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Diary of a Theatre Gal | These Shining Lives

Theatre is a world unlike any other. I got a glimpse of this in high school, a daily dose in college, and for the past six weeks I've been drinking this truth from a fire hydrant. Back in October, I put my BFA in Theatre Performance to good use and auditioned for a show called These Shining Lives. Much to my surprise and delight I was cast in the lead role of Catherine Wolfe Donohue, a young wife and mother who gets her first full time job at the Radium Dial Company where her life is forever changed.

The thrill of this role was getting to tell the story of the real women who left their mark on history. They paved the way for company regulations and who spoke out against the big businesses that threw away their workers for the product they made, getting away with it for far too long. When these woman contracted radium poisoning, they fought back, and they fought to the death. Catherine won her case after a 7 year law suit and died three weeks later.

The terror of this role came in two pieces: 
1) carrying a show on my shoulders, acting as both narrator and character with only a five minute break off stage
2) cutting off my beloved long hair in favor of a 1920's bob (very Louise Brooks/Thoroughly Modern Millie-esque)

The first was challenging yet so rewarding, an emotional and mental journey for sure! And the second still surprises me when I walk past a mirror. You can call me Velma or Edna Mode if you'd like ;)

[Photo credit: Mary Mackin]

This is the largest role I have had to date, and one of my favorite plays I've ever worked on. I stage managed it during undergrad and tossed the script into the "to direct" pile, my mind full of expectations and ideas for a future production. Little did I know I would step into Catherine's shoes three years later on the performance side instead of behind the scenes. Having had a director's mindset brought its own set of challenges to the process. I had to let go of my view in favor of someone else's, bringing what I had to the table and accepting it when my director had a different take. 

Catherine goes on a rather emotional and physical journey throughout the show. When we first meet her, she introduces us to her world from the outside, from the other side. "This isn't a fairytale, though it starts like one," she says. "It's not a tragedy, though it ends like one," she adds quickly. It's an uphill battle, a learning process, and told oh so poetically. 

She begins as a bright-eyed and hopeful nineteen-year-old off to her first day of work, then must find her place in a gaggle of girls who have worked at the factory for years, watching her family adjust to this new phenomenon of the working mother. A few years later, things begin to go sour. The dust from the paint she works with is no longer a light shimmer that lingers on her fingernails and dresses, but her skin glows from within. Aches and pains settle in, and the company doctor won't tell her what's wrong. She and the other girls are fired from the company when they all become ill, and they must choose to suffer quietly or go down swinging. After losing a bet, Catherine must decide, and it's off to court they go. 

During one rehearsal, I commented that I avoid conflict at all cost. I don't have the guts to stand up like Catherine did; she calls out her boss for the truth behind the matter and presses on even when her health leaves her bedridden and under scrutiny from her hometown and the media. She has such a conviction, a determination, to fight for what's right no matter the cost. That's something I wish I had more of. 

At the end of the play, spoiler alert, we see her again as we did in the beginning. After all is said and done, after her life has faded away, we see Catherine on the other side. Her first words? "There is a God..." She goes on to speak of miracles and angels and her perspective on all that has happened. With a laugh she says, "I think lucky me that I still believe in it all, after all of this." Oh man. What truth! What hope! After all the pain and suffering and injustice she faced, leaving this world well before her time, she still believed. She still hoped. She fought for something greater than herself.

I want to be that kind of woman. I want to stand in front of my Creator at the end of my days and say that I believed and I served with everything I had. I want to tell meaningful stories. I want to encourage others as they journey through their own. I want to act justly, walk humbly, and love mercy. I want to leave an impact, even if my name never hits the papers. And I thank These Shining Lives for reminding me of that.

It always surprises me what I learn about myself and my heart when making theatre. Journeying through love and loss in someone else's life reveals the places where I am building walls or nurturing old hurts or planting new dreams in my own. So as hard and overwhelming and emotionally exhausting I might be at the end of the day, I know the passion for this kind of storytelling and art-making is from the Lord. I can't wait to see what's up next.

Scripture Study Resources

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a hashtag called #instagramatemyblog. I laughed out loud and swiftly realized sometimes it's true. It can be far easier to share my heart with a couple of taps and a snapshot on my way to class than it is to perch at my desk and punch out a blog post. So today I'm announcing my effort to take it back. And with it is a round up of what I've been sharing on Insta that seems to have had the most response and questions.

I'm a creature of habit and my devotional time is no different. In truth, I've been trying to relax my grip on the way I spend time with God during the week, being willing to spend time in scripture alone and allowing myself to rest and listen. Even so, there are certain go-to's that I love and like to have nearby. Below are some of my favorite and most-used resources for diving into the Word.  

1. A journal with blank pages. I have been through eighteen journals in the past five years, so I know my way around a stationery store and what kind works for me. Blank pages are a beautiful thing. Without a guide I don't always write in straight lines, and a book with a grid works, too, but I prefer ones with crisp white full sheets so I can doodle and draw and write in all of the margins and corners in whatever direction I want to. 

My favorite journals come from Anthropologie, and I picked up a few of the same kind to get me through the year. I've run into the problem one too many times where I fall in love with a journal and they are sold out before I can get another. Rifle Paper Co. has another assortment that I've used and always recommend.

2. Deeper Into the Word. These two books were a $5 find at Mardel several years ago, and they've added a great deal of insight into my reading. It's refreshing to take key words or topics from my scripture and find explanations of the original words used and cross references. There is an Old Testament and New Testament book with 100 words a piece. I've found the Kindle versions on Amazon here and here, but no hard copies online.

3. Adoration Prompts. Sara Hagerty, the author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, shares adoration prompts on her blog. Each is rooted in scripture and shares a truth about God to meditate on, pray through, and write about. You'll find the explanation HERE and printables HERE. January was my first month to walk through some of them and it won't be the last. I'm also excited to read through Sara's book later this year. Book club, anyone? ;)

Everyone dives into scripture in a different way. I hit the highlights all to often, relying on verses that spoke to me years ago, and the adoration prompts brought new light to familiar passages, and even revealed new ones I'd been glossing over. 

4. Writing Through the Margins. Making notes in my Bible is not a new habit, but I had seen this book floating around Instagram for a while and it sparked my interest. Lisa Hickman writes about making note of God's presence and whisper in the margins of our life, seeing the in-between spaces as intentional places of connection and conversation. What a perspective shift! 

While I have my color-coded highlighters and sticky tabs, I want to dive into scripture with fresh eyes every time. Sometimes the notes I've made in days gone by remind me of a truth I need to know or a time where God has answered prayer. Whatever your system is, if you're looking for a refresher or you want to start journaling in your Bible, I'd say start here.

5. Semikolon Sticky Tabs. I have a thing for school supplies. And when I say thing I actually mean an obsession, hoarding problem, and I'm drawn to them like a magnet. I picked these tabs up several years ago and made a little code in the front of my Bible. Each color has a different topic making for easy navigating. Verses about finding your identity in Christ, going through hard times, the definition of grace, etc. Semikolon makes several tiny folders of tabs and sticky notes easy to toss into a purse or keep tucked into the Bible itself. 

What are some of your favorite resources? I'd love to know!

Don't forget: In February we are studying the book of Ephesians through Heart of the Word! Read more about it HERE and check out the hashtags on Instagram #heartoftheWord and #heartofEphesians to see who is joining in! Tomorrow (Thursday, February 12) we will be linking up with Rachel of Rachel Rewritten to see what everyone's been learning so far. I can't wait!

Week One | Heart of Ephesians

How's your week going, friends? Heart of the Word launched on Monday and I am already so encouraged by this book and your hearts for Scripture. I wanted to take a moment to remind us that the goal of this is not to get 1,000 pictures on the hashtag or take the prettiest snap of your devotional time. It's to get in the Word. Soak in the love letter written to YOU and to me, and to see our days changed for the better by it. A new perspective in the morning or even on my lunch break is sometimes the refresher I didn't know I needed.

This is a month where I could use some extra encouragement. January was tough, and I shared a bit about it in my last few posts. Battling overwhelm and exhaustion, trying to enjoy life as it comes, Ephesians came at such a sweet time. What a reminder of God's goodness and presence.

I use a set of sticky tabs in my Bible to note similar passages, verses about grace, identity, community, trials, adoption, etc. A bright red flag for adoption sits on the first page of Ephesians. In recent years I have met and now look up to many families who choose to adopt, and it appears to be a hot topic within the church community as well.  Why? Because God authored the concept and lived it out with you and me.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us for adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."
Ephesians 1:3-5, NJKV

I don't know about you, but I don't always feel chosen. Picking teams in recess was a nightmare for me, auditioning can still be frightening, and sitting at home on a Saturday night doesn't always feel peachy keen. We have a desire in us to feel known and wanted and thought of, and when the texts don't come it's easy to question if we are. 

Now read that verse again.

You and I were chosen before the world was created
You and I are wanted by the Creator of the universe
You and I are blessed and loved and known.

So no matter if next weekend means a candlelit dinner for two or a night with Netflix and takeout for one, you can sit secure in Jesus. He loves you. He knows you. He calls you by name. And He's ready and willing to speak. Dive into Ephesians for more of this truth. Soak yourself in it. I know I need to.


Don't forget! Today we're linking up with Rachel at OUR YELLOW DOOR!
And there's still time to sign up for the Monday Morning #heartoftheWord e-mail list: HERE.
Continue to share with us online through #heartoftheWord and #heartofEphesians!

Making February Happen

One of my new favorite sayings is by Lara Casey: "There is nothing magical about January 1st." I've been using Lara's PowerSheets for over a year to help in my goal setting process and this year I've adopted her way of thinking. My January 1st is February 1st. This is my first list of monthly goals of 2015 and I look forward to seeing the progress not perfection.

Above is a glimpse into my blog calendar for this month (and my new favorite candle from Anthropologie!) and I have to say I am especially excited for the weekly link up with #heartofEphesians. Read more about it in yesterday's post.

February Goals:

1. Introduce + co-host #heartoftheWord study on Ephesians. We launched #heartoftheWord yesterday, and I'm already learning SO much from this study. Won't you join us?
2. Perform These Shining Lives with my whole heart. My show opens one week from Thursday. I'm excited to share our story with an audience and see our hard work come to life. 
3. Finalize spring break plans. I have a few ideas up my sleeve but I want to nail down the specifics before February comes to an end. I can't wait for a few days off and the chance to see dear friends.
4. Get rid of the excess/donate a few boxes. I started the process of sorting through my closet and boxes, and my trunk is full of items to go, but I want to make another pass through to simplify.
5. Start the contentment challenge. I have attempted Nancy Ray's contentment challenge a couple of times, but my lack of self control has always won over. I want to curb my spending and replace my habits with something productive and positive. 
6. Read 3 books. I have a large pile of books piled in my living room to read this year, and this month I have Longbourn, Making Things Happen, and Seven on the top of my list. 
7. Prep weekday meals at home. I've done the grocery shopping for this month already and have made it a goal to prep and pack lunches Monday through Friday. Eating out is to be saved for special occasions and weekends. 
8. Complete January's project life pages. Scrapbooking has been a hobby of mine since middle school; hopefully I'll find a few spare hours this month to dive in.

I keep my tending list in the kitchen where I can see these goals daily, as well as my weekly and daily check points. Drinking more water, spending time in the Word, and getting active are top priority, as well as taking time to rest and refresh. I am starting to make more time for self care, something I put aside far too often.

February is the start of a meaningful year lived on purpose.
I choose joy. I choose peace. I choose to take the small steps toward my big dreams.
Let's make it happen, y'all.

Introducing Heart of the Word: EPHESIANS

I've known about the Bible for as long as I can remember. My parents were my Sunday school teachers when I was barely old enough to attend school during the week. I don't remember felt boards with Noah and his ark or what prints hung on the wall. However I do remember sword drills (races to see who could find a particular Bible verse the fastest) and memorization days. I could spit a dozen scriptures out to you before you could blink, and I was proud of it, too. But it wasn't until years later that the Word started to mean something more. And I'm talking around ten years later. 

When I made my 2015 goals, the first on my list was to "live saturated in scripture."  But I didn't want to do it alone. The Word of God is started to come alive for me when I read it in community. Diving in verse after verse with other college students and learning from other women through hashtags and online studies radically shaped my view of both the Bible and the way God works in our lives. From that place Heart of the Word was born.

Heart of the Word: EPHESIANS

Beginning today, I am joining with fellow bloggers and soul sisters to study the Word intentionally and in community, and we are inviting you to join in! The kind-hearted and encouraging Rachel of Rachel Rewritten, Katie of A Place to Dwell, Rachel of Our Yellow Door, and Sarah of Joyfully Organized are co-hosting the series with me and will be sharing their hearts, insights, and routines along the way.

This month we are beginning with the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians is a letter of encouragement and advice, written to remind believers of our immeasurable blessings in Jesus, teaching us not only to be thankful for them, but to live in a manner worthy of them. Paul reminds us that the church is not confined to four walls, that the church is HIS people, every race and every nation, people who love Christ and want to spend their days serving Him. Ephesians is all about having Christ at the center. 

That's what I want to cultivate in this season and every season after it. 
Whatever road or calling I am to walk, it's Him I want to run with. 
And I want to run it with like-minded people. 
This is where you come in :)

Our heart behind this study, and any that will follow, is to simply dive into scripture together. We will follow along and encourage one another by using the hashtags #heartoftheWord and #heartofEphesians, and we will offer weekly opportunities to link up with participants, sharing what the Lord is teaching you during this journey. None of this is required, though we believe that engaging with the Word with other women can only encourage us further.  

If you're interested in a weekly e-mail with updates, sources, reading suggestions, etc. sign up HERE.

We have come up with a calendar for anyone who may want structure, but feel free to study it with your own system. I will be following the breakdown provided below in an effort to spend more time on smaller sections of scripture. Below is also a list of which blog to link to on our weekly link-ups which will take place each Thursday.

Week 1: February 2 - 7 //  Ephesians 1 - 2:13 // Link-Up @ Our Yellow Door
Week 2: February 8 - 14 // Ephesians 2:14 - 3 // Link-Up @ Rachel Rewritten
Week 3: February 15 - 21 // Ephesians 4 + Psalm 63 // Link-Up @ Joyfully Organized
Week 4: February 22 - 28 // Ephesians 5 + 6 // Link-Up @ A Place to Dwell 

The readings are roughly two chapters per week, and we added a Psalm for the third week to open our reading to more of the Bible. I've thrown a lot at you already, but below are two more items of interest. The first is the blog button you are welcome to put on your sidebar or weekly posts, share on social media, resize as needed, to spread the word. All are welcome and the more the merrier! Second, there is a link-up below for anyone who is interested in participating. Simply link to your blog's home page or about me so we can get to know one another better.

I am so excited to dive in with all of you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!