I met God for the first time this week. The eyes of my heart’s understanding were opened to His love. He used the kind and open people of the Lamplighter staff as well as fellow Guild students to shine His love into me. I am changed because of this week of spiritual awakening. I have never felt joy like this in Him in all my life. It is the start of a beautiful journey with my Savior.
My favorite morning session was on the last day of the Guild when Mr. Hamby shared a devotional with us that I believe will always follow me. It impacted me and reminded me that no matter where I go, I must always turn to His Word for strength and to prayer for sustenance.
I learned how to write a script, how to create realistic yet impactful dialogue, as well as other important elements of story telling that I didn’t know before. I learned about working with other creative minds and writers in the process of script writing. I also learned about directing and all that is involved with that part of a production. The morning devotions and evening sessions were by far my favorite. I loved the worship and the words of spiritual encouragement. My soul was fed by the words of the speakers. I can not describe how much I love hearing God speak through Mr. Hamby and David Sanborn and Colin Smith.
I am amazed at how God spoke to and used me this past week. I am so joyful as well and cannot say that it is from anything but Jesus' presence. And this was possible because of the leaders’ dedication to speaking what God spoke to them. Thank you! I loved all the sessions. A very memorable session that I liked was the script writing which eventually became the audio and stage dramas. I went in to the week really wanting to get out of my comfort zone and I feel that with Jesus’ help I was able to pop that bubble a little bit. I also know that my faith was increased throughout the week.
Seeing the incredible talent of both the instructors and the students that were present caused me to rejoice with hope for the future of God's Church. I was challenged to strive to excel for the sake of the Lord Jesus and was carefully directed in so many ways to do that. I thought that David Sanborn's Thursday night address was especially powerful. His passion and commitment are outstanding and that night his subject matter really touched my heart. I was challenged to give my very best to the Master in all that I endeavor to do. The fear of launching out and "risking" something for Jesus was really defeated this week. That opens countless opportunities to use my talents for the Lord, regardless of how small they may seem to me. Learning from men and women who have become outstanding successes in the creative arts allowed me to experience real progress toward goals that I've had for years.
God wounds us in intimate relationships, creating a wounded warrior. I was challenged to obey small with excellence and faithfulness. It is not IF God loves but that He DOES love me.
I was reminded of the intensely personal way God loves me and works with me. I grew in the technical aspects of the arts, specifically, in learning what components make up a script, the industry standards, and the tools used in composition.
Wow, God tested me at the very beginning of the week, testing my mind that was almost thinking that I was better than the others coming into the week. Boy, I'm SO thankful God nipped that in the bud before it bloomed and birthed death! The Spirit gave me John 15: "...apart from me, you can do NOTHING." And "those who humble themselves will then be exalted." God is SO gracious ALL the time, and He opened the eyes of MY heart to see even more vividly the spiritual battle raging all around His children. During this year's Guild, Mark was right: there surely WERE angels all around Lamplighter with flaming swords, fighting our battles as we invited God to do His thing in our hearts and minds! He most certainly answered, and continues to answer, our prayers! Everyone surely did spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb 10)! God enraptured me even MORE in His overwhelming, never-ending, reckless LOVE!!! It was an eternally significant week for SO many, and I won't be the same (praise God!) because of His Spirit that was at work, speaking through His children!!!
I think God mostly confirmed that my path has been heading in the right direction, and I saw how much he’d taught me already. I believe he also used me to reach out and support a lot of people, showing me how I can be a friend. I was able to open myself, and access a darker more emotional place within myself. Usually that side of me is hidden, and it felt a little dangerous to embrace something so serious, but I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about my own abilities.
This week was incredible. I felt the Lord’s presence throughout the entirety of it. The teachers, the staff, the students, everyone I met was so obsessed with God and it was so amazing. I really felt the Lord encouraging me to keep seeking him throughout this week. While I was at the guild I had a lot of stressful situations come up at home and I was upset because I wasn’t able to be there and know exactly what was going on, but I really felt God telling me to trust him, that everything is working according to his plan and purpose. I had amazing friends pray with me and encourage me in this. And the Lord protected my family in the situation that happened at my home and deepened my faith greatly. The teachers at the Guild were so encouraging, and really made me want to strive for excellence in my work for the Lord. It was truly a life changing experience and I am so thankful that I was able to take part in it.
I loved all of the sessions, but the ones that really stuck with me were the Monday morning devotion near the pond and Pastor Colin Smith’s session on Psalms 1. I loved the Passion both Mr. Hamby and Pastor Colin had for the Lord. You could see God working through them. I loved hearing about how God had worked through Mr. Hamby's life in the morning session. And I was in awe of the word of God in the session on Psalms. It’s incredible how poetic and beautiful the Bible is and how when we look back to its original language we can recognize that in a clearer sense. I loved being around people who were so eager to worship and learn more about God.
I was amazed at the passion of the Masters in their love for Jesus and what He's done for them. The Guild has given me a whole new life in that I actually crave that passion and love for the One I've been avoiding. I found out just a drop of how much my God loves me. The Guild changed my life forever. It's shown me what direction I believe God is taking me in my life and I was able to let Him guide me through my decisions that week. God showed me how to live a life as an actor but for Him and not myself. He showed me how to be ok with not getting the parts in a play I might want and He used me in other areas. I also made great friends that have the same passion I do. Every morning now I also say "yes and thank you" to whatever God had for me that day even before He asks me.
I seriously loved every single session. I learned so much from what Jacob and Esau means to what the book of Jonah is really about. I also got to see my heroes in action. Todd, John, Kathy, David, and Rich have so inspired me in my creative arts passion. I have never seen leaders get along so well together I think, especially for a long period of time. David's vocal classes in the evening were my favorite. He taught me so much and was able to answer so many questions. I now know how I can grow in my acting skills on a daily basis, be able to be prepared for an audition, and I was able to get advice on what types of roles to play and not. I also have a direction that I want to take my music, I want to create music for my YouTube videos and just for fun as well because of John Cambell. I was so grateful to be able to talk to Kathy about Adventures in Odyssey, too!
I was refreshed and strengthened in my walk with Christ. I received confirmation from God about some things that I have waited several years for. I loved the sessions that touched on the Psalms and Proverbs because there is so much we can take from those books in how we relate to and live for God in our own lives. I learned new ways of thinking about visual arts and how they tie into God’s creation and plan for our lives. I really enjoyed the course I took and also the sessions we all had together. Going to the state park and enjoying God’s beautiful creation was amazing!
I need to have excellence in everything I do because God is excellence. Everything He does is beautiful and perfect... and I need to strive to be like that too. I also learned that God will use people mightily if they only trust in Him and follow His leading. I enjoyed Nancy Pearcey's morning talk at the Glen Iris. I thought what she taught was extremely important for the younger generation to know and also perfect for the events going on in our world. I have a better understanding of how to work with others in a group. I've always liked working on things by myself and working with a specific group stretched me. I realized that I need to be more patient and understanding of other ideas, yet also voice my opinions into the discussion. I believe I'll be better prepared next time when I'm working with a core group. It was amazing that I got to play a character in one of the student audio dramas and record in the actual Lamplighter studio! It was fun to work with the other students and Todd Busteed.
I learned that God has my life in His hands and that His perfect plan will happen in His perfect time. This has helped me to trust God more. I was also shown how much Jesus loves me. I felt His love as never before. While I grew so much during the Guild, these things are probably the highlight. My favorite plenary session was the morning that Pastor Colin Smith walked us through Psalm 45. It was my favorite because it unlocked more of the amazing "Easter eggs" of the Bible (something that fascinates me). I learned that I have so much to learn. :) Aside from that, I now have a deeper understanding of the acting craft and how to move forward in it. I also grew when I realized that I didn't need to be the best actor in the class. I just needed to do my best.
In such an amazing week, it's hard to pick a favorite moment. But if I have to pick, there are a few exceptionally amazing parts. One is the sessions that David Sanborn presented. I loved being able to see how passion for God can be used for creative excellence. It was amazing to sit and witness the teachers' love for Jesus. Being able to spend time asking the Masters for counsel and watching God work through them was unforgettable.
Being surrounded by such loving, welcoming staff, students and teachers provided the perfect environment for the spiritual growth of the seeds of faith planted in my heart from devotions. I grew more in touch with my creativity and found out it is actually a way to draw close to God through practicing it. I learned more about tecnique and growth in the arts the week of the Guild than I've learned in an entire semester of theatre at my public school.
Prior to this week I was in a bad place in my relationship with God. For reasons I don't completely understand, I was depressed and filled with anxiety over the future, among other things. Many times I had tried praying for a change in my life and for something to get better, but I never saw any results of those prayers, and, as a result, I was angry at God, the world, and myself. I felt spiritually dead. Coming into the Guild, I wasn't sure what exactly to expect. I knew about Lamplighter and what it stands for - or, at least, I knew about the books and audio dramas - so I knew it would be heavily Christ-centered, although I wasn't certain what that would look like in practice. All the camps I ever went to before that had anything to do with God were good, but they leaned a little heavy on the doom and gloom aspects of Christianity (hellfire and the fallen nature of mankind and all that). I was tired of hearing some version of that same message over and over. I don't know if there was a definitive moment when things changed; it was probably a continuous thing that went on from the moment I stepped up to the registration table to the moment I walked out of the auditorium for the last time. All I can be sure of is that God used my time at the Guild to finally answer my prayer for change, and He did it in a big way.
I felt God more strongly than I think I ever have in my entire life throughout the week. He was there in the unbridled joy I saw around me when everyone gathered in the auditorium in the evenings and started singing; He was there in the excitement and enthusiasm all the masters and staff at Lamplighter had for using art as a way to honor and glorify God; I felt His presence every single day in big events and small moments. It seemed like everyone who spoke had been given a window into my soul by God, because every speaker had something to say that I needed to hear at this time in my life. I was challenged, confronted, and inspired. Being surrounded by so many people with so much love for God was an enormous blessing to me. Many of them barely knew me but, in spite of that, they prayed over me: genuine, heartfelt, tearful prayers asking God to bless me in my life and use the talents that He gave me. I cried more in this one week than I think I have at any other time in my life: tears of joy and affection for other people and repentance for the mistakes I've made in my life. I don't know what all to say or how to best organize or condense it into something that sums up how I have grown spiritually this week. I guess, ultimately, I have grown in the following ways: After camp I feel happy again after a long period of sadness and anger; I feel a renewed - or maybe just new - passion to serve God and live my life in a way that would please Him; I have a conviction to use the talents he has given me to create art that helps point people to Him; I don't have any more doubt that He loves me and He has been with me the entire time, even when I wasn't with Him; I'm hopeful going into the future, and trust that God will do everything in His own time, even if I don't completely get it at first.
I think Nancy Pearcey's talk on Love Thy Body was my favorite session, because I have been dealing with a lot of confusion on the topics addressed in it. I felt uncertain as a Christian and a person how to respond to growing moral issues in our society like the abortion debate and the transgender movement. More than that though, I have been struggling with a lot self-hatred in recent months and years, and being confronted with so much information, even in the secular way Mrs. Pearcey approached the topic in her discussion, was eye-opening for me. I had to really stop and think about what she was saying and the reasons behind my dissatisfaction with myself. It helped me remember that I, as a creation of God, have value and that this vessel He gave me to go through life is an amazing thing worth celebrating and protecting. The entire discussion lent itself beautifully to themes explored in some of the other talks about God's love for us and the way He perceives us and our actions.
I was exposed to enormous amounts of talent on all sides this week, and it was inspiring to see so many people who had found ways to incorporate their love of God into their art, whether it involved paint or seeds. I tried new things I never have before, like the approach Mr. Rich showed us to learn scripts, which allowed for more raw emotions when it came time to perform. He and Mr. David both showed me new ways to look at characters and helped me tap into a range of emotions I have never, ever, been able to access before. I am excited about art and creating things again. I went through a period of disillusion where I wondered whether I should even bother with art because I felt like my chances to achieve anything with it were limited, which led to me having an identity crisis of sorts because - if that assumption was true - all my talents were useless. This week let me rediscover the joy in creating and feel confident that, if God wants me to spend my life writing and painting and acting and using the skills that He gave me, He'll make a way. The entire week was my favorite part. Everything was absolutely perfect: the people, the process of developing our plays and audio dramas, the food, the talks, the singing, how God was incorporated into everything, the houses. I loved it all, and asking me to choose just one aspect above all others is like asking me to swallow an elephant: it could probably be done but there would be a lot of pain and confusion between point A and point B.
Where to begin? The Guild was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I saw prayer after prayer answered as the Lord continued to draw me closer to Him. There's one situation in particular that completely amazes me: I wrote a monologue for the Guild, not knowing if I would be able to use it for anything or even deliver it. I prayed that the Lord would give me that opportunity. Little did I know how much He would answer that prayer exceedingly and abundantly above what I could ask or imagine. Thursday afternoon, we had about a half an hour break. For some reason, I had started to feel sad. Instead of dwelling on those negative feelings, I decided to use that time to meditate on God's Word and pray. I was drawn to Ephesians and found chapter one verse seven particularly encouraging where it says, "In Him, we have redemption through His blood." That struck me: the fact that I am free only through Christ's blood being shed on the cross. Another passage that really resonated with me was Ephesians 3:14-21. Only when we are fully devoted to Christ and can begin to understand His love for us—"the width and length and depth and height"—will He do "exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think." This past month, I've been striving to pray more with an attitude of love and a mindset of not only knowing that God can do anything, but believing it. The results have been extraordinary. Thursday afternoon was no exception. After finishing my reading, I ended in prayer. More than anything, I wanted the Lord to be glorified, and I prayed that He would use my monologue, which Rich had turned into a script for our group to perform the next day, to touch hearts for Him. After that half hour, I was filled with a joy that I knew could only come from the Holy Spirit.
That night, a girl from my group approached me. Through her tears, she shared how her dad had died in a car accident. That's exactly the situation I wrote about in my monologue: a girl losing her dad in a car accident and finding hope through God's Word. She told me how blessed she felt to be able to play the lead role in the play because for her... it was real! She came to the Guild feeling lonely and sad, and she told me that my monologue, the message of hope, had brought her comfort. I was speechless. All I could do was hug her and cry! The Lord had answered my prayer in a way I could never have asked or imagined. That's just one amazing story from this amazing week! Time and time again, I saw how much the Lord delights in blessing His children. Mr. Hamby kept saying throughout the week how the Lord rejoices over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17). I can only imagine the smile on His face as He watched this week unfold. When we submit everything to Him and live for His glory and not our own, there is no limit to what He can and will do through us! "For the glory of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ!"
I especially enjoyed David's sessions because he was engaging and humorous. Most importantly, he always brought everything back to Scripture. I really loved his talk on subtext, not just because of the fun exercises, but also because of the practical wisdom he shared about context in Scripture. You can't take a verse by itself; you have to examine the entire passage to really get its meaning. I also loved Mr. Hamby's sessions, particularly the one about wisdom vs. folly and the recurring theme throughout the week: how much the Lord delights in blessing us and rejoices over us with singing. Both men touched on passages in a way that I hadn't thought of before. They were deep and relatable. I looked forward to their sessions every day.
I also learned how to use my skills to serve the Lord more effectively. Whether it was learning how to be a more realistic actress with Rich or how to sing/project from my diaphragm with David, everything was centered around Christ and using my gifts and talents for Him. I appreciated that more than anything else! I loved every part of this week: the devotions, the worship, the food, the people, the hike and breakfast at Letchworth, the Grey Havens concert, the plays, the audio dramas, the funny warm-ups... seriously everything. One of the highlights for me, though, was getting to work on the film. Since I came for the stage/voice acting, I wasn't expecting to get to be in a film. When I got the part, I was surprised and excited. My siblings and I have been making a film every year for the past four years, so it's something I really enjoy. Needless to say, our productions are not professional on any level. So getting to be on a professional film set working with a professional director and producer (John Fornof and Allen Hurley) and acting opposite a professional actor (David Sanborn) was an amazing experience! I wish I could do it every week. :) Everyone was so encouraging and a joy to work with. (Thanks to the film students who were my cheerleaders off-camera. You guys were great!) What really excites me is knowing the potential this film has to reach people with the message of wisdom vs. folly. It's certainly an eye-opener, and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it!
I grew simply by learning and collaborating with other students (i.e., hearing about their ideas and experiences). As an aspiring writer, having the opportunity to understand and collaborate with sound design and music composition was critical. Working with varied personalities was also important. It is not easy to identify one specific favorite part of the week as my favorite, as there were several. I enjoyed the morning reflections used to start the day, the visit to Letchworth Park, getting to meet other students and teachers... the WONDERFUL Mark Hamby and Lamplighter staff, and the closing ceremony and overview.
Through the instruction of the Masters, I learned the importance of seeking God's guidance in everything we do--even on how to block and act a play! Beyond that, I discovered how joyful it can be to seek excellence in everything, doing all for the Lord and not for men. How did I grow? I found out that I can actually create! For so long I was concerned I wasn't good enough, not talented enough, or just didn't have enough time... but the Guild destroyed every single one of those doubts! I can't wait to continue to further practice voice acting (actually, I didn't--I already started taking steps for a new independent audio drama with friends I made in the Guild!)
I realized just how much God loves me. That his love isn't like human love I have experienced. I enjoyed all of the sessions where Mark spoke. He was engaging and I felt like I learned a lot from what he said. The concert was really good too. I learned about the broader scope of what's involved in a film. Also that getting more people involved results in a better project altogether.
I tasted the deep joy that comes from living your life with glorifying God as the driving motive of all that you do. Watching the joy and kindness that radiates from the masters and many of the students because of their love for Christ encouraged me to go all out for God... to hold nothing back because I am in love with Him and He with me. My favorite session was when Mr. Sanborn illustrated the passionate love of God and urged us to love Jesus, not because of our duty, but because of the crazy love he has for us. I had not been able to visualize what that looked like before. I learned, through the miracles that happened, that God is in control, and if it is His will that the film be made, he will move mountains to make it happen. I grew through watching Mr. Hurley and Mr. Fornof work together and using technical skills to bring the idea to life. I also learned a bit about how to visualize scripture in a way that can be translated to film. My favorite part of the week was worship every morning, as well as the singing we did while hiking. We sang so loud that I know God heard us very clearly! I had never really gotten lost in worship before the Guild, I was more focused on the song than who I was singing to. Now, I am worshipping the Lord on my own, and I love it!
The Lord made Himself known to me in such a different way than ever before, and this was both a comfort and a challenge to me. I was challenged to pursue Him more intensely and exclusively. I was comforted by His love in the middle of a very difficult personal situation. My favorite morning session was the last morning devotion with Mark Hamby about being wounded to become a warrior. God spoke directly to my heart through this. My favorite evening session was when David Sanborn reminded us that God can redeem anything and make it better than it was before. I was so challenged to not only know this but to truly believe it. I learned how to use some tools for composing that I had no idea even existed, but that I really needed for the projects I’m working on! I was so encouraged to learn from John Campbell and see that I was on the right track with the work I’ve already started. I stayed up until midnight on Thursday working with John Campbell on composing music for the projects. It was such an awesome blessing to work with him, watch him work, learn from him, and really make a lasting connection! He really encouraged me! I also really loved our times of prayer and worship together. That was special.
I truly benefited from the morning devotions and the evening programs. Also, the depth of faith displayed by the instructors and the way they were able to show how they were applying it in their work and daily lives was inspirational. I think the evening session on Proverbs and mapping out wisdom vs folly was the most meaningful for me. I had never seen this before and understanding that they both promise the same thing, but deliver something completely different was profound. As a marketing professional, and as a storyteller at church, the script writing class was immensely educational and inspirational. I have been able to apply the lessons and tools from the class in both my professional and personal life. I guess I am a bit of a ham, so my short stint as a voice actor was really a blast. I also truly enjoyed getting to know Nathan and learning about all the work being done in the press, especially with covers.