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The Waiting Game

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

The Waiting Game

Working in the media business located in one of the most competitive cities for the industry – Hollywood – I’ve seen the heartbreak of talented individuals struggling to find work. I watch their constant striving for survival and how they deal with disappointments over projects that seem to be a sure thing or a job or role that was green lit only to see it evaporate into thin air. The constant wait for success is excruciating. I know one Christian woman working at a major movie studio who went through 10 interviews before she finally got hired. I prayed with her through her tears as she waited not knowing if it would ever happen. For her the final outcome was positive but for most, it’s not. The industry reeks with “I’ll give you a call next week” and “We’re waiting for just one more thing before we can make a decision”. Our team at Cooke Pictures has been victim to some of these same empty promises, struggles, and disappointments. It’s part of the business – hurry up and wait – have it ready and finished and then… wait. This past year, my husband Phil was honored to have been one of the executive producers of the Hillsong Movie – “Let Hope Rise” (opening nationwide September 16). Like all movies, it’s been a struggle and we’ve had to live through the usual changes and delays that are typical in the industry. But in the end, I believe it will be God’s perfect timing for the film’s release. God has His perfect timing if we don’t try and manipulate it or quit. I’ve learned to pray outside of my current frustrations and circumstances knowing that God will never meet a temporary desire if it destroys his future plans. The story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible is all about the wait. Ruth had to say no. She chose not to go back to her country and her family. She chose to stick with a mother-in-law, Naomi, who frankly was pretty bitter over her situation. Ruth chose to wait with her. She chose to trust in her new faith and the God of her deceased husband for her future. Ruth’s choices would eventually bring her a great grandson, David – King David. Out of her genealogy, Jesus would be born who was the biggest wait the world had ever hoped for. Today, we continue to wait for the second biggest wait – that of Jesus’s promised return. Waiting tables in Hollywood is not where talented and gifted media and entertainment individuals want to be but the Bible assures us that, “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”. Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) Are you staying ready for what God has for you? Keep your running shoes on.  Your wait may soon be...

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Turning off the Yes Faucet: Doing What He Really Wants For You

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Turning off the Yes Faucet: Doing What He Really Wants For You

I’ll do it. Yep, that was me again volunteering to do another job that no one else wanted. Somehow I‘m a sucker for Yes every time.  I know, I know, I know about all those lessons on saying No, and that my No is really saying Yes to me and what’s best for me.  But there had to be a way of stopping the tugging in my gut I felt knowing that someone does have to do all those jobs that no one wants.  Someone has to sacrifice. Right? As I walked out of the meeting I didn’t want to feel resentful. I wanted to do whatever that was needed for God with joy, but I couldn’t help looking up to Heaven and screaming – why me? Why was I always the one doing the stuff that no one wanted to do? Where did my joy go? Then it hit me. I heard this small whisper inside of me say, “Maybe you’re asking Me the wrong question. I don’t want you to do anything for me. You’re the one that said Yes.”  It’s not about doing it’s about being with me and our relationship. What? God whispered it to me again in my soul, “it’s not about doing something important or significant for Me – it’s about what I want to do for you.” More than anything else, God us to be with Him – to fellowship with Him. When our doing for Him gets in the way of being in His presence and spending time with Him we’re not where He wants us in our relationship. We’re doing too much and not basking in His presence, and that intimate relationship He really wants for us. We can be in the most horrific of circumstances and if that is where He is, there is joy and contentment. I am always amazed when I hear stories of men and women who are put into excruciating situations and environments, but where God’s joy is always so pervasive. One recent story was of a woman arrested in the Middle East and thrown into prison for sharing the story of Jesus in a Muslim country. She went through months of not knowing if she would be killed, pulled worms growing in her stomach from her throat one night, and scratched her head raw from the constant biting of head lice. Through the entire ordeal, she was constantly relating how the joy and presence of God sustained her. She came to see that God wanted her in that prison, hadn’t abandoned her, and was using her to reach a group of people that could have only been reached by her being there as a prisoner. My zealous doing for Him was one of the most important lessons I had to learn in my enthusiasm to serve Him. I learned I needed to be son-bathing more. I needed to be taking in the grace of Jesus and to stop and ask God what He wanted for me, not what I could do for Him. I challenge you to ask Him for yourself. I think you’ll find it to be an interesting answer.  God wants anything and everything that will draw us closer to Him.  That requires that we’re to “be still” – stop doing. We...

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Contented : How to Have Enough

Posted by on Aug 23, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Contented : How to Have Enough

Statistics tell us one of the top desires of most Christians is to grow closer to God. But in a recent Barna poll, 65% of us admitted that we were moving away from Him rather than toward Him. We’re losing the battle. We’re losing the battle to “enough.” We never have enough. Not enough money, not enough time, not enough of anything. Can we ever feel contentment in our lives? Does it always have to be a struggle? Where’s the peace that God promises us? In Philippians 4:11 Paul writes, “I have learned to be contented in whatever the circumstances.” Paul was in prison, walked thousands of miles, rode donkeys and camels, and sat in leaking boats (I complain about the size of an airline seat). He learned to be contented. How did he do that? We might think about rewording that verse this way, “I have been educated by my experience to be contained”. He educated himself to be contented and then contained his fretting. He found joy. Contentment is the result of the resources contained in our heart. In other words… if my heart is filled with Jesus, He will be my contentment. But if I fill my heart and mind with what I think will satisfy me, or what I think I need, (stuff) I will be constantly striving and never be contented – never find joy. Happiness is about things – stuff. Joy comes into our lives when we focus our heart and minds on the abundant grace of God. Joy is a Godly attribute and joy is what Christ wants us to have because happiness is the worldly substitute. We’re told in Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run the endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Jesus saw the joy. So why can’t we find that level of joy in our lives? It’s about the relationship. Contentment comes when we have immersed ourselves so completely in trusting Him that disastrous situations become challenges and don’t defeat us. Recently this summer, one of the victims of the devastating Sand Canyon Fire that swept through the Santa Clarita Valley just outside LA came to the platform at the church I attend and told her story of her home of many years burning into ashes and losing everything. She had to evacuate with only a moments notice. She was joyous. The fire might have consumed her stuff but it couldn’t consume her joy and contentment. She told the mesmerized audience Sunday that God had reminded her of the scripture in Revelation 25:5 (NIV) “…I am making everything new… Write it down, for these words are trustworthy and true”. I challenge you to write it down…. Write down His blessings in your life and choose to live in contentment and...

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Maybe It’s Time You Took A New Approach

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Maybe It’s Time You Took A New Approach

Creative people are always looking to start something new, or something revolutionary that’s never been done before. Sometimes we make it too difficult, when often, it’s as simple as bringing practical wisdom and truth to everyday issues. I recently met a couple, Ron and Linda, who had a couple of young college-aged sons. Their boys would bring their friends home from school on weekends and one weekend Ron overheard them talking about how hard it was to find girlfriends because relationships always centered around sex. Ron suggested, “Before you find a girlfriend you have to learn how to be a gentleman.” Since those kinds of classes weren’t taught anymore they asked if Ron would teach them. So Ron and Linda started having classes in their home on how to treat and talk to a woman with the final class ending on the subject of how to cook a meal. Soon, what started out to be a small group of college guys turned into a full-time ministry. It now even includes a young married couples class on how to be a better husband and wife. Linda even began her own group for young women on how to be a woman of grace and how to honor men. Through that effort, Ron and Linda have been able to share the truth of Jesus to hundreds of young men and women. No one is going to get to the top doing it like everyone else because someone is already there. Successful people know they are problem solvers. Then they have to get creative and work hard to make the solution work. Many people miss that last step – the work hard step. It’s easy to see problems but providing the solutions requires time, energy, and tenacity. Sometimes it may mean providing what people need before they know they need it. That’s what Ron and Linda did. An out of the box ministry and now life’s work evolved from talk on sex with a bunch of college guys to teaching young men and women how to be thoughtful and caring in their relationships with one another. What new approach can you take that’s never been done...

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Career Advice No One Tells You

Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Career Advice No One Tells You

I meet with interns and freshly minted graduated students trying to find a way into the Hollywood industry. Here’s a few things I tell them: Don’t just consider what you like, consider what you don’t like.  The thing you hate may be the thing God’s called you to fix. The fact that you hate the way something is designed, written, or produced could drive you to fix it. Adrianna Reo started a nonprofit for children, Reo Backpaks, in the inner city areas of LA when she lost her job during a downsizing. They gave her a severance check to give her some time to find another job, but after 2 or 3 months she realized it was going to take more time than she had planned. So since she didn’t have a job she decided she’d make one. Adrianna remembered as an immigrant child how stressful showing up for the first day of school had been in a new county. She had no school supplies and the few things she did bring with her that first day of school had been put into a paper bag. The other kids immediately dismissed her as a loser without even knowing her. Kids today continue to be discriminated against because they arrive at school and don’t have school supplies or a backpack. So she started a nonprofit to buy and fill backpacks with school supplies and gives them to kids in need in the inner city of LA. Today the nonprofit is her full-time job. She remembered something she hated and turned it into a job she’s passionate about. Pick a mentor not just a company. Working for a successful big company can be great to brag about at a party, but if you get lost in the shuffle the opportunity for advancement may be slim. Sometimes choosing a startup where the pay may be lower or where you might have an opportunity to work with the founder or visionary can be more advantageous. Being around great mentors often teaches you more about leadership and puts you in the front when the company soars. Taking a step to the side might just put you in the lead. It can also give you key insights should you want to start your own company in the future. Never stop learning. Many young people after leaving college never crack a book, attend a conference, or continue to learn. They often feel that they’ve learned it all. What got you that initial internship or job won’t get you to the next one if you don’t keep learning. If you’re not scheduling time daily to read, listen to a podcast, webcast, or attend a conference regularly you aren’t going to get far. Successful leaders know that to stay successful it has to include continued learning and a humble spirit. They know it’s about asking questions, searching for answers, and being open to new possibilities. These are the people that top leaders also want to hire and be around because it keeps them...

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Forgiveness: An Interview with Cloris Leachman

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Forgiveness: An Interview with Cloris Leachman

I was honored this month to be able to interview the award-winning actress, Cloris Leachman about her latest Hallmark Internet series, The Eleventh. This is a series for everyone, especially for daughters, moms, and grandmothers. The focus is on forgiveness – a subject I continue to be challenged with myself.  I’m  always questioning God about how I can forgive others for what they’ve done, myself for injuries I’ve done, and how can He continually forgive us? To forgive is to love and I Corinthians 13:4-6 reminds us that, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”. Kathleen Cooke: You’ve had a long and wonderful theatrical career winning Emmy’s and Golden Globes for iconic TV shows like Mary Tyler Moore, The Facts of Life, and The Beverly Hillbillies to memorable films including Mel Brooke’s Young Frankenstein – one of my favorites, and winning a best supporting Oscar for your role in The Last Picture Show. You’ve done lots of comedies in your career but this new film series, The Eleventh deals with real life issues and lots of hurt and pain. Why were you drawn to the role? Cloris Leachman: I was interested in doing “The Eleventh” because I loved the story. Family can often be messy, but I was intrigued by the path for forgiveness. Plus, when you add on this amazing cast, how could I say no? Kathleen: Grandmothers can be such an influence in the lives of their grandchildren. Today with our many dysfunctional families that are a mix of relationships, how can a grandmother positively influence her grandchildren? Cloris: By being interested, really interested so that you become part of what they’re interested in, really in it. Kathleen: I understand your grandmother was a Bohemian (Czech), and that you’re a grandmother to five grandchildren and a great-grandmother to one. What’s the one legacy you’d love to leave for your grandchildren? Cloris: I’ve been doing what I love for a long time. I want them to live the life they want and to have fun doing it. I just hope that they find what they love and do it for as long as they can. Kathleen: In the film series, Janey had been given hidden and deceptive family information. Most young girls today might have accepted it and never explored the other side of the story. What would you say to women who have been caught in this kind of situation on how to forgive? Cloris: It’s really hard to forgive and every situation is different, but in my opinion life is too short and it takes too much energy to hold a grudge. Kathleen: What’s the one thing you’d like audiences to walk away with after viewing the series? Cloris: To forgive. The Eleventh is a about a young girl’s journey to fulfill her mother’s last wish – to get to know and reconcile with her estranged grandmother. We watch as a family tries to bring closure to the past through truth, forgiveness, and ultimately, love. Many people don’t get the chance to resolve old...

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Make A Change: What To Do When Wishing Fails

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Make A Change: What To Do When Wishing Fails

Want to lose weight? Get a better job? Go back to college? Find a spouse? Get closer to God? Whatever it is, understand that real change is one of the most difficult things you can ever do. Even the threat of death doesn’t make some people change. A recent study indicated that within only two years, 90% of open heart surgery patients go back to their old eating habits – the same lifestyle that got them there in the first place. For real change to happen in our lives, we need more than wishes and resolutions. We need to understand how to embrace the kinds of techniques that allow real transformation to happen. Here are some thoughts that could help you make some transformations in your life: Overcome fear and insecurity
 Insecurity and fear keep us from achieving greatness and in most of the time it has very little basis in fact. Every day, take a step into an area that you’ve been afraid of and know that God is there beside you. Roosevelt was right when he said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”. Embrace the fear and push through it. Stop looking at past failures.  Every coach knows the saying, “It’s not how many times you fall that matters, it’s how many times you get back up.” Past failure is a good teacher, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter because you have no control over your past. Stop looking back. Start focusing on the future. Reward yourself along the way.  Before you start the journey toward change, know specifically what you want to accomplish, and reward yourself along the way. Goals are great, but we live in a culture of “instant” today. If reaching the goal seems too daunting then we often give up. Create “mini-goals” to encourage yourself along the way and celebrate them. Prioritize and eliminate the distractions. Don’t allow insignificant distractions to keep you from moving forward. This is a huge pitfall in our culture today. We spend enormous amounts of time on things that really don’t matter, as our lives spin out of control. Social media and reality TV are high on the list. You’ll never reach your goals unless you understand the power of priorities. Spend less time on what seems “urgent” at the moment and more time on what really matters for the future. Find Personal Cheerleaders.  Surround yourself with friends who believe in you, and eliminate negative people from your life. Spend less time with people who drain your energy and resources, and more time with people who love and support your dreams and goals. Prayer supporters are your allies so find those people who really know you, your work, and vision and are willing to stand beside you to and give you encouragement and sometimes the cold hard facts. Understand that life is mysterious and unpredictable.  Life isn’t simple or predictable. It’s a complex process, but at the same time, it’s a wonderful process of discovery. We often waste time and money on simplistic self-help answers – quick fixes. Life isn’t about finding all the right answers, it’s about asking the right questions. Embrace the mystery and insecurity and know that it’s at that place that our life begins because we have to rely on God who does know...

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Summer Fun in Giving Back

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Summer Fun in Giving Back

I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada in the 60’s and 70’s. Summers were brutal. The heat on most July and August days would soar to 125 degrees and would drop to a chilly 100 degrees at midnight. Central air conditioning didn’t exist. If you were lucky you had an attic fan, and if you were really lucky you had a swamp cooler. Swamp coolers were water-cooled, loud contraptions that usually covered only one room – your parents bedroom. Looking back we learned to endure, knowing that God made swimming pools just for us and we generally lived in them all summer. Vacation Bible School was always a highlight of the summer, and mom was always the first to volunteer to teach a class. As a young child, I learned how to be an expert picture cutter for mom’s flannel board stories. When I was 10 years old, I got to lead the hymn singing – the praise and worship part of the VBS service. I’d search the hymnbooks for the loudest toe tappin’ songs that I could find and then encouraged everyone to clap as loud as they could. It was my first introduction to ministry and I had lots of fun volunteering which made those hot summer days more tolerable. As a child, VBS taught me that volunteering could be rewarding, and it’s something that I passed on to my two (now grown) girls. Their summers in California were packed with going to the library where they would read to the younger kids, volunteer for VBS or Awana, or pass out snacks after softball games. Sometimes, in the summer, the music school they attended would perform at retirement homes for the elderly. We had lots of fun as a family participating in all those activities and it never ceased to amaze me that what seemed like a chore ended up as one of the highlights of the summer. (Like the time an elderly woman in her nightgown stood up out of her wheelchair and started dancing around the room at the retirement facility.) Finding the fun in giving and volunteering should be taught early and often and can be one of the most important lessons you teach your child as a parent.  Here’s a couple of suggestions to get you going: 1. Create a group with parents and children whom your child already knows.  Then, look for places to volunteer that would fit that unique group’s personality. A responsible adult will need to step up and take the lead to create and organize the activity, but set up shared responsibilities so one parent is not left with all the work. It’s easy, and it allows the adults to grow friendships as well. For our family, some of these friendships continued long after our children went off to college. 2. Focus on the interests of your child. Christian organizations are always looking for volunteers but look for the opportunities that match your child’s passion. Sometimes they may need someone to play with babies, fold flyers, or set up chairs, but find ones that might fit their personality. Then, once they’ve volunteered for something and found it to be rewarding, challenge them with more unusual situations. The goal is to teach your child to care for others and see...

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Lessons in the Art of a Quiet Spirit

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

Lessons in the Art of a Quiet Spirit

In a typical year, I speak at lots of conferences around the world, many include a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event where the volume in the room can get quite loud.  Everyone is chatting it up on the exciting things that are happening to them and what kids, grandkids, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs and cats are doing. Occasionally the conversation can be interesting, but most of the time it’s just chattering – which we love to do and which is seldom about deep issues.  I often wonder, are we losing the art of a quiet spirit and thoughtful work?  On an episode of Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey TV series, the great actress Dame Maggie Smith who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham gives us something to ponder when she states with her stone face, “At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”  We love to be excited and to socialize.  I’m as guilty as anyone which is why the dowager’s comment made me laugh.  I have one friend whose volume level is over the top most of the time.  On a scale of 1-10, she’s an 11. Everything is “SO EXCITING – SO THRILLING – SO AWESOME!” I’m exhausted after being with her for an hour. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to be excited over things, talk about our lives and have fun, but much of the time we need to shut up and reflect. 1 Peter 3:4 reminds us that, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”  The luxury of time afforded by great wealth isn’t the only reason to pause and reflect.  Even when we have to work for a living we can use time more wisely to read, think, and ponder.  We can develop our minds to understand more of God’s wisdom. We can be interesting and provocative thinkers, researchers, developers, and artists.  We simply have to shut off the outside media faucet of distractions.  It’s great to be a carefree, person, and to keep up on what’s trending, but let’s never forget the importance of time alone.  It’s quiet, consistent, and thoughtful reflection that will speak volumes in the end. Remember: Your actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes your...

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Your Story, Your Legacy: Why You Need To Write It Down

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Your Story, Your Legacy:  Why You Need To Write It Down

Once upon a time…. let me tell you a story… these are opening lines that grab our attention. Why? Because we connect to stories. Yet, with all the love we have for them, somehow we don’t value our own and most of us don’t bother to write our story down. I remember when my mom and dad passed on, we dug through their papers, searched their Bibles and journals looking for any thoughts, wishes, and wisdom that they might have left behind. We longed for one last connection and their writings were all we had left to satisfy those longings. Today, besides the traditional method of pen and ink, we have modern technologies – computers, iPads, blog posts, podcasts, and a myriad of ways that we can leave a legacy for the next generation. If you’re interested in leaving your legacy for future generations, here’s a few ideas to get you started: 1. Establish your beginning.  Start by writing down your background starting with your birth and childhood. There’s no one else in the world with the same parents and unique story. 2. Write down 5 to 10 significant events or milestones. Choose things that made a difference in you life or changed your direction.  Don’t forget to put in those embarrassing moments, because they make you human. Also include people who were significant influencers in your life. 3. Finally, choose 5 to 10 lessons or tips you wish you’d learned from your past.  Insights you’d pass on or teach to someone about your business, artistic talent, work, and life.  Psalm 78 2- 8 reminds us, “For I will speak to you in a parable (story). I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His might wonders. For He issued His laws to Jacob; He gave His instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set it’s hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors – stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.” Your journey matters. The wisdom and faith in God that you leave could potentially be a catalyst for someone in the future and change a life for eternity. It’s time to take a stand, leave your thoughts – your voice, and leave a written legacy. What are you waiting...

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