Friday, October 30, 2009

The Director's Lament

At our small group last night, I asked for prayer for the homeschool drama performance next week. Actually, I asked for prayer mostly for me to let go of it and stop stressing. (Although I'm much less stressed after our extra rehearsal yesterday--it was the best we've had yet.)

Keith asked on the way home if I'm worried about this play mainly for my own reputation and glory. And I had to admit that yes, that's a part of it. This is the first drama anything that I've done for these people, the homeschoolers -- and you know what they say about first impressions. It's also the first full play I've ever written and directed -- much more invested in this than in the skits I've done for Sunday morning worship.

But frankly, I think the moms involved in the show have already made up their mind positively about me and the experience, no matter what happens Tuesday night. I've been hearing so much gratitude from them all along the way that I don't expect them to turn on me if the performance somehow turns out to be a flop.

I'll tell you who will turn on me if it's a flop: ME. This was a big step beyond what I've ever done before. I've been struggling all along with whether I bit off more than I could chew. And truth be told, in my imagination I can see myself doing bigger things than this. So, to find that a small, low-cost, low-expectation kid's play was more than I could handle would be very disappointing to me.

In addition, I'm finding the director role to be much more scary than I thought. I'm quickly coming to the point where this show is out of my hands. Where I've done all I can do and it's entirely up to the actors now to make it happen. It's out of my control. Shiver. One of my least favorite sentences in the English language.

So many people have put so much time and energy into this show, it would be such a shame for it not to go well. And if it doesn't . . well, I'm the director. The buck stops here.

But it's not going to flop. It's going to be fine. We have lots of sweet children in cute costumes. Even if they screw up all of the lines in my brilliantly written and insightful script, they will have had a good experience overall. And everyone will think they're cute. Cute is enough in a kids' show.

Nevertheless, I'm still hoping for better than cute.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Daughter and Her Quiverful

I took my eldest clothes-shopping yesterday. This can actually be fun when you're shopping for someone who looks good in just about everything she puts on.

In the course of our conversation, she happened to mention that she intends to have seven children. Seven. Of course, they will all be adopted (childbirth is too painful, you know), so she has the genders and spacing and names all figured out. Four girls and three boys. The oldest will be a girl with my names for her middle names. How sweet.

Now, I realize that she's only 13 and her plans will change multiple times before they come to fruition (she's already reconsidering some of her name choices). But the thing is, I can see her having seven children. It really doesn't surprise me at all. And I don't have any issues with people having big families. If God has called her to mother seven children, and her husband to father the same, then more power to them.

The problem is . . . I'm not sure I feel called to grandmother seven children -- at least not seven from one daughter. Does anyone who knows me see me babysitting seven kids for a weekend while the parents take some time away? Assuming my other daughter is blessed with a couple of her own, that's quite a brood we're talking here.

Unfortunately, it won't matter if I feel "called" to the task or not. The situation will be plopped in my lap and I will have to deal with it. I know, I know . . I will take some cheese with my whine, thank you very much. People have dealt with much worse lap-ploppings than a flock of beloved grandchildren. When they actually come around, I'm sure I'll consider them each a precious blessing from God. But right now, it makes my head spin.

I need to get over this idea that I should get to choose the challenges I face in life. I gotta stop feeling so mistreated and misused when God allows "weeds" to flourish in my well-planned and well-manicured garden. One person's weed is another person's rose. Exposure to viruses builds up our immune system and makes us stronger. And God knows better than I do where my immune system is weak.

Of course, her husband could put a damper on those plans . . . yeah, that's the ticket. I'll just steer her away from the boys in these big families we know . . .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little Bit of Randomness

* We had Kelsey Crews here for the weekend plus two days. She's a friend from NJ -- one of the girls' favorite babysitters -- who is a Freshman at University of Nebraska this fall. What a sweetie! Gives me hope for the future of this generation to know there are actually kids like that out there. We got to talking about how awful middle school is -- and she said she was an outcast kid in middle school that got teased a lot -- and we talked about how God probably used that to make her who she is today. Rather encouraging.

* Leslie and Eastin both got B's on their most recent science tests. Tests they were stressing about. There was much rejoicing!

* Going to the "Creative Team" meeting at Sunnybrook tomorrow, just to observe and see how the group works. Still figuring out what I need to do about the drama team. I'm hoping I have opportunity tomorrow to sit down and talk to the guy about my hesitations -- I think that will be a good discussion to have.

* Keith is coming home tonight and will be home for four days straight. And there was much rejoicing! Really, his business traveling has gotten out of hand lately. I hope it calms down soon.

* We had rehearsal yesterday for the homeschool drama thing. Of my 12 dancing princesses, 6 were home with the flu. Sigh. We're scheduling an extra rehearsal for them, but that still gives us only three rehearsals left. My co-conspirator in this endeavor told me yesterday that this production is already better than the last one someone did with the homeschoolers. I suppose that's good to hear . . . but it makes me glad I had nothing to do with that last one!

* Eastin's going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween. Anyone who knows her is saying, "Perfect!" Leslie wants to be a hula girl -- we just can't find the hula skirt . . .

* I hate Halloween. Candy (cavities and hyperactivity) and costumes (?!? I'm lucky to dress myself in the mornings . . ). And rude unknown children ringing our doorbell all evening freaking out the dog. Ugh.

* I've got to get a schedule down for blogging. I need to do the writing -- it feeds me, in a way. But life is getting busier all the time and I don't just find the free time to sit and write anymore.

* I love fall. Cooler weather. Colorful leaves.

* Did I mention I hate Halloween?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The One-Year Mark

It's October 13th, 2009. October 13th, 2008, was a cold, rainy day. I remember that because it was the day the movers arrived at our new house here in Sioux City to unload our stuff.

This means we've been living in Sioux City for a year now. Hmmm. I'm trying to decide if it feels like we've been here a year. Yes, I think it does. A long, eventful, often busy, sometimes difficult year. Thankfully, we're all "in a better place" (figuratively speaking) than we were on October 13th, 2008.

We're settled in our house. The last little bits of unpacking and settling in that have yet to be finished are more of the nature of those kinds of things that seem to hang around being undone for years when you own a house. When we're out of town for a while, we find ourselves longing to be back home -- and this is home.

We have friends. No, not the really close intimate friends that we left behind and still long for, but when I remember where we were on October 13th, 2008, I have to feel grateful. My girls have kids they can call to play with at most anytime. I have time occasionally with women that I have things in common with and can enjoy. Keith -- well, he has as many friends here as he's had anywhere for the last 15-20 years, I suppose. :)

Personally, I feel like I've found more . . I dunno . . purpose for my life here lately? I'm one of those people who is always involved in a million things (more than I should be, usually), and the first several months after a move is always a difficult one for me. I feel directionless, purposeless, useless. Yes, I'm always parenting and homeschooling, but I kind of need another outlet for myself, too. The homeschool drama and church drama stuff has helped a lot there.

So, I feel officially like an Iowan now. Well, no, I can't honestly say that. But I feel like we've officially left New Jersey. Like a lengthy season of mourning is coming to a close. I still miss people and things there. But we're home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Church Drama Philosophy

A friend suggested that I might find some direction concerning the drama thing at Sunnybrook if I articulated for myself my "philosophy of church drama". A good idea. The kind of thing I would do anyway. And I find that blogging facilitates such thinking processes for me, so you get to be privy to my ponderings. Lucky you. A forewarning: this may not be great quality writing -- brainstorming rarely is.

So, why do drama in church? (First of all, I should probably clarify that I'm mainly talking about sketches during the Sunday morning worship service. I know a lot of churches don't do those at all, but do drama for special events and such. I'm all for that as well, but since the Sunnybrook man is mainly focusing on the Sunday morning drama, that's where I'm focusing my theorizing at the moment.)

Well, I'm pretty adamant that we don't do drama just because it will entertain people, or to hold their attention, or anything like that. I mean, that may happen in the process, but that's not the goal. Not that there isn't a time and place for simply being entertained at a church event -- but in a worship service, there should be more to it than that.

I think it was somebody from Willow Creek from whom I first heard that a drama should set up the question that the sermon answers. That's the most common use of drama in a worship service, I think: to prepare the congregation for the sermon. Sometimes that takes the form of giving background information. They do that frequently at Sunnybrook--skits that tell the Bible story which is the text for the sermon. This is particularly appropriate, I think, in a "seeker-oriented" church, where you can't assume your listener has any Biblical knowledge coming in.

But what we did more of at Hope -- and what I like more -- are the skits that get the congregation in the right mindset to hear the word of God in the sermon. Something that they can observe and say, "Yeah! That's me! That's what I do. That's what I wonder. That's what I struggle with." Something that puts them mentally and emotionally in the place where they can apply the forthcoming message directly to their own lives.

And I've learned that the simpler such skits are, the better. The more auxiliary stuff involved, the more chance there is that the congregation will be distracted by that from the point of the sketch. My writing mentor Randy encouraged me to keep a piece focused and lean. I feel the same way about the "staging" on a Sunday morning. Having a lot of set pieces and props and extensive costuming often is a distraction more than a help.

I also think it's very important that the sketch and the sermon are closely tied together . . . that the latter flows naturally from the former. If you have a skit that sends the congregation's minds off in one direction, and then the preacher has to corral them back and send them in the different direction he is headed . . . well, that's a lousy skit for that service. It needs to be replaced, or tweaked, or scrapped altogether. We don't need to do drama just for the sake of doing drama -- it needs to be working in tandem with everything else in the service to make a point.

Doing such sketches, however, require several things. You have to have a pastor who plans far enough head to give the drama team time to pull a piece together. You also need writers who can create a piece (or tailor something from another source) to fit the focus of a particular service. You need, obviously, good actors -- and actors who are committed to this as their particular ministry, so they are available when needed. And ample rehearsal time, with a good director.

It's pretty easy to do a crappy job of drama ministry. And it's a challenging thing to do it well. Thus, my desire to be very sure about this commitment. I don't like doing things crappily.