Nov 21, 2017

Project Love || Remembering

I was taking a test.  My hand shook so much that I could barely sign my name.  The computer booted up, and my heart pounded as I waited for the instructor to sign me in.  And then it was time.  The words stared at me, waiting, watching.  Start this exam.

And then I was staring at a different computer screen.  This time I was trying to hold back the tears that burned in my eyes.  A friend typed on, telling me how happy she was to have a new baby sibling.  I pretended to rejoice.  She thought I was glad.  But the tears slipped down as I wondered why she had a baby when ours was never born.

Another friend was hurting.  Her daddy was dying before her eyes, and there was nothing they could do.  She had to watch her little sisters fall apart as their protector become too weak to go to work.  And then too weak to get out of bed.

The days passed on.  As a weekend rolled around, I found my face covered in stage make-up.  Actors rushed around me to their spots as my fingers grew cold.  There in front of me was the red curtain.  In one second it would open up.  Would I forget my lines?  Or do something embarrassing?  What if...?

But day turns around to night.  As I lay in bed snuggling under the warm blankets each night, I remember.

I see the testing screen, but I remember how God led me through and helped me pass the exam.  I feel the dull ache from past tears, but I remember that God had a purpose and brings healing.  I look back on my friend's pain and smile to think of the day when her father was healed and took the first step to complete recovery.  And I can almost hear the applause after a performance finished and feel the hugs from fellow actresses as we rejoiced in a beautiful success.

Because life is hard.  And it hurts.  Sometimes there aren't answers.  We fail or look silly or lose someone we love.

But remembering is so important.

Faith doesn't only come when we're free from doubt.  Faith comes when we choose to believe - to be loyal - despite our uncertainty.  

Last week I shared a verse that continues to ring true.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. 
- Lamentations 3:25-26

 This week and in the ones to follow, I am focusing on the area of prayer.  If we love the Lord with all our heart, won't prayer be a natural instinct?  Won't it pour from our lips as a response to a passionate relationship?

Step #1 is remembering.  Sometimes we must step away from life and fix our eyes upon Jesus.  We must choose to quietly wait for God and have faith even amidst the doubt.

My friend Sarah mentioned this in a comment, and how relevant it is!

It's hard to just pause to look at God's goodness in the midst of life, but it's important to do so... sometimes when we get really busy, or when we simply don't take time to dwell on His goodness, then it's good just to sit still and close our eyes and think about Him.

This is my challenge for you.  Let's think about His goodness and praise Him for His love.  Sing, or dance, or sit still, or just stare at the stars.  Whatever it is, I want to remember how God pulled us through the hard times.  When we were broken, He healed us.  When we were scared, He brought comfort.

And I'd be thrilled to hear from you, dear friends!  When has God been strong in your life?  What miracles or moments are especially sweet for you to recall?  If life is hard right now, are you going to have faith despite the doubts?

On Friday, I hope to share one exciting snippet from my life that I'm thankful for.  And then perhaps we can continue to dive into other aspects of prayer and loving God.  Until then, let's praise God by remembering.


Nov 14, 2017

Lessons from Tech Week

Dear Readers,

I promised today to update you on life, but I can't seem to.  I'm still struggling to get over post show depression (PSD).  It's a real thing.  It hurts when you leave your cast friends after being together for so long.  Even knowing that you'll see them again doesn't help.  So many "lasts."  I miss my Anne of Green Gables family.

But I don't want to sit here in tears.  This week was crazy.  It was emotionally draining, painful, and stressful.  But it was also exciting, joyful, and beautiful.  Even in the rough times, God was there.  So here's what I learned this week, despite the hard moments.

And, for those of you who weren't able to travel up here for the performance, I'm including some cast photos.  I hope they give you a little glimpse into the amazing people I was able to be with during this fall production.

Me, Anne, and Marilla

God's Ready to Encourage Us

Before the performances started, I was becoming nervous.  I'm not a natural actress.  I don't like audiences, I don't like performing, and I'm afraid to mess up.  But at one point I randomly read a passage in the Message Bible that was such a source of encouragement.  And it came from a very unappreciated passage.  If you're struggling, I encourage you to read the entire chapter.  What a precious reminder.

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all - oh, how well I remember -
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
His merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
- Lamentations 3:19-26 MSG 

Schoolboys (including Moody, Gilbert, and Charley)

God can do Miracles

Our Monday practice ended up with us setting the stage and props.  Basically, I spent the whole time putting up wallpaper with some other friends.  The next day, all the wallpaper had fallen off.  And then our practice was terrible.  We missed entrances, forgot props, and basically ruined everything.  My family got home around 11:00 PM, and I was ready to give up on the play altogether.

In the morning, I didn't even want to wake up.  I was drained.  Discouraged.  But I asked an online group of Christian girls to pray for us, and, right before the practice, I grabbed a friend and a little sister to pray together with me.  God worked!  The practice wasn't perfect by any degree, but things weren't stressful like they had been.  We enjoyed it.  And, when the shows came along, prayer continued to make a huge difference.  The entire cast would hold hands and pray together.  It was beautiful.

Me as Mattie Cuthbert

God Works in our Weaknesses

I'm a naturally quiet-voiced person.  All the vocal projecting began to wear on my voice, and every day it got a bit worse.  When our second performance came along (Saturday), I was at my limit.  I stepped on stage for one scene, and my voice almost completely left.

When I finished squeaking out my lines, I went backstage in a panic.  My emotions were everywhere.  The show would be ruined because I couldn't even find a voice!!  I was nearly in tears, asking God why this had to happen.  Why me?  Why now?

But when I felt torn apart, He held me together.  Our sweet backstage helper offered cough drops, and I made it through the show.  Even though my stress levels were flying, we did it.  No, God did it.  It was a great performance.  Because when we are weak, He is strong.

Diana, Anne, and Gilbert

People are Deeper

When we see people, they only show us the side they want us to see.  But in Anne of Green Gables tech week, I was able to see some of their true sides.  We were like family.  I saw them when they were stressed and ready to give up.  I saw girls who smiled and offered constant encouragement.  We laughed together.  We nearly cried together.  We threw baby-powder in each other's hair to make us look like old ladies.  We teased each other in the mess-ups but only loved more.  Because we all messed up.  We were all stressed.  But it was like family.  It showed me that people are more than strangers or friends.  They have problems and mars, and they mess up.  But they're beautiful too.

So yes, I miss what we had.  I miss my Anne of Green Gables family.  But God showed me so much through the long, tiring week.  I could go on and on about each show, the special moments, the many things that touched me.  But instead, I'll pause here.

Embrace every moment because they slip by so quickly.  And if you're struggling, remember that He's always strong.

Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
...You steady my heart.
- Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe


Nov 7, 2017

Quick Thoughts

Dear Readers,

As I'm writing this on Monday, it's the first day of Tech Week for the play I'm in.  For you non-theater people, Tech Week consists of practices every day until performing the final showcases.  So yes, lots of work, make-up, costumes, mess-ups, laughter, relationships, and memories in the making.  I'm so excited (and a little nervous).  =)

But, because of that, I'm going to keep this post short, and I won't respond to comments until next week.  I'll see you back next Tuesday for some updates in life and maybe photos.

I'll miss you all.  Remember that you are loved and treasured.  God rejoices over you with gladness and quiets you by His love (Zephaniah 3:17).  Life's hard, but He's bigger.

If you haven't noticed, I took some time last week to redesign my blog, as it's been more than a year since I last did that.  (thanks to my friend Alea who helped me immensely!)  If you haven't seen the new look, here it is.  =)

I'll leave you with some challenging words from Oswald Chambers that seem to add onto Project Love.  Keep running the good race, my friends.

In Christ Alone,

Obedience or Independence?

If you love Me, keep My commandments.    John 14:15

Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an "If," meaning, "You do not need to do this unless you desire to do so."  "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…" (Luke 9:23). In other words, "To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me." Our Lord is not talking about our eternal position, but about our being of value to Him in this life here and now. That is why He sounds so stern (see Luke 14:26). Never try to make sense from these words by separating them from the One who spoke them.

The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When God’s redemption brings a human soul to the point of obedience, it always produces. If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.

 from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers