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Friday, September 11, 2015

I went for a walk this morning as the sun was rising. I looked up and thought... how appropriate God would make the sky so beautiful on this particular morning of September 11. 
As I looked up to snap this photo of our flag, something else caught my eye. A plane. As I watched it soar against the backdrop of this captivating sky, tears formed in my eyes. 
How grateful I am for freedom. How grateful I am to live in this country. And how heavy my heart is in remembering the tragedy that happened on this day fourteen years ago. 
Last weekend, I went on a retreat to Zion. It was there I truly experienced beauty like I never have before. And such freedom - a freedom unlike any I've felt, a freedom from all the things I'm tied to: my schedule, to do lists, grocery shopping, doctors visits, appointments, obligations...

It was here in Zion I felt great freedom in letting go, freedom in releasing my burdens, freedom in forgetting my worries and just leaving it all behind for a while. It was here I was drawn to capture so many photos of this flag waving in the valley winds.
I felt freedom in simplicity - in no makeup and messy hair, in drinking water from a spicket right from the ground, in sitting in a river with just a chair and some friends - and that being the highlight of most everyone's weekend. So ordinary. So simple.

And yet we experienced the extraordinary, too. We went on some truly incredible hikes with the most breathtaking of views.
On this day marked with such tragedy in our American history, yet such a reverence and sense of coming together as a country, I am grateful to live here in America. I am grateful to be free.
"Free is every breathe, every step I take. Free is when you know that your soul's awake." - Steve Moakler, Free
I felt my soul awaken in Zion. I felt freedom in each breathe of fresh mountain air, in each step amidst such great natural beauty. I experienced God through His creation in such a raw and tangible way. Truly, I felt free.

When I think about freedom, I can't not think of the truest and greatest freedom available to us  - a greater freedom than that which we find living in America, than the feeling we get from being in nature - the freedom we have in Christ. 

Through His blood we are made clean from our sins, we are pardoned from our falling short, we are able to seek Him, reach Him, cry out to Him, be found in Him, be free in Him. We have the incredible freedom of being released from the bondage of this world. 
Drew Holcomb sings, 
"You can't lock me up and tell me about freedom." 
The lyric is from a song called You Can't Take It With You. The stuff of this world - we are all tied to it to some degree (I mean, we have to have jobs, we have to shower...) After all, we are in the world. But we are in the world, not of the world. And we don't have to stay locked up by being tied down to worldly "treasures."As Drew sings, 
"You can't take it with you when you're gone."
What we can take with us is the eternal. And while we're here, we can find such freedom in that - in knowing what really matters. And what doesn't. In knowing our value is found in who we are and not what we have. Psalm 119:32 says: 
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." 
The freedom I find in Christ makes me want to seek His will, to follow His commands, to experience the best life I know He has to offer - to run, not walk, in the path of His commands. 
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36
We have been given such an incredible great gift of freedom in Christ, and we have the great gift and ability to share that freedom with others. And so I share these photos with you. I don't know about you, but I can't look at views like these and not believe in a great and mighty, powerful and loving, gracious and generous God.
On this day, on September 11, I hope you feel the freedom of living in this great country. But more importantly, I hope you experience the great freedom of a life found in Christ that will never fail, never fall short, never restrain. 
"Where You are, Lord, I am free." - Matt Maher, Lord, I Need You

Riva won 7 awards

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Riva won 7 awards. 

And I could not be more proud of my fellow filmmakers, Chris Wiegand and Alan Tregoning. It was both a joy and honor to create this film with you. 

Also, I must thank God for His provision in completely showing up at every step along the way from clearly working in the hearts of crazy generous people - who let us film at their locations, created our entire wardrobe, and so much more - to His provision in keeping me from getting bitten by the snakes in that water! 

As I got home well after midnight - after all the excitement of the after party, red carpet photos and interviews, and meeting our amazingly talented fellow filmmakers and award-winners - all was still and quiet. And I couldn't help but think:
"That's it?"
These awards are my first ever in the entertainment industry (besides winning Best Actress at a showcase in 2009.) I've watched many awards shows on TV from my couch - the Emmys, Grammys, Academy Awards and others - and I've thought, "How cool it must be to be there! How great to be getting recognized! How... fulfilling!" 

But as I experienced it all for myself (though just to be clear, I am not comparing this to the Academy Awards by any means!), as I was the one walking up to receive awards, and I was the one giving that acceptance speech... I was also the one coming home to a quiet house after all was said and done, on a Sunday night before a Monday morning when it's back to the grind and wondering if I will ever work again in this town! 

As crazy as it seems, I've heard successful filmmakers and famous actors say they have the same doubts. They have the same fears. And I know some feel the loneliness and weight of that quiet when they find themselves in that calm after the storm - that inner emptiness that continually lurks despite the greatest amount of worldly "fulfillment." 

I felt a tugging at my heart for all those actors and filmmakers who don't know Christ. I long for them to know His love, to find their worth in Him, their acceptance by Him, and their fulfillment in Him. I long for them to know they are His child, He is their Father, and they don't have to fear. 
"I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God." - Bethel Music, No Longer Slaves
Because at the end of the day, when the bright lights of the stage and flashbulbs fade, there is only one true light that remains, that endures through all the "hype," that cuts through the darkness without fail. Every time. 

There was a swelling sadness in my heart that arose amidst the great joy from the evening. With a heavy heart, I prayed for those who don't know Christ in this industry. 

And with a grateful heart I thanked God for His goodness in encouraging me along in my career - on this journey that often seems so rocky, so winding, dark and unknown. I thanked Him for being the faithful One who makes my crooked paths straight (Isaiah 45:2), who leads me by still waters (Psalm 23:2), who calms the storms of life (Psalm 107:29), and who brings me fulfillment - not the fulfillment that comes from worldly recognition and praise, but the fulfillment that comes from knowing who I am in Him. 

I would love to continue working in the entertainment industry. I love acting. I love writing. I love storytelling. I love creating quality content to be consumed by believers and non-believers alike - content that is pure, that gets people thinking, that is high quality, and that ultimately points all to Christ. 
But I know there is much I can't control in this industry, and I know there is much I can't control in my life (and thank God for that!) But I also know that wherever the Lord leads, whatever doors He opens (or doesn't!), that I will be used by Him, that He will guide me on the path He chooses, and that as long as I look to Him, seek to glorify Him, always give Him the recognition, honor, and praise - where He leads, I will follow. And I will be fulfilled. 

I am beyond grateful for the recognition we received last night for our film, Riva - one that represents a ton of hard work, of literal blood, sweat, and tears, and years of pounding the pavement in this industry. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to create this film and for everything the 168 Film Project is doing. There are some incredible films created through it, and I'm thrilled to share ours with you soon. 

Thank you for reading my scattered thoughts and reflections. To Him be all the recognition. 

Riva won the following awards at the 168 Film Festival:
Best Editor
Best Director
Best Cinematography
Best Scriptural Integration
Best Supporting Actress
Best Actress
Best Film

Stay tuned. We will eventually post the full 11-minute version of our short film, Riva. But in the meantime, you may watch the trailer here!

patience, please

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I'm in the process of redesigning my blog right now. I have decided to launch it on September 23, the first day of fall. Here's a little sneak peek:

And as with most things in life, it's taking a bit longer than I'd like. As soon I got the idea for the redesign, I wanted it to be done! "Let's do this already!" and "What are we waiting for?!" are impatient thoughts that replay on loop in my mind.

This blog is not the only thing with which I'm impatient. Let's face it... It seems I'm in a hurry to get things done in every aspect of my life. 

When my mom arrived at the hospital at 2am after her water broke, I was already in a hurry. I was in her arms about five minutes later. Seriously. An intern delivered me. Apparently he looked about 12 years old. I'm just hoping it wasn't Neal Patrick Harris. 

What are you in a hurry for in your life? A boyfriend? A husband? A child? A job? Financial provision? Health?

I remember this old country song...
"I'm in a hurry to get things done; I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."
Why are we all hurrying around so much that life isn't fun anymore? I can seriously stress myself out for no reason. I can get the same amount done in a day with an attitude of hurry or one of patience - of getting things done one at a time, and calmly. What a concept.

I look back on my life starting with my five-minute entry into this world and continuing on throughout the last *almost* three decades, and I am convicted by my hurry to accomplish and my impatience in waiting. 

Thankfully, the Lord's patience with me never ends. Amidst the lies Satan whispers in my ear, the voice of my Father is thankfully so much louder.
"Do not be anxious about anything..."Philippians 4:6 
"[I] will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." - Psalm 121:8 
"Wait for [me]. Be strong and take heart! And wait for [me]." - Psalm 27:14
Penny and Sparrow sing a song called "Patience, Please." The title is one I keep turning over and over in the ever-revolving hamster-style exercise wheel of my mind. It gets caught up and mixed in among my crazy, irrational, frustrated and impatient thoughts... But thankfully, with daily - nay, hourly - reminders from my sweet Savior, I am reminded to have patience, please. 

Ironically, the only words in that song are "please come home." The Father is begging us to come home. To come to Him. To find rest at His feet.

So I will continue to ask - okay, sometimes beg - Him for patience, please.

what am I doing with my life?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I love the mornings. The day is fresh. I am renewed. My energy is restored. 

As I walk down to the ocean, I feel a strange sense of peace wash over me. In the mornings I have more "life is good" moments than "what am I doing with my life?!" ones. 

It's day 3 of my challenge, and I'm feeling pretty awesome. I'll be honest though: Yesterday I had another moment of doubt, of frustration, of shouting - albeit playfully, to my sweet boyfriend who so patiently listens to my frustrations - "I'm tired of waiting!!" 
I think back on my day and the highs and lows of yesterday, and I am convicted by my continuation to doubt what God is doing with my life and with how quickly I forget. 
"How quickly I forget I'm yours." - Addison Road, Hope Now
I had an interview with a Christian magazine yesterday about our 168 film, Riva, a short film I helped create for the 168 Film Festival. A film that has a pretty cool story for me behind it. A film that has now been nominated for ten awards!

As I answered the questions and did my best to convey what the process was like - from drawing the verse, Mark 5:34, to writing it, casting it, securing locations, actors, wardrobe and props, to filming and editing it in just 168 hours, and everything in between - I was reminded of just how much God did show up in that project. From start to finish, He never let me down. 
The Lord completely showed up and blessed our film shoot in Athens, Texas. He led me feet and guided my path.
And therein lies the conviction I feel when doubts continue to creep into the dark corners of my mind, when my impatience grows strong and my grumbling stronger, when I become so self-focused that I can't possibly become God-focused. 

I'm sure you've felt like I have. Both encouraged in seasons of life when God seems to be on your side, so clearly evident in guiding your path, yet discouraged in seasons when He seems to be in some far off distance, leaving you feeling abandoned and alone on a rocky and winding path. 

I'm sure you, too, have asked the question, "What am I doing with my life?!" 

Well, while I can't answer that question for you - or even for myself at the moment - if there's one thing I know to do when I have such thoughts, it's to seek Truth. And the Truths God so faithfully and gently reminds me are - among others: 
"See? I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it? I am making a roadway in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19)
"Behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:5)
"I will never leave or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:8)
"I uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
"I will lead you beside still waters." (Psalm 23:2)
"I will never let your foot slip." (Psalm 121:3)
"I am with you always, to the ends of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
He is there when we don't feel him. He has answers amidst our questions. 

I've realized I have my question all wrong. It's not "what am I doing with my life?" but "what is He doing with my life?"

And doing with my life - something great, something unknown, something better than anything plan I could ever conjure up - He is. And He is doing the same in yours. He will bring the good work He started in us to completion (Philippians 1:6). 

Next time we find ourselves on an unpredictable path, let's remember the One who is guiding us. 
Next time our faith wavers, let's remember the One who is constant.
Next time we doubt, let's remember the One who is certain in our lives. 
"Lord, I find you in the seeking. Lord, I find you in the doubt." - All Sons and Daughters, Oh How I Need You
When it feels like we are waiting, He is working. 
When it feels like we are wandering, He is guiding. 
When it feel like we don't know what we're doing with our life, He does.