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“Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”

Did you ever say this prayer when you were younger?

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should did before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

As a child I was full of worry and anxiety. My parents would take Bible verses and paste them on the doors and mirrors to remind me that God is in control and that worry is a sin.

Knowing that it is a sin doesn’t automatically help you stop worrying. The fact is you have to convince your mind and heart to trust that no matter what comes it’s okay, because you trust that God has a plan and that plan is perfect.

I remember praying that prayer over and over when I was young. Nighttime was always the time I was most fearful. I would lie in bed and pray that God would watch over me and protect me and that if I did die He would take me to heaven.

I was not doubting that He would take me–I was really asking that He protect me.

That was then.

Looking back, I realize that our world is far more dangerous than when I was a child. All around me are people who are afraid, people who suffer. There is no peace and there is certainly no unity.

Do you remember the questions you asked when you were younger? Am I pretty? Is there going to be another war? Do you think I’ll get married? What kind of job do you think I’ll have? Never once did I think that when I went to school that day that my danger might be that someone would come in and shoot me. I also never worried that someone would shoot my children.

And yet now, with yet another shooting tragedy we are reminded that our world is wicked. The drills children do in school are more than tornado drills–no–our innocents have to learn active shooter drills.

How do we have peace in this broken world??

I think of my mental image of Jesus. In my mind, He is sitting on the hillside and children are all around him–in his lap, by his side and His arms are wrapped around them. It is a perfect picture of Jesus loving us and especially the children.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

So many parents sent their children to school on Tuesday not knowing that it would be the last kiss or hug that they would ever get from their precious child. I am at a loss for words. What can we possibly do??

Pray. Pray. Pray.

So much to be afraid of.

And yet, I hear God’s voice whispering in my head, “Do not be afraid. Do not be Dismayed. Be anxious for NOTHING.”

I don’t know the answer, but I have to trust that my God will somehow bring peace to all of us and those who have experienced such devastating loss.

Tonight before I close my eyes I think I will pray…

“Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake.

I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings–

Reba

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Why Do You Watch What You Do? Part Two.

Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.”

“No, You’re forgetting,” said the Spirit. “That’s not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.”

“Oh, that was ages ago,” said the Ghost. “One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.”

“One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower-become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.
–C.S.Lewis. The Great Divorce (pp. 78-70)

And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? We have to fight to still be interested in God. We rationalize and reason and the next thing you know we don’t even see the snare.

It is a very interesting world we live in . More opportunities and technology than you could ever imagine. Entertainment has been redefined and envisioned and is BREATHTAKING. What is your responsibility? Do we have one?

I say, yes.

Just like God has given us responsibility and wisdom to take care of our earthly world and nature to perserve it while we are here–I think-He wants us to redeem entertainment for Him as well.

How do we do that? Where is the line on what is Okay to see and portray if it is done for Him?

Join the discussion here:

Thank you Rebecca Leland and Katie VanderKooi for being such wonderful guests!

Until next time!

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What in the World Are You Watching These Days?

Did you ever sing this song when you were younger?

Oh be careful little eyes, what you see
Oh be careful little eyes, what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in tender love
So be careful little eyes, what you see.

I’m not exactly sure who wrote the song, but I do believe that it is wrapped in wise advice. Entertainment has many options for you to consider. Many of them are filled with language, nudity, and corrupt moral circumstances.

Why is this bad?

Because Satan is wandering seeking who he is going to devour. As the world slowly conditions us to  not being as offended when we see or hear certain things…then our hearts aren’t as pure.

Did you hear what I said? Once you see something you CANNOT UNSEE IT. Once you hear something you CANNOT UNHEAR IT. If it is in your mind- it can make its way to your heart. This isn’t new to any of us and yet….we watch and don’t turn it off…..we listen and ignore the words.

Eyes. They can get us into trouble.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27, KJV
 
Listen! Isn’t that exactly what Satan did in the  garden?
 

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Genesis 3:6, KJV

People! I am horrified  at what is on TV these days. I’m horrified at the things that people are now accepting for the sake of entertainment. Please. Please. Be aware of what is going on around you. Please be aware of what tricks Satan uses when he entices us through our eyes.

So why then did I begin to watch the show? I was fascinated when I heard how popular the show was. I first thought it was a Disney show so I wanted to see what Disney was doing, but no…it is just a show with a Disney star and, people, THOUSANDS of people are watching it.

Please take my word for it. DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW. It is evil and you can never unsee it. I write to warn you. If people you know are talking about this in an innocent way and going to “parties” etc.  There is nothing good about it. In fact, it might be too real.

Why do I write? All it takes is a simple look for Satan to plant the seed of temptation in our minds. Believe me that I think it is best not to support such shows and companies that have no regard for morality and are in fact encouraging corruption in our youth. Join me in speaking up against truth being twisted into a new narrative. I’m not sure how, but when the time comes we must be ready. Forwarned is forearmed.

Determine to equip yourself now as Paul said,

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV
 
 
 

Until next time–this is just me-talking to you-from the wings,

Reba

Blog, Blogging, book review, reading, theater

What’s In My Book Bag?

How did it get to be March…well, not just March but the end of March?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m LOVING the warmer weather and the sounds of birds and the anticipation of a fantastic summer, but TIME IS FLYING! I need a few more hours in every day and just cannot seem to catch up. I’m not sure if things are just crazy busy because the world has come out of hibernation or if I got used to a slower pace for the two years I had nothing to do….maybe it is a combination of both. Whatever the reason, I am once again behind on my reading goal.

In the month of February I read three books. Here are my thoughts.

Book #1 All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle

From the Cover:

In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.

But Hubert Bird is lying.

The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.

Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.

Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.
Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .

Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?

What I liked about this book:

In truth, it took me a little bit of time to “get into” this book. The dialect and way that Hubert kept referring to himself as, “Me just couldn’t do it today.” The constant “me” was distracting. But then, I fell in love with the heart of Hubert. I saw that his life had not been easy. He had loved and lost and still managed to turn the other cheek and show kindess and forgiveness to those who caused him great pain. As Hubert begins to escape his lonliness, I couldn’t help but think of my mom and how many years of loneliness she felt living without my dad. I began to relate to Hubert and cheer for him from the sidelines. I’m not sure how a book can be heart-breaking and uplifting all at the same time, but this one is. Mike Gayle has written a touching, beautiful book and I can’t wait to read another of his books.

Gayle crafted such believable characters. He formed them so that you could picture them and almost hear them speak, thus thrusting the reader into the heart of the story. You can’t help but love Hubert. He is a true gentleman, but not without flaws. You recognize him and cry out for the injustices that befall him, and cheer for his victories. I seriously miss that the story is over. I miss him.

I also love that the story–even though it isn’t recent–made me think of the plight of so many others that are treated badly because their skin is a different color.

I also loved the sense of community that Hubert was able to establish. It was inspiring to watch a community of people who needed someone come together and create friendships and family and were no longer alone. I wish we would all be more aware of those around us that might need someone. Pardon me while I go cry some more.

Who should read this book? Fans of family stories. If you are interested in multicultural or diverse characters. Read if you like thoughtful books with a touch of humor.

Favorite Quotes:

“After all, it was always easier to meet new people if there were two of you. It gave you confidence and made you feel at ease.”

“And that’s the funny thing about life. Extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people like you and me, but only if we open ourselves up enough to let them.”

Rating: 4.5/5

Book #2 In The President’s Secret Service by Ronald Kessler

From the Cover: Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, that elite corps of agents who pledge to take a bullet to protect the president and his family. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time.

What I liked about this book:

Hmmm. Difficult question. I did find some of the stories quite interesting. I found that I would find one chapter interesting and then the next would be technical and super boring to me. Unfortunately, towards the end I didn’t even enjoy the personal stories. I found myself wondering how much of the story was true and if some of these tales just came from people who didn’t like the Presidents they were called to serve. On the other hand, I started to wonder if there is anything good about any of the familes we have put into the White House. It was interesting to think about what each agent has to go through and how much we take them for granted. For me though, the book doesn’t put them in a good light. Instead, it makes me think less of them for the sour attitudes they seem to have developed.

Who should read this book? Lovers of history. Read this book if you are interested in government and politics and learning more about the people who have served our country.

Favorite Quotes:

Boys will be boys,” he said.
When the door of the elevator shut, Reagan said to Hresko, “But boys will not be president.

Rating: 2/3

Book #3 The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

From the Cover:

An unforgettable and heartwarming debut about how a chance encounter with a list of library books helps forge an unlikely friendship between two very different people in a London suburb.

Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in Wembley, in West London after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.

Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.

When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list…hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again. 

What I loved about this book:

Everything? Sigh. How could a book lover not love a book that is about reading books? This book centered around a library and a list of books that everyone that finds the list begins to read. This list seems to be magical as each person reads the book at exactly the right time in their life to teach them or help them through life’s newest journey.

This book reminded me of so many wonderful hours I spent in the library with my mom. It made me wish that I had spent more time there with my own children. I loved the way Adams brilliantly connected the characters and stories. Seriously, how does someone plan and craft such heart-felt, real, flawed, needy, loving characters? I love that the book also pulled me in so deep that when tragedy unexpectedly happens it broke me.

I can’t say enough about this book. If you love reading and you haven’t read this book yet, you simply must find it and put it on your TBR list.

Pardon me while I go spend time in my library–please, God, don’t ever let the world close them down.

Who should read this book? Lovers of reading. Everyone.

Trigger warnings:

  • Anxiety, Cancer, Death, Depression Grief, Suicide

Favorite Quotes:

“Please try to remember that books aren’t always an escape; sometimes books teach us things. They show us the world; they don’t hide it.”

“…sometimes when you really like a book, you need to read it again! To relive what you loved and find out what you missed before. Books always change as the person who reads them changes too.

“…books, they had the power to heal.”

“There was something magical in that—in sharing a world you have loved; allowing someone to see it through the same pair of spectacles you saw it through yourself.

Rating: 5/5

That is all for this time! Have you read any of these? I would love to know what you thought! Also, If you choose to read one of these because you read my review, please let me know! That brings me a great amount of joy!

Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings!

Reba

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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Theater

This week’s blog is by Kelly Zea. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your love of theater and God with

us both now and on stage!

One of my earliest memories was at the church my grandfather preached, watching the kids rehearse for their Christmas program. I remember adult’s encouragement to participate, but I shied away and just watched them sing, quietly and inevitably learning the lyrics. I remember the fear mixed with excitement as the window of opportunity neared its final moments to perform alongside the other kids. I remember my shy, single-digit aged, watch-from-the-sideline self was the bravest it had been as I took the chance and joined the chorus of cardboard costumed Christmas presents on stage. That small act of being present gifted me the value of being braveboth on stage and off.

Fast forward to my formative teenage years when our Pantherettes Poms team was cut from the school budget and eliminated, freeing up time to audition for my first high school play, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Disappointment of dancing off one stage turned into walking onto another, a blessing in disguise which would become the most memorable part of high school and lead to where I felt I truly belonged: the theater.

That first show quickly revealed an irrational insecurity when its only song required us to sing. The director accommodated my fear of singing by gifting me the shortest solo and single word, “Flush,” and also a nickname I’d bear the rest of my high school theater days. I later even purposely tried to get the role of the Wicked Witch to spare myself from having to sing. It was the summer going into my senior year when I decided to face my fears so that I could attempt to obtain the lead role in what would be my last high school show. I bought the cd to memorize the songs, took a choir class and extra lessons from my generous music teacher, and was more determined than ever. Earning the role of Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun meant everything to me and required a growth spurt like none before to rise to the challenge. Thanks to my directors who believed in me and took the risk casting me and coached me throughout, I gained confidence and it reinforced the decision to continue to pursue acting by becoming a theater major in college.

While my time at Columbia College Chicago was a different story, my story with the stage thankfully did not end there and as I faced more fears.  My bravery was a building block to more blessings of opportunities such as: Second City’s Music Improv program, working as an extra in Chicago’s film and tv industry, and  the sweet suburban community theater the scene which ended up changing my life the most). Community theater became the space to stand up for faith and ultimately grow in faith.

I once again fought through fears in front of everyone auditioning for Overshadowed’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2013 and resisted the growing urge to leave before it was my turn. It didn’t take long to realize that God kept me there for a reason. Overshadowed would soon become one of the most crucial places of my faith journey. It was a ministry, unlike any theater experience I’d had, and became a place filled with prayer and desires to glorify Him. Not without growing pains, of course, but thankfully alongside grace-filled believers valuing the power of prayer and God’s Word, I continue to experience healing and sanctification.

I’ve been blessed that theater has been a constant in my life and a home away from home.  Theater has  encouraged growth through habitual risk taking, generated creativity and more joy than I could have ever dreamt, and, most importantly, fostered community and brought me closer to God in so many ways. Although my trajectory went in a different direction than I dreamt as a little girl, I am so grateful that God was with me each step and led me to the places I’ve been. I’m grateful to the building blocks of bravery which led to so many amazing opportunities and memories that continue to form to this day.

Just as children learn to stack blocks when they are children, building blocks can be used in many areas of our lives. You can’t run before you learn to walk. You learn the alphabet before you learn to read. Is there something in your life you need to pursue step-by-step?

I encourage you to see that our biggest blessings are just beyond our fears. Is there a fear that’s been stealing your joy? Are excuses keeping you from trying something you’ve always wanted to? I pray you experience God’s peace and bravely follow His lead into adventures you couldn’t imagine, touch lives you don’t yet know, and become more like Him through all of it.

Isn’t it sweet of the Creator of the Universe to bless us with creativity and ways to glorify Him through the arts? Be brave and blessed, dear friend.

Kelly Zea is a Christ-following, theater-loving northwest suburbanite who works as an Instructional Assistant in a high school. When not professionally bantering with teenagers, she can be found pet sitting, capturing moments, indulging in theological discussions, dreaming of and missing Africa or running, punning and dancing through life, Zeabunking the lies of the world one reminder of God’s truth at a time. You can follow Kelly at@Kelifornialove28

We’d love to know how God is using theater in your life? Or what building blocks are helping you grow?

Until next time!

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“Redeeming Love” and the Controversy

In 1991, Francine Rivers published a book called Redeeming Love. Since then it has sold over three million copies. That’s amazing for a Christian author....maybe any author.

It had mixed results as a novel, Rivers has a way of writing than can be a little steamy to an innocent mind. The controversy even then was that the book was a “gateway to soft porn.”

For me, my daughter and many of my friends, Redeeming Love was a powerful book. For many of us, the thought that our Lord pursues us the way that Michael Hosea pursued Angel or the picture of Isreal in Hosea was so moving that it brought us to tears. I understand why Rivers is so protective of it. It is a masterpiece.

The popularity of the book made many of us desire a film and Rivers herself longed for a contract. The film was many years on the drafting block for various reasons. When Rivers began tweeting about the film the Christian community went crazy.

And then the film was released.

I heard many people talk about the nudity and (excuse the next graphic language) the sexual movements of couples, considering if those elements had a place in a “Christian film.” I began to wonder if it was “right” for me to watch it.

I decided (giving warning to my friends) that we should see it and then give our thoughts. We didn’t talk about it before we filmed-we wanted the conversation to be raw and real. After watching the video below, I must admit, I wish I had waited a few days. I think the peace maker in me wanted to be pleasant and entertaining, but as I ponder the film I think I would have changed my rating. I give it a thumbs up at the end, but that was too generous. This film needs to come with more warnings than it does. Yes, the subject matter is difficult. Yes, I think Christians should show a realistic picture that sin is ugly and life is not always handed to a Christian all wrapped up in a bow that gives us a happily ever after. Yet…as a director and a Christian, I think some of the elements in this film could have given us that realistic picture without “crossing the line.”

Is it possible that people will know about God’s love from this movie?
Yes.
God doesn’t need any of this to call people to him.

Is it possible this movie could cause people to sin by watching it?
I believe the answer to that is also yes.
Doesn’t the Bible warn us to not be a stumbling block to others? 

What is considered “nudity”? (The aurgument is that at one point Michael’s hand covers her beast so that you cannot see…well, you know.) So that makes it not nudity? I disagree. You see too much. It is nudity to me. In fact, I think one of the problems with the movie is that it tries to have a little steaminess with the sex scenes.

I wonder if we have become desensitized to “things of the world?” Arguing that “you don’t really see anything”, or that the people that are acting out the sexual scenes are portraying married couples doesn’t sit well for me.  I think we should require more from a film that labels itself “Christian” or one that is supposed to show us God’s holy, pure, and unconditional love.

Before you use this argument on me….I KNOW the BIble is filled with stories of sex, sin and murder, but it isn’t written in graphic detail. Song of Solomon is the exception, but it isn’t written to be steamy and doesn’t include full color video.

Please watch the video below and let us know if you’ve seen the movie or if perhaps the video will help you make a decision. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join us next week as our discussion goes a different direction. I seriously cannot wait for you to see part two!

Rebecca Leland, Naomi Rogers, thank you for your frank discussion. Thank you Rebecca for filming and your efforts in editing this mammoth job!

I would love it if you would like, share and follow!

Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings-

Reba

Blog, Blogging, book review, critics, Grief, hope, reading, theater, writing

More Than a Review

My reading goal is 52 books again this year. I’m off to a good start and I’m hoping the changes I’ve made in planning and organizing will help me keep on track because I really really do love reading.

Most of you know that my mom passed away last year. She is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery where my dad is. After COVID, things backed up there so the funeral is going to be Monday. That being said, I’ve been doing so much thinking about my mom and what we had in common. At the top of the list is that she loved to read and instilled in me a love of reading as well. Recently, I was looking at her facebook wall where a former student said, “I sure would love to hear her read Charlotte’s Web aloud just one more time.” Me too. Me too.

In that spirit, I would love to tell you about the books I read this month.

Book # 1 One Day in December by Josie Silver

From the Cover:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

On a purely surface level, this book was enjoyable. It was a light read full of romance and stars-in-your-eyes love. It was a book you could curl up and escape with. So, that sounds like I liked it, right? Hmmmm. Keep reading.

What I liked about this book: The premise. I am a romantic. I love the idea of love at first sight. I love-love. I love the humor and the realism that sometimes we make decisions based on our friends rather than on what our own heart is saying. The characters were believable and even though there are criticisms I have of those–I still found that they were crafted well. However, I didn’t like the way Laurie’s “best friend” reacted when confronted with the truth. Is it true that women really treat each other like that? (Sorry, I’m being so cryptic; I don’t want to spoil anything.) Also, I got really tired of Laurie always accepting second best and settling. I don’t like the fact that I’m not sure she ever realized that that she was doing that either which seems implausible to me. Someone who had looked day and night for the boy who made her heart beat faster just by looking at her would recognize that something was missing. Once we get to know Jack I didn’t like him anymore. Laurie can do better.

It would make a great Hallmark movie. Some of us will think that means it is a winner of a book. Some of us will think that means it has huge red flags.

Who should read this book? Fans of romance. Read this book is you are looking for a quick, warm story.

Favorite Quotes:

“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”

“There comes a point where you have to make the choice to be happy, because being sad for too long is exhausting.” 


“New Year in particular is so full of portent and promise, weighted with expectation and hopes and idealism, but then on the flip side it can also be the time when people look for change, or say enough is enough and call time on a relationship that’s run its course.”

Warnings: There is a fair amount of sexual content and descriptive words.

Rating: 3.5/5

Book #2 The Wedding RInger by Kerry Rea

From the Cover:

A woman who wants nothing to do with love or friendship finds both in the unlikeliest ways in this hilarious and heartwarming debut by Kerry Rea.

Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen. 

Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings—or Maisie—but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires. 

Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship—and romance—are worth sticking around for.

What I loved about this book:

The main character! Willa is adorable. I am a sucker for an underdog story and that is Willa from top to bottom. She is unlucky in love, a now disaster in business. she has nothing except her family. Rea captures you right away by her descriptive writing style. I truly felt like I was at the birthday party and witnessing every detail of that disastrous event. From the moment I picked up the book I couldn’t wait to see Willa restored! Rea also did a wonderful job of creating the characters around Willa–you see the ones that love her and you want Willa to be able to step out of her own hurt and learn to really see the ones who are with her now.

I also love Rea’s dialogue–she writes so that you can “hear” what the characters are thinking and it is so enjoyable!

Friendship doesn’t always come the way we predict it, but the new friends Rea gives Willa are delightful. I’m hard pressed to tell you if I like Willa or Maisie better. I just wish Rea would write a “what happens next” next story about these two.

Who should read this book? Fans of love stories. Read this if you like books about friends! If you like characters that aren’t quite put together-this may be the book for you!

Warnings: Language. Slight sexual conversations and words.

Rating: 4/5

Book #3 Float Plan by Trish Doller

From the Cover:

* A MUST-READ FOR GOOD MORNING AMERICA, OPRAHMAG.COM, BUZZFEED, POP SUGAR, AND MORE! *

Heartbroken by the loss of her fiancé, adventurous Anna finds a second chance at love with an Irish sailor in this riveting, emotional romance.

After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

What I liked about this book:

I looked for books in January that were books about December or holidays or escaping. It is pretty cold in Illinois during this time and since books let you escape, I figured why not pick a warm place? I was intrigued about a book who would have such a strong female character who would be brave enough to set sail entirely by herself. I LOVED that she couldn’t. I love that she realistically wasn’t ready to sail alone and yet emotionally wasn’t ready to sail with someone else either. I love the journey physically and emotionally that Anna went on. She became stronger as a sailor, a woman, and a person. I loved that this book had love in it, but that isn’t at all what the book is about. Recognizing that is key. Honestly, even though I was looking for a light-hearted read–I’m so glad this one wasn’t. It was serious when it needed to be and sensitive when it needed to be.

Who should read this book?

Fans of love stories that take a little longer to develop. Read if you are a lover of finding love again stories. If you are looking for a women’s story about grief and survival this one is for you.

Favorite Quotes:

The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea. —ISAK DINESEN

“But I’m starting to understand how sadness and happiness can live side by side within a heart. And how that heart can keep on beating.” 


“Why did you go somewhere I can’t follow?” 

The stages of grief are not linear. They are random and unpredictable, folding back on themselves until you begin mourning all over again.

Warnings: suicide, self-harm, depression, grief, language, some sexual content

Rating 4/5

What are you reading lately? I’d really love to connect with you! Please leave a comment, share or follow me!

Until next time-this is just me talking to you from the wings–

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The Book List 2021

It is that time again when all readers post the list of books they have read over the past year. Last year at this time I shared my very first book list. I set a goal in 2020 of reading only twelve books. I read 20. I was super excited about that and decided I could do more this year. I thought one a week should be a cake walk…..

A few of the books I read this year! 2021

I read 21.

Yes. You read that correctly. I set a goal for over twice as many books and only read one single book more than the year before. Did I fail?

No. It isn’t a competition. I couldn’t have known in December what distractions would keep me from reading.

I read 21 in spite of all the things that happened in 2021. That’s pretty amazing. Here is the list.

  1. Blackout by Candace Owens N/F 4/5
  2. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini F 4/5
  3. The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar F 4/5
  4. One to Watch by Kate Stayman London F 4.5/5
  5. All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese F 5/5
  6. Becoming Elisabeth Edwards by Ellen Vaughn N/F 4/5
  7. Shipped by Angie Hockman F 3/5
  8. The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer F 5/5
  9. I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark (Audio) F 4/5
  10. We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels (Audio) F 5/5
  11. A New York Secret by Ella Carey F 4/5
  12. Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo (Audio) F 4/5
  13. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (audio) F 5/5
  14. Is it Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh F 5/5
  15. Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano F 5/5
  16. Random Road by Thomas Kies F 5/5
  17. High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins N/F 4/5
  18. Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson F 4/5
  19. At Your Request by Jen Turano (Audio) F 2/5
  20. Beach Rental by Grace Greene (Audio) F 5/5
  21. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty F 3/5

And that is it for this year! My top read was Look Again. I have reccommended it several times. I truely couldn’t put it down!

What about you-did you meet your reading goals? Did you read any of these? What did you think?

Until Next time–

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The Top Ten Blog Posts of 2021 Chosen by You

January 1st. Everyone is setting goals and picking words and kissing 2021 good-bye. I’m doing a little of that as well, but I also thought it might be interesting to see what blog posts YOU the reader liked the most. It is a great way to evauate what I do and see how to give you more of what you like.

It is a good reminder to me that things I obsess about might be things no one notices or things I take for granted might be the very thing you wanted to talk more about. All in all, it continues to make me better and that’s always a good thing!

So, here are YOUR Top 10 favorite blogs of the last year:

1) Hope From the Wingshttps://fromthewings.org/2021/07/15/hope-from-the-wings/

2) Breath of God https://fromthewings.org/2021/11/12/breath-of-god/

3) In the Face of Grief https://fromthewings.org/2021/08/26/in-the-face-of-grief/

4) The Stage is a Blank Canvas https://fromthewings.org/2021/01/29/the-stage-is-a-blank-canvas/

5) Why Do Theater? https://fromthewings.org/2021/02/04/why-do-theater/

6) The Finishing Touch https://fromthewings.org/2021/03/03/the-finishing-touch/

7) What Does a Stage Manager Do Anyway? https://fromthewings.org/2021/04/22/what-does-a-stage-manager-do-anyway/

8) Edits Aren’t Only For the Written Word https://fromthewings.org/2021/11/05/edits-arent-only-for-the-written-word/

9) Nine Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah https://fromthewings.org/2021/01/15/nine-things-you-should-know-about-the-story-of-noah/

10) Doing “Your Thing” Matters by guest blogger Julie Gernand https://fromthewings.org/2021/02/17/doing-your-thing-matters/

So there you have it. These are the blog posts that people were talking about in case you missed one and want to catch up! and hint….if you want to make sure you NEVER miss a post please make sure you follow me! I only need 8 more subscribers to hit 100!

An interesting observation…none of my posts about books made the top ten. Perhaps I should have the book blogs be an additonal post instead on one of the weekly? My posts about grief and hope were my top ones. Perhaps some of you are in need of hope and healing as well? I will pray for you, my readers, I’m sad to say I haven’t really thought of doing that until now. Another thought is that you truely cared about the pain I was going through. If that is the case, I’d like to thank you again. Writing this blog was so theraputic this year.

Thank you for your likes, shares and comments. I’m hoping 2022 will be a happy, healthy year for all of us.

For now, this is just me, writing to you from the wings.

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Don’t Ever Let Anyone Tell You That You Aren’t Good Enough

On December 27, 2012, I posted this on Facebook

Megan and I had gone to see “Bring it On: The Musical.” It was packed with girls-all ages. The audience really seemed to love it for the most part. Megan and I–not so much. It was at that point that I felt like I needed to start a blog to be able to warn people not to spend their hard earned money on musicals such as that one. I also thought  that surely Megan and I were talented enough to write a musical that was, at least, less trite and that would bring in the people. Full of ourselves you might think…nope…the musical was just really bad and we thought if we found the right topic surely people would come.

Last night, the memory of my vain post popped up on Facebook and Megan commented and said, “Look! Now you’ve done both..started a blog and we wrote a musical.”

I thought about that innocent facebook post all day.

Yes, I did start a blog. You are reading in right now. It is sometimes theater, sometimes reviewing other theater productions or movies or TV. Sometimes it is just my thoughts about life and faith.

It took me a long time to get up the courage to start the blog. I wasn’t sure my writing skills were good enough. I thought I might have plenty to say, but I wasn’t really unique enough. I find that in this culture people would rather follow young and beautiful and I am neither. Nevertheless, I finally started it. It took me awhile to be consistent, but I’m pretty regular at posting one time a week. I decided that I was going to write the way I talk. I want you to almost be able to hear me speaking to you as you read what I have written. I decided that would be the way I would be unique. I know I don’t follow all the rules. I don’t know much about SEO and other things that would probably make it so my posts would be found and be read. Somehow, I have 90 followers now. (That must sound crazy to those of you who have thousands of followers!)

To each of you, I thank you for reading so faithfully.

Would I like more? Well, sure! Who wouldn’t? But, I guess that isn’t really why I write. I write because I have something to say and here is a place that at least 90 of you will read and listen and sometimes comment. That is special to me because writing has been healing for me this year.

I didn’t know that it would take me nine years to grow my blog to 90 readers, but as I always tell my casts…you do it for even one audience member and so I write for even just one.

Now, for that other item, the musical? It was called, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” It is the best thing Megan and I ever wrote. The audiences loved it and people ask us year after year when it’s coming back. Did you know a writer is never happy? We need to do a few rewrites, but it will be back and we can’t wait.

So, what is the point of all these words? Make a goal. Then verbalize it. Then do it. It’s not too late. Find something that makes you healthy and happy and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough.

Hmmm. Reminds me of a Carpenters’ song, “Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long. Don’t worry that you’re not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a Song.”

Over the years there have been things I liked about Facebook and things that drove me crazy. This time, I’m thankful for the memory.

Now, I think I’m going to go sing a song.

Until next year.
This is just me, talking to you from the wings.