Flashbacks and Finishing

I was nervous. Probably sweating. Who did I think I was, thinking I could get in? I had memorized my lines and sang the song over and over, hoping to inspire the instructors.

I was 19 and found myself at a theatre audition for an acting program in Red Deer. I had done a year of Bible School and was always fascinated by theatre and dramatics. I was in a classroom at the college ready to sing my heart out to my best rendition of Olivia Newton John’s “Hopelessly Devoted”. The bright floursecent lights did nothing for the ambience and mood, but I did my best.

That was 12 years ago now – I didn’t make it in to theatre school. 😉 God had a different plan, one that I wouldn’t exchange for anything. But yesterday I found myself in that same room, having a flashback to a dramatic attempt years and years ago.

Remember this post back in December – about finishing strong? Last fall I worked on a  playscript inspired by a true love story circa WWII. Writer’s block was playing a strong defence and I had nearly given up. Until one night, I realized how many creative projects I had started, and never finished.

I prayed, “Lord, would you help me to become a finisher?” The next night I told my roommate I was locking myself in my room for at least two hours whether I liked it or not (self-induced grounding?). I wrote for three hours and pushed writer’s block out of my way. I submitted my script at the midnight hour (literally!) with a prayer and a hope that it would get accepted, knowing that even if it didn’t, I had finished what I set out to do – tell a beautiful love story and honor the family.

WWII Love StoryAbout 10 days ago, the protagonist of my story passed away. She was 91. I went to her funeral and heard more English-isms and about what kind of lady she was. I found out the next day that my script was selected for development and there WILL be a live script reading this spring!!

So there I was yesterday in the very room I had auditioned in years ago, now with a dramaturge (professional script developer) and student actors reading my script. We talked about character development, the love story, the possibilities! As a writer, sharing anything you write is scary and vulnerable – but the feedback I got, and even the fact that the word ‘epic’ was used – floored me.

I can’t help but feel like God gave me the nudge I needed to finish, then the hug I needed to remind me that I AM equipped to finish. Its been a good reminder for me that I must run MY race with endurance, and that God’s timing is always best.

It’s back to the writing board for me, as I develop this script more over the coming weeks. I’m excited for the family to remember their mother through this piece of art.

What a good reminder to not give up, especially at the very threshold of completion!

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Becoming a ‘finisher’

December is a month of reflection. Not only a time where we make more room for Jesus in our hearts and foster thankfulness, but it becomes a time where we look at our year and filter things through the lens of achievement – analyzing whether we reached our goals or not.

A couple of weeks ago I was ready to give up on this short play I had started writing. I work well with deadlines, but the inspiration just wasn’t flowing. There is a local playwright’s competition (for spring performances) and I had discovered a beautiful true love story this year that I thought would make a great script to share. I struggled, and always have, with building conflict into any story. Perhaps that’s indicative of my own life – I don’t like conflict!

photo (8)Instead of giving up two weeks before the deadline, I decided to pray. One of those Lord, please help me prayers. I realized that in my creative life I had started a lot of things, and had numerous ideas, but quite often never ran with just one, because something new and shinier came a long that I wanted to try. I realize that I need to learn to excel at finishing what I start.

So one night after supper I prayed a simple prayer of, “Lord, please help me to become a finisher”, and blocked off a night to write. I told my roommate I wasn’t coming out of my room for a couple hours. Well, something changed that night. I realized that inspiration and creativity doesn’t just come because I think I’m a creative person, I have to make room for it – purposeful and intentional room. I wrote for longer than I said I would that night and got through the hump that led me last week to finish the script for the competition.

For me, it doesn’t even matter if it gets chosen for production, it’s the fact that I chose to finish what I had started. Now I’m not saying I don’t finish anything! Books, projects, relationships – yes, they are all something I invest in. But I have found a pattern in my creative life of not finishing.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says,“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all He endured when sinful people did such terrible things to Him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.”

I know for me, I need to learn in 2013 to tune out distractions and run my race with endurance. As I start Grad school next fall (got accepted since last time I wrote! Woohoo!) this will be the mindset I will have to go in with – run this race with endurance and finish what I start.

We are equipped to be finishers. And as I realized lately, sometimes I just need to make more room for that to change in my life. What will you become more intentional about in 2013?

Waiting for a King – Part 1

I wrote this short story in December 2007, based completely on my imagination expanded from a true Bible story. What follows is NOT Biblical fact. That’s my disclaimer! 😉  Read Mark 11 or Matthew 21 for the real thing. Well…here’s a little from my imagination.  Part 1 of 2.

“He’s coming! He’s coming!” gasping for breath, Alpheus pushed the door open, bent over, hands resting momentarily on his knees.

Alpheus’ tall broad stature was always recognized from afar off, but this morning his long legs could barely get him where he wanted to go fast enough.

“The King is coming! Aren’t you ready yet? Pleeeease hurry up Berni, I want a good spot!”

He paused long enough to scratch his beard and rub his sore back. Alpheus was known to all as a patient yet strong man. He was the man every girl went to for advice and friendship. Yet one girl had captivated him. Bernice.

“Oh, Alpheus, I don’t know what to wear? I’ve never met the King before,” sighed Bernice. Her hair in disarray and her robe needing some mending, Bernice ran out of the bedroom feeling desperate.

Alpheus chuckled. He went to Bernice and grabbed her hands.

“None of us have met the King! That’s why we’re so excited! We’re all in the same boat Berni, we just want a glimpse of this man everyone is calling the Messiah! You’re not the only one feeling nervous today,” his strong, calloused hand rested on her shoulder. “You…look…beautiful.”

Somehow Alpheus always knew how to make her feel better. And blush.

Closing her eyes in determination, she breathed in deeply, gathered her purple robe in her hands, and made off into the bedroom for one last look – a squeal of excitement exiting the room with her. Her nerves had suddenly transformed into sheer joy.

The small home was nothing fancy, but Bernice’s domestic flair had created a place all her friends gathered at. This particular morning it smelled of fresh baked bread and the fresh white lilies she had picked that morning.

His eyes roamed the room looking for the loaf he knew was hiding somewhere. Finding it on the counter under a cloth, Alpheus ripped off a piece – figuring his patience had earned him the pleasure.

“Did you bring something for the King?” called Bernice from the bedroom.

He swallowed quickly and confidently replied “I sure did,” and patted his shirt pocket. “My grandmother’s gold ring. That is, if we even get close enough to the King to touch Him today!”

Silence hung like last week’s laundry – an unfamiliar experience when in the presence of Bernice.

Alpheus began to tap his fingers on the tabletop. After but a few moments, curiousity got the better of him.

“So, what are you bringing Berni?”

Bernice swung around the doorway with a cheeky smile declaring, “Me!” and swung back in.

She continued, “I’ve heard this King usually prefers gifts from the heart. I thought about it, and I figured giving my heart was the best I had.”

“Well now, isn’t that the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard,” retorted Alpheus.

Finally ready to go meet the King, Bernice slipped from her bedroom with a grace Alpheus had rarely seen. His throat nearly closing in on him, he watched as Bernice did a royal bow.

“How’s that? I’ve been practising!”

“You didn’t even bump the door on your way out. Nice.”

Recovering, Alpheus reached out for his friend’s hand. “Like I said. Beautiful.”

She wrapped her arm in Alpheus’ and looked up at him with her hopeful brown eyes.

“I think He’s the One Alphy. I think He’s the One we’ve been waiting for.”

Alpheus patted her soft hand, opened the door and responded, “I think you may be right.”

They wasted no time in getting where they needed to go. The enthusiasm of the King’s coming could be felt throughout Jerusalem that morning.

Shop owners waved to strangers – everyone was family that day. The comaderie was tangible.

Shouts of “Come on, He’ll be here soon!” resounded throughout Jerusalem as people ran to the outer limits of the town, palm branches in hand.

Alpheus squeezed Bernice’s hand as they passed by the town square.

“Here, we should stop here and grab some branches. Everyone will have one and whether we have a good view or not, I won’t show up without one!” suggested Alpheus.

Pulling out his coin bag, Alpheus showed Bernice again that he was a man that would take care.

He’s just my friend though. Began Bernice’s inner dialogue. She had told herself time and time again that Alpheus was just a friend, but something seemed different about him lately. He was more….attentive. It almost made her nervous. But before she could continue the thought, she gave herself a mental shake, pushed Alpheus out of the way and began running.

“Last one there has to clean my feet!” shouted Bernice so the whole neighbourhood could hear.

It’s when she does things like that I wonder what I’d do without her. And Alpheus stirred up his own dust and followed her lead to the town limits.

“Well, this is where everyone is,” commented Alpheus, out of breath again, as soon as he had caught up.

The rustle of the palm branches created a comforting sound that day. The branches were more than just plants that day. It was a gift – an honor to the King.

Each one found their place among the crowd; they joined the hush. The reverance. The wait.

Mothers carried wee infants in their robes, and fathers held toddlers on their shoulders for a better look. Children had ceased to play and be bothersome for a few sacred moments as the families stood and awaited the arrival of their King.

Bernice looked up at Alpheus and whispered.

“Alph, I thought I was ready for this. Ready to finally see the King. And now that we’re here, I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t get more than just a glance. I want to talk to him. Tell him my story. My dreams. My admiration for Him and what He’s already done. I somehow feel so…so…I feel so hungry to talk to Him Alphy.”

“I think that’s what happens when humanity meets Divinity. We get hungry.” Alphy reached out again and drew Bernice closer to his side.

She sighed something akin to relief. “I feel so human.”

“Somehow Bernice, I think He knows your hunger too.”

A tear escaped Bernice’s eye like a fugitive; not unnoticed.

“I hope so. I’d hate for Him to come here and He not know, and feel, how much I already care.”

Does she care for me at all? Does she know how I long to tell her my love for her? Crazy Alpheus. She’d never see you for more than what you are – a good friend. Get used to it.

Bernice grabbed her branch with the intensity of a man at war, and prepared herself for her coming King……

Part 2 to come soon…

Copyright Lani Ledingham