Recently a friend of mine updated her blog and started it with something like this, “I’m writing in my blog…is that even a thing anymore?”
I will admit, I’m slow to follow the crowd. I waited until people didn’t really read blogs anymore to start mine. I waited until the craze of YouTube died down to start my own channel…you name it…I probably waited too long.
In thinking about my weaknesses—I think I wait too long to stand up and speak out as well. I don’t like being attacked…I don’t like arguing (I’m bad at it..I could never be a debater because I don’t make my arguments well.) I don’t have confidence in the way I read the facts, so I hang back until I think I understand them. So I keep quiet.
How many of you are like me? We just want to get along. We want to show the love of God, even now, as we see the attack on Christianity growing stronger and the number of Christians speaking against the evils of the world growing smaller.
The power of evil. The power of hate.
Here is the truth: If we don’t stand up for ourselves no one will.
You might not agree with every Christian with every stance they make, but I hope you will applaud their right to do so.
Watch our video below…it is sad to see how many hate comments have followed Chad as he took this stand. What do you think?
Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings,
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.
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!
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–
I’ll never forget the first speech tournament I competed in. I was a Jr. and scared out of my mind. I wasn’t exactly a novice when it came to competing because our school required all speech majors to be involved in the commencement contest each year. I don’t remember ever putting my whole heart into it. I was never really recognized in the speech department as being much of a talent, so couple my insecurity with that and I felt the full weight of imposter syndrome.
Looking back, I just don’t think I worked hard enough. I certainly didn’t walk up with confidence and I’m sure my insecurities hurt me when I competed.
After graduation, I taught Jr High and then High School Speech. Our school began to enter the Fine Arts Competitions and I began to encourage my students to enter and compete.
I don’t think I really understood the art of competing though until I worked under Randy Thaxton (who was in charge of the Bible Quiz team). I also began to learn from what Donna Reed (English and Speech Teacher) did to train each of her competitors. If I didn’t hold those secrets so close to my heart I could write a book! They taught me through their thoroughness, preparedness and spirit of excellence.
I used to tell my speech students that they had no idea how lucky they were to come from a school that had three speech teachers and people that wanted to invest in them. I’m so glad my own children had the chance to learn from both of them.
As I began to realize how important my role was in preparing the students to compete, I learned that my job was more important than just preparing them “to win”. It was a ministry and I LOVED working with each student. I have such great memories from humorous speech and reader’s theater performances and my favorite, duet acting.
Not every person that enters a competition can win. There is always a loser.
Are you a failure if you lose?
Babe Ruth once said, “Never let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.”
I have learned so many life lessons from being involved with competitions. I really miss the times I watched my own children compete and I loved watching them win. The losing wasn’t as fun, but the determination that came after that was inspiring.
Ah! “The Thrill of Victory the agony of defeat.” There is nothing like it.
I hope you’ll watch the video below for the five benefits of competing! And then? Go find something to compete in!
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 brave – both 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 WonderfulLife” 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?
It seems like a decade ago when the costumers and I were working away on the costume inventory at Overshadowed Theatrical Productions. Debra Schott (our engineer, researching
costumer) looked at me and said, “I fear this COVID is going to wreck our economy and when it is all said and done hundreds of thousands of people will die.”
In my innocence, I laughed and said, “We have modern medicine–we are going to do what everyone tells us to do and it will be over in a couple of months.” She looked at me and said, “I don’t know. It could be a couple of years.” I laughed again. Literally, I thought she was a prophet of doom. She couldn’t possibly be right. We were at a high point coming off of our most successful theater season ever. After 16 years of hard work it was exciting. I couldn’t imagine that it would all be over.
Here we are, years later. In Chicago, they are mandating that you must be vaccinatedif you are 5 years old or older to attend the theater or other inside activities. Of course, you still must wear a mask. You cannot take it off even to eat or drink.
The mandates aren’t the same in DuPage County. Yet, in my theater, I simply cannot make people happy. DuPage county requires masks if you are inside. So, we require masks inside. I constantly get letters asking me why I am not stressing it more? In my defense, it is on my website. I announce it on stage and I have ushers to remind people. Yet, I get letters from people asking me to please talk to the people who don’t have them on and “police” them.
Then, I have the letters from people that say that will not attend if we ask them to wear a mask.
I know, “you can’t please all the people all the time.”
So, what is a girl to do for the future of theater?
I know the restrictions of other countries. I know what happened in New York. I have friends that have died from Covid and I have others who have had a case of Covid that really wasn’t that bad and they recovered just fine.
I understand both sides.
But now what?
What is the future for theater? Will this be the new normal? If we sit in areas that are close together will we ever feel safe?
Honestly, maybe my rambling thoughts are more about my frustration that we simply are not able to respect each other any longer. Is there even a middle ground that we could meet? Part of the problem seems to me that we have redefined truth. The news, reports what it wants to report, with the slant towards what they want us to take away or feel from the report. To be honest, it reminds me of the Bible verse, “And every man did what was right in their own eyes.” That should frighten us all to the very core of our souls. None of us are capable of living in a land where sinful man without truth sets the standards.
Jesus said, “What is truth?”
Seems to me I remember a day in school when reporters were held to a higher standard. We were taught against propaganda, even citing examples of communism and how we didn’t want to fall into that.
Where did truth go? Where did love for my neighbor go? If those things came back would we be able to meet in a middle ground of respect?
Or do we need to be much more aggressive-defending our freedoms?
It is so much to think about.
Sometimes I just want to “do theater.” Make people laugh. Educate. Make the audience feel something that makes a difference in their lives.
I cannot imagine a world without theater. Theater has always made a difference in my life. Somehow, I’m going to keep navigating in a world that is constantly changing and remind myself of one thing: “Faithful is He who calleth you who will also do it.”
“God, lead my steps. Help me do what YOU want me to do. Keep the audiences safe at Overshadowed. Help us to continue to tell YOUR story the way you want us to do. One more thing, help us to realize that how we respond to each other is important too…both to the believer and unbeliever.”
Verses to ponder:
Isaiah 35:4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
If this resonates with you at all, please like, share and subscribe!
Until next time, this is just me talking to you from the wings–
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.
Charity took another look around the empty room. It was void of decorations and furniture except for the cherished radio/CD player and one table and chair. She walked over and clicked the radio on. The static was loud, but temporary as she inserted a CD into the well-loved player.
The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” immediately filled the air.
Charity walked over to the window and peered at the pavement below. “Nothing white on the ground here.” She smiled. That was okay with her. She wasn’t fond of snow or cold and neither was her mother.
This was going to be her first Christmas without her mother. It filled her with an emotion that she wasn’t ready for. It had been months. Why did she still wake up every morning wishing she could call her mom? Mom always made everything all right.
She walked back over to the last box. Once she went through this box she would clean the apartment for the last time and turn the keys over to the manager.
“Over. I just don’t want it to be over.”
Bing stopped singing and Perry Como began singing,”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” She couldn’t stop the tears that began to slide down her cheeks. Home? Where exactly was home?
She lifted the lid on the box. What was this? Letters. All unopened. She grabbed a few of them and thumbed through them. Some were addressed to her, some to her Grandmother, some to Dad and a few to God.
She decided to take the top one and open it. It was addressed to “Unknown”.
As she read aloud, the music vanished and she could picture her mom in earlier Christmas’. She was sitting by the Christmas tree at Grandmother’s house. Her sister’s were young and beautiful as they all laughed and told stories together. Dad was close by looking lovingly at her.
She shook away the memory and opened the letter.
“To whom it may concern. I’m not sure how long I will live or who will find these letters. Please don’t share them with anyone. You may read them and think what you will, but I never gave them to the people I wrote them to for a reason and I’d ask that you keep them to yourself as well. You may ask why I wrote them instead of talking it out? Writing is permanant. When you talk, sometimes you forget exactly what was said. I want to always remember. Now you say, but the letters are sealed! Yes, they are. That is a mystery you must discover for yourself, if you choose to. Happy Reading”
Charity stood. Why were the letters only written to the four of them? Her mother must have known that Charity would be the one to find the letters, why didn’t she just leave a note to her?
Charity was instantly filled with fear and excitement and worry all combined into one new emotion.
She closed her eyes, reached into the box and randomly pulled out a letter.
It was dated December, 1956.
“The year I was born!” The letter wasn’t addressed to her, or her mom or her dad. It was addressed to God.
I am a mother. Finally! All I can think of this Christmas is Mary. The girl you chose to be the mother of your son. I picture her holding Jesus. What must she have been thinking? ‘He’s perfect! How can this little one be a Savior to the world? How can I be the earthly mother to someone who knows all and sees all?’ I have such doubts about my ability to be a mother. Will Charity and I be close? Will my own mother be satisfied in what she sees in me? So, I’m writing you my deepest and darkest fears. I know that you know what is in my heart, but I feel that somehow if I write it here then I can leave it here. Safe with you. Help me to be more like Mary-more like Jesus.”
In an instant Charity knew that this box was a special gift. Just like Mary had pondered things in her heart-Charity’s mom had as well. She reached into the box again. “Thank you, God, for this special gift from the past that is for the future. Thank you, also, for Jesus and Mary and…my mom.”
She looked over at the box. What other secrets did it hold?
**Before you ask, this is NOT a TRUE story. I’m not sure why God puts stories on my heart, but I really enjoyed where this one took me. Let me know if you want to hear more about Charity!
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