More recently, I started thinking about this quote again, but I started to focus on the idea of when my path crossed with my friends. I have been blessed to have friends from so many different places and from different events in my life. Many of those circumstances I believe were orchestrated by God to bring these people into my life. As I thought about the ways in which I have met my friends, it dawned on me that there are several friends that I met under slightly strange and even humorous circumstances. So I thought I would share ten of these unique ways I made a friend. (Note: I am only listing these friends’ first names for the sake of privacy)
Brittany – “I Knew It Was You and I Cheered For You!”
That story makes me smile, because I love it when God brings people into your life that already know how you are before you meet them to help you along your way. For this reason, I am so grateful for Brittany.
Dani - A Unique Birthday Surprise
Toby – In the Pool On Choir Tour
Miri – “I’m Your New Roommate. I Think You Know My Boyfriend”
Terry – “Do You Like Lord of the Rings?”
Terry is one of the few people that I would dare to say loves Middle-earth more than I do. He is so well-researched on the subject and we had many intelligent conversations about it over the years. Of course we talked about other things too, but this was unique because I had the chance to create a friendship with one of my professors (outside the music dept.) before I was in college. When I finally got to Ozark, Terry and I were already great friends. I eventually came to be his student assistant and graded papers for him, and I would usually come up to his office to visit with him about once every other week. For one of his birthdays, I decorated his office with a Lord of the Rings theme as a surprise. It just seems funny in hindsight that we became friends because of Lord of the Rings. I am so grateful for Terry and our long-lasting friendship.
Taylor – “I Didn’t Know Your Last Name!”
Taylor (a girl Taylor, just to clarify) and I met because our moms were a part of the local MOPS program together. We were good friends in junior high and high school. But what was funny is that we met after our siblings had met, my little sister and her little brother. She knew about me prior to meeting me in person, but not long after she meant, she told me that she didn’t know my last name, because her little brother referred to my little sister with their last name! We both cracked up about it, but it was definitely a funny way to be introduced to a friend. I am so grateful for Taylor’s friendship.
High School Friends – “Would You Like To Share A Snack?”
It sometimes hard to remember what my life was like before I went to Kankakee Trinity Academy for junior high. I had been homeschooled for several years, but my parents decided that my sisters and I needed more structure to our education. I remember making a visit to KTA the spring before we enrolled. Since I was going into 7th grade in fall, I got to spend the morning with the 6th grade class so I could meet students in my grade, and then I spent the afternoon in the junior high class to see the teacher. Now I don’t remember a whole ton of details about this visit. I mostly read a book while they were going over their lessons and working. But for some reason, I remember that they had a morning snack time when they got to pick one thing out of their lunches. I was unprepared, but I remember a few of the kids offered me a little of their snacks, one of which was those pudding bites that were popular at the time.
I think back to remember that there four people in the class that day that stayed at KTA until we graduated, and the first memory I had of them was the simple act of kindness of offering me part of their snack. I don’t remember if Laura, Laura (yes, there were two), Ari, and Ray all offered me something, but it’s funny to think that was the moment that started it all. We all got pretty close in our high school years, along with the others that joined our class, and I am still blessed to remember all the good times we had at KTA. I am so thankful for all of them.
Daniel – “Can I Color With You?”
I laugh when I think about it or look at the picture. It’s one of my favorite stories about making a friend to retell because it was so funny! I am so grateful to have Daniel as a friend.
Angela & Kendra – Disney Princesses
These friends are actually unknown to each other, but I call them both my Disney twins! The reasons why I am listing them together is because the circumstances under which I befriended both these ladies was very similar, and had to do with Disney Princesses.
It just funny to me how something that is meant to bring joy to children can bring joy to adults as well, and actually bring people of common interest together. For this reason, I am so grateful for both Kendra and Angela.
Brandon – “Can You Help Me With My Makeup?”
As the week progressed, I remember I was having problems with my feet, and he encouraged me to sit down while I was helping him. We had just gotten instructions from our director to use the lipstick color on his cheeks instead of the blush because it was the best for his skin tone. I remember testing it on his face, seeing that it looked OK, and then preceding to put more on him while saying, “This is kind of weird. I’ve never put lipstick on someone’s cheeks before.” We both started cracking up! But I remember that after we finished laughing, he said, “I’m glad I could make you laugh during this time,” remembering that my feet were in some pain. Again, at the time I thought it was strange, but now I realize how sweet it was that he was that considerate of how I was feeling.
Part of the reason this story is special to me is because Brandon passed away a little over a year later. I didn't have the chance to get super close to him, but the short time we were friends made a big impact on my life that I did not realize until after his death. Even though he is gone, I am still so grateful to have called him my friend. To read more about Brandon’s story, click here.
Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading these stories as I did recall these memories of how some of my most special friendships began. I want to encourage you to remember that you never know when or how God will cross your path with someone he wants you to befriend. You never know how God will use you to impact someone’s life. Remember the quote I shared at the beginning, think about the people it applies to, thank God for crossing your path, and live out your friendships in that gratitude. You will never look at friendships the same way again.
I love the theater. I more I have had the chance to be part of productions, the more than I have come to love the experience. I had almost forgotten that I loved it so much until I was cast in the KVTA production of Mary Poppins a few months ago. Prior to this, I had only been in one official musical, had helped backstage for another, and was in the choir for 5 years of my college’s annual Christmas program. I know that I have not have very much experience compared to some, but I’ve had enough to recognize the lessons that can be learned by being involved in a production in any capacity. There were some of the best growing experiences I had in my time at Ozark Christian College. As I reflect on the productions I’ve been in, I’ve realized that there are powerful life lessons that everyone should learn. There three to me seem to most obvious
A Cast and Crew Work As A Body And A Family
The think that anyone who has had a good experience being in a production would agree that one of the best parts of that experience is the community formed by being in a production together. It’s been interesting how I’ve come to recognize this since I’ve been cast in Mary Poppins. All the other productions I had been in were in college. Therefore, I knew most of the people I was working with, because they were either classmates, staff members, or music department regulars. It was in a setting that was familiar to me. While I did enjoy this setting, it has been an adventure being in a unfamiliar setting.
Being in Mary Poppins has been totally different. When I auditioned, I pretty much only knew the Assistant Director, one of the costumers, a few people I mostly knew by name, and the friend I was auditioning with. My friend and I both made it, but she had to drop out of the production soon after being cast. I really did feel like I knew no one when I started. I also found out that out of our cast of a little less than 50, there are about 10 of us that are new to KVTA, which is a pretty high number. But it’s been pretty amazing how we quickly we all started to work together and get to know each other. Everyone has been super friendly to me and I am truly enjoying getting to know each and every one of them. Even as some of us newbies are finding a way, we are all united in our goal of producing the best production that we can, no matter the size or nature of our part.
This has reinforced a truth that I already knew. The cast and the crew of a production work both a body and a family. They work as a body because each and every person contributes something to the greater whole of the production. No matter how small a part or a job seems to them, they all part of the greater whole. And everyone has to keep doing their part or job properly for the play to go the way it’s supposed to. They also function as a type of family because as they go through the experience of a production, you support each other and bond with each other through the shared experience you have. It makes everyone very close by the end of a production. And in the end, you all have produced something so much bigger than ourselves. And that’s one of the best parts.
Every Part of this Body Is Important
As I just mentioned earlier, every part or job in a production is important. If even one of the background people is missing, it throws off everything. This is every more true of the work that goes on backstage of a production. They are the reason everything runs like a well-oiled machine. And things don’t get done without them. I don’t think I realized this truth until I became one of those people in college.
To make a long story short, my sophomore year of college, I went from being a girl that hardly knew how to put on my own makeup to being in charge of makeup for our Christmas production, and eventually the rest of the productions the school did while I was a student (6 total). I laugh about it know, but at the time, I was terrified! I hadn’t really been in charge of something like that before and I was still learning how to do stage makeup properly, but Mary (my college drama director) had faith in me, and now I’m grateful she gave me the chance to grow in the process. I learned so much and was eventually able to teach others. I came it love my backstage job, and it was a bittersweet thing when I finished my last Christmas production in college.
[If you want to see a little of my specialty makeup work, there are a few pictures at the end of this post]
Through all those productions, I realized how important the backstage jobs are. They aren’t the ones that get much (if any) recognition. In fact, those are the kind of jobs where it’s because no one notices them that they know they are doing their job right! Everything that goes on backstage is important and cast members should never take that for granted. For that matter, audience members shouldn’t either. It's an important lesson for all of us to learn.
As a Christian, I believe humility is an important tract for all other Christians to have, because we should remember that our lives are meant to be lived for the glory of the Lord. But Christians struggle with humility just as much as the next person, so I've observed. That's why I’m so grateful that there is very little ego in Mary Poppins. I’ve been in productions that were on both ends of the scale – very little ego among the cast or too much ego among the cast. It really does make such a difference in the atmosphere behind the scenes and the community that is formed because of it. Through it all, I learned the importance of stepping out of the spotlight and being OK when you don’t always get recognition for what you do. If we always had to get recognition for everything we did, most productivity would stop! That is not the way to get the job done. Remember to be grateful for the part you are playing for the greater whole of the production. That is the best way for things to go the way they are supposed to.
There are just some of the lessons I have learned from my theater experience, and I will probably be learned more as we get closer to opening day for Mary Poppins. I am so grateful for all the productions I have had the chance to be a part of, because each one brought unique lessons of their own, but I will probably save these stories for another post. Remembering these lessons has also been a great reminder of the importance of taking what you can from any experience you have in your life in order to make you a better person. I hope of you are able to do the same thing. Please enjoy a few more pictures from past productions I’ve been in, and stay tuned as I plan to write more about my experience in Mary Poppins over the next few weeks.
Ok, so I technically didn't do this for a play, but I did do it for my drama class, so that counts right? Anyway, I made myself up to be Elphaba from Wicked three times in two years. First time (left) was Halloween 2010, second time (center) was my drama class presentation day, and the last time (right) was for a demonstrative speech a year later (2011). Do you like?
It was a great night when I got to see Cats for the first time. In fact, it was only about a month and a half ago (July 31, 2015). My friend Angela and I made plans to see it together, and she invited a few of her friends to join us. It was such a beautiful summer day and we were all excited and curious about the show, since we hadn’t seen it before. Part of what made this production so special is that this theater company does their productions every summer outside, in a setting that compliments the story they are telling. Since they were doing Cats, they choose to build their stage in front of an abandon building that was once part of the town’s mental hospital. Since it was outdoors, we can early to set up lawn chairs, and then we had a picnic dinner and relaxed before the show. When the show finally started, I was not disappointed by the quality or the staging of this play. It still amazes me what the Acting Out Theater Company is able to do with their outdoor settings. Plus, we even had a full moon rising over us toward the end of the evening, which when perfectly with the show. It was pretty cool.
[All of the pictures I'm including in this post are from the Acting Out Theater Company's Production]
Overall, I have a fairly positive view of this musical, which rather surprised me, but I thought it has more questionable content than it does. I believe there is a lot that can be observed from the plot of this musical, if we take the time to look at the plot a little more closely.
Seeing Life From A Cat’s Perspective is Thought-Provoking
I must confess that I am more of a dog person than a cat person. I have had some bad experiences with cats as a child that kind of turned me off to being a cat lover. And even my love of dogs did not come until I was in college. However, even though I’m not as fond of cats, I found the insights into a cat’s train of thought to be very interesting, even if some of it was in the mind of human writers. I was very amused when they talked about their names in the song The Naming of Cats. It makes you think that maybe cats do have different names for themselves than we do. Any pet get used to the name that we call them, but in their minds, they probably have their own names that they call each other. And the names they came up with for each other are not anything like human names, or a name a human would could probably conceive for his pet. It was extremely interesting to me.
I was also intrigued by the stories of each of the different cats’ lives and the concept of the Jellicles and the Jellicle Ball. The times when I’ve watched cats and dogs playing, I’ve sometimes wondered what is going on in their heads and how they perceive what is going on around them. This play gives us the opportunity to explore the possibilities of what is going on in their heads. Although it is fictional and humanized to a certain degree, it’s done in a creative way that is very compelling to the audience. You are totally drawn into the cats’ world, and that is credit to great writing and acting.
Don’t Judge A Person (or a Cat) By Its Cover
When Old Deuteronomy (the Jellicle Cats’ patriarch) chooses Grizabella to ascend to the Heavenside Layer, their hearts are changed towards her. I think there is a profound lesson that can be learned from Grizabella’s story.
We are so quick to judge people without knowing their story. We judge them for everything from their outward appearance to our first impressions of them. We do this without getting to know them as a person. We don’t take the time to learn their story. As a result, we often miss the opportunity for a relationship to be built or for lessons to be learned from their lives. We often turn our hearts bitter and make enemies for ourselves in the process. When we do, we miss a very powerful point.
As a Christian, I believe that we are to remember a few key truths in this matter. Fellow Christians, we are NOT called to judge those that do not commit to our standards of morality or judge anyone based on their outward appearance. One of the biggest problems in this matter is assuming that we should. What we are called to do is listen to them, give them the value they deserve as human beings, and find ways to demonstrate love toward them. I have often found that it’s the stories that I do not to listen to at first are the ones that I most need to hear. This is especially true of the story of people’s lives. Listening to the stories of people’s lives and taking to heart to wisdom (both direct and indirect) within their life stories is a wise practice for anyone, no matter what stage of life you are in yourself. I appreciate how prominently this truth plays out in the story of Cats.
The Concepts of Rebirth and Heaven Are A Little Off-Center
The only major problem I had with the plot of Cats was this concept of rebirth and the “Heavenside Layer.” Now, there are a few things I need to clarify before I explain my disagreement. First, part of the concept of their rebirth is connected to the idea that cats have nine lives, which when you get down to it from a scientific standpoint, most people know this is not true. Second, I am fully aware that we are taking cats verses humans, but that is also part of my frustration with the way that this is presented here.
In this play, their concept of rebirth is basically to be given a new chance at life when they prove to be the most worthy. Grizabella ends up being chosen because she proved to be the most worthy, but she also had the greatest need. She had lived a full life and had been through a lot. This meant that she was worthy of making the ascent to their version of Heaven. And it seems to be implied that Grizabella will return to earth as another cat in another life.
As a Christian, I believe that we are called to be born again, but not in any way like they portray it in Cats. We are called to confess our wrongdoings, admit that we are in need of a Savior, and then go through a spiritual rebirth as it is symbolized in the act of baptism. We are supposed to die to ourselves and our old ways of life, but it’s more of a redirection of our current lives. Because the truth is that we only get one pass at life. There is no chance of reincarnation or physical rebirth once we are dead. I also believe that our ability to get to Heaven is not based on any of our own merits or who has suffered the most in this life. Our ability to get into Heaven is based solely on Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, our acceptance of this sacrifice, and the way we lived our lives in response to this sacrifice. That is definitely a different version of salvation than I see portrayed in Cats. However, as long as you know about and understand this difference, I think this is still a great play to watch.
Other Positive Elements
These comments are specifically directed at the production I saw, because I believe that the Acting Out Theater Company did a phenomenal job! The makeup and costume design for this production was top-notch. The quality of this production lived up to all my expectations and more. They picked the perfect setting for the Russell Hotel and it was even more awesome to see the moon rising over us toward the end of the play. Well done AOTC!
Bethel Grove is a self-published Christian author, spoken word artist, book blogger, and a graduate of Ozark Christian College. She loves to use her platforms to proclaim the truth of the gospel, especially to the next generation, and to promote other authors and influences who do the same. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and mentoring younger women.
To learn more about Bethel's story, click here
Follow Bethel on her social media below: