful than the drab brown we had seen before.  The wings were a soft brown with tinges of beige and the palest of purples—perhaps he was a Polyphemus.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The time was to leave for work approached.  But at the last moment, we decided he stood out too much with his dark wings against the beige railing.  After all, we wanted to give him some sort of head-start against the wild and fierce starlings that haunt our neighborhood.  I took two leaves and tried to scoot him onto one with the other.  His furry (or hairy as the case may be) feet clung to the rough leaf edge as I set him in a pile of brown leaves where he was better camouflaged.  He stretched his wings once again.  And then we left.

I hope he has flown away by the time I get home from work.  He waited a long time to get wings.  He stayed still, outwardly dormant in the dry husk of a cocoon while inside he was metamorphosed from his stubby green legs and stocky body into a rust-colored, flying Gandalf moth.  We humans are so impatient.  We want change now.  Why couldn’t he go straight from plump, multi-legged pupa into a winged polyphemus moth?  But instead, he moved in stages, without hurry or rush.  He changed in dormancy.  Perhaps, waiting is not such a bad thing after all.

*written 3/29/13

Perdoname, St. Patrick’s Day

First, let me apologize to all my readers for my tardiness in posting.  Drafts are in the works.

Second, please forgive the lacking accent above the “o” in “perdoname.”  WordPress doesn’t like to switch between Spanish words and English keyboards.

Third, all you devout pinchers had better stay away since I, the descendant of a conglomeration of Irish, German, Cherokee, Apache, French, and what-have-you, forgot it was St. Patrick’s Day and wore black.

I could say that I did it on purpose–that as an Irish descendant, I know there are political implications to wearing green versus white versus orange.  I could say that I was in mourning because the Catholic church claims St. Patrick or that I was protesting a perfectly good holiday turned into another example of American over-marketing.  I could say those things–but instead, I will just say the story of St. Patrick is remarkable and worthy of celebration and study.  I will say that St. Patrick’s Day was an excuse for my sister and I to wear green, speculate about our Irish roots, and watch Irish movies when we were growing up.  I will say that our family often regards St. Patrick’s Day more of a Celebrate-Ireland Day.  And I will say that as far as wearing green goes–I just plain forgot.

May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm on your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.–the Irish Blessing

Mystery Man on Line 1

It never ceases to amaze me that some people do not understand the words “No-Call List.” These persistent, and severely annoying, individuals somehow found our phone number.  Perhaps they scoured an old phone book.  Maybe they call every number combination they can think of with our regional area code.  Whatever their method–or their madness–“they” have our number and call us several times a week.  Normally the first to the phone, I answer any unrecognized number with, “Who’s calling?”

Occasionally, they are honest and will say what company they are with and why they are calling.  Some of them just hang up.

Earlier this week, a woman called when we were expecting an urgent call from a doctor’s office.  Her voice was bright and friendly as she asked for one of my family members.  I explained he was unavailable but that I could take a message.  “I’ll call back at a more convenient time,” she said cheerily and hung up without saying her name, number, or intent.  I assumed that she was either from the doctor’s office and couldn’t discuss confidential information…or that she was selling something.  Since she wouldn’t say who she was, I was left only with my guesses.

Several hours passed and she called again asking for the same relative.  “May I ask who’s calling?” I replied.

“I’ll call back at a more convenient time,” she replied brightly.

I startled her by nearly shouting into the phone, “But who are you?”  The cheery voice at the other end hesitated slightly and then rattled off a long company name.  And then she hung up.

Although the mystery woman on the phone could rival Effie Trinket for cheeriness, I refused to give her the information she wanted because I did not know her.  I did not trust that company because I did not know them.  It is hard to trust someone you don’t know.

Sometimes, we view God like the mystery man calling us on the phone.  We hit crises we cannot manage.  Crises where friends cannot help.  We are told to trust God.  But cynicism kicks in and we scoff as if someone just told us, “Yeah, do whatever that mystery man on the phone says.”   But God is not a telemarketer.  He does not ask us to trust Him because He needs to meet His monthly quota of good deeds.  Quite the opposite, He asks us to trust Him because we need Him.

No stranger to dark times, King David experienced betrayal, injustice, and loneliness throughout his life.  Despite his love for God, he experienced times too where he did not “feel” close to God.  In Psalm 13, he pours his heart out to God, describing his anguish and his feelings of isolation.  Then he says, “But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.  I will sing unto the LORD, because He hath deal bountifully with me.”

Why does David trust God in the dark times when he does not “feel” close to God?  Because he knows God.

David doesn’t have to guess about God’s trustworthiness.  He has hope because he knows God–knows God’s character.  And that gives David security and rest.  After David pours out his heart, he worships Him.  David had spent time getting to know God, not just information about God.  Trusting God as a best friend and as a faithful king, David was confident that God would act according to His character.  David’s knowledge of God was not academic–it was personal.

Life is not easy or predictable.  Hard times will come to test you.  Don’t push God away until He becomes nothing more than a mystery man calling from an unknown number.  God tells the prophet Isaiah, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth:  I said not unto the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek ye me in vain:’ I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” (Isaiah 45:19)  God is calling you.  He wants to help you.  He wants to know you.  You can trust God…when you know God.

Mondays

Oh Mondays, how often I despise thee, ruiner of weekends.

But Monday is not all bad.  Especially when it starts out with fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast.  Yet somehow the day always seems to go awry.  Didn’t my day see my schedule and know how to respond properly?  My day never goes as planned.

My life never goes as planned.

And that can be quite upsetting.

Let’s imagine for a moment.  Let’s imagine a bright young freshman new to college planning on becoming ________.  And merely for the sake of saving me the headache of using gender-neutral language, we are going to make our freshman a girl named Joanna.  (And no, this is not based on me.)  Joanna plans her days precisely with every minute accounted for.  Just one problem–nothing goes as planned.  The crowd going from one building to the next at the change of the hour delays Joanna from her routine by 3 minutes.  She loses her pencil, can’t find paper for a pop quiz, and fails the pop quiz even though she studied.  She goes to lunch which has run out of the vegetarian pasta she’s fond of.  Her homework lasts longer than planned.  Required extracurriculars eat away her spare moments and soon she’s face down asleep at 10 p.m.  Her day did not follow the schedule.  Soon, her entire life follows suit.  What happened to the perfect 4.0 GPA?  The stunning boyfriend with sparkling white teeth?  The orderly progress of life with college, career, marriage, job, children?  What happens when you don’t land that job?  When there is no boyfriend?  No job?  No kids?

Whatever stage of life you’re at, you know you can’t control life’s events.  Despite our best attempts to regulate everything to fit into our pre-designed grid of life, we fail.  To stretch a pithy saying if life is not about the moments you are given but what you do with those moments–then life is not about the events that happen to you but how you respond.

James 1 details encouragement to Christian brothers and sisters who are going through some rough stuff.  Worse than a normal Monday by far.  But James says for Christians to be thankful when they endure trials because they are learning patience.  My pastor spoke on this passage the other night–that oh so glorious Sunday.  He said that when trials come into our lives it’s a chance to grow closer to God or to sin by despairing.  We can turn to God and say, “Okay, Lord, show me how to respond.  Show me what you’re doing in this.”  Or we can maniacally try to control everything in our own strength or give up or throw a fit and say it isn’t fair.  But God is constantly putting His children where He wants them so He can mold them into the image of His Son (check out Romans 8).

So the next time you’re desparing about your Mondays or your upset life plans in general, if you know Christ, know that God is simply putting you where He needs you to be at the exact right time.  There’s something to learn.  So open your eyes.  Pray.  And remember there’s something better in store.

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