artistic vision, christian, communication, family, Fear, hope, theater, writing

Nine Things You Should Know About the Story of Noah

Eleven years ago I wrote a play that for some reason became one of the most special experiences our cast and crew had ever had. The theater space was not big. We had no animals. The set was made out of styrofoam instead of wood and we had absolutely no minutes with a completed stage before we opened the doors for the audience. When you are an all volunteer army you take the time people can give you whenever they have it to give you.  And, well, God knows and somehow it always gets done.

When I decided that it was time to repeat this wonderful story I had no idea that the world as we know it would stop and that the cast and crew would learn some of the same lessons that we imagine the original inhabitants of the ark might have felt. Why, Lord? How long, Lord? And a few others. But we understand that God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect.

It is always difficult to write a story that is taken from a Biblical story. I always want to be careful to note that some of this story is out of my imagination. The Bible doesn’t give us detail of what those eight passengers felt or thought while they were floating all those days. However, in reminding ourselves that these were REAL people I like to ask my audience to consider things that  they might not have ever thought about. Consider, for example…did they fight? Were they thankful? Did they complain like the children wandering in the desert?  And as an audience….how does that change our walk with God?

Here are nine things that impacted me in writing this play:

1. The story of Noah is told in a form of parallelism. It is interesting to note that as the story prepares us for the flood it unfolds in such a way that as the waters unfold it parallels  the beginning. For example,  we learn of Noah and his sons. We are told that the ark needs to be built and the flood will happen. There is a covenant made with Noah. The food is loaded into the ark and the command is given to enter the ark. There are seven days waiting for the flood. They enter. God shuts the door. 40 days of raining. The mountains are covered. The waters remain for 150 days.

Then, (I love this thought) The Lord remembers Noah.

Now, this is what I mean about how the account is parallel. Look how the next part unfolds. The story reverses.

The waters recede for 150 days. The mountain tops become visible. They wait 40 days. Noah opens the window of the ark. Raven and Dove leave the ark. They wait seven days for the water to recede. There is a command to leave the ark. God gives instruction about the food outside of the ark. God makes a covenant with all flesh. God promises He will not destroy the world with a flood in the future. And they leave the ark: Noah and his three sons.

I am not enough of a Biblical scholar to know the significance of that, but I do appreciate the beauty of it.

2.  The size of the ark (if we consider  that there is  18 inches to a cubit), the total cubic volume of Noah’s ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 – 5 sq ft per animal), it’s estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals. Wow. Just wow!

3. It is interesting to note that ancient records note that sailors would use doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. It is said that a raven will fly directly toward land, so they could follow the raven as a guide. Doves are not able to fly as long so they were used to determine location of land. If the dove returned it would mean that land was not close.

4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. (There is a little debate about the exact  number of days, because of lunar years, but this is the number most scholars agree upon.)

5. Noah’s first recorded act after leaving the ark was to build an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20). Imagine what the world would be like if our first response to difficulties would be to honor God with sacrifices and praise?

6. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.

7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japheth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening. Again, another example. God talks….I should listen….totally not enough listening going on in the world today!

8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (Father of Enoch) (962)). We all are aware that Methuselah was the oldest, but I had really never stopped to consider that Noah was only 19 years short of achieving the same record!

9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4, Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14; 20, Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 3:36, 17:26-27,Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5).

Noah has a place of honor in the faith chapter.  Consider God’s servant: Noah.

What are other things you have learned when considering Noah? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Here is a little taste of our production.

 

January-March 2021
christian fiction, family, Fear, hope, theater, writing

Charity Chooses Hope and So Do I

Charity opened her diary for what she expected to be one last time in 2020.
She looked at the blank pages. One after another for the last month the pages were blank.
She closed the diary.
Standing up, she crossed to her dresser and picked up the newspaper.

“Another “166 people Dead as the Pandemic Continues to Reign.”

One solitary tear escaped the corner of her eye and made it’s way down her cheek.

So much loss. So much pain. So much devastation.

“Yep 2020. You didn’t bring any of the things we had looked forward to. New Year’s Day can’t come soon enough.”

Even with that thought came the next negative one right on top of it.

“How is the change of a date going to make any difference on our future?”

Then, for the first time in a long time she heard a voice of hope deep inside her.

“Because with the change of a date comes hope of something new.”

“Where did the tradition of writing New Year’s Resolutions come from anyway?” she continued to think, “Resolve…a commitment to continue a good practice or change a behavior or do something to improve my life.”

Charity crossed back to her diary. She flipped pass the last month of blank pages and stared at the last page. She picked up her pen and wrote largely……HOPE.

Maybe the problem wasn’t so much the disease, although it was a tragedy. Perhaps the problem was in her own attitude.

“Today I am responsible for one thing…how I look at the events of my life. I can choose to find the positive. I can choose to look at the events in the world realizing that none of this is a surprise to God and humbly give Him this day of my life…. or I can wallow in what I have lost and blame Him.”

RESOLVE

She paused for a moment and almost laughed out loud. “Why did it take me so long to remember, Lord? Every breath I have is only because it comes from You. If the sun shines or rain and snow comes it is only because of You. You, Creator, Healer, Sustainer, Maker, Artist, Savior.”

Charity closed the diary and stood up straighter. “I don’t have to wait until Midnight to start. I’m going to cling to Hope right now and through each day of the new year. Hope that we will gain control of the virus. Hope that our nation can be healed from the unrest and ugliness that has held us captive. Hope that I can make a difference.”

How are you going to look at 2021?

Thank you, God, for another year that you have given us. May we all sing Your praises with anticipation of another year to serve You.

Happy New Year.

I’d love to hear what words you have chosen to represent your 2021!

Until next time!

P.S.  Charity is a character from a book I started years ago….Should I ever finish it?? What should happen to Charity….

christian, communication, family, Fear, thanksgiving, theater

Thanksgiving–A Time of Hope?

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”- H.U. Westermayer

Thanksgiving

1) An expression of gratitude. Especially to God.

2) In North America an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are all surrounded by family. Big meals. Lots of laughter. Lots of dishes to wash. As a child my younger cousins and I had to do the dishes. I hated it then, but would love to be back and spend a moment with all of them now.

My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I went to college. My freshman year was extremely difficult for me anyway, and being away from my family just made me more lonely. Remember, times were different then. We had to wait in line to be able to use the phone and I had to save my quarters to be able to call home. Even five minutes on the phone was priceless.

I’ll never forget that weekend. At the college I went to-Thanksgiving was more about the prospective students that visited on that weekend. We still had classes on Fridays so that the guests could get a true picture of what the school was about. Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal. We had a big meal that was so good in later years my parents would come down to visit just to eat there. There was always a big soccer game between rival societies. It was called The Turkey Bowl. The stands would be packed and many alumni would come from all around to watch this game. In fact, for many years after we graduated it became a tradition for us to spend Thanksgiving at that school. Wonderful traditions and memories that I am able to treasure. Unfortunately, this year just isn’t going to look like either of those scenarios.

I, you, still have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a rough year. Yes. But our freedoms and joys are still too numerous to count. Let’s start at the first Thanksgiving.

Do you remember your history lessons?

In September of 1620, about 100 people left England on the Mayflower, most of them in search of religious freedom in the New World. After two months the ship landed in what is currently called Massachusetts. In December, a scouting party landed at Plymouth. We now call these people, Pilgrims.

The journey was not smooth sailing and they were plagued with storms. The trouble wasn’t only on the water, but also on board as quarrels and disagreements began before the passengers disembarked. The Pilgrims knew that they needed to do something before each person would be on their own so they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact.

During the first winter the new colonists would live on the Mayflower as they built their new homes on shore.

MORE THAN HALF THE SETTLERS DIED DURING THAT WINTER.

Life in this new world was difficult. The winter was harsh and they didn’t have the means to eat properly.

Thankfully, Squanto, a Native American, befriended the settlers. He and his Pawtuxet tribe taught them how to plant corn and fish and hunt.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims shared a harvest meal with this tribe. We consider this the First Thanksgiving.

I would love to think of that celebration innocently, but I’m sure it wasn’t the picturesque painting that we see. Perhaps we can learn from the past and apply the lessons to our present and future.

1) Thanksgiving. A time of hope. The Pilgrims left England in search of a new beginning. They experienced sickness, starvation and death, but by listening to the Native Americans they were taught how to survive. God sent help.

There is a letter written by Edward Winslow that says, “God be Praised.”

2) Praise God. We should be practicing this habit daily, but especially at Thanksgiving we should stop and give praise to our Almighty Father. Yes, life isn’t always pleasant. We don’t always receive what we want. There may be times of “starvation.” Our faith should rest in the fact that our God is still on the throne. None of this is a surprise to Him. And He loves you and cares for you more than you can ever know. I keep repeating this, but if the hairs on your head are numbered how can he not be caring for you? I mean, that fact alone means He is taking care of me constantly!

3) Stop making enemies out of people who are different than you. Just like the settlers and the Pawtuxet tribe, don’t be afraid of them. Instead, embrace them and learn what we can from each other. The same holds true for believers. I find that we fight against each other more than learn from each other. In fact, the devil doesn’t have to work very hard to destroy us…we do that quite well on our own.

4) Tomorrow is a new day. There is an old song, “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” God promises, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” God gave the people in the wilderness the manna they needed for that day. Cling to those promises today and know that tomorrow is coming.

I don’t know how you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Chances are many of you altered your plans or maybe canceled them all together. You might feel bitterness or depression or emotions we aren’t used to feeling on a day set apart to give thanks. As we look back at our year there has been death, poverty, disagreements, loss, grief. At first thought you might think…what is there to be thankful for?

My friend, so much.

Can you add to my list?

1. Freedom

2. America

3. A God who loves and provides a way of salvation

4. Friends and family

5. Forgiveness

6. Books and history

7. and so much more.

What are the things you are thankful for?

I can’t wait to hear about your Thanksgiving! Until next time! This is just me–talking to you–from the wings.
Fear, theater

Five Ways to Change How You Approach Fear

I have lived most of my life in fear.

Not paralyzing fear, but crippling. Crippling in the sense that my decisions and/or actions were always surrounded by “fears.”

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of not being liked.
Fear of never being loved.
Fear of messing up.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of failure.
Fear of not saying the right thing.
Fear of saying the right thing the wrong way.
And the list goes on.

I think that is why worry was such a problem for me. I worried because I was afraid.

My parents tried to solve my problems by pouring Bible verses about worry into my life. They would paste verses about worry on signs and motivational sayings around my room and on my mirrors to encourage me that worry was wrong, in fact, they would say, “Worry is a sin. Don’t do it.”

Well, that’s easier said than done isn’t it?

Today, I saw this saying on someone’s instagram post. “A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.” by Gina Carey.

It stopped me in my tracks. Today, I feel the power of that statement. Over the past fews weeks I have attacked challenges and struggles in ways that I never did in the past. And, I feel like winking at them.

Why? Why now in all my years have I suddenly felt empowered to say what I think and stand up without worry that I was going to mess situations up?

Fear is very real. It comes from an inner voice in our heads that cause us anxiety.

How do we lose fear?

1. The truth is there is one factor in overcoming fear. It’s you. We play the inner doubts in our minds and let the anxiety take over. Instead, play this. “I matter. My thoughts. My instincts. My desires. I am as important as everyone in this room.” Think about others and not so much about yourself. Just those two little mind shifts will help.

2. Work on the areas in your life that could use improvement. Ouch! I don’t like to think about my weaknesses. Face it. We all have them. I remember a specific time in my life that my teacher came and stood by my desk and said, “Something smells in here. Does everyone smell it?” She looked at me and walked on. Scarring? Yes. Inappropriate? Yes. As I grew up though, I learned to take circumstances like that and make sure I learned from them. I grew from the criticisms instead of letting the criticisms cripple me. I tried harder. Prepared more. Researched and became competitive. It is also important to know you have limits and respect them. You will never please all the people all of the time. That’s ok.

You reject yourself when you know you have more to deliever and don’t do it.

3. Understand why you are afraid. Analyzing the why will help you know if the fear has validity or if just rethinking your inner thoughts can help you overcome your fears and build your confidence.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead of looking at the best in others and telling yourself you don’t measure up– look at others and how they can inspire you to achieve the results you want.
Again, the focus shift will measure your success. Focus on the good in others and how it can help you!

5. Write down the things about yourself you are grateful for. Next, write down the things others have done for you that help you to be the person you want to be. In moments of self-doubt you can come back to this list and focus on the positive instead of the negative.

Will these tips change you overnight? No. Total freedom from worry and fear might not ever happen. But…what if? Perhaps with one baby step you could begin to experience a freedom to escape from self-doubt and enjoy a whole new world of activities? What a life it would be!

You are enough. I can see you now…winking at the day and enjoying whatever it brings!

I would love to hear if you experience fear and worry and how you have overcome it!

Until next time–this is just me–talking to you–From the Wings.