Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Treasure the Moment

I've been thinking about my time a lot lately. It flies by so fast. Before I even notice. And the worst is when all of a sudden, that thing I take for granted is gone. Or, I have such good intentions of doing something. Of serving, especially. But in the moment, I forget. Then later, I look back and say, "Well, I'll do better next week." But then, all of a sudden, you realize. There is no next week. It's done. You're opportunity's gone. While wasting your time away hoping for a better opportunity, you lost the perfect one you had to minister. To serve. To love.

This has hit me especially hard because I'm a senior this year. And for me, HPA has always been there. I've always had the opportunity, every week (except for a few lonely months in spring after the show has ended) to spend time with amazing, strong, Christian friends. To be encouraged. And, even more so, to be an encourager. I've just been blessed to always have that opportunity. And so, this year, after cast lists came out, as I was thinking about the upcoming rehearsals, I had this sense of urgency - it's my last year! And so, every week, all fall, I would have this great motivation. I would even be thinking about how I wanted to serve, and put other people's desires before my own, on the way there. But, I am very ashamed to say, that all too often I didn't remember that once I was there. The busyness of rehearsal just sort of choked it away. Sure, I occasionally remembered... and those were the days where I was most fulfilled at the end of the day! But somehow it never seemed to happen as much as I wanted it to. I would lay in bed and think about it at night, and just think, "Well, I'll do better next week." But now... There IS NO NEXT WEEK! Our normal rehearsals are over. We're at tech week! Not that I can't serve during tech/show week, I most certainly do, and find those are the times I grow the most.

I guess I'm just trying to get at how quickly our time goes by. And before we realize it, it's gone. So look at your life. What do you wish you would be doing differently? Are you? Next time you're doing something you enjoy (or even something that you don't), that you always think will be there, or with someone you always think will be there, just pause. And treasure the moment. Treasure the fact the the Lord has blessed you. With whatever it is you're doing. Whatever friends or family are right next to you. Because things are gone... we are gone... before we even realize it. So treasure the moment. Every moment. If for no other reason than the fact that you are alive and God has given you another day, another breath. Treasure the moment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Starting Anew - Blessed

Hello, long-lost Blogger world!
(Please pardon the long outdated side bars and backgrounds - I'm working to fix it up.)

I have recently been inspired (by a dear friend :) to post on my blog more frequently, perhaps once a week. Why, you ask? Why spend time posting on a blog that very few people read?

The answer is simple.

Because the Lord has blessed me. And I want to share that with others. To be able to proclaim to the world that God is here and He is working. To be able to be an encouragement and a blessing to my sisters and brothers and Christ.

See? Very simple. And so, with that motivation, my first post in a very long time.

I am so blessed. Really, truly. There are so many blessings I could tell you about, more than I could even count. Right now, though, I want to guide this post the way my thoughts have been rolling. Have you ever had it - I'm sure you know the feeling - where it's been a long day, but well-spent, perhaps with good friends, and you look back, and, with a sigh of joy, think, "Wow. Today was wonderful. I am so blessed." I have. Yesterday, to name one. We had HPA. It was a long day. I was rehearsing "Jane Eyre" from 8:30-4:30 with only a quick break for lunch. I danced. A lot. Waltzed, to be exact. And you wouldn't think, but waltzing makes you sore. Really sore. Especially when you do it for over two hours.

Last night, I looked back on my day. I was tired, sore, and altogether worn out. But it was oh so much fun. We ran Act 1 with costumes. We worked scenes over and over. And we laughed. A lot. Particularly, in one 45-minute segment with Mr. G and Mrs. E. Have you ever thought about the incredible blessing of laughter? I'm not going to expound on the story, first of all because it would take too long to give you the context, and second of all because it was slightly embarrassing. But we laughed. For so long. Honestly, I've never seen Mr. G laugh so hard. IN MY LIFE. It was the bending-over-tears-in-your-eyes-you're-laughing-so-hard kind of laughing.

And you know what else? I think one of the main reasons it was such an awesome day was the presence of God. Through laughter, and also through trials. It was the presence of God that sustained us. For 8 hours even when you forget to pack your sandwich. When a dear friend felt queasy all morning. Especially when that friend happens to be playing Jane. It is the power of prayer. Instead of giving a devotion yesterday, we prayed as a cast. It was powerful. In the same way that I could take a minute and pray over Jane. And just altogether keep a focus on the Lord our top priority.

I think that's the secret. I think the days when we look back and just marvel on what an amazing day we had, those are the days we were near to God. He is the one that fulfills us. So let us draw near to Him! He longs for us and pursues us. But when turn to Him, and keep Him involved in everything we do, He blesses us.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lord is FAITHFUL!!!



 








Okay. So, let's just not talk about how long it's been since I last posted on here. And, you might want to get settled in, because this is proving to be a very long post. :)

Looking back on Beauty and the Beast, all I can say is, God is Faithful. This just kept coming to mind time and time again.... through anything and everything that happened.... God was Faithful. He is. :) We had an incredible week, and in all honesty, it was one of the best weeks of my life. God was THERE. He was with us. And we could FEEL Him. I felt His presence there, during that week, more strongly than I have ever felt Him before. Ever. For anything. And you know why? This may sound strange, but as I've pondered it over, I decided it's because of all the trials we had that week. And through those trials, as a cast, as friends, as brothers and sisters, and as individuals, we were able to turn to the Lord and look for Him to meet our needs - because there was NO WAY we could do it on our own. Here are a few instances of the Lord at work.
~Going into tech and show week, we were SO BEHIND. It was a mutual feeling, even those who have been in oodles of shows felt like this one was more behind than any other. We felt very unprepared for the show, and there were so many things that just would not come together. Even after the dress rehearsal two nights before opening, Dad said in the car on the way home that he did not think we could pull it together in time. He was not being over critical, he was being dead serious. And we knew it. But I continued to insist that the Lord would bring it all together in His timing. Because the Lord is Faithful.
~Our minds tend to worry when things don't go according to schedule, and so when I didn't get one of my costumes until opening night, and we didn't figure what we were doing for my hair until final dress and my makeup until opening night, let's just say there were a couple of times where I needed an attitude change. :) But the Lord was Faithful, and whenever my friend and I would realize we were not relying on God, we would go pray together or find a corner and get out our Bible, and not 5 minutes later we would be back to trusting the Lord. :) Because He is Faithful.
~One of the last scenes in the show is the one in which Beast and Gaston fight. In our show, they fight on the West Tower, about 8 ft. in the air. We had a large crash pad (offstage) next to it, and we had worked Gaston falling many times. However, on Thursday (opening), Gaston had an impressive fall. It looked amazing from the audience, but backstage, Jon had fallen wrong. They ended up calling an ambulance, and Jon went to the ER. I cannot even begin to describe how many prayers went up to heaven that night. We prayed silently, inwardly, begging God to spare Jon. None of us really knew what had happened, the directors didn't really want to say because they didn't want the cast to be nervous or upset. You can imagine my response, the next morning, when I found out that Jon was really alright. The Lord's Angels were protecting Him. The doctors said the way he fell.... he should have broken his neck. But He didn't. He came out with only a few bruises. Because the Lord is Faithful.
~One of my friends, Anna, needed to have her wisdom teeth pulled out the Friday of tech week. So she missed all of tech week rehearsal... including crazy saturday. And all show week, her mouth was sore and she was continually putting ice on it. Well, by Friday, it was not getting better like it should have. Friday morning she went the dr and found out it was infected. She got antibiotics, and proceeded to go on with the rest of the day and the evening show as much as possible. The next morning, Saturday, we were called at 10 for notes. I saw her slip in late, and then when I glanced her way again, she was gone. I looked for her all morning, waiting, wondering where she had gone.. I wanted to pray with her. Finally, about a half hour before our matinee show, there she was. Because of the antibiotics, she couldn't keep anything down. She was utterly miserable. A half hour before our show she left for the ER. We were all pretty much down in the dumps, and trying to race around to teach another girl, Courtney, Anna's "Enchantress" role in the Prologue. I cannot even tell you how much prayer went up for Anna then. And Courtney, too. We all missed Anna's cheery smile and warm hug... and we all wondered if she was okay. She didn't show up after the matinee show, and the directors told us she probably wouldn't be in the evening show, our final one. But about an hour and a half before the evening show, I was in the dressing room changing into my street clothes after pictures, getting ready to "rest" for a few minutes... when all of a sudden I heard someone yell, "Anna's back!" All I remember is how sweet those words sounded... I remember thinking that I had never heard sweeter words. I remember racing out the dressing room, without even bothering to put on my shoes. I went out to the hall, gave her a gentle hug, and told her I missed and I...well, everyone, was praying for her. But she had come back. And though she left immediately after, the Lord gave her strength to perform in our last show!! Because He is Faithful.
~Like I mentioned before, on Saturday in between shows, we have an "enforced rest time". Well, the whole day I had just been going, going, going, running on adrenaline of course. When I lay down in a corner, I suddenly realized just how tired I was. I wanted to sleep, and sleep, and sleep. But we only had 20 minutes before we had to get ready for the next show. I laid down and closed my eyes. About ten minutes later, I really didn't want to, but I really felt like I needed to connect with God and get some fresh energy before going into our final show. So I forced myself to sit up and I opened my Bible... It opened to 2 Corinthians, I and I read chapter 6. One verse really stuck out to me (6) "We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love." I meditated on that verse for a few minutes, and talked with the Lord... when the directors came by a few minutes later to tell us we needed to get up and get ready, I was amazed to find that I was entirely refreshed and ready to go!! I was not tired at all... It was like a burden of exhaustion had been lifted. And I knew it wasn't because of ten minutes of closing my eyes. It was because the Lord is Faithful.

Those are just a few stories of God's work in my life during show week... Honestly, I think I grow in my faith more during tech and show week more than any other time of the year.... and every year I feel like I grow even more than the year before!!

Praise the Lord, because He is Faithful.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love


This year, I have been blessed to be a part of the devotions committee at HPA. Through this past year, we have taken a character every week, and made an analogy with them to our Christian walk. This past week I did a devotion relating to Belle, and I though you blog-readers might find it encouraging as well. :)

Today, I wanted to discuss Belle, especially since the Lord has really been laying this topic on my heart lately. Particularly, I would like to talk about her sacrificial love for her Father. When she finds her Father in the dungeon, he tells her to leave immediately because of the danger she’s in. She refuses; her first and only concern is to get her sick Father out of that dreadful place. Her concern stays the same throughout the whole scene; she eventually gives up her life of freedom to stay in the dark, cold, dungeon so her Father can go free. She’s putting his best interests over hers.
            I’m sure many of you are familiar with the phrase, “Love each other as brothers and sisters”. We get this phrase from 1 Timothy 5:2, where it says, “Treat younger women… as sisters in all purity.” Obviously, this can be applied vice versa as well. Likewise, if we have put our trust in God, we are his children, which makes us brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. I’m sure pretty much all of us would readily agree that we are brothers and sisters, and should treat each other as such, as God commands. But what does that really mean? What does that practically look like? Well, the people in the early church obviously had these questions, too, because in 1 Peter 3:8-9, Peter writes, “Love each other as brothers and sisters. Sympathize with each other. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.” A little later, in chapter 4:8, he writes, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” If you think about it, all of these actions Peter mentions really can be summed up quite easily. In Paul’s words, found in Galatians 5:13, he writes simply, “Through love, serve one another.” It is our God-given responsibility to serve each other. To do what’s best for the other person. To do what they want, instead of what you want. This is what true, brotherly love is all about: putting others before yourself.
            This is what Belle did. And could you imagine how that story would have ended had she not given up her freedom for her Father? The Prince would have died as the Beast, and he and Belle would never have loved each other. Her Father would have died in the dungeon, and Belle would be doomed to spend the rest of her life in the dull, provincial town, likely as Gaston’s wife! God will take our hearts, our choices, our decisions to serve others and use them! But that means we have to actually do it. :)
            There is another part to this, though. We need to do what’s best for others EVEN IF WE THINK WE HAVE A GOOD EXCUSE. “But I deserve to go first!” “But I’m in a hurry!” Theater in particular can be very self-centered – just think of all the “I got this part!” “I need to do this!” “I need to do that!” “I want to sing this part!” All too often, especially in theater, it is SO EASY to get caught up in ourselves, and what WE need or want. Unfortunately, God doesn’t say, “Put others first – unless you’re in a hurry, have something to do, or have a good excuse.” Because God doesn’t work like that. I mean, think about God’s love for us – his sent his one Son, who by the way was still God, to come to earth and die on a cross – because He loves us. Really, God could have used a very legitimate excuse – I’m God! I created EVERYTHING! I’m not going to endure all that pain and death just for the people I made! But God doesn’t make excuses. And as his children, we shouldn’t either.
            I want to close with one last verse, from Philippians 2:3, that really hits home with me, and I hope will for you as well. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others as better than yourselves.”
            I want to challenge each one of us (myself included), in these crazy next two weeks of rehearsals and show, to learn to love each other as brothers and sisters in all purity. To do what’s best for the other person, not ourselves. Could you just imagine what this cast, this show could look like if we all learned to love each other as God would have us do? 

Here are a few more verses that I found in preparing for this devotion that I didn't have a chance to use in it. 

“Having purified your souls by an obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. 1 Peter 1:22

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

“By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you love for one another.” John 13:35

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10

“Don’t let anyone look down on you, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

~Elizabeth

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beauty and the Beast!!

You knew it was coming. :) And now, it's less than two weeks away!! Rehearsals have been picking up speed - I was rehearsing (a large part of it was dancing) on Tuesday from 9 am till 4 pm with virtually no breaks! But I love it. :) We worked on Be Our Guest choreography for a few hours - that song is so much fun! Mom and the little girls came and watched us for awhile...extra motivation to do well. :) Plus the little girls LOVED watching it! lol We had a full run through on Tuesday - those always make you so pumped for your show. It was the first time I had seen the whole second act...Belle is amazing. :) We also worked on the battle for awhile. I'm not going to give anything away, but I'll just say it's going to be cool. :)

So, show dates are March 29, 30, and 31 - at 7 pm, and 1 pm on the 31st as well.
You can get tickets at hpa's website: www.hpami.org.

I won't bore you with any more ramblings on it... you'll just have to come see it!!

I will try to post more frequently on here, but I'm not going to make any promises since tech and show week are quickly approaching. :)

~Elizabeth

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mary Poppins... On BROADWAY TOUR!!

Wow. Has is really been months since I posted last? Life has just gotten so busy... (!) Well, Sound of Music is long over, Beauty & the Beast is fast approaching!!! I will post more info about it later, but in the meantime, a few nights ago, we went to go see...

Mary Poppins on Broadway Tour!!! Yes, it was awesome. Incredibly amazing. Words cannot describe how fantastic everyone was - including the ensemble!! The dance numbers were so much fun - I just sat there reveling in the gorgeous vocals, and beaming at all the incredible choreography!! I had a blast (as I'm sure you can all imagine :D). I decided, if money were no object, I would see every performance. :) lol The story has a slightly different plot as the movie, and it has like 3 times as many songs (okay, maybe not quite, but you get the idea. :). I definitely like the musical better than the movie  - but then, I suppose I always like the musicals better than the movies. :) Anyways, it was just a very fun evening -  not to mention some of my HPA friends were there as well. :)

This is either my favorite, or one of my favorite, songs from the show. It was the same song, same choreography, same costumes, etc - just different people. :) Actually, the guy who played Bert in our show was in the ensemble when it was on the real Broadway stage. :) Enjoy this video, even though it definitely does not do the song justice.

~Elizabeth~