Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spielberg I Ain't.

Cut! The annoyed directer shouts. Again.

Okay, this is getting old. Like rancid fish.

Spouse and I are trying our hand at shooting a series of twelve short videos called, "2-Minute Stress Busters," to coincide with the August release of my new book, Too Blessed to Be Stressed. 

But we're finding out we're definitely not. Too blessed to be stressed, I mean.

Today's film topic is, "Friends are our best de-stessors." Ironically prophetic.

We've chosen 10 o'clock in the morning to begin shooting, assuming that most folks will be already gone to work and we'll have lots of peace and quiet in which to work. Spouse is behind the camera on a tripod in our driveway, director, cameraman and dolly grip (I don't know what that means but I always see it movie credits and love the way it sounds. Who wouldn't want to be a dolly grip?) Our makeshift "set" is perched at the top of a usually quiet, gently rolling cul-de-sac of five homes nestled beneath a canopy of oak trees. Birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, cicadas are humming. What could go wrong, right?

The first of three brief scenes has my girlfriend, Pam, and I rounding the corner together in a jovial power walk which proceeds across the length of the cul-de-sac and ends at the base of our driveway. We assume our starting positions down the street and Spouse the director gives us the hand signal. The camera is rolling.

Only neighbor #1 chooses this precise moment to drag his trashcans to the curb. Cut!

Take two. As we pass by his house, Neighbor #2 backs his tactical military training vehicle (looks like Rambo in a Hummer) out of his driveway and revs the engine. Cut!

Take three. We make it to the driveway this time and I totter up the slope to my mark in front of the camera and open my mouth to speak. Suddenly backyard Neighbor #3 cranks up his lawn mower.Cut!

We retreat inside the house to kill time until Mr. Green Thumb mows his way around to his front yard. The background noise fades to the level of a jet exhaust. The clock ticks. We can't wait any longer. I'll just have to speak above the din.

We've just resumed filming when Neighbor #4 to our left flings open her front door and lets her yippy dog out. Spouse makes the "keep going" hand motion behind the camera so I distractedly keep fumbling my way through the script until little Fido decides to come on over to our yard and lift his leg on the spider plant just behind me. Cut!           

Fido's owner, who has never been a hint-taker, wanders over in her jammies to see what we're doing. She won't leave. I'm ready to lose it. Spouse catches my eye. He senses the volcano about to erupt and gives me the look. You know that look. The one that all married people recognize. The one that silently says, "I know what you're about to do; don't do it."

I know he's right and it makes me madder. Here we are filming a chapter I wrote about loving your neighbor and I'm about to blast mine for no reason except she's lonely and wants to chat at an inopportune time. Okay, doctor Debbie, take your own medicine. I force a smile, wipe the sweat off my forehead, and try to ignore Fido digging up my impatiens.

More poetic irony. He's also uprooting my impatience. But maybe that's the point. Maybe Papa God is trying to show me something here.

What good is knowing something, even writing about it, or worse yet, filming it, if we don't live it?

I suspect that's what He's talking about in my meditation verse from yesterday, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord." (Col. 3:17).

Humph. I could've meditated on that verse until next spring and never quite gotten the message like this. Whatever I do - even the unexpected like dealing with irritating neighbors, things that don't go the way I think they should, blown schedules, and peeing Fidos - should be in the name of the Lord. Not just the easy stuff, the hard stuff. Especially the hard stuff.

After only a half-dozen more interruptions we finally finish shooting and the director calls a wrap. So when you see Stress Buster Number 7 (Nurturing Friendships) when it airs in August,* you'll hear the lawn mower, notice the trashcans, and be the only one who knows the behind-the-scenes story.

And know positively that our blessings can outweigh our stressings.

*Keep abreast of each new 2-Minute Stress Buster on my website (; click on "Stress Busters") as they're posted bi-weekly from July - September. Or for the easy route, just following this blog or like/befriend me on Twitter or FaceBook (you can find links for these on my website also).