My December has not looked like any December I have ever spent. During most of my adult life December has always been full of shopping, meeting with friends, family times and tons of recitals, plays and church events.
Well, not this year. On those rare occasions that I have been around friends and family there are nagging questions, “Was this a mistake? Did they wash their hands? Where is my mask?” and more.
But. This is Christmas. Christmas isn’t really about shopping and tons of recitals etc. Christmas should be about ONE thing. We should be focused on the birth of Jesus. The very name “Christmas” has CHRIST at the beginning. He comes first.
Is it possible that after years of struggling to keep the main thing the main thing–that this year could actually RESET our way of thinking? Perhaps with the stopping of the hustling and running around we actually can put CHRIST at the very center of all of our activities.
Over and over we ask our friends, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
And maybe a great deal other items are on that list….
This year I added:
1) Find ways to keep Christ the center of Christmas every day.
Just putting that statement on the top of my list changed my awareness. But I added a few others as well.
2) Read a chapter of Luke each day in December. (Doing that leads you through the life of Christ so that you focus on the whole gift of God)
3) I found a calendar for Acts to Keep Christ in Christmas. There weren’t 25 suggestions, but there were several that were interesting. (All focused on giving rather than getting and most in the spirit of Jesus–giving to those in need.)
4) Watch Christmas movies that incorporate the reason of Christmas!
5) Instead of writing a letter to Santa–write a letter to Jesus. Keep them. It will mean so much to read how your relationship and thoughts about Christmas might change year after year.
6) Have a Bethlehem dinner. Tell the story of Mary and Joseph and eat a dinner they might have eaten on Christmas Eve. Perhaps dress up and maybe even eat by candlelight.
7) Study the symbols of Christmas. It is interesting to know why bells, trees, candles are so important at Christmas. Take one a day or one a week and really highlight the reason many of them are part of our celebrations.
8) This year I heard about a new tradition that some friends are adding. They are going to celebrate Christmas Eve-Eve. They will have a traditional meal and then sing Christmas songs together. Sounds like a great way to usher in the real Christmas Eve.
9) Study Advent and prepare your hearts.
Whatever you do –remember that the true gift of Christmas is Christ. Remember, it isn’t about giving or getting the biggest or best present. It isn’t about having the best decorated house or the one with the most lights. It isn’t about getting everything done on your list.
This year let the presence of Jesus reign in your home and heart.
Let Jesus reign. Allow Him to give you the hope of peace that only He can give.
One final note: Growing up I used to love to watch The King Family Christmas Special. To this very day I remember one particular episode that well, was really meaningful. Home is pretty special more this year than others perhaps.
I’ll never forget my first live theater experience.
My aunt took me to see Showboat at the local high school. As I sat in the audience I was completely drawn in by the sounds of the orchestra tuning. I felt the excitement of the parents and friends as they were ushered to their seats and I was entirely a part of the story as the dancers, actors, and singers performed.
There was more that I didn’t see. I didn’t see the people who designed and constructed the set , costumes, light, sound. I didn’t see the people who moved the set and props to make sure each scene was staged perfectly.
That’s true of so many of us. Do you believe you have to choose between either being on the stage or behind the scenes?
I’d like to encourage you to do both. What can you learn by working in some other capacity of the theater?
1) You get to watch as the actors work. You can learn from the experience others are gaining. Also experiencing the show from off stage sometimes gives clarifying moments of the element of storytelling that you might miss when you are focused on your own acting on stage.
2) You learn about all the jobs and responsibilities of the production crew. Work on the sound or light crew and you will understand why it is important to take mic checks seriously. Or work a long tech rehearsal and you will see why it is so important to be quiet when asked or be serious to get the job done.
3) You learn to respect others. You learn why it is important not to touch other props or to put yours back where it belongs. You learn that it is important to respect the people who do so much for you backstage. Maybe it will remind you to say thank you to each of them.
4) You will make new connections. Collaboration is one of my favorite aspects of theater. Making new connections is a benefit.
5) You might learn new skills. Not everyone comes into theater knowing how to sew or work tech, but be involved with these super talented people might give you the chance to learn and who knows maybe you will end up using that new skill in your life. Your focus might be acting, but there is creativity to learn from everywhere.
6) You get to see the show from a different perspective. When you see the show night after night you hear when people say a line a different way. I actually have people that don’t get certain jokes at first, but after hearing something over and over they begin to understand the humor! You see how the other elements (such as lighting) either aids the story or distracts from it.
Recently, I asked several of Overshadowed’s favorite actors/volunteers to share their experiences from a backstage perspective.
If you haven’t spent any time working in an area behind the scenes I hope you will find a place to help out. Here are just a few of the skills I think you will gain:
1) Concentration 2) Organizational skills 3) Confidence 4) Problem solving
The benefit? All of those skills help you ON-STAGE as well.
What are your favorite parts of theater? I’d love to hear from you!
As always, a special shout out to Brianna Valentine, Rebecca Leland and Yohannan Lee for their wisdom, talent and time spent to make this video!
Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings.
One of my friends posted on Facebook a few days ago. She asked her friends to list all the positive ways Covid had changed their lives. I was stumped. I typed out:
“Covid has done nothing positive for me. It has changed me, but not for the good.”
As I was typing I saw all the positive responses that others were writing. I decided I really didn’t want to be THAT person. You know the one I mean? The one that always has to think the worse or take a good situation and make it negative.
So, I stopped typing. I tried so hard to think of something positive to say. Sadly, I couldn’t think of any. I expressed that thought to my husband when he came home and he looked at me and said, “What about your hummingbirds?” Oh! Yes, I thought….and then I thought about the hours I spent on my deck watching them and reading. Oh! Yes, reading! That is something very good that has happened to me this year. I have regained a lost love.
Try it. It’s good for you.
Last month I tackled 4 books! Here is my review for each of them.
As I have mentioned, I would rather read historical fiction than anything else. However, I have decided that it is good for me to read other genres and thus improve my awareness and knowledge. I have made it a rule to read one non-fiction book a month. So far, I’m still not a fan. Maybe I just don’t pick the right books for me.
That being said, I do think it’s good for me. There is a lot going on in the world that I didn’t know about. Knowledge about who Glennon Doyle is one of those. I guess she is a incredibly popular writer, partly made popular by Oprah.
To fill you in, Glennon Doyle is the author of Love Warrior and Carry On, Warrior. She became popular as a Christian mommy blogger who focused on self-discovery, parenting and faith.
From the cover:
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both a memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It offers a piercing, electrifying examination of the restrictive expectations women are issued from birth; shows how hustling to meet those expectations leaves women feeling dissatisfied and lost; and reveals that when we quit abandoning ourselves and instead abandon the world’s expectations of us, we become women who can finally look at ourselves and recognize: There She Is.
What I liked about the book.
Untamed is divided into short, meditative chapters. I loved that I could pick up the book and read two or three pages and be left with profound thoughts to meditate. Each chapter charts her experiences. Some of them are about finding herself, getting sober, motherhood, and feminism. She talks about the good, the bad and the ugly and her life and is honest about how she deals with it all. She proclaims that it is okay to fail. She teaches that it is okay to speak the truth you know. She is a very powerful writer.
I think most woman strive hard to be good at everything. We compare ourselves to other mothers, teachers, friends. Glennon points out that this competition doesn’t make us better–it makes us weary, unhappy and overwhelmed. We compare our lives and loves to romantic movies and books and wonder why we don’t have the happy ending like in fairy tales. We push away the discontent and tell ourselves to settle…until it’s too late. She tells the story of rebuilding herself with a great deal of honesty and humor.
There is a great deal of language as well as details about love life with her ex-husband and new love life with her new partner, Abby.
Who should read this: if you are a fan of Glennon Doyle, if you struggle with finding your own voice, if you have pain in your past that you are struggling to deal with. I also find it interesting to read about her faith that so much a part of her life both past and present.
The thing that gets me thinking and questioning most deeply is a leader who warns me not to think or question.
The beauty industry convinces us that our thighs, frizz, skin, fingernails, lips, eyelashes, leg hair, and wrinkles are repulsive and must be covered and manipulated, so we learn to not trust the bodies we live in.
People will like me or not, but being liked is not my One Thing; integrity is…I’m willing to lose anything that requires me to hide any part of myself.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
“The tale begins in the late 18th century in an Asante village, part of the Gold Coast which eventually became Ghana. A young girl, Effia Otcher, is sold by her father to a British slavetrader named James – as a bride, not as a slave – and taken to live with him in Cape Coast Castle, a fort overlooking the sea. The slaves are in dungeons underneath the castle, awaiting transit to the Americas and the Caribbean via the Middle Passage. Among them are ex-house servants, overflow prisoners of tribal and regional wars and unlucky captives sold to the Europeans for money and goods, such as 15-year-old Esi Asare, Effia’s half-sister. Esi was seized during a raid on her own village and brought to the castle by “bomboys”, local boys who worked for the British transporting cargo. In a series of subsequent interconnected stories, the bloodlines of these two women are followed through seven generations covering the associated histories of the US and Ghana up to the turn of the 21st century.”
Yaa Gyasi has truly crafted an extraordinary picture illuminating slavery’s troubled legacy and reminds us how slavery will continue to cause pain to our nation.
I will admit it took me awhile to get into the book. I was confused with the constant addition of new characters and the jump in the timeline. I had to constantly refer to the genealogy chart in the beginning of the book. Once I got the hang of it I couldn’t wait to see where Yaa Gyasi was going to take us next. I loved watching the stories unfold and seeing how the pain of the past caused pain in the present. I felt the horrors of slavery and the injustice that still plaques generations of families.
This book was enlightening, eye-opening and disturbing. I was drawn into a wonderful family history that introduced me to African culture and the horrors of the slave trade. It is a reminder to tell a story that should not be forgotten.
“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”
“They would just trade one type of shackles for another, trade physical ones that wrapped around wrists and ankles for the invisible ones that wrapped around the mind.”
“The older Jo got, the more he understood about the woman called Ma. The more he understood that sometimes staying free required unimaginable sacrifice.”
Who should read this book? Anyone who is interested in generational stories or if you are interested in historical perspectives or learning more about african culture.
Warnings: drug use, spousal abuse, slavery (and all associated horrors), racism
Book #3Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh
From the book cover:
After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home–a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work–something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along–if only she’d just look up.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really love the way Courtney Walsh writes.
JUST LOOK UP is everything I love in a book. It is a beautiful love story that has a little drama that teaches all of the main characters a lesson. This might be my favorite Courtney book yet.
The story pulled me in right away. I didn’t want to put it down. I loved that the story was complex enough that it wasn’t predictable.
Courtney has a beautiful ability to develop characters that you believe and root for.
I loved Lane from the beginning. I devoured each page of her story as she fought the demons in her life and let others into the shell she had put around her heart and life. I love how smart, talented and witty she is. I felt her pain and couldn’t wait for her to realize that the pain of her past didn’t have to ruin her whole life.
And oh, Ryan. He was the perfect and I mean perfect boyfriend prospect. He is kind, loving and the perfect example of “a love that wouldn’t let go.”
One of the things that I admire most about Courtney Walsh’s writing is that her characters are well layered. They each have hurts, but they each have triumphs as well.
I loved the history of Ryan and Lane and how he was able to let her be herself and brought out a banter and personality that she didn’t let others see.
This is more than a love story though, Courtney gives a picture of the whole town and the community. (Warning, you may want to move there.) Courtney also weaves a religious aspect through her stories in a way that is natural. It never sounded preachy. It just feels like this is how life should be.
In case you can’t tell, I love everything I read from this author and I can’t wait to read the next one that I pick!
Who should read this book? Well, everyone, but especially lovers of contemporary Christian fiction.
“She glanced at Betsy, who smiled as if they’d always been friends, the kind who could communicate without words, the kind who knew what the other one needed whether anyone said so or not.”
“seeing him there served as a well-placed reminder that life was short and people were what mattered most.”
Book #4The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese
From the cover:
Rayne Shelby has spent her entire life trying to earn the approval of her high-powered family, with the hope of one day managing her late grandfather’s prestigious Idaho lodge. But when she makes a mistake that puts her future in jeopardy, she faces an impossible choice: defy her family or deny her dream. The only way to fix the mess she’s created is to enlist the help of her neighbor, Levi, the apprentice of her family’s greatest enemy. And if Rayne gets caught crossing the divided property lines, the consequences will be irreparable.
Levi Harding has never forgotten the August night he shared with Rayne when they were teens—or the way she later rejected him. Despite his warring instincts, he can’t ignore her plea for help or the spark that’s ignited between them. But now, as wildfires bear down on their town and family secrets are revealed, their newfound alliance might just go up in smoke.
I have so loved discovering new authors and this one does not disappoint! This book captivated me from the very first paragraph. This book is a perfect blend of mystery, love, family, faith and forgiveness.
Rayne Shelby is a beautiful character who has lived to please her family her whole life. She is talented, smart, and giving. She has worked to be appreciated and seen, but has failed. She is loving and loyal and naive. I love the way she loves not only her family, but history and her town. Nicole did an excellent job of creating someone I just wanted to see be happy.
Nicole has written Levi in a way that was entirely intriguing. From one chapter to the next you are left wondering if Levi is a bad boy or if he is really the hero we long for. Our hearts go out to him as we learn about his past. We root for him to become that knight in shinning armor for Rayne. He is electrifying and interesting.
The reminder of the characters are also well developed. The story is so well written that those characters provide a great foundation to propel the actions of the story. You will find yourself loving some of them and hissing at the villians!
I was charmed and entranced by this book and I cannot wait to read another one by Nicole Deese!
Who should read this book? Lovers of Contemporary Christian Fiction as well as all of you who just want to read a good love story with a twist of intrigue.
“Good character isn’t produced overnight; it’s grown over many seasons. In the same way you sort the good apples from the bad, the marks of poor characters are just as easy to detect.”
“You told me not to worry. You told me that God takes care of his creation…that his timing is always perfect – Rayne”
“Bitterness can compromise a heart the way fireblight disease can consume an apple orchard.”
Reading is a wonderful way to learn more about other cultures, lifestyles, history. In short, it is a gateway into the lives of others. I hope you read. There is nothing like it.
I’d love to know if you have read any of these books and what you thought! What are you reading?
Until next time–this is me-talking to you-From the Wings!
Communication. What would we do without it? We communicate in numerous ways daily: speech, written, body language just to name a few ways.
Some people communicate so powerfully that all they have to do is open their mouths and the world stops to pay attention. Others, like me, have always wanted to say more, have more of an impact, but struggle to know if anyone is listening.
My family was very loud and loved to tell stories. Family meal time and afterwards would be filled with laughter and fun. I can remember wanting to be involved, but feeling like no one cared what I had to say. Sometimes, honestly, I still feel the same way.
When I went to college our speech class had to memorize The Ten Principles of an Effective Speaker. At the time, I didn’t understand the power of those principles. There is so much wisdom in each one of them. Not onlyf or how you should act and speak, but also for who you should pick to be a person you would want to listen to.
The first one is: The effective speaker is a person whose character, knowledge, and judgement command respect. My latest YouTube video From the Wings discusses this principle. https://youtu.be/XH59LxMYuBk
Do you struggle with your language or anger or how to use your voice? Here are ten Bible verses that remind us of the importance of using our mouths wisely.
Proverbs 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent”.
Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Colossians 3:8 “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Perhaps you have heard all of this before and still think no one cares about what you have to say. Stop right now. Listen to me. Believe. Believe in yourself and the power of who you are. You are unique with your own thoughts and dreams and experiences. There are people who need to know you and what you can teach them.
I’m still learning, but I want to be that person. Who do you know who deserves your respect? Let’s not blindly follow someone who doesn’t.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this and if you think this is worth sharing please do….I need a lot of followers (and I need people to watch) before From the Wings will pop up on the search results…
Until next time this is just me–talking to you–from the Wings.
“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”- H.U. Westermayer
1) An expression of gratitude. Especially to God.
2) In North America an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.
My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are all surrounded by family. Big meals. Lots of laughter. Lots of dishes to wash. As a child my younger cousins and I had to do the dishes. I hated it then, but would love to be back and spend a moment with all of them now.
My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I went to college. My freshman year was extremely difficult for me anyway, and being away from my family just made me more lonely. Remember, times were different then. We had to wait in line to be able to use the phone and I had to save my quarters to be able to call home. Even five minutes on the phone was priceless.
I’ll never forget that weekend. At the college I went to-Thanksgiving was more about the prospective students that visited on that weekend. We still had classes on Fridays so that the guests could get a true picture of what the school was about. Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal. We had a big meal that was so good in later years my parents would come down to visit just to eat there. There was always a big soccer game between rival societies. It was called The Turkey Bowl. The stands would be packed and many alumni would come from all around to watch this game. In fact, for many years after we graduated it became a tradition for us to spend Thanksgiving at that school. Wonderful traditions and memories that I am able to treasure. Unfortunately, this year just isn’t going to look like either of those scenarios.
I, you, still have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a rough year. Yes. But our freedoms and joys are still too numerous to count. Let’s start at the first Thanksgiving.
Do you remember your history lessons?
In September of 1620, about 100 people left England on the Mayflower, most of them in search of religious freedom in the New World. After two months the ship landed in what is currently called Massachusetts. In December, a scouting party landed at Plymouth. We now call these people, Pilgrims.
The journey was not smooth sailing and they were plagued with storms. The trouble wasn’t only on the water, but also on board as quarrels and disagreements began before the passengers disembarked. The Pilgrims knew that they needed to do something before each person would be on their own so they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.
During the first winter the new colonists would live on the Mayflower as they built their new homes on shore.
MORE THAN HALF THE SETTLERS DIED DURING THAT WINTER.
Life in this new world was difficult. The winter was harsh and they didn’t have the means to eat properly.
Thankfully, Squanto, a Native American, befriended the settlers. He and his Pawtuxet tribe taught them how to plant corn and fish and hunt.
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims shared a harvest meal with this tribe. We consider this the First Thanksgiving.
I would love to think of that celebration innocently, but I’m sure it wasn’t the picturesque painting that we see. Perhaps we can learn from the past and apply the lessons to our present and future.
1) Thanksgiving. A time of hope. The Pilgrims left England in search of a new beginning. They experienced sickness, starvation and death, but by listening to the Native Americans they were taught how to survive. God sent help.
There is a letter written by Edward Winslow that says, “God be Praised.”
2) Praise God. We should be practicing this habit daily, but especially at Thanksgiving we should stop and give praise to our Almighty Father. Yes, life isn’t always pleasant. We don’t always receive what we want. There may be times of “starvation.” Our faith should rest in the fact that our God is still on the throne. None of this is a surprise to Him. And He loves you and cares for you more than you can ever know. I keep repeating this, but if the hairs on your head are numbered how can he not be caring for you? I mean, that fact alone means He is taking care of me constantly!
3) Stop making enemies out of people who are different than you. Just like the settlers and the Pawtuxet tribe, don’t be afraid of them. Instead, embrace them and learn what we can from each other. The same holds true for believers. I find that we fight against each other more than learn from each other. In fact, the devil doesn’t have to work very hard to destroy us…we do that quite well on our own.
4) Tomorrow is a new day. There is an old song, “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” God promises, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” God gave the people in the wilderness the manna they needed for that day. Cling to those promises today and know that tomorrow is coming.
I don’t know how you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Chances are many of you altered your plans or maybe canceled them all together. You might feel bitterness or depression or emotions we aren’t used to feeling on a day set apart to give thanks. As we look back at our year there has been death, poverty, disagreements, loss, grief. At first thought you might think…what is there to be thankful for?
My friend, so much.
Can you add to my list?
3. A God who loves and provides a way of salvation
4. Friends and family
6. Books and history
7. and so much more.
What are the things you are thankful for?
I can’t wait to hear about your Thanksgiving! Until next time! This is just me–talking to you–from the wings.
Not paralyzing fear, but crippling. Crippling in the sense that my decisions and/or actions were always surrounded by “fears.”
Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being liked. Fear of never being loved. Fear of messing up. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of not saying the right thing. Fear of saying the right thing the wrong way. And the list goes on.
I think that is why worry was such a problem for me. I worried because I was afraid.
My parents tried to solve my problems by pouring Bible verses about worry into my life. They would paste verses about worry on signs and motivational sayings around my room and on my mirrors to encourage me that worry was wrong, in fact, they would say, “Worry is a sin. Don’t do it.”
Well, that’s easier said than done isn’t it?
Today, I saw this saying on someone’s instagram post. “A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.” by Gina Carey.
It stopped me in my tracks. Today, I feel the power of that statement. Over the past fews weeks I have attacked challenges and struggles in ways that I never did in the past. And, I feel like winking at them.
Why? Why now in all my years have I suddenly felt empowered to say what I think and stand up without worry that I was going to mess situations up?
Fear is very real. It comes from an inner voice in our heads that cause us anxiety.
How do we lose fear?
1. The truth is there is one factor in overcoming fear. It’s you. We play the inner doubts in our minds and let the anxiety take over. Instead, play this. “I matter. My thoughts. My instincts. My desires. I am as important as everyone in this room.” Think about others and not so much about yourself. Just those two little mind shifts will help.
2. Work on the areas in your life that could use improvement. Ouch! I don’t like to think about my weaknesses. Face it. We all have them. I remember a specific time in my life that my teacher came and stood by my desk and said, “Something smells in here. Does everyone smell it?” She looked at me and walked on. Scarring? Yes. Inappropriate? Yes. As I grew up though, I learned to take circumstances like that and make sure I learned from them. I grew from the criticisms instead of letting the criticisms cripple me. I tried harder. Prepared more. Researched and became competitive. It is also important to know you have limits and respect them. You will never please all the people all of the time. That’s ok.
You reject yourself when you know you have more to deliever and don’t do it.
3. Understand why you are afraid. Analyzing the why will help you know if the fear has validity or if just rethinking your inner thoughts can help you overcome your fears and build your confidence.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead of looking at the best in others and telling yourself you don’t measure up– look at others and how they can inspire you to achieve the results you want. Again, the focus shift will measure your success. Focus on the good in others and how it can help you!
5. Write down the things about yourself you are grateful for. Next, write down the things others have done for you that help you to be the person you want to be. In moments of self-doubt you can come back to this list and focus on the positive instead of the negative.
Will these tips change you overnight? No. Total freedom from worry and fear might not ever happen. But…what if? Perhaps with one baby step you could begin to experience a freedom to escape from self-doubt and enjoy a whole new world of activities? What a life it would be!
You are enough. I can see you now…winking at the day and enjoying whatever it brings!
I would love to hear if you experience fear and worry and how you have overcome it!
Until next time–this is just me–talking to you–From the Wings.
As I write this it has not been decided who will be the next President of the United States.
It has been a long campaign season…well, it’s been a long year in many ways.
Theater is such a wonderful way to escape my everyday problems. I’m sad that the lessons from theater and entertainment aren’t available to us right now. But I find myself thinking about it anyway.
Politics and Theater? It all makes me think about Julius Caesar. (Yes. I’m that much of a theater geek….Oh, you thought I was talking about history?? Well, hang on.) It seems there was a recent production that styled their Caesar after a recent President. It began making political waves. Is this a shock? No. Theater has always been political. In fact, almost every play engages with the politics of its time in some way.
Here are a few political plays and musicals to put on your watch list.
1. Mary Stuart (1800) by Friedrich Schiller I love Elizabethan history. I am so thankful that we live in a time that you don’t get your head cut off just for being on the wrong side of an argument! No one understood better than Schiller the devious ways of politics. At first glance one could be fooled that this is simply a romantic tragedy about two warring queens, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. The most famous scene; however, shows Elizabeth beset by contradictory arguments about Mary’s fate. Should she be beheaded? Should she be forgiven and banished or should she live under the threat of…well…the axe?
2. The Crucible (1953) by Arthur Miller Did you know that Miller’s historical drama about the Salem witch trials of 1692 was inspired by Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee and its persecution of suspected communists? Like most plays, the deep meanings are not the ones simple to find. Set in 1692, inspired by events of 1938, and yet the plot of this play can resonate with us today. It is about a community plagued by guilt, suspicion and fear. What is truth?
3. Richard III by William Shakespeare I did just mention Julius Caesar, but if you want a Shakespeare play that really makes you think of dirty politics try this one. Shakespeare’s Richard is most likely more of a despicable tyrant than the historical Richard was, but the story of his rise to power is very much the story of a dangerous, charismatic man seizing power from people who refuse to take him seriously.
4. 1776 by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone. The show is based on the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, telling a story of the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.
5. Of Thee I Sing by George and Ira Gershwin This musical lampoons American politics; the story concerns John P. Wintergreen, who runs for President of the United States on the “love” platform. When he falls in love with the sensible Mary Turner instead of Diana Devereaux, the beautiful pageant winner selected for him, he gets into political hot water.
Politics. Not something I love or enjoy. I don’t think it brings out the best in anyone. Sadly, I don’t think we can escape politics. Perhaps in this moment you think that the election is over and we don’t have to deal with ads or debates or news media twisting the facts and that may be true in that arena. However, politics exists in every area of our lives. We deal with dishonesty, corruption, lies, slander, backbiting, climbing to get to the top and much more in our workplace, with friends and sadly even the church. So, what do we do?
1) Laugh long and often. Even at yourself.
2) Remember the words to the old chorus: “This world is not my home I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” Keep your eyes on the prize.
3) Hold yourself to a higher standard. Remember, we are all sinners. Worship our God not men.
4) God will hold you fast. Rest in that.
5) Watch plays and musicals. Trust me.
Have you watched a political play that I’ve forgotten? What do you think of the ones I’ve listed here?
Until next time! This is just me talking to you….From the wings.
Who are the truly great actors of our generation? And what makes them great?
It is easy to imitate a character or even an emotion, but is there realism in that? Can you do it again?
Creating realistic characters comes from knowing the character inside and out. This comes from a process of devouring the text/script. Learn everything you can about the character: what they look like, what their history is, how they think, feel, respond. Study everything that the script says about them and everything they say about themselves.
Aim to play this person as truthfully as possible. Don’t merely create a caricature. Be real. So many times people just recite lines. That isn’t acting at all.
I’m sure you have heard these questions before: 1. Who am I? 2. Where am I? 3. When is it? 4. Where have I been? 5. Where was I just before entering? 6. Why am I in the scene? What do I want? 7. Why do I want it? 8. What is this scene without me? 9. How will I get what I want? 10. What stands in my way?
Acting takes work. Consider having a notebook and recording all the answers to the questions above.
Next research history. What does history say about this time period or topic? What were politics, art, literature, foods, fashion and even religion like? Cut out pictures and descriptions and fill your notebook with those images.
You will not be able to find every detail about the character you have been given the responsibility to portray. So after you have finished your research, use your imagination to fill in the details and bring your character to life.
Use research and imagination together. Never use one without the other.
Once in awhile an actor comes along who is truly great. You can’t always teach someone how to become a good actor. But using this technique will help start the process.
Sometimes getting to know a character takes more time than others. Recently, Overshadowed was two weeks into a performance run when COVID shut us down. Months later we reopened to finish our run. Our characters changed. Why? We had more time to really get to know them. We thought about them for months. Also, we changed. I saw the desperation of Carrie Watts through different eyes.
We talk about that experience in a new episode of our new You Tube channel.
We are still trying to grow our You Tube so that people at least can find it when they search. We have been told that we need more subscribers before that will happen. Would you take a moment to join us?
Do you have a chosen technique to assure that your character is real? I’d love to hear about it.
Here’s to moments on the stage that leave the audience breathless. Let’s create them together.
When COVID shut our country down months ago, my husband and I found ourselves in front of the TV night and after night. When we determined that this crisis was not going to go away anytime soon, we started to try to figure out how to change what we were watching as well as breaking it up so that we weren’t just watching mindless TV EVERY NIGHT.
We established Friday night movie night. He brings home a nice take-out dinner and I pick three movies for him to choose from. Then we have Sunday night documentaries–look at us being all educational!! I usually let him pick that as well.
This past Sunday our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Do you know what documentary you want to watch tonight?”
Me: “Okay. Which one?”
Him: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
I had seen that advertised and knew that it was something I wanted to check out, but hadn’t had the chance to do it yet so….
Me: “Great! I thought that looked interesting too.”
Fast forward five minutes into the movie.
Me: “This doesn’t seem like a documentary to me.”
Me: “You pulled a fast one, didn’t you? This is a movie.”
Him: “Yes. I wanted to see it. And it’s a little like a documentary.”
Uh No. No, it isn’t.
What is the difference?
Actors. Generally, documentaries use real people in real situations to tell a story. (Sometimes they do reenact the stories as well.) Films use actors. And man, was the acting good in this one.
Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne plays anti-war activist Tom Hayden. Sacha Baron Cohen assumes the role of fellow protester Abbie Hoffman. The Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale is portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), and Snowden’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt is prosecuting lawyer Richard Schultz. Throw in Frank Langella and Micheal Keaton and you see this cast of full of acting power! Their characters were believable and realistic. That alone made the movie worth watching!
2. Escape vs. Reality. The general purpose of a film is to entertain. Documentaries are meant to inform or confront the audience with reality. Now, granted, documentaries want to engage their audience and a movie can be informative, but what is the motivation?
Sorkin’s film, hit Netflix on Oct. 16 and tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and the circus-like trial of political activists that followed the next year. Research seems to indicate that Steven Spielberg first mentioned the idea to Sorkin in ideas of themes–civil unrest, politics, police brutality, tensions in all political areas –over 14 years ago.
“I never wanted the film to be about 1968,” Sorkin says in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, I never wanted it to be an exercise in nostalgia or a history lesson. I wanted it to be about today. But I never imagined that today would get so much like 1968.”
3. Fact or Fiction. Movies are usually mostly fiction. They can be based on actual events or people, but elements get added and directors admittedly take creative license. Documentaries are non-fiction. The director might shape it a certain way, but they don’t add elements to the stories.
Was it good? Yes. And if the purpose was to get me to know more about this historic event, it succeeded. It was brilliantly written. The dialogue between the judge and Abbie Hoffman alone is worth the watch.
If the purpose was to awaken me to the horrors of police brutality and racial injustice it failed. Not because it didn’t show events that were horrific because it did and at first I was outraged. Taking a deeper look troubled me.
I believe part of the problem with our culture right now is that we have lost understanding of the truth. Our leaders, social media, politicians, news outlets– shout their story–twisting just a little bit here or there until we either follow blindly or turn our minds off because it is too overwhelming. Once in awhile there is the brilliant person who can make sense out of the whole mess. Why take a story that was deeply rooted in police brutality, racial injustice and twist it to make it worse? The story itself was terrible.
In twisting and adding to the story, I believe you make it a fictional story. One that we need not take seriously. There is a huge danger to that because indeed, it is a story that needs to be told. There is another danger, and that is that we allow ourselves to be shaped by what entertainments sources tell us or what us to believe instead of digging and learning the truth. People, there is power in the truth! FIND IT!
Many of the protesters were in response to the Vietnam War. As I write that, my fingers refuse to type for a few more moments. My dad and countless number of his friends fought in that war. I’ll never forget standing next to him at one of the Vietnam Walls as he searched for the names of his friends. My dad was a hero. My dad and countless others served, fought, bled and some died so that we could have freedom. I know the protestors had their reasons to be against the war, but where would we be now without all of our heroes who bled and died for our freedoms?
This year has been a struggle. We all know the reasons and we all know how we have responded.
What have we come to, America? What have we come to, Christians? Do we rise up to stop bullying, slander and injustice….untruth?
Are you part of it? Do you speak out? Or has fear caused you to “hide your light”?
I know I have been all over the place with this post, but I believe this is a story that needs to be told.
Several years ago our church was in a bad place. About ten of us decided to start a Bible study outside of the church. We read the book, Crazy Love. If you haven’t read it, do it. It will change your life when you get a small picture of how much God loves you.
Anyway, one of the ladies told us that she was going to begin to pray for a certain thing to happen that would allow our church to heal. We all laughed at her. Seriously.
But she kept praying. And praying. We told her that God was big enough for that to happen, but we didn’t think He would grant us that answer. But still she prayed. With faith. Nothing wavering.
And the prayer was answered. And then she started praying for the next step in the healing process and… well, you understand.
Maybe it’s time for us to become reacquainted with our faith and the power of prayer. It might be a really good time to drop to our knees and ask God for help, grace, mercy and compassion.
Who is with me???
P.S. Watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven. I’d love to know what conclusions you come to!
I have successfully completed another month of reading one book a week. I’m pretty proud of this month because I did it even while I was studying my lines every day for the play that closed this month. Maybe….maybe I have successfully regained the love I used to have for this and found time for my new habit.
It is possible to read this book without reading Book One first, but I’d recommend reading, The Sea Before Us first.
The series tells the story of three brothers who are estranged by an event. Each book highlights the story of a different brother. Reading book one will give you a better understanding of the pain of these brothers.
Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary like her great aunt, but for now she is in the American Red Cross Aeroclub in England. She wrestles with her inner demons because she believes God wants her to be working with children but that is only a small part of her job. She is recovering from a broken engagement and the men around her are crude and immoral. Except for the kindly Lt. Adler Paxton, whom she met on the boat ride over.
When Adler meets Violet, he is attracted to her but determines to avoid her. A tragic decision during a family outing led to the death of his fiancée, and in the hours immediately following that calamity Adler made some decisions that hurt a lot of people he loved. He refuses to believe that he is worth having any joy in his life as a result of his bad decisions.
We all know that God is bigger than all of our inner doubts and this is a sweet love story as God reaches out to both of them.
I enjoyed this book even more than I did the first one.
Sundin has a campy, quirky style of writing that is easy to read. I love the way she combines the plot points- such as the dangers the men faced on their missions, and the vital work of the Red Cross – by keeping the focus on how these things affect the characters. In this tale, there is also a mystery that is perfect for the storyline and is ideally utilized to show growth by Violet.
If you like Christian Historical Fiction then you will love this book! The plot tackles some big issues as the main character needs to learn how to forgive himself and others. Humility is one of those sins people don’t talk about very often and I love that this character has to deal with that as well.
Warning: There is a big plot reveal that deals with some sexual decisions in Adler’s past. When I first read the book I was able to dismiss the behaviors as plot developments. Now, thinking back, I’m a little disturbed that it was wrapped up in too nice of a package. It was confusing how violently Violet reacts to Adler’s past. I loved how she came to terms with his behavior, but I did it make sense for her to be so unforgiving at all? I think reacting in disappointment might have made more sense.
In spite of that, I really did enjoy the book. In fact, I liked it even more than I did the first one. The characters were fantastic and I loved that there were things about them that made them extraordinary. There are things to relate to in Violet if you grew up thinking that you needed to be a good “church” kid. There comes a time when you obey because God lives in your heart not just because you are doing as you are told. I love Violet’s journey to discovering for herself what God wants her to do.
I have all ready ordered the third book in the series! I can’t wait to read it!
As usual Sundin writes detailed historical descriptions.
Who should read this? Lovers of history, World War II, and love!
“Wars weren’t won with caution, and aces weren’t made in straight and level flight.”
Once again, God was winning the wrestling match, and Adler silently thanked him. For most of his life, he thought he’d deserved all of it. God had waited to give it to him until Adler knew he deserved none of it.”
Book #2 What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
From the back cover:
In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…
Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted with her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.
The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.
As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?”
I am a big fan of things that involve time travel. Amy’s dialogue and description pulled me in from the first paragraph. Although I didn’t know where the story was going I felt Annie’s love for her grandfather and Ireland from the start. I didn’t want to put the book down–almost feeling that if I did the magic would come to an end.
I, too, had a grandfather that I loved deeply so as we learn the details about Eoin’s (Anne’s grandfather) past and he begins to share stories with her I just wanted more. I LOVED their relationship. What a brilliantly written connection between them.
I learned so much about Ireland’s history. I was intrigued by how Anne was able to remember stories from history that her grandfather had taught her and it reminds me to listen to older people. They can give you the world in their words. I must admit, the historical detail was a tad too much for me and I had to really concentrate to get it to play out in my mind. But I enjoyed it immensely! I especially liked the details as Anne had to adjust to her life without the modern day clothes and ….other items.
And the love story? I didn’t want it to end. I was so afraid that it wasn’t possible for it to continue, but I desperately wanted it to. One word. EPIC.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes. Honestly, I could have pages of them. I love the way Amy writes. There is a certain romance in the way she uses words.
“We turn memories into stories, and if we don’t, we lose them. If the stories are gone, then the people are gone too.”
“Time was the one thing I wanted and the one thing no one could give me.”
“I’d heard once that our view of God has everything to do with those who taught us about Him. Our image of Him often reflected our image of them. Eoin taught me about God, and because I loved and cherished Eoin, I loved and cherished God.”
“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,” he repeated over the chuckling, “and nodding by the fire, take down this book, and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; how many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true, but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.”
“I’d been wrong about one thing. These were not average men and women. Time had not given them a gloss they had not earned. Even those I wanted to loathe, based on my own research and conclusions, conducted themselves with fervor and honest conviction. These weren’t posing politicians. They were patriots whose blood and sacrifice deserved history’s pardon and Ireland’s compassion.”
“Don’t write a book about Ireland’s history, Annie. There are plenty of those. Write a love story.’ ‘I still have to have context, Eoin,’ I argued, smiling. ‘Yes. You do. But don’t let the history detract you from the people who lived it.”
Poetic, lyrical, charming, heart-warming. Who is this book for? Lovers of historical fiction. Historical romance. Science fiction (time travel)
I was deep into this book before the first mention of sexual activities. There are several.
Do you remember the first time someone really close to you died? My dad’s mother died when I was in third grade, but we were in Germany so I wasn’t around to experience it. My Mom’s dad died when I was in Jr High and I remember it vividly. Why is it that when we first think about someone dying, all we think about are the good memories? There is the old saying, “Never speak ill of the dead.”
Isn’t it okay to still learn the good and the bad after someone is gone?
In her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, Erin Lee Carr graces us with all the wisdom imparted to her by her late father, renowned New York Times’ columnist David Carr. Told through a series of emails, Carr’s debut novel documents each dad-to-daughter pep talk that shaped her life and career.
When I started reading this book I believed it was going to be filled with these priceless letters of whit and wisdom. I was reminded that I as a human need to put my words in writing and write the people who mean something to me. That’s about as far as my love for this book goes.
Carr inherits more than career wisdom from her father. She also inherits his love for excessive drinking. Her memoir tells us the lessons that she learned from her father–both good and bad. Erin is indeed a disaster. Every time she gets a break she ruins it with her black-outs or being too drunk to behave respectfully. I respect her ability to look at herself in light of her father’s eyes. It’s a hard look because it is very ugly.
What I found more disappointing is that what could have been a touching reminder of a father’s love became an annoying perspective that became frightening. As a father do you have to do hard things sometimes? Absolutely. Do you have to deliver them with hate and coldness? No. If this book was supposed to make me like and respect David Carr it failed miserably. After reading this I think of him as a talented journalist who failed with his communications within his family.
On the cover it states: “This book shows that love does not end after death, nor should it.” That is the whole reason I read this book. Did it show me that? Hmmm. maybe. Blind love? The love that only a daughter can have for her father. Defanately.
This book was not at all what I expected. I wanted a book about a father’s love and relationship as he mentors his daughter and watches her grow. I got a book about Erin’s failures.
Things I liked:
That it was raw and honest. It didn’t hold back from really delivering punches.
I loved the list of things she learned from David that are in the back of the book.
I also loved her list of what she read while she was writing this.
“Storytelling still attains…and that means characters and import, but also editing and writing.”
“I started to understand the spasm of grief. Once someone close to you dies, you feel loss more plainly, as it is a part of your everyday experience. It feels crushing as the wave hits you, but then you can see the tide begin to drift in and out again after the storm.
“Whenever I would send him a flare email, his response was always relentlessly positive and made me feel like I was part of a tribe, a team. That someone was taking care of me. I knew, then and now, that this was a rare relationship for a child to have with a parent.”
Warning! Language. Lots. Difficult subject matter included abuse of …well, almost everything.
Book #4 The Last Flight by Julie Clark
Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.
Claire Cook’s husband is ambitious, admired, and from a powerful and influential family with deep pockets. Behind closed doors, he has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career.
Claire is making plans to disappear.
But then she meets Eva James and her future is changed once again, but what has she gotten herself into now?
Julie Clark describes The Last Flight as a story about two women, both of whom have been victimized by men under different circumstances and in different settings. Now they both are seeking to run away. She knew her main character had to be a woman with “an inner strength, even if her current situation didn’t allow her to use it.”
I don’t think I have enjoyed any of my books as much as I did this one. I LOVED the characters. I rooted for both of them. Feared for both of them. Hated the circumstances and people who forced them to have to choose these paths.
If you had to make a hard decision like this, could you? Both of these women are strong and determined and afraid. As a reader, I was caught up with both of the stories and couldn’t wait to finish one chapter and start the next so that I could see what would unravel to reveal itself next.
To say I was captivated would be an understatement. I love books with an unusual plot that I don’t figure out and this one had me all the way.
It is interesting to note that Clark uses alternating narratives. Claire’s story is told in first person. Eva’s is told in third person. I loved that. For me, it added to the mystery.
The book is full of new plot developments and shocks. It will leave you with plenty of room for discussion!
Very easy to say! I LOVED IT! You will be thinking about this one long after you put it down.
“Eva could walk away with no regrets, knowing for certain the past held nothing of value for her. That sometimes, the death of a dream can finally set you free.”
“It’s a system that tells women we are unreliable, and then expendable. That our truths don’t matter when set side by side with a man’s.
“Are we who we say we are, or do we become the person others see?”
“Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
“If we don’t tell our own stories, we’ll never take control of the narrative.”
“If you pay attention, solutions always appear. But you have to be brave enough to see them.”
What are you reading? Did you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you think!
Until next time this is just me talking to you, From the wings!