Tag Archives: life

I Have No Sandwich To Give

sandwich    Fourteen years ago I pulled away from our church parking lot following a van full of zealous Christians. Our mission was to save the lost and feed the hungry.  We met with a team to set out on the streets of San Francisco. When we arrived I was as excited and eager as was the rest of the crew. They separated us into little groups, armed us with socks, sandwiches and a few guidelines to follow, and sent us out to change the world.
It all sounded so epic. I sincerely thought I was going to be someone’s light in a dark place. I felt I carried significance, purpose, and vision to the “blind”. We walked the streets of Height and Ashbury. We painted a mural in a crisis pregnancy center. We ministered in the park. We worshiped in the city square. It was a rush to experience the heart of God for a city. I wasn’t even put off by the homeless lady taking a pee in the street as we shared the love of Christ with her boyfriend.
However, something caught my attention after a long night of providing essential items to those in need: I found most of them believed in Jesus. They were open to prayer. They quickly took our socks and snacks. They would say “Amen” and “God bless you”. Suddenly there were moments I felt like I was being manipulative. I was offering them something they needed (food and clothing). In a sense, they felt obligated to listen to my shpeal. I searched my heart, asking the Lord for clarification. Many of those to whom I was ministering sincerely believed in Christ. They were simply trapped in addiction, self destructive behavior, and brokeness. They didn’t need to say the sinner’s prayer again. While these thoughts were rolling around in my mind, I looked across the street where I saw the polar opposite of social status.
Beautiful women in long flowing gowns were getting out of limousines draped on the arm of good looking men in Armani suites. They were walking into fancy clubs, paying cover charges that would make my overpriced coffee blush. While they caught the attention of everyone around them, I found myself staring at them for longer and longer periods of time. My heart grieved. Who had their sandwich? Who could offer them a relationship and an experience with a loving God who cared for them? Who’s mission field were they? I broke inside. Money they had. Food was not an issue. Socks may as well have been disposable as far as they were concerned.
Yet like everyone else they hungered for something more. They were successful in every sense of the word. They had it made in the eyes of a material world. Yet, they were the poor in spirit. They could eat all day long and never be satisfied. They to are sad, depressed, and alone. They also battle addictions, self destructive behavior and brokenness. They too long for a love they haven’t known, a feeling of belonging, and a genuine acceptance beyond performance.
I went back to the hostile that night and balled my eyes out, “Lord, I have no sandwich for them.” I have nothing to offer them. Why would they listen to me? What do I have that they do not? They pity me, as if I am the one in want and need. I don’t remember sleeping that evening. I spent the whole night crying out to God.

His response to me was simple… I was their sandwich. He told me to be myself, do what I love, and work hard at developing my craft.  He reminded me of the words spoken over me my entire life, beginning when my mother was pregnant with me. She saw my name up in neon lights like a Hollywood sign. God told her I was going to be a girl and to name me Joy and that I would bring great JOY to this world. He reminded me of when I was an infant and the prophetic words my parents received about me saying, “Open your mouth and I will fill it.”
God then took me back to my childhood where my parents were on staff at the YWAM base in Maui. It was the performing arts base. Christians from around the world gathered there to collaborate on projects that would impact the world. I remember learning to sing, dance, perform on stage, and entertain a crowd. It was at that place that I learned to talk to God. At a young age He became my best friend.
As I grew up in the church many shunned my dreams, claiming my head was in the clouds. As both a child and a female I was taught to be seen and not heard. I suppressed my voice and my calling. I tried being a good Christian evangelist. I told everyone I could about the love of Jesus. I became a youth pastor and served as a small group leader. I put my heart into everything I did, yet God kept reminding me, I wasn’t fully alive unless I was being 100% who He created me to be.
After my experience in San Francisco I went back to school and got my degree in media communications. I began to take acting classes. I got an agent and I tried out for Esther in “One Night With The King.”  I cultivated relationships in the L.A./Pasadena area and I have been a faithful tortoise ever since, persevering in the belief God intends on using me to be a sandwich to those in the entertainment industry.
After my husband Matt went to ministry school, he and I have now served as volunteers for five years in the church teaching an overview course in film along with a good friend of ours. We have produced over two dozen short films and have held three film festivals highlighting the students work. My husband Matt has also illustrated 3 of Danny and Sheri Silk’s children’s books and Kris Valloton’s latest children’s book “The Ways of Royalty.” He also works at Bethel Media as our main source of income.
All the while we pastor about 75 people in the growing film community in Redding out of our house. We have continued to build relationships in L.A. and be actively involved in our children’s lives. Our personal short films have won multiple awards nation wide, and now we find ourselves at precipice. We are gearing up for the new rung of students and plan on taking their craft to a new level. We intentional teach them to be Daniel’s and Joseph’s called to serve those in Hollywood by making them look like geniuses. We teach them to not promote propaganda, but to become good at being visual storytellers.
Our goal is to make feature length films in the Northern California area. We intend on providing sustainable jobs and resources to those in our community. Though we do not feel called to faith based films, we do feel called to partner with the church to bring entertaining and meaningful stories to life. We focus on co-creating with the Holy Spirit, operating from an identity in Christ, and living as examples. Our company is called speropictures. The word spero comes from the latin term which means “hope.” Our brand is the tree of life. Our desire is to plant seeds of hope that reproduce wholeness.
We have made connections with our county’s development department, our local Film Commissioner, a performing arts studios, and several others who are partnering with us in this journey. We have also been building relationships with professionals in their field from sound, music, color grading, editing, acting and much more who feel the call of God to be doing their craft from Redding.
What we attempting do at the moment is seek investors, donations, sponsors, and other financing options so we do not have to be over extended by volunteering, working, doing family and making a films. Plus, some of what will be funded is equipment that our students would then have access to, thereby taking their projects up a notch as well.

– Joy

 


A Good Laugh Among Friends

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Laughter fills the air as our cares are left at the door like a pair of dirty ol’ shoes. The mood is easy and the conversation light. There is nothing like the pleasures of forgetting our worries, and the relaxation of being with those we enjoy. Good times to be had with good friends. From backyard barbeques on the patio to a nice drink in a pub, life fills the atmosphere as we have a good laugh among friends. We find our uptight, anal selves melting into a comfortable chair as we let our hair down.

Everything in the world is right as we gather with our smiles in full beam. Whether we slide down a cold hill of powdery white snow and sip hot cocoa at the bottom, or we watch sunsets over horizons on warm summer evenings, our spirits are refreshed as our hearts are happy to be with those we love.

It is in these moments we celebrate the simple things like roasting marshmallows or blending margaritas. We find meaning and hope in newly forged relationships. We also find safety and security in those that are tried and true. We mingle and discuss fine craftsmanship, sporting events, and fishing tales. We linger when it is time to go, capturing every last joke of the evening before time catches up with us and we must go back to our regular lives.

We hold on to these feelings of bliss as if they are treasures more valuable than any achievement we have accomplished. We find we are grateful to be alive and look forward to the tomorrows of the world. We get lost in songs that remind us of these special times. We are quickly taken back and transformed in an instance as we sing along to the melody. Burden free, we may even be silly and dance. After all, what is the fun in hanging out if we can’t loosen up on the reigns a bit?

Laughter is a good medicine for the soul. It produces endorphins, healing, and an overall sense of well-being. So don’t forget to tell your serious side it is okay to chill out, relax, and add some joy to your world!

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SuperMom

SuperMom

Just call it like it is… from my breastfeeding cape to my sliding doors minivan, I am a mom. My reputation as a stylish, fun, and outgoing woman always came with a side of drool, diapers, whining, and now, as my girls advance into teen years, boyfriends.
At the age of fifteen I planned my first pregnancy. Craziness right?!? Not as outlandish as some might think. It was my way to make sense of this disjointed planet we live on. As many young girls do, I struggled with my identity, my purpose, and my ability to accomplish my dreams. I sought solace in motherhood, hoping to ease the discomfort I could not understand. Without all the tools in my box I started on a journey to build a household.
Eighteen years later my oldest daughter is now a young lady. She is b-e-a-u-tiful. She is smart, talented, and thoughtful. I look back at all the things I did right and the many things I could have done better. All in all, I am most proud that through trail, pain, and happiness, she and I have a strong connection. No matter what that girl goes through, she knows without a shadow of a doubt, she has a momma who loves her; not one who always agrees with her; not one who always condones all of her behavior; not one who placates her; but one who wants the best for her and will never give up on bringing about wholeness.
Beyond her I have raised my severely disabled son who has been the delight of my life. His happy go lucky smile and his loving spirit brightens everyones day. Most of the time he does not have a care in the world. He trusts that he is going to be well taken care of. He provides life, hope, strength, and love to all who come in contact with him. After fourteen years of diapers, seizures, and throw up, I still would not trade him for all the money in the world.
Then along came her. This little girl who thinks so far outside the box I can’t even fit her on my grid. After taking years of parenting classes, reading books on the subject, and inquiring from matured parents, she has challenged my very being to grow. I love her with all my heart and soul, this girl who can make me think more than my brain has capacity. She understands computer science, mathematics, and pokemon, all the while my internal mother board struggles to upgrade. With an outgoing personality, the word stranger isn’t even apart of her vocabulary. This fun, imaginative, and cute girl has captured my affections as well as my attention.
As my nurturing side consumed my being, I began to love those who struggled with their parental figures. I opened my arms and my home to many kids through the years. Some of these young people are now adults and even have their own families. One lady in particular has blended with our family to point we think of her as our own. She is sister, daughter, and friend. I have dedicated my life to her success in every way including financial, physical, and emotional. The love she reciprocates is unparalleled and I am honored to know such an amazing human being.
It was when I became a step-mother that I truly knew what it was to lay down my life for others. My children are easy to love. They are mine. Flesh and blood unites through anything, however those we love out of choice can be changed. I imagine this love to be much like those of adoptive parents. I get to on purpose care for others I did not bring into this world. I get to carve out a special place in my heart for them to call home. I look at them with the same affection I do the others. Not because I have to, but because I have given them power over my love. They have my devotion, my commitment, and my love which never waivers. When It comes time to share them with their mother, I do not find myself thinking out of sight out of mind. On the contrary I feel a hole, a loss, and a longing to have them in my presence.
Both are girls. The oldest has a strong personality. She is compassionate, friendly, and opinionated. She has a great sense of style, good taste in food, and a heart of gold. Though she, like most children from broken homes, wishes her parents were still together, she still loves, honors, and respects both of them and their new counterparts. Through sharing homes, sharing attention, and sharing lifestyles, this girl puts in her all and comes out on top.
Her younger sister is equally fantastic. She is creative in every way. She looks at the world full of black and white, but carefully adds subtle shades of grey. Yet, it is when she adds color she truly astonishes with articulate, artistic thoughts. She is full of wit, full of knowledge, and full of determination. She is not the social butterfly her older sister is. She craves one-on-one time which requires intentionality. She flourishes the most when she is given the attention she needs to express herself.
Now that I am much older than when I began, I find myself delightfully happy to have started the process all over again. With yet another girl, my life feels complete. I find myself with sensations of euphoria as I look into my baby’s eyes and see such wonder. I feel confident in my skills as a mother. I enjoy and embrace the ups and downs life brings my way. As I hold this tiny creature, bliss fills my being. She was hard fought for. After conquering my fears of raising any more children, we saved for a vasectomy reversal. Next came miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. Finally, my cup was full only after enduring the nine months of pregnancy’s glows and hormonal blows. Consequently, for the last four months I have been suffering with enormous amounts of postpartum joy.
Through it all, my carefree, spontaneous, thrill seeking side still exists. I did not surrender my dreams, my ambitions, or my goals for my children. They are not a burden or a dead weight around my ankle. They are right there with me. Through thick and thin, through fire and storm, my children – all of them – teach me, love me, and give me courage. We do family well. We support each other, lift up each other, and seek the best for each other. We celebrate individuality, praise each other’s giftings, and strive for unity. Out of humility we serve each other and forgive shortcomings.
I am not afraid I will not arrive. I already have, and I am bring my entourage with me.


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