Month: April 2016

Solo Travel

My last post was about facing fears. I keep trying to face my fears and trying to overcome some of the anxiety that I feel.  One fear that I keep having to face is going places and doing things on my own. This was something that I could not have ever fathomed doing just a few months ago. I always thought I needed to have someone with me, even if it was just a friend. Traveling home by myself or visiting a city or event by myself never really freaked me out, but spending a weekend or day somewhere alone was tough.

Sometimes finding a friend to travel with me was easy. However, I’ve realized not everyone wants to go to the same places that I do nor do they have the time to do so.

Recently, I have started to travel and spend the weekends by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather spend time going places and having adventures with other people. I am always up for experiencing things with my friends and family. But I am not going to miss out on an adventure anymore for fear of being by myself. There is too much to see and do in this world. There is so much more outside this town I live in.

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Imperfect Cinema: Our favorite movies (we saw) in 2015

We’re officially past awards season, so I think it’s finally safe to talk about our favorite movies without inciting a riot over which films are superior to others. I reached out to everyone on our staff to hear which film they saw last year became their favorite. We aren’t saying these are the best movies of 2015 (a couple of them even released in 2014), or the ones that deserved the most Oscars, but these are the films that resonated with us and moved us the most. Hopefully, you haven’t seen all of the movies we have chosen and can get a good recommendation from this article. If not, well, feel free to let us know why you did or didn’t like the ones that you saw.

-Seth


Adam Shaffer – The One I Love – Drama/Comedy, rated R (for language, some sexuality and drug use)

This film holds special meaning to me because of the circumstances in which I watched it. My wife directs a travelling singing group, and is away for about 5 weeks each summer. As such, I basically “go stag” every summer. I experience a lot of ups and downs as I enjoy the freedom to eat pizza and play video games every night while also missing her companionship frequently. I was bored one night and started browsing Netflix when I stumbled onto this flick in the queue. I thought, “Hey, that’s the chick from Mad Men!” and I guess that’s all I needed to hit play. The movie starts off as an innocent little rom-com but quickly turns into a bizarre look at two people that were well past the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship. In Hollywood, we’re often given the chance to consider the stage of life where people fall in love, get married, and ride off into the sunset. But this movie mixes up the formula and makes us consider the complex psychology of a long-term relationship and all of the dirty laundry that comes along with it. Having now been married for about 4 years, it resonated with me on a very personal level and I found myself cherishing my wife and our complex relationship from 1,000 miles away. This is one of those movies that you should go into with as few spoilers as possible, so I won’t give anything away. But if you’re somebody who is in a long-term relationship and is into the more human side of filmmaking, you should give this one a whirl.


Kyle Dunham – Room – Drama, rated R (for language)

There are so many things out here. And sometimes it’s scary. But that’s ok. Because it’s still just you and me…

Room connects with me because it is honest, it is raw, and it is real. It makes you feel like you are on the emotional journey with the two main stars. I won’t say much about the plot line. I will say that I think it is a movie that most people should see. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. It certainly will make you feel high levels of emotion. There are times as a Christian that it will offend you, and it should. You should be offended. Not because they use words you may not agree with. Not because they present things in a way that you thing is wrong. It should offend you because things like this really happen in our world. It has the shades of reality that another movie staring Brie Larson does, Short Term 12. Another movie I believe everyone, especially every Christian, should see. These movies challenges us to  see the world as it is not as we wish it was.  I believe they can start conversations in the church that need to happen. Do you agree? Do you think these are the kind of movies that should challenge us to make change in the world? Watch and tell me what you think, I’ll be more than excited to have that conversation!


Seth Kuhns – The End of the Tour – Drama, rated R (for language including some sexual references)

With Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg listed as the leads for the movie, it’s difficult not to immediately assume The End of the Tour is primarily a comedy. It’s not. I’m still not sold on Jesse Eisenberg as anything other than your typical “Awkward White Guy” actor (though he has turned in a convincing performance as Lex Luthor in an otherwise mediocre Superman film), but Jason Segel showed some impressive chops in his portrayal of small-time-professor-turned-bestselling-author David Foster Wallace. Segel’s grown quite a bit from his Freaks and Geeks days, and he delivered a mature and nuanced performance as the insecure Wallace. Having never read any of Wallace’s work, the film’s exploration of his troubled genius piqued my interest. I didn’t dive into Infinite Jest, the subject of the tour the title is referencing, but I did read some of his early essays after I saw the movie. One writer interviewing another while traveling in the Upper Midwest isn’t the most enticing premise, but this film did an excellent job of showing a surprisingly deep story on how different writers handle varying levels of success.


Brandon Kauffman – Begin Again – Drama/Comedy/Musical & Performing Arts, rated R (for language)

That’s what I love about music… One of the most banal scenes is suddenly invested with so much meaning! All these banalities – they’re suddenly turned into these, these beautiful effervescent pearls. From music.

When we discussed starting this thread of posts that discuss our favorite films we saw in 2015, I asked if that meant we were limited to films released in ’15. I silently hoped not. If it was limited to that year, I’d have to either discuss the most recent Star Wars film or Spy starring Melissa McCarthy, because those were the only films I knew that I had seen from 2015. Yeah, my 2015 wasn’t that spectacular. I was happy when Seth confirmed that we could discuss any film we saw in 2015, because that meant I could look back on a film that I’ve actually viewed three or four times in ’15.

Begin Again, released in the US in July of 2014, has garnered average reviews from the “top” critics in the industry. While I’ve never seen Once, I imagine that the two are similar, but I believe Begin Again has less of the traditional romantic storyline. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) has a chance, and slightly intoxicated, meeting with Gretta (Keira Knightley) in a New York bar where Gretta reluctantly performs a heartfelt song that is mostly ignored by the crowd. This scene, when presented from Paul’s view, is the stand out scene in the film. At least for me. He, in his mind, crafts an entire musical arrangement of the song while she plays, complete with self-playing instruments, something that only the best music producers in the industry can do. From there, after a little prodding, the two venture out into the city of New York to create awesome songs in awesome settings. That may be a lackluster description of a wonderful story, but I don’t want to go too deep into it. There’s really nothing to spoil, but I’d rather you take the opportunity to watch the film, if you have the chance, without me giving away too much.

Facing Fear

Since I posted my last piece about living life to the fullest, I have been thinking about the topic of fear. It’s been on my mind quite frequently, for various reasons. I realize that it is what’s kept me from posting things on this blog and on my personal blog. It’s what’s kept me from opening my mouth and speaking up many times, when I know that the Lord was telling me to. It’s what keeps me from letting people in and keeps me from being vulnerable. It keeps me from going where I need to go and doing what I need to do. It cripples me. I’ve let it win more times than I would like to admit.

I wish that I could say that I have been brave and courageous every single time. I wish I could say that I have faced every fear of mine, but that is not the case. I have allowed it to consume me, and I have used it as an excuse to not do things.

Why do we let fear win? Why do we let it keep us from doing what we want and what we know we are called to do? I’m tired of giving in. It’s exhausting to keep giving into my fear and letting it keep me stuck and complacent. I feel as though it is keeping me from truly living life. This is part of what inspired me to write my last piece.

It also was the topic of a devotional that I led at work. This is one of the bonuses about working in a Christian environment: We get to have a daily devotional before starting the work day. Still, I was terrified out of my mind leading up to doing the devotional, which is why I knew I needed to talk about the topic. I couldn’t shake it. The Lord blessed me for obeying him and sharing about that. I’m pretty sure I came away from leading that devotional even more encouraged than my coworkers. Plus, I was praying so hard that day to get through each devotional. I was talking to God so much that day. I knew that I didn’t do it on my own strength.

I am terrified of speaking in front of large groups of people. I would much rather do something like this, where I can hide behind a screen and write. At first, this terrified me, too. I was scared of what people would think about what I was writing. I was scared I wasn’t going to be adequate enough or that people wouldn’t appreciate what I was writing. I was focused on me. I have been letting my pride get in the way.

Every so often I get the motivation to face a fear head on, and I get a bit of gumption. It’s exhilarating. I feel like I am experiencing life. I feel like I am able to do anything and then something brings the fear and insecurities back to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes it’s quicker to shake away than other times.

Recently, I have been able to kick it a bit quicker. But I realize it’s not me kicking it. Jesus is kicking it for me. I’m getting Lynn out of the way and letting Christ do His thing. Hence, me doing the devotions at work last week, me starting my blog, me applying for the mentorship I am part of, me stepping out of my comfort zone, and a great deal of other things.

There is no limit with Him on my side. He can do anything he wants. If He wants me somewhere, no matter what others may do to stop it, He’s going to make a way. It may not be easy, and it may not happen how I think it is going to, but he’ll make a way. But I had to get over me. I have to continually get over myself and step aside. I have realized that I can no longer let fear dictate my life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

My fears have kept me in this town, my fears have kept me in bad relationships, my fears have kept me from traveling, my fears have kept me from writing, my fears have kept me from speaking, my fears have kept me from meeting new people, my fears have kept me in my apartment, my fears have kept me closed off, my fears have kept me from loving, my fears have kept me from living…My fears have kept me from so much.

My fears have caused me to disobey God and in turn have kept me from growing in Him. They have kept me from experiencing His fullness and the blessings that He has for me. Thankfully, He is gracious, and in spite of my fears and shortcomings, He has still worked things out. However, I can’t help but think that Hewants to give me so much more.

My fears will continue to creep up, but now is the time to face them. I am sure that the fears will creep in for you, too. As for me, I’m going to try and face them one at a time head on. I will work to not let my pride or my insecurities get in the way. I will not let others talk me out of what I need to do and where I need to go. I can no longer worry about pleasing everyone that I meet, but instead, I will focus on pleasing the Lord. I will work to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and trust in His strength and guidance. And when I fail, because I am human and I will fail, I will not let it keep me from getting back up and moving forward.

It’s a blessing to start to face your fears. As I said, it was such an encouragement from everyone in my office after I shared my devotional. Large groups terrify me. One-on-one and small-group conversation are my preferences, but I did what the Lord asked me to do, and He blessed me for it. He blessed me in unexpected ways through unexpected people, and it was so encouraging. I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do next.

 

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