I was standing alone in the youth room of my church. Or at least it was my church. That room was where I had taught many lessons and played many games with the church’s junior and senior high students for over a year. That room had been one of my favorite places. But now, it was a reminder of what I was about to face. In only about 15 minutes, I was going into a meeting with the church’s elders. Under other circumstances, this would not have been a big deal. I had known most of those men for several years and considered them to be friends of my family. But now it was different, because four days earlier, these men dismissed my dad as senior minister of the church after 17 ½ years.* The reason for the meeting was to see if I would be allowed to finish the school year with the youth group that my ministry partner and I had dedicated over a year of volunteer time to build up. I had so many emotions running through my heart and my mind, I didn’t know what to make of it.
This scene happened only a few months ago. I do believe that it has become one of the defining moments of my life. I believe I will still think that 20 or 30 years from now. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, because the pain of the loss and separation were so fresh. But by God’s grace I walked into that meeting and was granted my request. The only stipulation they gave is that they wanted to make sure I would get plugged into another church, since they figured it would be too difficult to attend with them on Sunday mornings. When I told them I had a plan to look at churches in the area, they all stated how much they appreciated my willingness to come to the meeting and finish the work I had started, despite the difficulties of my circumstances.
Some of my friends or members of that congregation have questioned why I chose to stay a little longer or how I could bring myself to even go to that meeting. Some of you who are reading this post may be wondering the same thing. But as I have looked back on the last few months, I have come to realize that I began to find healing faster because I chose to face a painful situation head on instead of hiding from it. It’s something that author Levi Lusko coined as “running toward the roar” in his book Through the Eyes of a Lion [click link to read my review]. Facing that meeting changed everything for me, and I want to share about three things that have happened in my life because God gave me the power to “run toward the roar.”
I Learned How to Forgive Despite My Feelings
The night after my dad told me he had been let go, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I turned on a movie that addresses the issues of loss and forgiveness. Amish Grace is a film based on the true story about the Amish school shooting of 2006, in which a local milk truck driver in Pennsylvania entered a one-room school house with an arsenal of guns. He let all the boys and the teacher go, but took ten girls hostage. He eventually shot all ten girls before taking his own life. In the end, 5 of the 10 girls died within 24 hrs of the shooting, and the others survived with serious injuries. Obviously, it was a devastation to the Amish community, but they responded in ways that the world did not expect. In the film (which was slightly fictionalized), you see some Amish elders, including Gideon, a father who had lost his daughter, go the wife of the shooter to consul her and tell her that they had chosen to forgive Charlie, later that same day. The rest of the Amish community seems to support this decision to forgive, except for Gideon’s wife. Ida cannot let go of her anger, believing that choosing to forgive was betraying her daughter. She takes out her anger on the shooter’s wife when she runs into her. Ida is so bitter, she even makes plans to leave her Amish community and taking her surviving daughter away from her husband.
But the most powerful part of the film for me is at the end. Right before she plans to leave, Gideon asks Ida to go to a group meeting with a grief counselor, which would include other Amish parents that had lost children and the wife of the shooter, Amy. The audience learns that Amy is in the same place as Ida, not knowing how to forgive her husband for what he did to the Amish girls, and what he did to her and their children. At this point, an Amish mother who had lost two daughters shared a thought that I don’t know if I will ever forget. It was exactly what I needed to hear after everything that happened:
Every morning when I wake, I expect to hear Anna and Lydia singing together as they do their chores. But the silence reminds me that they’re gone, and I become so full of anger, I can barely breathe. But then I offer that anger up to God and I forgive. Sometimes, I have to do it again in an hour, and again an hour after that. But if I didn’t do that, I don’t know how I would ever breathe again.
As I was lying in my bed at 5 am still unable to sleep, I knew that kind of forgiveness, the kind that would compel most of that Amish community to attend the shooter’s funeral, or the kind that compelled Ida’s daughter to tell the man about to shoot her that she would pray for him, was the kind I had to challenge myself to have, no matter how painful it would be. So when I finally sat down with the elders, this is what I told them:
Just like they say love is not a feeling but a decision, I believe that forgiveness is a decision we sometimes have to make despite our feelings. I have been very hurt by what has happened and I am still healing, but I want you all to know that I have made the decision to forgive you.
It was difficult to say, but I said it, even with tears in my eyes. I said it because I was compelled to demonstrate the same grace that I would hope someone would show me, the same grace that we all want but never deserve on our own merit. The same grace we can only receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We all need grace, but we struggle to give grace. We get so caught up in the guilty party’s offense that we cannot see past ourselves. But the sacrifice of Jesus was an offer of grace for every person who accepts it and then shapes their life in response to it. We don’t get to pick and choose who receives God’s grace, and neither should we. Part of dying to ourselves, as we are called to do by Christ, is choosing to give grace to anyone in our lives that is difficult to love or forgive. I hope that sharing this story will help you learn to do the same thing.
I Found a New Calling In the Midst of My Healing
Most of my friends know that since I started high school, I’ve wanted to become a music minister or worship director. In fact, I could have told you my plan the day I started high school. From then until I graduated from college in 2014, I never deviated from that plan. But when I was completing my music ministry internship the spring before I graduated, it became apparent that some gaps in my proficiency and personal training would prevent for pursuing music ministry after I graduated. I was so confused. I had pursued God’s calling as faithfully I knew how and I was still unable to devote my career to ministry. As a result, I really struggled with what I should do with my future when I moved back home. Although I was involved in music ministry, I wasn’t getting paid, and went back and forth from being in leadership to just being a participant. I struggled to find a job. Any job. It was a very difficult and uncertain time.
But I didn’t realize what God was doing behind the scenes to prepare me for something greater. Just as circumstances required me to take a step back from leading in music ministry again, an opportunity opened up for myself and a deacon to take over leadership of the youth ministry. In some ways, it surprised me. Although I had been a youth sponsor in college, I hadn’t really been involved in organizing a youth group. But I believed it was a need I could fulfill with Todd, so we jumped into it. We did what we could to teach but also have fun with our teens. It wasn’t easy, even for Todd who has youth ministry training, but after about a year, we really began to see great things happened in our group. We began to see growth in our numbers and in their understanding of their faith. Todd and I were both excited about what God had in store for our group in 2018.
But at the end of January, everything changed overnight. When my dad was let go, I was immediately afraid of what would become of the youth group if I would not allowed to return in light of what had already been planned for the spring. Only a few days later, I was given permission to finish out the school year. But the few days in between when I didn’t know were some of most emotionally trying days I’ve ever faced. After that was said and done, I came to realize how much I cared about our students and how much I had been devoted to the ministry. It made me think that maybe I could find a future in doing this kind of work as a job. Only about 3 weeks later, we took our Jr. High students to a youth conference in Cincinnati. Over that weekend, Todd and I had some honest conversations about the direction I was going with my life in regards to ministry. By the end of that weekend, I came to a major decision:
I want to become a youth minister
Some of you that have known me for a while might be shocked to hear me say this. Honestly, I’m still kind of shocked to be saying it. But as I look back over all of my ministry experiences, I now recognize that God was preparing my heart to work with students when I wasn’t looking. I attended a Jr. high conference at as sponsor my senior year of high school. I helped with a large Jr. high girls lock-in with a local Christian venue my freshman year of college. I spent about a year and half in college (minus the summers) working with my brother-in-law’s youth group, including teaching Jr. high Sunday school. When I was on my internship, I taught in a high school small group since my cousin was the youth minister. Before I officially became a youth leader, I had already lead two girls Bible studies and had attended a few youth conferences as a sponsor. It ends up adding up to a total of about 4 years I have spent volunteering in youth ministry. It all happened when I wasn’t looking, because God was subtly guiding me to a different future than I saw for myself. It’s something I would have never considered a year ago, or even 6 months ago. But God used my ability to trust Him during a painful trial of my life to help me find my new calling. I believe He can for you too.
I Found Healing Through A Surprising Friendship
I have said this before and I will say it again: community is an indispensable part of the Christian life, especially when we are going through trials. But unfortunately, most people don’t treat it like it is. In my post “Why This Millennial Isn’t Leaving the Church,” I mentioned my high school friend who claimed that because he was enrolled in a Christian school, he didn’t need to go to church. But in the end, he walked away from the faith when he left the school a year later. Adapting this kind of mentality is not just wrong, but it is dangerous, especially if you are going through personal struggles. The Christian life was not meant to be done alone, and this has been proven to me so clearly over the last few months. The day after my dad lost his job, many of the friends went out of their way to see how I was doing. Some would eventually invite me over to their house to spend time with them just so I could talk. Many of my friends have gone above and beyond to make sure there were they when I needed it. I am so grateful to each and every person who has been there for me through this difficult season. But in the end, the friend who has been there for me the most was not one of my girlfriends or even a friend my own age, but it was my ministry partner Todd.
I clearly remember talking to him on the phone the night after my dad was let go. I could hear the sympathy in his voice. He expressed genuine concern for myself and my family, since he is also a good friend of my dad’s. He wanted to support whatever decision I made. But what I remember the most clearly is when I told him the elders were planning to meet with me. His first words were, “I need to be there.” There were several reasons he told me, but the primary one, one that he didn’t verbalize, was that he did not want me going into that meeting alone. When the meeting came, he sat down next to me, listened to the plan I shared with the elders, and when the elders asked his opinion, he replied, “I’m just here for emotional support.” After the meeting, we walked out into the foyer and I asked Todd for a hug. Before that moment, I don’t think we had ever hugged. Although we had a mutual respect for each other, we just had not gotten to that place. But now, we were. I don’t know if I will ever forget that hug. It was probably one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever gotten in my life, and was a precious memory of the support he was giving me during such a difficult time in my life. All I could manage to say was “Thank you Todd. Thank you.” In that moment, although I knew the next few months would not be easy, I knew that I would not be facing any of it alone.
Now I know that one of the reasons that God wanted me to stay a little longer was so that Todd could walk through this trial with me. God brought him into my life for such a time as this. He continues to assure me that he’s not going anywhere once I finish my work with our ministry, and that he is looking forward to seeing what God is going to do with my life. Although I am sad that our ministry partnership is ending, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our friendship will continue. I hope that anyone that faces similar trials finds a friend that is able to do the same thing for you. If you do, don’t ever take that friendship for granted. Thank God for that friend often. I know I do.
I believe the God I serve is able to make something beautiful out of the broken. I choose to believe it, even when my feelings try to convince me otherwise. In some ways, He already has redeemed parts of what has happened to me and my family. I would never have concerned youth ministry as a job or have become better friends with Todd if I had gone through all this. But in other ways, when the pain is still difficult to face, I choose to believe that God will redeem all of it in His time. That brings me comfort and peace when it’s not easy to find. In the meanwhile, He promises to be ever-present in my pain. He knows my pain because He’s experienced pain. He doesn’t want me to experience it alone. He doesn’t want me to be paralyzed by my circumstances. He wants to use it to mold me into the image of His Son. That’s why we all have to learn to “run toward the roar.” Because that will be the best way for God to redeem our broken story.
[*Note: If you know the names of any of the people or places involved in this incident, please do not comment or share them. I still love and respect many people at my previous church. It is not my intention to demean the eldership or the church itself. I am just stating what happened as it impacted my life personally. Please respect my family’s privacy. Thank you]
This book has been on my review radar for a long time. I have always loved the work of Dannah Gresh, but had never read anything by Nancy DeMoss (crazy, right?). It wasn’t until they announced that were going to me updating this book that I finally found the motivation to sit down and read it. When I did, I was so compelled by its powerful truth. As an adult reading a book written to teens, I was challenged by lies I believed at that age and that I struggle to believe now. As a youth leader, I was moved to work towards debunking these lies for the girls I work with whenever I have the opportunity. Through all of it, I was inspired to see life through the lens of truth, which is the Word of God, and to encourage other young women to do the same. This updated edition will help a new generation of young women stand on God’s word as their source of truth and value. This book is a must read for every Christian girl by the time they reach high school ~ Bethel
Women today are bombarded with so many lies about their identity. But many of the lies they believe started to take hold of their lives in their teenage years. They disguise themselves as fact that we must embrace to be accepted, but when we pursue them, we find that we are just as unfulfilled and confused as we were before. This is all accomplished by the work of father of lies, who will do anything to keep you from learning and embracing the truth. It learns these girls in bondage to fear, anger, and loneliness. It makes us ask the question: how can we discover the truths that will set young women free?
In the book Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh walk through the lies that hold teen girls and young adult women in bondage, but then reveals the powerful truths that will set them free. These women walk through the nature of lies and the source of the lies: Satan, the deceiver. Then they walk through 25 different lies that they observed young women struggle to believe. Lies about everything from God and faith, to relationships, to our usage of media. They share stories of real young women and even share stories from their own lives to illustrate how these lies hold many young women captive. They speak to girls with the honest voice of loving conviction they need to hear in order to stand against the lies they’ve believe. But beyond identifying and addressing the lies, Nancy and Dannah also offer hope by sharing the truth that will set them free and giving practical ways for you to abolish the lies and embrace the truth in their own lives. The updated edition of this book brought many of the examples and illustrations up to date, which includes some new perspective from Nancy since she was married after the original release of the book. This book has power, a power to transform the next generation of young women into incredible tools that can be used for His kingdom. I give this book my highest recommendation to any teen girl about 13 or older. I also highly recommend this resource to any youth leader or youth pastor that works with teen girls. Get your copy today!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review
This blog post is an essay that I am planning to submit for a book being written about my alma mater, Ozark Christian College. They are collecting stories from 75 years of lessons learned from this school. Honestly, I feel like I could write a book about the lessons I learned while I was a student at OCC, but this is the one that was laid most heavily on my heart. I may write other essays like this in the future if others will find value in this. Maybe, you will see this essay in the book sometime soon. If any of you were a part of this community I’m talking about, thank you.
One of the lessons I learned throughout my time at Ozark was how to live out life in genuine Christian community. I remember being specifically taught during Spiritual Formation Retreat in January 2013 about how essential it is to live our lives in the context of the body of Christ. Before this retreat, I had not realized how important this concept is to our spiritual lives. Although there are several verses in Scripture that describe community or instruct us how to properly live in community, one verse stands out above the rest in my mind:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV84)
This verse seems to bookend my memories of community at Ozark in so many ways, especially my last two semesters.
We often rejoiced with those who rejoiced while I was at OCC. We would rejoice as a campus when we all received the text that informed us that classes were cancelled (usually because of snow), especially when it happened more than one day in a row. We would rejoice as a dorm floor when one of the girls announced she was engaged. We rejoiced over someone’s birthday (On Goodman 3rd [my dorm floor, also known as G3], this included writing affirmations for the birthday girl on the mirrors in the bathroom and decorating the door of their room with toilet paper). We rejoiced whenever someone hit a milestone in their Ozark career, like when they completed their Principles Project or their Theological Integration Paper. As a music major, we rejoiced when we completed juries, recitals, or the Living Christmas Tree. We rejoiced whenever someone had plans for their future confirmed. And we definitely rejoiced when we watched our friends receive their diplomas and graduate from OCC. In those moments, the joy was all the more genuine because it was mutual. In many of those moments, G3 even made the habit of singing Doxology as part of our rejoicing. This is because we saw God’s hand in the joy we shared.
But there were also moments that we mourned with those who mourned. We would help each other bear grief or get through difficult seasons of life, simply by being there for each other. Sometimes, you just needed someone to listen when things were getting difficult. Other times, you were the one that needed to do the listening and offer your shoulder to cry on. On G3, it seemed that if you were going through something, you could literally walk out into your hallway and walk into any room to ask for advice or comfort. Even if you may not have been super close, the girls on my floor would probably have dropped anything to help each other if they needed it. Some of those moments of turning to others for help were so beautiful and powerful. But there was one instance in which together, our whole campus learned what it truly means to mourn with those who mourn.
When our friend and fellow student Brandon Stuckey passed away in a car accident on February 6, 2013, we had the opportunity to live this out. Many of us stood outside of Boatman dorm for hours that night. We sang songs about comfort, peace, and heaven. We prayed for his family, his friends, and his dorm brothers on Boatman 3rd. But most importantly, we comforted each other in our tears. Even though we were all hurting from this loss, we declared together that we would trust the Lord, even in our grief. When we are bearing such extreme or sudden sorrow, we are called to cry with our brothers and sisters, to help bear the burden of their pain. Although that was one of the hardest nights on my life so far, I cherish the bittersweet memories of community. In fact, I remember that another student posted on Facebook, “Tonight, the term ‘Christian community’ was defined.” I agree.
[This is not part of the essay, but this video is a spoken word poem I just released this month about the experiencing of losing Brandon. It specifically talks about Christian community and mourning with those who mourn]
Because of these and other experiences, I believe that the term “Christian community” was defined not just that night, but throughout my whole experience at Ozark. Much of the other experiences I had fell somewhere in between the two extremes of sharing great joy and sharing extreme pain. But through all the highs and lows, I learned that the place where we find the best community is in the place where those that surround us are willing to identify with us, regardless of our current emotional state. Through that, we learned many of the other concepts about genuine community in Christ that are also listed in Romans 12, like be devoted to one another in brotherly love (vs. 10) or doing what we can to live at peace with everyone (vs. 18). We had the opportunities to live these out every day in the context of community in Christ. It was something that on one hand I loved while I was in school, and on the other hand I took for granted while I was a student, especially my first few years. After I went on Spiritual Formation Retreat, I made more intentional efforts to build community and to get to know more people on campus. And it made my experience my last two semester all the richer. I definitely missed that when I completed my internship my last semester as a student, but it also made me more intentional to seek out community at the church where I interned. This, again, make my experience all the richer.
As I remember the community we fostered at Ozark, I praise God that He brought me to OCC, so that I could learn what genuine community looks like. This way, I can help others seek it out for themselves, both within their own churches and within the body of Christ as a whole. I hope anyone else that reads this story will be inspired to do the same.
It’s hard to believe that this year is finally drawing to a close. But then again, I find myself saying that at the end of every year! There have been a lot of good things that have happened this year. But what interesting about many of these good and awesome things as I look back on them is that I didn’t expect most of them to happen. If you had told me a year before that some of this stuff was going to happen, especially the things I became in charge of, I might have laughed at you or been uncertain that I could. But I am so grateful for each and every one of these experiences, as I know that many of them are shaping me into the person I am becoming.
Although I originally planned to do a “Top Ten” sort of list, what I discovered is that there were a couple of categories of events that repeated itself in different ways throughout the year. So this list contains ten of these categories, but under these categories there may be several different events listed. There are also some events that I have written about in more detail on different blog posts, so I will link those posts after I describe the event. This will give those of you that haven’t caught all of these stories a chance to catch up. This will also give details to a few events that I wanted to write about, but I either ran out of time or didn’t think there was enough detail to write a whole post about it. There are also not in any exact order or ranking. I hope that you are able to see how blessed this last year of my life has been. Here we go:
1) Writing and Directing The Door (An Easter Drama)
In January of last year, my dad (aka my church’s senior minister) asked me if I was interested in writing and directing an Easter drama for my church to be performed on Easter Sunday. I had only worked on writing small skits and hadn’t directed anything other than kid’s musicals, but I knew it was something I really wanted to do. When we started working on the script and trying to find a different angle for the Easter Story, it turned out to be about the resurrection appearances of Jesus that happened on the Sunday after He rose. We titled it The Door, which is referring to the fact that when Jesus first appeared among his disciples, he got into the room despite the fact the doors were locked. Although my dad did guide me and assisted some in writing the script, the rest of responsibility or delegation was left on me.
There were so many things about doing this drama that I enjoyed. Writing and researching for the script was one of my favorites. It was awesome to get into the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus and translate it into dialogue. I also enjoyed working with the actors. They were an enjoyable group of people to work with. They were also patient and understanding as I was trying to learn how to direct and block scenes properly. I also had a few people that helped with behind the scenes work that were awesome. I think I may write a little more detail about it around Easter this coming year, but this drama was such a great ministry opportunity that I enjoyed so much.
2) Summer Ministry Opportunities
I had two main ministry opportunities over this summer. The first was to work on worship planning with my friend Sarah. My dad approached us about planning worship services at the beginning of the summer, because it would give him a break from doing it and give us an opportunity to use our talents in that area. We loved the idea and enjoyed working with each other. I had worked with planning services with my dad as well as on my internship, but it was nice to work on planning with someone else. Plus, out of all the things I’ve been trained to do in music ministry, the planning of worship services is one of my favorite things to do.
The second opportunity was to be the music leader for our VBS program. For many years, it was my mom doing music with me as her assistant. But since my mom was Assistant Director this year, I was chosen to be in charge of music for the first time. I had the opportunity to work with a few junior high age girls as my helpers and we had a lot of fun. It was another great opportunity I was blessed to have.
I also had the chance to be involved in honoring my dad for his 15th anniversary at the church. They had a potluck for him and there were some notes and letters people had written to my dad that we had the chance to read out loud. It was a blessing to know how much my dad’s ministry has touched others’ lives. That’s part of my motivation for wanting to make ministry into a vocation someday. It was a very special day.
3) Event Planning
I was also given the opportunity to be in charge of two events at my church over this last year. The first was a free screening of the movie Ragamuffin, the film about the life of Rich Mullins. Although we didn’t have a ton of people come to this screening, it was a lot of fun to get to show a movie that not only impacted me, but has also impacted the lives of many others who have seen it. I was so blessed to be able to share it in this way.
[To read my review of the movie, click here]
I also got to be in charge of coordinating the Anima Series Tour. You may have already heard me talk about this event, but it was awesome that my church’s leadership not only granted permission for this event to happen at our building, but they trusted me to cover all the other details like advertising. It was much more involved than the movie screening and it was great challenge to put everything together and support one of my favorite YouTube channels in the process.
4) Being in Mary Poppins the Musical
I had the blessing of getting to be in the KVTA production of Mary Poppins this fall as a member of the adult ensemble in October. It was so much fun! I hadn’t had the chance to be in a theatrical production of that scale since college. It was also a Disney musical I've loved since I was a little girl. It was great production with such a fantastic cast. Everyone encouraged and supported each other in a special way. Being in Mary Poppins was an experience I won’t forget.
[To read more about my experience in Mary Poppins, click here]
5) Christmas Unwrapped
I also had the chance to be involved in my church’s Christmas production. In the past, we did a program we called Bethlehem Walk, in which we recreated a first-century marketplace and had a short nativity presentation. We decided that we needed to make some changes, so we created a new program called Christmas Unwrapped. We basically made the nativity presentation longer and more detailed, and then condensed the marketplace to just a few booths. We also inverted their locations in the building. We wanted the focus to be on the story of Jesus, and we felt this was a better way to do this.
In addition to being the youngest person on the leadership team, I was part of the nativity drama as singer in costume. I sang the song “Mary Did You Know?” just after they reveal the baby. Aside from enjoying the opportunity to perform this powerful song, it was also a small dream come true. You see, I’d watched my mom sing in the nativity presentation for Bethlehem Walk for years, which made me want to do the same. But I had not had the chance. It was either that someone was more qualified than me to sing, or I was away at college and couldn’t come home that weekend. I was so excited when it was finally decided that I would sing one of the two songs we had in the drama for Christmas Unwrapped. It was such a great experience.
6) Befriending Angela
Over this last year, I’ve had the privilege of making a close friend. At the time and stage I’m at in life, it’s hard to find friends that you are able to hang out with consistently. But I had the chance to get to know Angela over this last year and it has been such an awesome blessing to my life. Aside from our shared love of Disney, we also are at a similar place in our lives and have been able to encourage one another as we figure out what God wants for our futures.
[To read the story of how I met Angela, along with other funny stories of how other friendship started, click here]
7) Social Media Teams
Something I got to experience for the first time this year was being involved with social media teams. It was awesome to be involved with using social media for something constructive and getting to connect with new people along the way. Throughout the year, I was a part of three teams, all of which have blessed me in different ways.
Ragamuffins Street Team
This team was a little different from the other ones. Our primary purpose was to support and promote the upcoming film Brennan, about the life of Brennan Manning. This film is coming from the same people that made the film Ragamuffin that I mentioned earlier. In fact, that screening was done in promotion of the next film. It has been awesome to see what God has been doing as the filmmakers have been working on the movie Brennan. I can’t wait to see what will happen when this movie releases this year.
8) Meeting/Connecting With Famous People I Admire
As I have been looking back through this year, I have been surprised about how many people that I admire that I have met or connected with over this last year. I would consider them famous in my book, but then again I guess it depends on how you define fame. Anyway, here’s some of the stories of how it happened:
[To read more about the impact Dave's brother Rich Mullins has had on my life, click here]
[To read more about the story of how I met Jon, click here]
Dannah Gresh & Dr. Juli Slattery
Although I have still not met these ladies in person, I was blessed to connect with them through the book team for their book, Pulling Back the Shades. I’ve been a huge fan of Dannah’s books for a while, but I didn’t know much about Juli until I read the book. What I love about them both is that they are passionate about declaring God’s truth about sexuality and encouraging women to pursue God’s best through His plan for their sexuality. As part of the book team, I got to participate in two Google chats with them. I also interacted with them some on social media. A few weeks after our commitment on the book team was finished, my mom when to the Hearts at Home Convention where she not only met these two ladies, but she actually got to be Dannah’s speaker assistant! Although I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to meet them in person, I did get a few autographs out of the deal.
9) Writing More Spoken Word Poetry
Although I did publish my first spoken word poem on YouTube in 2014, I have had the opportunity to develop my skills as a spoken word poet with the release of two more poems in 2015. At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have called myself a spoken word poet. Aside from my one poem, I never intended to write another one. But when I found myself on the book team for Pulling Back the Shades, I felt the conviction to use this ability to bring awareness to the topics discussed in the book. As it turns out, it has been my most popular poem I’ve released so far, thanks to some of the members of the book team sharing it.
After this I still went several months without writing another one, until I remember a topic I was passionate about – modesty. I had done so much research on the subject and knew it so well that I knew I wanted to write a poem about it. It took me a few months to get around to filming it even after I wrote it, but it was so worth it to me. Although it still hasn’t gotten very many views, I know that for now, it’s important for me to be faithful in the little things.
After all this, I have started to think of myself as a spoken word poet. I hope and pray that God will be able to use this talent I’ve discovered for His glory in the future as I figure out the best way to use it for Him.
It’s hard to me to believe that I have been writing on this blog for a year now, and have written about 35 posts. Blogging and writing is something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but just never got around to doing it. But I finally came across a website builder I was happy with, I decided to start writing when I felt led to write. When I became a member of the Pulling Back the Shades book team last January, I started trying to publish a post every Friday. Although I haven’t always kept up with that, this did at least get me into some sort of routine. Now, I’m getting to the point where it feels like something is off if I go too long without writing something. This is something that I hope to keep doing for a long time to come.
There you have it. These were some of the highlights of my year. Of course there were other good things that have happened as well as bad things that have come to pass in 2015. But through it all, the Lord has been there with me, either blessing me directly or blessing me by being present in the difficult times. I hope this will be the same next year, and for every year as long as I live. I hope that all of you are able to find the same thing. I also hope that you might continue to share in my journey through life by reading my future blog posts or subscribing to my YouTube channel. I appreciate those of you that have. There are some good things to come in this next year, so stay tuned!
Happy New Year!
When I auditioned to be in KVTA’s production of Mary Poppins this summer, I don’t know if I could have possibly imagined the journey I was about to be a part of. I’d only been in shows while I was in college and had never had a chance to do anything with local theater otherwise. I didn’t know too many of the people involved. All I knew is that they were doing a show of one of my favorite movies and I wanted to be a part of it. I was also all the more determined to get in because my alma mater (Ozark Christian College) just did a production of Mary Poppins this spring that I wished I could have been a part of. When I discovered I made the cast at around midnight on Saturday June 20th, I squealed with excitement. (I fortunately didn’t wake up my mom and little sister, but my dad was up and asked me what was wrong! lol) Although I was unsure of what this experience would be like, I knew I was lucky to be a part of it. As I look back on the last few months, there is so much that stands out in my heart and mind to reflect on this incredible journey.
Being in Mary Poppins Was Hard Work
In order for such an iconic show to be done right and done well, we all knew that we had our work cut out for us. We knew the hours of rehearsals would get long and hard. We knew to we would get to the point that we would have to be at rehearsal every weeknight, and even had weekend promotional events. In fact, our chimney sweeps had to start rehearsals in July when we didn’t open until October! We knew that we would get tired and our feet would get sore. We knew what we signed up for when we committed to be in this play and it wasn’t going to be easy. My part was one of the smaller roles in the show, but I still knew going into this that this was going to be a lot of hard work, especially since I hadn’t been in a show since I graduated college.
But I think I can speak for all of our cast and crew when I say that it was all worth it. It was so incredible when we finally got to opening night to see and hear a full house reacting to all we had been working on for months. We were hearing so many stories of not only how much people enjoyed the production, but also how much this show touched them on a personal level. Mary Poppins holds a special place in so many of our hearts and seeing it being brought to life was a special experience for so many of our audience members. Being a part of bringing this to life was even more special for all of us involved. So although it wasn’t easy, all the work we put into bring this show to the stage was worth it in the end.
Being in Mary Poppins Formed Such A Great Community
When I started in this show, I probably only knew 4 or 5 people that I really didn’t talk to much that were involved in the show. I confess that I was so nervous about being in this show with so many people I didn’t know. I was afraid it was going to be difficult to befriend people, especially since I was not in too many scenes or dances numbers. And at first, it was a little strange when we were working on vocals to be sitting among people that I wanted to introduce myself to but couldn’t because we were working. I hoped that would change as time when on.
We all became a family in the time we spent together (in fact, most of us ended up spending more time with each other at rehearsals than we spent with our own families by the end! lol) At the end of the last show, it was definitely bittersweet to realize we would not all be together again after that night, but it also made me super grateful for all the time I did get to be with these wonderful people. I am still so grateful for each and every one of them.
Being in Mary Poppins Taught Us Great Lessons
There are so many great lessons within the story of stage version of Mary Poppins. Some are touched on in the film version but are not explored as much as they could be. Others were developed specifically for the stage version, but blend right into the original film. I just want to touch on my favorites.
“When will you learn to look past what you see?”
Honestly, I think this question could be asked of each and every one of us at some point in our lives. We all struggle to see past the end of our noses at times. But I think one of the most powerful lessons within the story of Mary Poppins is learning to have an awareness of the world around and learning to develop a sensitivity to the needs of others. It starts with the Bird Women and eventually comes full circle to the children being aware of their father’s needs. I was a women who snubbed off the Bird Women, but according to my backstory, I didn’t want to. I just went along with a fiancé. But it was such a great reminder that even when the world around us tells us to look out for ourselves as number one, we really do need to remember to look past what we see.
“I’ll fight for the man that needs freeing”
I love this line in one of Mrs. Banks’ songs. In the play version, she really struggles with figuring out what it meets to be Mrs. Banks, since it doesn’t seem to line up with what her husband seems to think. But by the second act, Winifred realizes that one of the most important things she can do as wife is fight for her husband by support him through whatever trials he faces. I think this should be true of any wife and is something I hope to remember when I get married someday.
Prioritizing your family
One of the great lesson in Mary Poppins is that you should always make family a priority. At the beginning of the show, George Banks is convinced that they should have a nanny because everyone in their class of society did and he believed it was the nanny’s responsibility to mold the children into the person they were meant to be when they grow up. The children are also very distant from their father. But by the end of the show, they realize that they all need each other, and they are made better because of it. George Banks realizes that he and his wife are responsible for molding their children's lives. That is Mary Poppins' main mission all along: to teach families this lesson, and it's such a powerful one to be learned in this day and age.
“Anything can happen if we only get out of our own way”
Although the more common quote from the show is “anything can happen if you let it,” I personally like this version of the quote better. It’s a reminder that many of us are afraid about venturing into the unknown by daring to try what we have been scared to pursue. Sometimes, our pride can also get in the way. But we are able to face that fear (or swallow our pride) and just do it, anything is possible. I often struggle with such fear or pride in my own life, but the song Anything Can Happen is such a great reminder that we are the ones that prevent us from taking the chance. I think we would all be make better people if we learned how to do this.
Being in Mary Poppins was a dream come true, not only because I got to be in a Disney musical (there was a reason the cast voted me as “Disney’s Biggest Fan”! lol), but I also got to be in a show with a theater company that I have been watching since I was a kid. I had wanted to be in one of KVTA’s shows for years, but the timing never worked out and I probably wouldn’t have made it before I received my vocal and theatrical training in college. But in the end, I am so proud to say that of all the shows I could have done with KVTA, Mary Poppins was my first. I will cherish the memories of this show and the people involved with it for years to come. We put on a pretty amazing show and together, we accomplished something so much bigger than ourselves. To me, that’s the best part of theater, when everything just comes together to its completion for the sum of the greater whole.
If they choose to read this, I want to thank my college drama director Mary for helping me find my presence both on and off the stage. I don’t think I could have made it into this show without the lessons I learned from you. I also want to thank my current director Paula for casting me in this great show and giving the privilege to be part of this special production. It meant so much to me and I am so grateful. Thanks to the rest of the cast and crew for being so friendly, encouraging, and such pleasant people to work with. You have all blessed my life more than you will ever know. I hope that the rest of you have the chance to be involved in something like a stage show or a group project like it in your own life. And remember to look past what you see, so you can get out of your own way.
Here’s a few more pictures. Enjoy!
Living in the Redemption of the price Jesus paid for you and me.
My name is Bethel, and welcome to my site, Princess Worth Dying For, where I hope to share Christian reviews, Christian Spoken Word, and a Christian Insights on everything from modesty to musicals. My main focus on this blog is book reviews, and the main focus of my YouTube channel is spoken word, but I do crossover work with both.
Like My Facebook page here: