Tuesday, May 19, 2015

it isn't your story

For the past several months, our homeschool drama group has been working on the musical Pilgrim, which is an adaptation of the book Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan.  For those who may not have read this book, it is the story of “the man” who realizes the burden of his sin and begins a journey (at the impetus of the King) which leads him on the path, first to the Cross and eventually to the Celestial City.  The path is sometimes full of joy and sometimes full of struggle, but the man, who is called Christian, comes to realize that the King is always with him as he travels.  I read the book in my younger years and plan to read it again this summer with my kids, but even knowing the basic premise (I can’t remember all the details) I wasn’t prepared for how powerfully I would be moved as I watched these kids perform.

This production has been several years in the making – since our drama director found the play and has been waiting for her daughter to be old enough to play Christian.  I have no doubt that God has been, in her words, staying her hand, until our group gained the needed maturity to tackle such a huge project.  We have never done a musical and the majority of our soloists had never sung a solo in public.  Most of them were sure that they absolutely COULD NOT sing in public, but they did and it was beautiful. 

God reminded me of many things as we prepared for and performed this play.  From the very first time I watched the DVD of the original performance and then even more as I read the script, I began to see so many parallels to my own journey.  Even my kids began to notice things and would often mention how some detail of life resembled the play.  Then, as I watched Isabela (and her Mama) tackle the role of Christian and face the many trials along the way (both figurative and literal), it became even more clear that God was in the timing of this.  These kids (and their directors) were not just learning lines and blocking, we were learning the Truth of the Presence of God in every situation.  The kids faced the trials of parts outside of their comfort zones and the adults faced details of sets and sound systems (among other things) that seemed impossible to work out.  Everyone dealt with everyday life that seemed to crowd into (or crowd out) the time needed to prepare for the play.  But, we persevered and the play came together; as a result, we had the opportunity to see God bless our efforts.

I have been working through my emotions surrounding the play since our final scheduled performance this past Saturday and I want to record some of the things I would like for the cast to know about what they have just experienced.  These are the things that I want my own children to take away from this experience and the things that I want to remember as well.

This was more than just a play.  I think our students know that.  I have been amazed as I have watched the kids grow through this production, not just as performers, but as people.  I pray that the truth of this play has seeped into their very being and that they will never be the same.  Each one of our drama kids may have been to the Cross before this play started, but we all need to be reminded that the King is always with us and that He cares about every moment of our lives.  I hope that they never forget that a Christian can leave the path, but cannot step outside of the King’s care for His children. 

Any play has the potential to teach us something, but this one goes much deeper.  These children – many of whom are actually young adults – had the opportunity to step on to a stage and share the Gospel.  In order to do this, each one had to “become” a character.  Some of those characters “fit” the individual.  Some didn’t.  Many of them had to go back and forth between being good guys and bad guys.  Some kids had lots of lines, some had only a few.  But none of that matters.  I want these kids to know that it makes no difference what part they played, the number of lines they spoke, or even the amount of talent they have for acting.  Every one of those students participated in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this play.  Even those playing the “bad guys” set in motion a time when Christian learned something more from the King. 

And that is why this play was so very moving to me.  God using the good and the bad to show us HIS plan is a very real part of life.  As Christians, we often struggle to see the good in a situation that holds only grief and despair for us, but thankfully, God sees the bigger picture and He isn’t going to leave us in our despair.  Often, it is in our lowest moments - in the times of our greatest trials when our King uses the people around us to speak to our deepest needs and to point us to Him.  One of my favorite parts of the play is the Castle of Doubt scene (where Christian and Hopeful have left the path looking for an easier way and learn the hard way that the story isn’t about them).  I have been there and I am so thankful for the people who have filled the role of Hopeful in my life.  We all need to be reminded occasionally that this life isn’t about us.  This isn’t your story or my story, it is HIS story and that is infinitely better.

I realize that this most of this won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the play or read the book – so go do it!  Read the book that is.

I know that this is already long, but I can’t help but end with a few pictures of the play.

Lora in her role as Obstinate … she plays a pretty good bad guy.

James as Evangelist – my favorite of my kid’s roles.

Lora was our choreographer (she took the original dances and turned them into something our less experienced dancers could actually do). I think she learned that she would rather dance than choreograph.

The whole crew at Vanity Fair

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Daybook 5/7/15

For Today...
May 7, 2015

Outside my window…
another beautiful Spring day.
We are having an unusually long stretch of spring weather ~ it has been wonderful!

I am thinking about and praying for…
a couple of friends who are going through tough times right now.

I am thankful…
that Daniel chose not to play baseball this year.  I miss it (a lot!), but with the older kids in two plays, with rehearsal several nights a week, it would just be too much!

I am wearing…
gray shorts and 
an Operation Christmas Child t-shirt.

I am creating…
a schedule for our “summer school” … in my head at least.  I need to take time to get it down on paper.

I am going…
to do school work this morning,
to drama practice this afternoon while my Daddy takes Lora to dance, and to a meeting at church tonight while Ronnie takes the older two kids to their "other" drama rehearsal.
And today is a slow day!

I am hoping…
to make it to June 6th 
with my sanity intact!

I am wondering…
about lots of things … 
none really worth sharing.

I am reading…
The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader ' 
by C.S. Lewis.
The kids are thoroughly enjoying reading the Chronicles of Narnia series for the first time.  I won’t let them watch the movies until we finish all of the books, which should happen in the next month, or so.

I am learning…
that everyone is going through something.

In my kitchen…
baked chicken and veggies for supper tonight. I have an ulterior motive…leftover chicken made into chicken salad for lunch tomorrow!

In the homeschool room…
Lora is working hard on her poetry project for her final in 9th grade literature.  I am very excited to see what she comes up with. The boys are just plugging along at normal stuff for today.  After today, we will officially be on hiatus until after the performances of Pilgrim next week.

A favorite quote for today…
“…When I was young, I would see all these people with blemishes but as I got closer, I saw they weren’t blemishes at all.  
They were scars.”

One of my favorite things…
taking pictures of flowers and bugs and other “nature” things.

A peek into one of my days…
a few of my spring bugs and things

Join Peggy at The Simple Woman's Blog for more daybooks.

Monday, May 4, 2015


It happens every year about this time. I realize that we are approaching the end of the school year and we haven't accomplished as much as I would have liked.  It doesn't matter that we school year-round, so the end of the school year simply means that there will be a change in our extra-curricular activities we go from drama and dance to Vacation Bible School preparation but that is another story in itself.

This year is different, though.  Now that I have my first high-school student, I am feeling the pressure to “keep up” with what her counterparts in public school, or even other homeschoolers, are doing.

But, that is not why I am educating my children at home.

All of this contemplation has led me to really search out what it means to be educated.  I looked up the definition and the word means exactly what I thought it meant, but what does that really mean for my kids?

Simply put, what is it that I want my children to know before they graduate?  More importantly, what do they need to know before they leave the safety of our home and make their way in the world?  Does my responsibility for my children's education end with a list of courses to finish and credits to list on a transcript?  Somehow, this seems to miss out on the whole point of what I have spent the last 10 years doing or at least aiming to do. I don’t want my kids to leave home thinking that their education has been limited to the time we have spent doing bookwork.

With that in mind, I am working on a list of the “things” I want the kids to know or understand before they leave the nest.  This list probably won't scratch the surface of everything that they really need, but I am just going to start and see how far I get.

To my children:
·        Each of you is loved unconditionally.  The love that your Daddy and I have for you is in no way tied to anything you might (or might not) accomplish ~ academically or otherwise.  But, never forget that we do not love you perfectly we dont have that ability.  We have made mistakes and we will continue to make mistakes.  Our mistakes don’t mean that we love you any less, they simply mean that we are human.

·        I want the three of you to learn to love each other unconditionally.  Someday you just might need each other dont wait for that day to come to become friends.

·        On the same train of thought as #1, you each need to understand that you are not the center of our world.  I don’t believe that God ever intended it to be that way.  Someday, you will step out of our home and make your own way in the world.  When you do, it will go easier for you if you already understand that you aren’t the center of the universe. This may not make sense to you now, but someday it will.

·        I want you to know the value of hard work.  Sometimes teaching you this seems like a losing battle to your daddy and me.  But we will continue plugging along.  You may not enjoy hard work now, but I pray that you learn to do it anyway. (See Colossians 3:17)

·        I also want you to know the beauty of serving others.  This is something that I already see each of you embracing, and I am extremely proud of you for it.  Just don’t lose the joy you now find in service. I don’t claim to have learned too many things in this life, but I do believe that you will never regret time spent serving others.  Oh, and don’t worry if they don’t seem to appreciate what you do.  Ultimately, what you do isn’t for them anyway.  (Again, see Colossians 3:17)

·        I want you to know the importance of being willing to step out of your comfort zones and try new things.  This was probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an adult.  Don’t wait like I did. You will be amazed by the things you can accomplish if you are willing to try.

·        I want you to learn how to be a friend.  This is a tough one.  I am “full-grown” and I am still learning.  Learn to forgive, even when it is hard.  Learn that just when someone seems most un-lovable, this is most likely the time that they need someone to show them love.  Ask God to allow you to see people the way He sees them.

·        I want you to know how to think outside the box.  I don’t want you to buck the system just for the sake of being different, but I don’ t want you to follow the crowd either.  Think for yourself.  And more importantly, pray and seek God’s guidance and then follow Him!  (See Proverbs 3:5-6)

·        There is one final lesson that I want you to know before I type up that final transcript.  I want you to know HOW to learn.  In the immortal words of Ernest T. Bass, you will learn how to “read a little, write a little, and tote up yer ciphers” during the years we school together, but unless you walk away knowing how to learn things on your own, I will have failed you.  And what is probably more important, I want you to WANT to learn.  I hope that you will never forget the saying that hangs on our school room wall –
If you are not willing to learn,
 no one can help you.
If you are determined to learn,
 no one can stop you.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but maybe it is a good beginning.  I am thankful that I still have a few more years to be involved in my children's education, but I know that the time will fly and I will be typing that final transcript before I know it ... 

but I'm not going to dwell on that thought right now.