Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some Things Even Blind Men Can See

My reading this morning was in Hebrews 4 and Psalm 63 so my lesson to myself for the day is to look for the Lord (be alert to what he does around me today) and then boldly pray for mercy and grace. When I jot down these lessons to myself every morning, I seldom know how they will be reinforced throughout the day - only that they will be. Today has been no exception. Treasure Blind played last night at its first festival - Barebones International Film Festival, Muskogee Oklahoma. A good crowd laughed at the right time, wiped away tears at appropriate moments, and applauded heartily at the end. For the first time in many months, I just sat in a dark room and watched my little movie - smiling. I still like it. After being criticised for nearly every element of the movie from music to wardrobe, from writing to acting, from lighting to camera moves, I still like it. It was so pleasant to just sit there and enjoy, and remember writing and rewriting, arranging the sets and locations, building the taxi, recruiting the actors, asking for money, finding the crew and getting them on the schedule, shooting, reshooting, looping, editing, shooting more, editing, editing, editing... man this was an enormous job! An impossible job. Simply miraculous that it ever got started, let alone finished. But there I was, sitting in the dark, watching it. Praise the Lord. I was also smiling because that morning, I had received my first offer for distribution from an honest to goodness reputable distributor. He said he watched it, and he liked it. After so many passes and no-thank-yous that I was feeling like a door to door evangelist with bad breath, I had a real offer. What a day! Thank you Lord. When the movie ended, many went out of their way to shake my hand, eyes still teary, and tell me those wonderful words: they liked it. Only the Lord could have done that. See him? Today, I traveled back to the world's friendliest film festival for a panel discussion of Best Actor nominees. Best actor? I didn't even acquire this habit until mid life. How can I be on this panel? Oh yeah, the Lord. See him again? But just before the panel convened, I got a call from a second distributor - an even bigger one. So many "good and perfect gifts" coming from his hand. I would be blind to not have seen him today - but then, in my default mode I am blind, right? Thanks Lord for reminding me to watch for you today. Thank you for your mercy and grace that cures my blindness. And thank you for the movie. I like it. I really like it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Some Things Never Change... Thank God

I forgot about my movie for a bit. Mom's in the hospital. She's been sliding down the Alzheimer's slope for several years now, and has reached the level where she requires constant care. We moved her into a "rehab center" after she broke her hip. But rehab implies that a person can follow directions. She can't. So, she probably won't walk anymore. She just exists there from naptime to nighttime. Saturday, she was so groggy that she couldn't even mumble her usual nonsense. We thought maybe they had increased her medicine dosage. Just after noon, they took her to the ER. The story is: an infection had become so rampant that she was getting groggy. I guess that happens. She's now plugged into I.V. antibiotics and is getting better. But here's the thing - in all the flurry of anxious phone calls and interrupted plans, my Mom gave me an unexpected gift. Like she's done all my life. Not only the labor of birth and nursing and diapers and pureed food; not only the shuttles to school and the late nights of homework and ironing clothes and making lunches; not only the long talks and advice and encouragement when I began to raise my own children; not only homemade pies and fresh fruit and vegetables and cakes for every birthday; but she was the one who introduced me to my heavenly Father. Now, she's gone, or might as well be. She's not where I can get to her. She can't form words. Not words that anyone can interpret. She can't understand words when someone speaks to her. She can't think anymore, the wires are disconnected. I imagine her closed up all alone in a blurry noisy world with strange apparitions buzzing in and out of sight. I have prayed since the day the doctor said the "A" word that somehow, God would be in there with her and hold her hand and not let her be alone and afraid. Well, yesterday, as she lay there on that narrow bed designed for everything but comfort, wires and tubes poking her from every angle, she gave me the sweetest gift yet. She prayed. Not gibberish, not all of it, but real words. "O Dear heavenly Father," she said, "We pray that you would..." I couldn't hear that part. "We ask you to..." Missed that too. And on and on she prayed. Had to be 4 or 5 minutes. I just stood there and tried not to sob too hard as tears streamed onto my shirt. I was glad I was facing away from the busy hallway. And then, " the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen." And she opened her eyes and began whispering gibberish again. But from those few wonderful moments, I knew that the loving Lord she had introduced to me 49 years ago was in there with her. When he says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," it's the truth. Thank you Jesus. Stay in there with my Mom till it's time for her to come home. Thank you that Dad's already there waiting for her. And thank you that you gave me this movie to take to market so you can show me just how much I need you, and thanks for Mom's reminder of just how faithful you are.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


It's amazing to me how quickly I forget, or worse dismiss, someones praise of my movie. Equally amazing is how I will set aside great chunks of many days to dwell on, meditate on, and memorize someones negative comments. This phenomenon I shall call "stewage". Stewage is the reason people don't write movies, don't attempt the great American novel, don't invent alternative energy sources, and don't cure aids. Is isn't that they can't, but they have convinced themselves they shouldn't try. To try would be to become vulnerable. To bare your dearest soul would risk letting someone crap on it. In fact, it would guarantee it. Stewage demands that any sensible person keep his sacred stuff to himself.

Yes, you're right. I did have someone else pan my movie. A friend. Seriously hurts. True, there were positive notes strewn here and there, but I don't remember them. What I do remember are the slanderous strokes with which he casually disemboweled my darling. He accused me of the very sins I vowed to set right if I ever made a movie, tossing me with a hyphenated adjective or two, into the stinking pile of fly-infested losers who should have never been allowed to purchase Final Draft. Okay, over statement. But I will tell you this, I'm in serious stewage. Every time I sit down to work on my new script, I reflect on his words. Ideas that would have been working their way down into the fertile part of my subconscious are being eaten by the ravenous birds of stewage. That's a stupid idea. That's a small story at best. No one will ever believe that. I can't make that work. I can't. I shouldn't. I quit. Stewage.

So, how to overcome stewage? I do know how. It's one of those things I know in my head, but I'm not sure if I can make my heart agree; the way smokers know cigarettes will kill them, but light another one anyway. But here's how to handle stewage. Remember when Peter went fishing after his miserable failure, the whole denial and rooster thing? Remember how he fished all night and didn't catch anything? Then Jesus shows up on the shore and says throw your nets on the other side. He didn't know it was Jesus, but he did it anyway, and it was a huge catch. See, Jesus can make all the fish swim around the nets, or he could make all the fish swim into the nets. He is God. He is the one who determines success and failure for every one of his kids. And the thing is, Peter didn't devote his life to fishing from that point on either. He devoted his life to the Lord of success and failure. So, here's how that all plays out. I shouldn't stew on what anybody says about my movie or anything I do - whether it's negative or positive - because I'm not doing the things I do for them, I'm doing them for the Lord of all, Jesus. And doing anything that way is going to be successful - by his standards, not mine. Peter ended up crucified upside down. A failure? No way. Not in God's eyes. Peter will enjoy the benefit of his efforts forever. So, the way to cure stewage is change my audience. Rather than trying to impress the market, or the industry, or even my friends, I should do what I do as unto the Lord, and leave the results with him. Hope I can do that. Hope you can too.