From the Pit to the Palace

This and That

My favorite Old Testament story and character is the story of Joseph. He was the favorite son of Jacob because he was the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. Jacob made the mistake of playing favorites with Joseph. And his brothers resented it. God gave Joseph some dreams where his brothers and father bow down to him. His mistake was to share his dreams with them. This made them angrier. Word of warning: Be careful who you share your dreams with. Some of your so-called friends can resent your dreams and will try to be dream killers. Ultimately, his brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery. Joseph thrived wherever he went because of his faith in God. He oversaw Potiphar’s (his owner) household and caused it to prosper. Then, after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and sent into prison, he ran it too. From there, he interpreted the dreams…

View original post 238 more words

From the Pit to the Palace

Tags

,

My favorite Old Testament story and character is the story of Joseph. He was the favorite son of Jacob because he was the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. Jacob made the mistake of playing favorites with Joseph. And his brothers resented it. God gave Joseph some dreams where his brothers and father bow down to him. His mistake was to share his dreams with them. This made them angrier. Word of warning: Be careful who you share your dreams with. Some of your so-called friends can resent your dreams and will try to be dream killers. Ultimately, his brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery. Joseph thrived wherever he went because of his faith in God. He oversaw Potiphar’s (his owner) household and caused it to prosper. Then, after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and sent into prison, he ran it too. From there, he interpreted the dreams of members of Pharaoh’s court. One was restored to his position and the other was executed-as he predicted. Ultimately, the wine steward whose dream he interpreted, told Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams which predicted a coming famine. This resulted in Joseph being second in command and also saving millions of people’s lives. Including his family-and his brothers. Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers, but instead he forgave them.

One of the important points of the story was the fact that the time between Joseph dreams and the fulfillment was around 13 years. And in between was betrayal by his brothers, slavery, false accusations, and prison.  In spite of all these obstacles, Joseph remained righteous and prospered even in prison.

Do you have a dream? Does it seem to get farther away instead of closer?  And do you feel like your life has been turned upside down? It could be that God is taking you out of your comfort zone and positioning you so you can fulfill your dreams. And, just when things seem the darkest, it could be the final moments before you find the fulfillment of your dreams. Joseph went from the prison to the palace overnight. Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop trying. And don’t be surprised when some of your friends try to kill your dreams. You will find out who your real friends are during those dark times.

The Imposter Syndrome

My favorite actress is Meryl Streep. Not just for the reasons she is universally acclaimed, though she is an amazingly versatile actress who also can sing very well too. There are other reason I admire her. One, is she appears to be happily married for many years to one man and has raised four well adjusted children. A rare feat in Hollywood. I have yet to hear anyone who worked with her have a negative thing to say about her personally or professionally. She is gracious and humble and always prepared. None of this sense of entitlement many who have achieved that level of success suffer from.  The biggest reason I admire her is a result of a cast interview on Oprah for one of her movies. I can’t even recall what the movie was. I had a revelation when she described having an anxiety attack about taking on this role and feeling she wasn’t up to the task. She even called the producer and tried to back out because of this sense of inadequacy. Of course, she ended up doing the movie and being great as usual. That was very encouraging to me. Someone who has reached the pinnacle of success she has gets feelings of inadequacy. I have also heard of people like Carly Simon and Barbra Streisand having bouts of paralyzing stage fright.  Sometimes, no frequently, I suffer from feelings of inadequacy and have panic attacks when I try something new. I alternate between confidence and enjoyment and panic attacks and feelings of inadequacy.  There is a psychological term called the “Imposter Syndrome” where outwardly successful people inwardly fear that people will find out how little they really know what they are doing.  I am pursuing the art of writing, and sometimes wonder what the heck I’m thinking and am tempted to give up. Then I remember Meryl Streep wanting to back out of a movie part because she felt inadequate and I feel encouraged.  If you are trying something a little out of your comfort zone, keep at it. That is where growth and true happiness resides. 

What’s my next step?

Change is scary. Even positive change paralyzes us if we let it. That’s why we too often stay far too long in negative even abusive relationships or soul-sucking jobs.

Another reason we resist change is because we have big dreams but achieving those dreams seem so daunting.  Where we are and where we want to be seem to be worlds apart. We fear failure, ridicule.  And, truthfully, if we do dare to dream big and share those dreams we will encounter “dream killers” – people who choose to belittle those who dare to dream. These are individuals who have given up on their dreams and feel better about themselves by ridiculing those who haven’t given up.

If you have a dream that seems monumental there are several things you should do.  First, ignore the dream killers. These are the sorts of people who told the Wright Brothers that people would never fly. Told the Beatles that guitar bands were out of style.

Secondly, be careful who you share your dreams with. Learn who you can trust your heart’s desires with and will encourage you and hold you up.

Thirdly, ask yourself what will it take to get from here to there. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Take classes, revise a resume.  Other times the answer is not so simple.

For example, in my case, a few years ago I felt the calling to become a writer. I had been a songwriter prior to that, so the idea of writing wasn’t entirely new. I was taking a Bible study course that said if you are not sure where God wants you to go, take one step on faith. So, I began writing a daily journal. Then, I encountered writing seminars and writing groups that helped prime my writing pump. I then felt the urge to write a book. The leap from writing three minute songs to a full-fledged novel is a huge one. I got song ideas from bits of conversations, arguments with boyfriends, etc.  A 300 page book is a whole new animal. So I told God that if He wanted me to write a book, He would have to give me the plot.  And, sure enough the idea came to me in a dream.  I learned how to write a book as I wrote it through workshops and seminars and writers groups. And after numerous edits and revisions, the book is completed. I also have another completed novel where the plot also came to me in a dream as well as several partially written books.

But actually writing a book is only part of the process. There is the question of what to do with it. Put it in a drawer to gather dust? Self publish?  Send it to agents and publishers?  Then there is the issue of marketing it once the publishing issue has been decided.  Sometimes the question makes me want to hide under my bed covers because I am so confused and scared.

It’s then that I recall my Bible study and a recent sermon by my pastor said: “What’s my  next step?”   It’s good to have a long term vision. But, when we don’t know exactly how to get there, we should ask what’s my next step and take a step. I found myself in Nashville area after living in Ohio all my life. And I discovered there is an active writing community here not just in music. One of those steps is to make connections in several writing groups. Attend how- to seminars. I discovered that it is essential to have a social media presence if you want to attract agents and market your work. Creating a blog is one of the things recommended. This blog is a result of taking the “next step.”   I am still pondering whether to self publish or to begin submitting to agents. In the meantime I am getting critiques on my work and continuing this blog until I know what my next step is.

So, if you are wanting to make a change, if you have a dream but the goal seems too daunting, try asking yourself, “what’s my next step?”

 

 

Hollywood and the Bible-Friends or Adversaries

There are a lot of movies coming out that are based on the Bible. Some are very closely based, and some are VERY loosely based. I went to see two movies recently that are quite different. One was “Son of God” and the other was “God’s Not Dead.”

“Son of God” was more high profile, being produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. They made this movie on faith that a distributor would pick it up. They discussed that many young people have not been taught the Gospel. And they are media oriented. So Roma and Mark set about, after their TV mini series was so successful. to make a movie about the important aspects of Jesus’s life. They strived to make the movie as accurate as possible. They did streamline it so it would flow better for dramatic effect.

Most Christians embraced their efforts to tell the world about Jesus in an easy to understand manner. But, of course, there were some who nitpicked about the wise men at the stable. Others groused about Mary Magdalene being so prominent, forgetting she was one of the financial supporters of the ministry and the first one to see the risen Christ. And, yet others, criticized Hollywood in general. My feelings on this matter is that they did not change the content of the Gospels. They took major financial as well as career risks out of a sincere desire to bring the Gospel to the world.

I feel that we Christians should support their efforts by our prayers and by our dollars. One thing the powers that be understand in Hollywood is money. If a Christian movie makes money they will make more Christian movies. God has placed a remnant of Christians in the media for His glory. Rather than throwing stones, we should applaud and support them.

I also went to see “God’s Not Dead” last Friday. It was about a young college student defending God’s existence in his philosophy class. There were other side stories about people’s struggles with their faith and relationships. I was so moved I cried. The student’s case for God was inspiring, challenging the most supposedly intellectual atheist. His Power Point presentations should be required viewing in every church.

On the other hand, I have heard many negative things about the upcoming “Noah.” I have read that the director even admitted he changed the story around and didn’t care if it was Biblically accurate. The reviewer also said that God is portrayed as cruel and unmerciful. Noah is portrayed as a baby killer and mean and cruel as well. I reserve judgement, since I haven’t seen it and no one I know has seen it.

I do wonder why some movie makers feel the need to change up Bible stories supposedly for dramatic effects. The Bible has enough drama already. Look at the stories. There are murders, intrigue, love stories, betrayal, mysteries. The story of Noah talks about a man who does what’s right even when no one else around him does. He obeys God by building an ark while enduring ridicule from his neighbors. Then, after a hundred years, he gathers up animals and they ride out the flood together. The true story is so interesting, I don’t know why anyone would feel the need to change it.

So, is Hollywood friend or foe to the Gospel and Christians? My answer is: yes. Both. Many are hostile to our beliefs and standards. But there are a few Christians strategically placed by God who have the means and influence to affect millions. When Mel Gibson’s “Passion” came out there were those who falsely called it anti-Semitic and tried to destroy it. But, millions of people were impacted by it and it also made an amazing profit. God was able to work through this movie in a miraculous manner. So, rather than railing about how godless Hollywood is we should do what we can to support those film makers who strive to light a candle in the darkness in Hollywood.

It’s not good to be alone

I set up this blog yesterday.  I don’t know if anyone saw it because I thought I linked it to my facebook page, but it apparently wasn’t.  My blog has no special purpose except to amuse and inspire.  

I was thinking about the verse in Genesis where God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  Humans are designed to be social creatures. It is good to have a certain degree of solitude. But too much is not healthy. Think about it. Every time you hear about someone going nuts and shooting up a place, you usually hear people say about that person, “He was such a loner. He always kept to himself.”  I am a writer, which is a solitary business. But in the end I want to write something that other people want to read.  That is why I look for critique groups or a critique partner to give me feedback. Of course, like any relationship it is essential to find the right group or writing partner who will give honest but constructive critiques.  Having others look at my work has helped me find mistakes I overlooked and gave me suggestions for improvement I would never have thought of.  Some Christians say they don’t need to go to church or have fellowship with other believers, but it is easy to get out of balance or back slidden without accountability. My favorite Bible studies are ones where everyone shares freely and I learn so much more than when I study alone. And different people have different abilities. When a group of people work together so much more can be accomplished by utilizing the different talents and abilities of the members of the group.  It is all a matter of balance. We need to have friends to have a full life. But, we should also be willing to stand alone when the group wants to do something that violates our morals or rights.  The college fraternity/sorority system comes to mind here. Many young college students put up with excessive hazing and conformist standards because they want to be part of a group. It takes a strong person to walk away if it gets out of hand. The key is to find the right fraternity, the right group of friends who share your values and respect you for who you are as an individual. And, of course, this is true when looking for a spouse.  I remember ending a bad relationship when I realized that being alone was better than being with someone who treated me badly. And now I am in a healthy loving marriage with a man who respects me for who I am. 

OK. I guess I’m done for today.  If you have any comments that are helpful that would contribute to the conversation, feel free. If you are one of those people who like to make negative comments just to be mean, don’t bother. I won’t respond.