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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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How Planning Gave Me Three Ways to Prepare for Change in My Life.

This past week I had the wonderful experience of spending five days in Southern California for a planner convention.

No, I didn’t say planter. No, it isn’t for event planners.

It was simply for this wonderful society of people who love planners, stickers, markers and….well, PLANNING.

My journey/love for all things planners started about five years ago. Things were growing at Overshadowed and I knew I needed to be better organized and needed to plan further ahead. I made a trip to my local Michael’s and picked up a Happy Planner and promptly fell in love. Since that time, I now have two planners and have been to two “Go Wildfor planners conventions.

You might be thinking I have lost my mind, but let me just give you a sample of what inspired me this time.

Our first speaker was Stephanie Fleming. Have you heard of her? She and her mother started a sticker company called, “Me and My Big Ideas”. They then went on to create Mambi which created,The Happy Planner, in a tiny garage-based business. The products are supposed to inspire customers to live creatively and to plan a happy life. She has written a book, started a podcast, retired, and now has gone back to school.

Yep. You read that correctly. She RETIRED and then went back to school.

She titled her workshop, “Change of Plans“.

Here is how she began:

You are not powerless. Change is inevitable–and it’s important to create a life and an environment that allows us to deal with this change!”

It is a message I really needed to hear. You all know that my past year has been full of change. Change isn’t what caused the pain, but it still has been difficult to get over the change.

When it comes down to it we will always have some sort of change in our lives. Friends move. Jobs end. Parents die. And sometimes the world stops with a pandemic or war.

Change is inevitable. The question is-how do we respond to it?

Stephanie went on to give several points.

  1. Be flexible and resilient. Understand that you are a work in progress. Embrace that fact instead of embracing the art of staying the same.
  2. Expect the unexpected. If we aticipate the curve we will have a plan that will help us face it.
  3. Have a growth mindset. George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

In other words, by preparing (planning) what you will do when change comes, you will handle it better. You will be better equipped to adjust.

What makes us equipped?

Pivoting.

Evolving

Adjusting

Control the controllable and adapt to what you cannot control. Don’t waste your time on trying to change something that you cannot change!

So what happens when there are changes that hurt you to the core?

Reflect on that change with purpose. Write your thoughts out. Journal. Pray. Seek counsel. Reframe the change so that you can find something to show gratitude for. Things that are negative might still be bad and hurtful, but we can REFRAME it in our minds so that we can grow from it instead of hiding in our rooms hoping it will go away.

In closing, she gave a quote by John Maxwell:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

So the question is….How will you respond to CHANGE in your life?

As I reflect on all the speakers I heard last week, I am filled with motivation, determination and strength….all things I needed to refuel with after last year.

Pardon me while I take out my planner and give gratitude for planners and what they continue to teach me.

How do you adapt to change? I’d love to hear about it! Hey, I’d love it if you would sign up to follow this blog!

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

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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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What is the Future for Theater?

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

Debra Schott, Margaret Sahli, and me!

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 vaccinated if 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–

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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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So This Christmas Is a Little Different

#Episode Two in Reba writes fiction.

About a year ago I shared Charity with you. Charity is a character that I wrote (well, almost wrote–I never finished it) a book about. Let me know what you think. (That post is linked here:https://fromthewings.org/2020/12/31/charity-chooses-hope-and-so-do-i/

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.

Dear 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!

I’d love it if you’d follow me, like my post, comment or share!

Until next time–

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Embracing Advent

Over the past several years I have had many friends tell me that they were doing an Advent Bible Study. Sometimes it was a self-guided study that they were tackling on their own. At other times they were reading an additional book or studying with a Bible study group. The point is that it has become quite “popular”.

I don’t usually do the trendy thing. I was years behind joining facebook and instagram and while I have a TikTok, but I really don’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it. I feel like I spend too much of my day seeing what is going on with my friends by checking out those platforms. So, in truth, I resisted the advent study.

Then, 2021 happened. I haven’t lost my faith, but I did lose my hope. I told my friends that I felt like Moses and that the only reason I was surviving was because they were holding up my arms like Aaron held up Moses’ in the wilderness. Thank you, friends.

Then, I saw on facebook that one of the writer’s that I follow was having an advent study. I joined the group and immediately began looking forward to the study.

Listen to what I just said! I began looking forward to it! Honestly, I haven’t looked forward to anything all year.

So, I went a step further. I started my own group as well! We are following the book, “Embracing Advent: Rediscovering Christmas in the Chaos.” I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but I knew I wanted to share this experience with some of my friends–many of them who prayed me through the wilderness.

We began our study on December 1st and we plan to read one chaper of Luke a day until we conclude on December 25 with Luke 25. We will also read one chapter of Jen Ludwig’s book.

I’m on day three and am so glad I did this.

Advent means “coming.” When we do an advent study we are preparing for the coming of this season. It’s more than reading one chapter of Luke a day. It’s spending time reading, praying and waiting.

Waiting. Do we all feel like we have done enough of that for the last two years? I’m pretty sure the children of Israel waited lots more than that for the birth of Christ. We have it so easy these days and waiting isn’t something that we are good at.

Did you know that the word “hope” in the BIble is sometimes translated  “to wait for“? I never thought about the fact that waiting and hoping were so connected. I guess I like things to be taken care of or answered now…right now.

Jen Ludwig says in her book, “In order to actively find hope, hold on to hope, cling to hope and be anchored in hope: we need to be very deliberate in our patient waiting.” Did someone say patient???? UGH.

But listen to this promise:

Isaiah 40:31

But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

As we begin this Advent season, will you wait quietly for what the Lord is teaching?

I’m going to try.

What are you hoping for? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time please comment, share and follow!

From the wings–

acting, bible, christian, christian blog, christian theater, Christmas, communication, Fear, Grief, hope, Prayer, theater

Breath of God

Music ministers to my soul.

This week Jason Roy, lead singer of Building 429, sent out a video explaining why they wrote their new song,   “Breath of God.

He basically said that Christmas is traditionally a time we look forward to–a time that is usually filled with peace and rest. He went on to say that many of us have been touched with a great sorrow this year–a sorrow so deep that it is difficult to think of Christmas in the same way.  He hoped that this song would bring peace and a hope for all of us to cling to.

Well, that truth resonated with me. I went to youtube immediately

.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTppuLj3XPA

I have listened to it several times daily since then. I’m claiming it for a life line this Christmas.

In honesty, I’ve been wondering how December will be. In June, when I got the text that changed my life-my whole world fell apart. I cried in sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. I didn’t know how I could go on, but with the encouragement of my daughter, somehow I got up and put one foot in front of the other. I know the prayers of others worked overtime to help me get to the place I am today. I’m thankful for those of you who prayed–even though you didn’t know what you where praying for. (For all of you now trying to look through past blogs to figure out what happened–I’m afraid I never told. It is too personal. The story is not mine to tell at this point. And yet, it has been what defined me for the past six months.)

And on top of all this, my mother was dying and did eventually pass away.

I knew God was there, but I couldn’t get through the pain to converse with Him. 

You know when you are so close to someone that you can actually feel their breath? You have to be right next to them….nothing in between.  I heard the words to this song and I knew that was what I was lacking. I NEED to have the Breath of God. I need Him to speak peace to me.

Lights, snow, Christmas trees, presents… it’s not enough. We need hope. We need the Holy Spirit.

The song asks God to speak in power to the spirit of fear. It asks God to remind us that He is here. It goes on to say that the stars in the sky remind us that He is faithful and indeed–it does.

Peace.

In the Scripture:  ειρήνη (eiríni): from the verb “to join”, peace, implies prosperity, one, peace, quietness, rest

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Phil, describes this peace:

The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction.”

I love the last part, it will keep us from sinking under our troubles and keep us calm with inward satisfaction.

 God is a God of peace but we do not need to think that He is “resting”. The scripture promises us in Psalms 121:4 that he “will neither slumber nor sleep.”  He is watching and caring for me and my pain and you and yours.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. “

God is our foundation and rock— the opposite of the chaos of trouble. 

How do we get that peace? I think only when our communion with God is so close (we can feel the breath) that it guards against the internal and external threat to that peace.

Thank you, God, for holding me fast. Thank you for your word that doesn’t return void. Thank you for coming to save us. Please speak in power and bring those who have forgotten you to know you fully. Speak peace to my heart. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for music. Thank you for musicians who can be used to speak truth.

What do you think of this song? Is there a song you are claiming for this season? 

I’d love to hear what you think!

From the wings–

Reba

Caught by one of our cast members (Nancy Moreno) while we were experimenting with the new fog machine. God’s perfect reminder that He is with us and near me all the time. Breath of God.
bible, christian, christian blog, family, Fear, Grief, hope, planning, Prayer, theater

The Lord is My Shepherd

I’m really not quite sure where to begin with this story. In this year of never ending painful happenings my mother has now peacefully entered heaven.

Christmas 2020

I tell this story in case it will help those of you who might go through something similar. I honestly cannot believe I was so naive about preparing for death or long term care but I was. In March, I received a call that my mom’s kidney failure had reached a point that if she didn’t agree to do dialysis she would need to go on hospice. They told me that maximum she would have two months to live. I really couldn’t believe it because at Christmas, mom had still seemed so strong, but I trusted the medical diagnosis.

Scott Mayer praying with my mom

I went to S.C. and tried to talk Mom into doing dialysis and even tried to tell her that she could change her mind if she didn’t like it, but she was convinced that this was going to be the way her story ended and that she was ok with it. She continued to do amazingly well making me think that the decision for hospice was rash and that there was still time to do dialysis. Every week hospice would call and report that there was no change in her numbers. Somewhere during that time my mom’s right arm started to jerk uncontrollably. It caused her embarrassment, and a great deal of unrest. She simply could not get peace or rest. The hospice staff told us it was a build up of toxins in her body because her kidneys weren’t flushing everything out.

We visited and talked and she always sounded happy and seemed to do well except for the jerking of the arm.

Then, I got a call from the manager of the independent living facility that mom was living at saying that she really wasn’t doing well and needed more help. I called mom and she sounded the best she had in months and I thought, “Ok. I’ll go visit this weekend. Maybe it isn’t an emergency.” Several hours later the manager called me again and told me that mom had fallen.

I made arrangements to get there as soon as possible, but in the meantime, my daughter, a friend, and actually the manager (who seriously is a hero in this story) went to visit her and face timed with me. Mom looked terrible. They couldn’t decide if she had a stroke or not and told me I had to put her in hospice in the hospital and that she had less than a week to live.

I was frantic and couldn’t decide if that was what was right. Mom never wanted to die in a hospital! What should I do? I called back hours later and they told me that she was doing better–in no immediate risk of dying and when could I come get her…..what???? How does a story change that quickly? I mean, great! She is doing better, but….the emotions running through me were pretty wild.

I realize between what the manager had said to me the day she fell and now what has transpired at the hospital that she will no longer be able to stay by herself. What are the options?

I had always thought that assisted living was the step after independant living. When I had originally looked for places for mom–all the assisted living places had nurses at the end of the hall. So I thought that instead of a nursing home this was the next step.

Well, I was wrong. You have to be able to still do many things for yourself before they will take you. For example, feed yourself, dress yourself, help get yourself to the bathroom etc. In short, if someone had taken the time to explain all of this to me months before, she should have been in assisted living instead of hospice. Seriously, no one would take her. (I guess once they let you in they will care for you, but they won’t take you if you can’t do certain things.)

One day I talked to someone early in the morning who said as long as she could feed herself they would take her. I was very honest with what my mom could do or not do and begged her to please not waste my time so I could move on to someone else if they wouldn’t take her. They told me they would come evaluate her at 10 the next morning. At 3:30 the nurse walked in and I could tell by the look on her face that they would say no. I explained what I had been told and she just shook her head. They didn’t officially call me until 6:30 that night to tell me no. I really unleashed. I was angry that they told me one thing, but it wasn’t true and that I was missing spending valuable time with my mom having to navigate a system that had rules no one tells you about. She mentioned another place that might take mom. She said she had a friend over there. I told her if she wanted to redeem herself in my eyes she would call that friend and find out if I would be wasting my time to visit. She promised she would.

Here were my options they way I saw it.

1) Move my mom to Chicago. I was worried about how she would make the trip. Would it be too hard for her? Then, how would she react to it? The reason she didn’t live here already is that she refused to go that far north. Hiring an ambulance to bring her up here was astronomical.

2. I move down to S.C. to stay with her indefinitely. That was a hard choice, but the one I was leaning towards. I knew I would have to probably shut down Overshadowed and at this point the doctors are telling us it could be months.

3. My aunt said she wanted to take her into her home. I thought about it and might have considered it more, but I just thought I should be the one to take care of her and have that time.

4. Hire full-time care. Thinking about it–but found out that it would be about 16k a month. I wondered if I could arrange people to help me and pay them in shifts to make it more doable.

5. Nursing Home. 9k a month. and I just felt like mom wouldn’t say it, but that she would really resent me doing that. It would have broken my heart.

I really had a melt-down while I was thinking this through. I got so much great advice from many great friends, but it was so difficult. One friend said, “God will show you the next step and you will get clarity.
I wrestled with God all night.

The next morning I asked the representative from the company that had “led me on”if she had contacted her friend and if they thought it was still worth it for me to visit. She replied “Yes, Go ahead.”

When I walked in full of hope I started with the fact that I was sure Brooke had contacted her and told her about my mom. She looked at me quizzically and said, “No?”

At this time I felt like I needed to hit something. The representative from the current company said, “Let’s talk. Tell me everything from the begining. ” Somewhere in my rant she stopped me and asked me why the case worker at the hospital had not listed my mom on the NIV list.

My mouth dropped open in stupidity as I asked what she was talking about. She asked me why my mom wasn’t doing rehab and said that it was standard for people to go through rehab after a hospital visit. Rehab then gets them strong enough so that they can go to the coveted assisted living. She told me medicare would pay for 20 days which would give me time to either pack and go live in S.C. or make arrangements to bring my mom up here. She told me to get my case worker on the phone. At that point she talked my case worker through putting my mom on the list and at the end of the call I had 7 offers of people who would take my mom! Seven. After days of begging people to take mom–now people were asking me to take her. This saint of a women wasn’t done. She gave me the name of a facility that she would send her mom to if necessary and told me to head over there before I did anything else.

After spending time at the rehab center they told me that my next job was to get my mom evaluated by a therapist and according to what that therapist said they would take my mom. They had a case of COVID so they told me to go home and come back to see my mom in ten days.

I went back to the hospital where the therapist got my mom to stand and take a step. Finally, she got to get out of bed. They had been telling her she couldn’t for almost a week at that point! I noticed that her arm was completely at rest. I asked the Doctor about it and he said perhaps a medicine had been causing the twitching. What????? (They had taken her off all her medicines because basically they were just waiting for her to die.)

I honestly felt the clarity that I was doing the right thing. I told my mom that my daughter was going to be there in the next day or so. I told her they were going to move her to rehab the next day and that I would be back the following week.

She looked at me and said, “I love you, sug. (Short for sugar) Be safe.”

The hospital called me in the middle of the night to tell me that she had passed away.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd.

I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Am I angry about several things that happened in my mom’s final days? Yes, but I read this passage and see my mom walking with Jesus, her shepherd. He is leading her beside green fields and flowing water. She is not afraid. God had prepared a table for her and she is forever with Him.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and your answer for where my mom was going to live and who was going to take care of her. Give her a big hug from me.

For those of you who might be in my shoes one day. Don’t trust that everyone has your best interests at heart. Find out now what each of these medical branches does in your area and plan how it is going to get paid for. If it isn’t too late I understand that there is a long term health care policy that is available.

In memory of Rachel W. Ruffin. Beloved mom and sister and Grandmother.

I’d love to have you follow and share my blog.

This is just me–talking to you-from the wings….

bible, christian, christian blog, communication, family, Fear, Grief, hope, Prayer, theater

In the Face of Grief

I have a distinct memory from when I was younger of my parents and grandparents reading the paper every morning. One of the most important sections to them was the Obituaries. It struck me as so odd to think that the obituary section was so important to them. I have thought about it fleetingly over the years always thinking that I would know I had truly reached old age when that section of the paper reached such importance.

The fact is, the older you are, the more people you know. As you grow older the likelihood that someone you know will have died the day before is huge because people leave us. It is an inevitability that we cannot escape.

It has been a difficult year and a half. We have had several really close friends battle cancer. We have seen people with Covid not recover. We have had several people die unexpectedly and others whose bodies just wore out. We have seen friends battle depression and disappointment that is crushing. In fact, we have seen people grieve. It is so hard to say good-bye. It is difficult to know what to say to those who mourn no matter what they are mourning. Most of the time it isn’t enough, because how can it be? Words don’t replace people and we all grieve and expect things from others so differently.

All I know is that the absence of others leaves holes in our lives.

Here is what I think I have learned:

  1.  Reach out to one of your friends every day. Sure, you have those friends that you speak to every week and sometimes more often, but make sure you have a contact list of people you reach out to every month and find someone that you haven’t checked in on to send a card, call, or text. In our world of social media we really have no excuse not to drop a note and find out how a long lost friend might be doing. I must admit, I’m really terrible at this. I am not a person that naturally is aggressive at friendship. I surround myself with people who call me and ask me to do things instead of the other way around. So, if you feel rejected by me chances are I’m feeling the same rejection by you. (yeah, I know. I don’t seem like that person–I promise you–it’s the me nobody knows) I’m not good at knowing what to say to you in your pain. Don’t be like me, reach out anyway. Even if you call and just leave a message. The thought matters. The simple presence of people can help a grieving person carry the pain of loneliness.
  2. Depending on how much the person that died was in your life  and how many plans for the future you had with them depends on the deep pain you will experience. You may not feel the same pain that each friend feels, but if you have even lost someone you know the same pain. Use your past experience to know how to reach out and comfort. What did you need?
  3. There is no moving on there is just moving forward. That’s okay. Your loved one will not be forgotten. And it’s okay to still feel grief years after death.
  4. Prayer works. I have no way to explain it. But I know that the prayer of other Christians has carried me through several times in my life. The Holy Spirit gives a peace that truly passes all understanding. It is unfathomable that I was able to function while my heart was breaking, but somehow God carried me through. Sometimes it is two steps forward and one back or maybe even two steps backwards with no forward movement at all. Here is the blessing…God isn’t any less present when I’m taking backwards steps than He is when I’m moving forward! Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
  5. Allow yourself to feel pain. There is healing in verbally processing your grief. There is relief in being able to cry. Don’t be ashamed of it or don’t try to hold it in. Take a walk and spend time talking to God. Call your friends and tell them you need them. Journal.  Psalms 32, “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up: all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said,’ I’ll come clean  about my failures to God.’ Suddenly the pressure was gone–my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway.”
  6. Share in their grief. I learned this year that a very good friend of mine never got a card I had sent. That only added to her grief as she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t have reached out. Your words matter. Carry the burden with them.  Share any good words of true  compassion that you can.
  7. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39, NIV Paul penned these words to the Christians in Rome encouraging us that although we will face trials and loneliness, we are not alone.

**In loving memory of Don Opperthauser  who passed into God’s presence on  August 24, 2021. “No more pain when we get to heaven.” I will never forget his faithfulness, musical abilities or his love for his family. Although I haven’t seen him in years his memory will live in my heart and in the hearts of many who knew him.

Are you lonely or grieving today? I’d love to talk to you. Drop me a note and let me know how I can pray for you. As always, please share your thoughts with me or share this blog with others.

Until next time.

My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery. We all still grieve.