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In Moments of Loss

Why is it that I have stories dancing around in my head, but the process is so difficult to put down on paper?

They dance and swirl and, in my head, are so vivid and meaningful…and then I put my computer in front of me and all creativity stops. I read a little, dream a little, watch things on TV, and try again. Sometimes I repeat that step over and over until I can crank out one scene or chapter.

Such was the process of writing, Tuesday Morning #Neverforget.
To make matters worse I still haven’t fully recovered from my heartbreak of last summer. I’m better, but at times it haunts me and I’m just plain and simply….sad.

A sad person researching tragic events? Ugh! Sadness enveloped me…I would cry and have to put away the story and yet it kept calling me. I really didn’t know WHY it was an important story? Why this story would be any different from the facts everyone knew?

And then it clicked. Where was God? Is it possible to see God in the midst of disaster? How do you hold on to hope when everything around you seems hopeless?

That one thought became the focus of my story. Yes, the story is about the four flights that tragically crashed that day. Yes, the story is about the last words of many of the passengers on those flights. Yes, the story is about the people who stepped up and rescued thousands of people in the World Trade Centers….many losing their own lives in the process.

But then the hope started coming through. Lisa Beamer focusing on Bible verses that she had studied and memorized in the past. Lisa Jefferson committing to “speak out” for God and not be a silent witness. Countless tales of people who prayed, sang songs, quoted Scripture to comfort and heal. In short, people holding on to hope that God has a plan…a purpose and His ways are better than ours.

I do believe that.

I didn’t like reading about Joseph and his brother’s betrayal and yet God put Joseph into a place that he saved a whole nation. Maybe God gave Lisa Beamer that as well. Her book, Let’s Roll, gave us a picture of Todd and his faith and Lisa’s hope even in the face of great loss. He was just a regular man, but Lisa’s story made us see GOD. It is crazy to think that Todd went  from ordinary man to a hero that has caused many to know God  because Lisa wrote a book that told his story.

He’s in my story too…not just Tuesday Morning #Neverforget…but my story...my pain from last year that continues. I know God didn’t CAUSE the pain, but I know He holds my heart and that He understands and that one day He will wipe the tears from my eyes.

I would love it if you would follow my blog and better yet subscribe to us on YouTube. If we say something either place please share….I keep thinking God has me writing for a reason…maybe there is a message that someone needs to hear!

Watch below for thoughts from our cast!

Thank you, Rebecca Leland for your work on this!

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

Reba

acting, audience, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, family, Fear, Grief, history, hope, theater, writing

#NeverForget

It has been a whirlwind summer.

Every week I think, “I want to write about this.” And every week I cannot seem to scrape together the time to write even a few sentences. I’m not sure why….I mean, it doesn’t feel excessively more busy than summers BEFORE COVID and yet every time I sat down to work on the play I was writing for this fall-something big would happen that needed my attention.

We went into the summer thinking we were ahead of schedule for our summer production and it literally came down to the wire…and all along I kept repeating….”I just need ONE day by myself to finish editing my play.And it NEVER came. After awhile you just start to think forces are against you.

The good news? We are having a successful summer show! It is beautiful and people are loving it. In fact, we could probably add a show if we wanted because we are all sold out and we still have 8 shows remaining!

The bad news? It really took a toll on all of us. People were working non-stop to get this show ready. And I was doing a lousy job of thanking people that were keeping Overshadowed going in all the other areas. So I learned a lot of lessons this summer. I’m not sure I’ll be any better next time, but I’m trying really….really hard.

There are so many areas to consider in running a not-for-profit, but the key thing is that it takes people many, many people to do all the things and I am sooooo very thankful for all of them, but if I don’t make them know how important they are…I have failed.

So. Enough of the past…moving on to the future!

Next up….an original play I have written based on the heroes of 911. Please do me a favor and watch the video below…and then? Consider being a part of the team for this one! You can email me to tell me if you want to get a ticket, audition, or be part of stage crew, sets, props, tech or costumes!

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

And before I forget…original music in our video is played and written by Casey Bender! Isn’t he amazing? And a very special thank you to our From the Wings editor! Thank you Rebecca for all you do!

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The Second Rule of the Effective Speaker

When I was a freshman taking beginning speech we all had to memorize “The Ten Rules of Effective Speaking.” When we talked about it last year I’m sure I said that I didn’t really appreciate those rules in speech class and certainly didn’t really understand them.

I do now.

I want to be effective in my speech. I want people to listen to me and I want my words to matter.

Is it possible?

I think it starts with the core essence of who you are.

If you want your words to matteryou need to be the kind of person that I respect enough to listen to.

You can watch one of our very first videos where we talk about that philosophy here: https://fromthewings.org/2020/12/02/how-you-can-be-an-effective-speaker-the-first-step/

We have so much that competes for our attention. We have social media, and a constant stream of Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, that gives us a 24-7 watching window. Each and everything you watch or listen to has a message it is sending. How do you choose what or who is worthy of your time and respect?

Would it make a difference in the world if we all started to ignore the message if the messanger wasn’t worthy? I hope it would.

Let me know what you think about the second rule of the effective speaker!

Are you more worthy to be taken seriously as a speaker if you follow this rule?

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

Reba

acting, artist, audience, audition, backstage, christian theater, directing, entertainment, family, theater, theater camp, theater education

The Importance of Theater Camp or What Mary Poppins Taught Me

Several years ago we mounted the very large full-scaled production of Mary Poppins on our regular stage. It was a large, full of special effects, show that pushed us to be better that we were. Flash forward several years and I decided that I wanted to do a theater camp that didn’t need much work costume or set wise since we all ready had both from the full production that we had produced several years ago. Ha!

Theater camp is a different experience all together.  We audition on Monday. Tuesday we start developing characters, learning choreography and music, memorizing lines and working all the set and prop movements. We also build lights and sound and set and costumes and well, the work is still a lot! Eight days later we mount a full scale show! Whew!

Today was the eighth day. I might have cried a little. I am so proud of all these students have learned in such a short time.

So have we learned anything?

I hope so. I hope we’ve learned more than the lines, music and etc. I hope we’ve learned the value of team work and responsibility. I hope we’ve learned how much work it takes to put on a good show and HOW MANY PEOPLE IT TAKES to create the magic that goes with a good show.

There are lessons in the show itself that we have talked about as well.

Mary Poppins is a redemptive story about a father who can’t be bothered with his children because the pressures of life have him working hard to create the “right” impression for the “right” people and to work hard to  because the pressures of the job demand it.  

Who can forget his lament?

A man has dreams of walking with giants

To carve his niche in the edifice of time.

Before the mortar of his zeal has time to congeal

The cup is dashed from his lips,

The flame is snuffed aborning,

He’s brought to rack and ruin in his prime.’

Ah! The pressures of life.

We can all fall slave to them.

Let’s take a moment to remember that we don’t have to compete to always “keep up with the Jones'”. Let’s not work so hard at living that we forget who we are living with. 

I wish I could spend one more day in the park with my kids that’s for sure!

Take a moment to watch this interview with our “Bert” and “Mary.” We open tomorrow!

Please make sure you like and share if you enjoyed this episode!

Until next time!

Blog, Blogging, christian, christian blog, family, Fear, Grief, hope, Prayer, theater

“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

artist, artistic vision, audience, backstage, bible, Blog, Blogging, broadway, christian, christian blog, christian theater, entertainment, family, speech, theater

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

acting, artist, artistic vision, audience, bible, Blog, characterizations, christian blog, christian theater, communication, critics, entertainment, family, history, hope, theater, theater education

Everyone of Us Can Be Great

Everyone of us has a reason that we do or do not go see a show or concert or recital.

That’s fair. Time is precious. Why waste it with something that you have no interest in seeing?

Is it possible, though, that we miss rare opportunities to better ourselves or to learn something that will make us better people by removing a prejudice and seeing something that we thought might not interest us?

I think the answer is yes.

Covid has left us battlescarred all around. Not only were we taught how to stay indoors and veg in front of the TV, but we learned to judge and hate and condemn those who don’t agree with us. We saw cities destroyed. We saw people lash out with hate towards any political figure that they didn’t agree with. We saw condemnation and judgement. Did we see love for our fellow man?

Rarely.

So now that we are out and about more…what is your criteria going to be?

Recently, Jeremiah Dew told one story that really stuck out to me during his question and answer time after his show at Overshadowed.

He told of a young boy who was taken into captivity as a slave. He was taken from an area of Africa that had never seen water. He spoke a different language than the other captives and had never seen a white man. He couldn’t communicate and actually thought that these white figures must have been demons. He saw many African people who escaped and jumped overboard in fear of what was happening to them. Imagine what they must have felt when they reached the shores of America to be treated as animals in many cases.

I tell that story not to cause you all to think–“that’s not my problem“…”stop the political message.” I tell the story because I think we need to learn that we each come from a different perspective. We need to stop and think about which perspective might be different from our own and how God wants us to react to others around us because of it.

For more of my thoughts please watch the video below:

https://youtu.be/DFhlmyJHqNk

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! For more information about JDew contact him at jdew@onevoiceshow.com

Thank you, Rebeca Leland, for hosting this time and for all your editing!

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

Reba

acting, backstage, Blog, Blogging, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, directing, family, Fear, theater, theater education

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!

acting, audience, Blog, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, family, hope, planners, planning, theater, writing

Questioning My Purpose

I’m basically a very happy person. I’ll admit though–the last couple of years have been rougher than normal. I used the COVID shut down to sharpen some of my skills and pursue avenues that I normally don’t have time for. In some ways it didn’t work out for  me.

 

In trying to have a voice and encouraging others to “think for themselves”- I was attacked verbally for being in a “conservative bubble.” The person accused me of posting things that “weren’t true for the purpose of inflaming the population”. In the end, she unfriended me. I also had family issues that have not gone away. Why do I say all of that? Because in the midst of struggles you wonder what it is you are supposed to be doing in this world.

I am a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, child of God, teacher, director, actor, author, planner, encourager, motivator, speaker, founder of a non-profit, proud American…. is there more? Maybe. I have always had big dreams.

Do I want more? That is such a difficult question. I am content.

I’ve been able to work in a non-paying job for years and not resent it because I felt so strongly about my purpose and I guess my “why.” (Although I’ve never put it into those words before.)

Why do I exist? Why has God allowed my to have another day on this earth? Am I doing all that He wants me to?

There are times that I feel that I can never be enough. I am swiftly reminded that God doesn’t NEED me, but that if I am willing He can and will USE me.

So, do I want more? YES! Because somehow there is a need in me to KNOW that I am making a difference.

Is that what humanity is all about? Even though we don’t want to be proud or want attention, we still have something inside us that needs to have a little attention. It is an endless cycle.

At times I feel like I came to the party too late. Sometimes I feel that the people that can influence others need to be younger and beautiful. Yet, there is a wisdom that comes from experience and as I live more of life I know that my speech becomes more bold and more confident.

My message? It’s not too late.

I think I always knew what my purpose was. I think I just wasn’t confident to own it.

In this upside down mess of a world we are living in can you say what your purpose is? What keeps you going? Who do you have influence over? Did the last few years make you forget? Make you afraid?

It’s not too late.

My parents used to tell me that for each and every experience I had in life there was someone that could learn from me and my journey. Amazingly enough, the tough experiences have been shared time after time. I can hear the voices of wisdom in my head as I share. The same will be for you. Turn your worse fears, hurts, disappointments and failures into life lessons for all of us. For every fear you face there are 100 of us who can learn from you.

Could that be WHY you faced the things you did? Because one of us might NEED you?

That’s why I write. That’s why I have theater camps. That’s why I started Overshadowed.

I’m sure there is a girl or boy out there that needs to know their voice matters. 

All you have to do is open your mouth and be willing to speak.

What is your why?

I believe in you!

I would love to hear your whys! Please take a moment to like, share and follow!

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

Mom, Dad, Me and my children. Ages ago, but priceless memories