Monday, October 31, 2011

Free as the Fall Leaves

A week or so ago I sat near my front window praying, and I couldn't help but listen to the rustling of the leaves as they danced across the ground, propelled forward by the cool fall breeze. It was one of those days where the sun was shining, the sky couldn't have been bluer, and the leaves were painted in hues of indescribable beauty. But what really captivated me was the dead leaves scurrying along the ground. I noticed how free they were. Free to move, free to fly, free to go wherever the wind would blow them. Free as can be. It reminded me of how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit like the wind, saying that it blows wherever it wills and no one can see where it comes from or where it's going and so it is with people of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

I imagine that people of the Spirit are a lot like those leaves. They are free to go wherever the Spirit moves them. Why? Because they are not attached to anything in this world. I noticed the leaves that remained on the tree. With each gust of wind, they would ripple and flutter, but they never broke free. I found it interesting how they were only holding onto the branch by a very thin, seemingly fragile, stem, and yet no matter how fiercely the wind blew, they could not break free. So it is with us. We may only be holding onto the things of this world by a very thin stem, but even so, we are still attached. And if we remain attached, we will never know the freedom of being able to go wherever the Spirit leads.

I want to be like one of those free-wheeling, spinning, rustling, flying, dancing leaves. Unattached. Free to go wherever the Spirit wants to take me. Of course, the parable does not end here. To be like one of those leaves - only one condition is necessary. You have to die. I speak here of death to self. It is our own selfishness that keeps us holding fast to the branch, unwilling to let go. We are afraid to let go because we think if we do we will lose our very self. What we don't understand is that it is only through dying to ourselves that we can become our fullest, most fulfilled and best self. Only through dying to ourselves can we dance the dance of freedom and become people of the Spirit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Flight to India" Film Premiere Recap

This post is long overdue, but to all of my friends in the blogger world, I thought I'd still better share.

My new film "Flight to India" premiered two weeks ago in Akron, Ohio with over 100 people in attendance. It was wonderful seeing some of the child actors from the film whom I hadn't seen in about a year and a half since we filmed it. Let's just say some of them had grown so much I could barely recognize them! It was also wonderful to have so many people from many different areas of my life in the audience -- family, friends of my family, church family, people I've gone to school with, etc. There was even a family that drove all the way from Warren to be there. This is an hour drive. I know because I've performed in Warren for the past three summers. That's how I'd met the family that came. The mother has brought her daughter to my shows the past two years, and she has participated both times. It was overwhelming to think of them driving over an hour to see a 35 minute film, but it really blessed me.

For me, the greatest part was being able to sit in the back and experience the crowd reactions. We had a very diverse crowd, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. As my sister pointed out, there were moments when the kids laughed, moments when the adults laughed, and moments when everyone laughed together. I got to see some of the children sitting on the edges of their seats, big smiles on their faces, and I couldn't help but smile myself!

When the film ended we had a reception afterward where people could purchase the film, meet some of the actors or just have some cookies and punch. Some of the greatest feedback came during this time.

One little girl whom I know quite well since I'm good friends with her parents said,"Could you be my babysitter?? My babysitters never do fun things like that."
(I was told by a few in the crowd that I could now probably command $50/hr. as a babysitter! haha!) Another little girl whose parents bought her a copy of the film was eager to get home so she could watch it again. A young boy whose grandmother goes to my church called it "hilarious." Those were just a few of the post-show comments from kids.

Unfortunately, the film's director, Peter Fields, couldn't be there that night, but it was with good reason. "Flight to India"(along with his other film "Turning Point" in which I play the role of Carla) had been selected to be part of the Colony Film Festival in Marietta! So he went to Marietta for that. We certainly missed him, but it was also quite exciting to have the film premiering in two locations on one night.

Now we are going to continue sending it out to other film festivals and see what happens. I'll also be taking it along with me when I go to performances and making it available that way. I would love to make a whole series of films around the same concept. It's just a matter of finding the time, and of course, resources! But with time and patience and the grace of God, I know it can come to fruition! :)

If you missed the premiere and would still like to see the film, it is now available on Amazon and can be purchased for $9.95. And while I think children will enjoy watching the film, my hope is that they will take it to the next level and allow it to be a springboard for their imaginations, acting out their own stories and adventures!

As I sign off on this post, I can't help but thank all of the people who were involved in the film. They made it such a joy to work on! From the actors, to their parents, to the entire crew. I can only hope that people will enjoy watching the film as much as I enjoyed being a part of it!

Lastly, as I said on the evening of the premiere, I'm also thankful for all the support I've received in all of my artistic pursuits. My husband and my mom especially refused to let me give up when things weren't easy and when it seemed like it would have been easier to have a "regular" job. I couldn't have done it without their faith and constant nudging. I've heard plenty of people say that you can't make a living as an artist. Some of these people have been close to me. But they are wrong. With perseverance and a love for the art form, you can do it. It's not always the easiest path, but in the end, it's been worth it. I've learned a lot about myself along the way, and I'm still learning. I'm grateful to see that there are other young actors today with parents and others surrounding them who support them and affirm that their dreams can become a reality.

At one point the thought of having a movie based on one of my shows seemed like a far-fetched dream. But God put all of the pieces together, and now it's a reality.