crossing over

crossing over

I don’t like wobbly bridges. The ones that swing are just the worst. I prefer solid ground underneath my feet. But when I look across to the other side of a bridge, the anticipation of something unknown pushes me out, step by step.

A bridge is a narrow place … most are anyway. It’s in that place of confinement that we find ourselves able to walk where there was no way before. So why is it so easy to feel insecure on a bridge, when its entire purpose is to provide a safe means of crossing over?

Even if the bridge doesn’t wobble, there’s still a sense of uncertainty about the whole thing. After all, it is joining two places that weren’t even connected before, and there’s so much emptiness underneath.

I think it’s the crossing over part that’s tough—the time in between leaving what’s familiar and reaching the new, when you’re neither here nor there. All sorts of emotions rise to the surface in the in-between, and most of them are related to fear.

You know what I think is worse than all the fears? Regret. The kind you feel later in life when you realize you should have been braver in a particular moment. That you should have found the courage to step across into something different.

I believe most of us are standing at some sort of bridge. It looks different for each one of us. What’s yours?

The opportunity to love your neighbor, even when it’s hard?

The moment to walk out a dream you’ve nurtured for years?

Or maybe it’s the yearning in your heart to surrender more fully to God?

“But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I want to choose courage. And I want you to choose it too.

You won’t really know what’s on the other side until you cross over.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Do You Want to Know What Literary Agents and Publishers Really Think About You?

The moment everything changed for me as an actress didn’t happen in front of a camera and it didn’t take place in an acting class.  I had walked three miles from my tiny apartment in North Hollywood to Ventura Blvd. for a Jamba Juice.  The day was hot, even for the valley, and I’d worked up a healthy sweat by the time I pulled open the front door and let the air-conditioned room carry my body temperature down a few degrees.

Standing in line to order my fresh squeezed juice I realized that the woman in front of me was a casting director I had auditioned for multiple times.  She ordered a shot of wheat grass and a dark green smoothie, paid, and found a seat outside under an umbrella.  I placed my own order and waited inside for my name to be called.  As I waited I wondered if I should say hello.  Should I invite her to the play I was currently in? Would it be uncomfortable if she said no?  Or worse…  what if she didn’t remember me at all?

Our names were called at the same time and we met there at the juice bar, linking eyes for just a moment.  “I know you, don’t I?” Her New York accent was aimed at me. I smiled and reminded her of my name and who my agent was.  She remembered.  “Come sit with me.”  It was more of a command than a request, and all 23 years of me followed.

I realized almost immediately that she was simply looking for conversation, so we talked about the weather and how nice it had been over the weekend.  We’d both been to Venice Beach the day before and saw the same man walking around in a yellow thong speedo. She used the term banana hammock and I spit some carrot juice out with a laugh. After throwing her shot of wheatgrass back she reached into her handbag for a cigarette.

Taking a deep drag she eyed me then, up and down, and asked me pointedly, “Do you know what casting directors think when you walk into the room for an audition?”

“No.”

She laughed then, harder than she’d laughed over the man in the yellow speedo.  “We want you to be it!” She practically yelled.

“I don’t understand.”

“No, most of you people don’t.  Most people go into an interview, an audition, thinking they’re about to be judged, chewed up and rejected.  So they come in cautious and careful.  What I’m saying is that casting directors and agents… we want you to be brilliant!  We pray to God, “Please, let this one be it!” Do you have any idea how much easier our job would be if you came into our office and blew us over? We are rooting for you!”

Her volume rose with each syllable, then crescendoed on that last resounding phrase.  “We are rooting for you!” I couldn’t help but believe her.

She stood then, and brashly said good-bye.

I booked the next audition I went on, and the next, and the next.  Only one thing had changed: I walked in believing that the person who called my name and sat back on the other side of the desk critiquing my performance, desperately wanted me to be brilliant.  So I gave them every ounce of brilliant I had and smiled with confidence, knowing that I had brought my best.  And the remarkable thing was… my best was good enough!

It’s been 15 years since I walked those three miles back to my apartment a changed actress.  And today I’m working to apply the same lesson to my life in the creative realm of Christian ministry.

 

litagentquote

 

Today, when I reach out to women’s ministry directors about speaking at their spring luncheon, I do so knowing that I have something to offer that will make their job easier.  I’m not nervous or anxious, because I know that they want the right person for the job! And when I meet with literary agents and publishers about a book proposal that holds chunks of my soul on paper-thin matter, I walk into the room with my chin up and eyes eager to engage.  There is no shame, there is no fear, because I believe that those agents and publishers and women’s ministry directors and acquisition editors want me to be it!  They want me to make their job easier!

And they want the same from you!

Yeah, that’s it.  You want to know what literary agents and publishers really think about you when you walk into the room?  They are hoping beyond hope that you’ve got just what they need!

“They are rooting for you!”

And if, perhaps, the answer is no, over and over again no… that just means you haven’t come face to face with the right publisher or agent who needs what you have to offer. So keep working it out, refining the message, and believing that they are rooting for you.  And so am I!

Wendy Speake

Bridge Builders

Bridges Are Not Built With Lit Matches

We are bridge builders. We reach and stretch with words. We long to connect across a divide. Of course, this desire has been set into our very being as image bearers of our heavenly Father and Creator. Our God spared nothing when the chasm to our rebellious selves was crossed. Fortunately, we have been shown how to build a bridge, by the life of our own Bridge.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

In becoming flesh, there is a sharing in our experience. We must first seek to have common experience and community with others as we pitch our tents together in this world. Just as Jesus moved into our neighborhood and engaged with those at arm’s length, we are surrounded online and in the real world by friends, enemy combatants, the destitute, the apathetic, and the clueless to whom we must relate.

Jesus was the manifestation and perfect reflection of God’s presence as his feet trod the dust of Israel. We must be filled with the Spirit by the reading of the word, meditation, worship, and prayer to even begin to show this same glory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or our blogs.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Eph. 5:1

Oh, to be a copycat of that one-of-a-kind, unique, “like Father, like Son.” Are we being kind, tenderhearted and forgiving (as we are forgiven) as we speak truth? When the injustice of this world raises its ugly head do we respond with righteous anger that is put to bed when we go ourselves?

When we speak out are we finger pointing, calling out, sharing posts that call attention to yet another area of darkness, adding to the pile, demanding to be heard, demanding others be heard – like a classroom of 3rd graders and their cacophony of “shhh”s when the teacher asks for quiet?

Are our words free of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice so that when we speak out it should only build up as it fits the occasion, giving grace to the hearers (or readers)?

Bridges are not built with lit matches. Are we sure we are using the right tools in our endeavor?

Ephesians 5:2 continues on saying,

“And walk in love, as Christ loved and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

By doing so He changed the world through individual changed lives.

Friends, let’s construct bridges that cross divides and are two-way streets. Let’s put up railings of patience that make them safe for travelers who venture over the abyss. Most importantly, may our signs lead ultimately to God and not ourselves.

Speak out against injustice, stand up for the cause of the oppressed, and denounce wrong wherever it exits – GRACIOUSLY.

Go forth and build.

What Does Your Bridge Cost

be willing

If you haven’t yet noticed, May’s theme for the Allume blog is “bridge.”  So of course the idea of a bridge has been rolling around in my mind for the past few weeks, and honestly, the 90’s hit “Love Can Build a Bridge” by The Judds is what pops into my mind every time I think about bridge as a writing prompt.

Maybe that’s what we’re going for here, not the actual ballad of course but the idea of the song — love really can build a bridge.

In fact, Love did build a bridge. 

1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that Jesus is the bridge between God and man, and “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16 NLT).

Because God calls us as Believes in Jesus Christ to lead people to Jesus, we, too, are to be bridges!

But here’s the thing, if we want to be a bridge, we must first count the cost.

Being a bridge is not easy. Think for a minute about a bridge.

Bridges are walked on, taken for granted, and overlooked. A bridge certainly doesn’t choose who walks across, nor does it have any control over whether or not the person will make it to the other side. Sometimes the traveler will turn around and go right back to where they started.

Being a bridge can feel quite similar, can’t it?  The reality is that as a bridge, many times relationships and circumstances will be painful and thankless. We will feel overlooked and unappreciated, beat down and taken for granted.

Am I ready for that? Are you?

See, most of the time, I want to stand up and be seen. I want to be the signpost on the corner that people look to for guidance and whose advice they heed. But the reality is, if God has called me to be a bridge, then when I stand up, I just get in the way. I become an obstacle rather than a path.

God hasn’t called me to stand up and be seen but to lie down and be willing — even if that means I get hurt. Sure, bridges have boundaries, but even with boundaries, bridges are still walked on and used and many times unnoticed. But isn’t that what gets people to the other side?

Our love for one another will prove to the world that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35 NLT). Is love making me into a bridge?

We’re quick to remember that love is patient and kind, but that part about not being self-seeking or easily angered and especially the line about keeping no record of wrongs, that’s where our memories get a little fuzzy.

Love always protects, always trusts. Despite the disappointments, love always hopes. Regardless of the trials, love always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13)

Love lays low, often advancing through surrender, gaining by relinquishing.

Jesus laid down His life for us, and He has called us to do the same.

Love is the strongest bridge of all, crossing all boundary lines and connecting us together in ways otherwise impossible.

I might be the most persuasive speaker or eloquent writer. My knowledge could be unmatched or my wisdom profound. I could even have faith that could move mountains, but without love, none of that matters. (1 Corinthians 13)

Love is the bridge.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

Friend, being a bridge is not cheap, but God already paid the price.

 

Question for You:

In what ways do you struggle to lay down your life and be a bridge for others?