Wednesday, May 29, 2013

what time is it?

flip flops
via pinterest
Yesterday I fished my slightly faded bathing suit out of my bottom drawer, found my athletic shorts and pulled a jcpenney tshirt over the suit. We packed the pool bag, counted goggles and towels, and headed off to the first day of swim practice.

It's kinda funny - as we walked in, several of us commented on how it really didn't feel like it had been an entire year since last summer. Time truly does fly.

It was also funny being at the pool, but not at the pool. Not coaching - I'll be gone. Not swimming - I'm graduated. Just hanging out. Got two lovely wet hugs from the two little girls I taught to swim last year. They've both grown a foot and sweet as ever. Also received a flying leaping hug from my hyper Harper, who also did Annie with us this year. And Sam. And sweet fellowship with my dear "coach" Jessie. No matter what the circumstances, I was glad to be back, if only for a little while.

These past few days also included a grill-out at my grandparents with my cousin who's about to deploy, a Memorial Day cookout with several wonderful families - including my loyal blog reader/most faithful commenter 14th Assistant Kitchen Maid a.k.a. The Ordinary Princess *grin* - and an exhilarating and strenuous early morning hike with Dad, Maddie and Andrew.

The point of all this is not that I am busy, but that it has arrived - with temperatures in the 80s, sudden afternoon wind and rain storms, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine, stacks of shorts and tshirts piled on beds, flip flops in random places around the house, brightly painted nails, pink faces and brown arms, slow afternoons and vacation around the corner…

summer is here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

your hands.

when my world is shaking/heaven stands/when my heart is breaking/I never leave Your hands.

It's a new reality. A letting go. A holding on. When your heart is breaking, your world is falling apart, and there's nothing you can do. You can despair, give up, quit. Or you can cling to the One Who holds your story, and your family's story, in His hands. It doesn't change the reality, or remove the problem, but it is a soothing balm in the midst of great pain.

I speak not only for myself, but for my daddy, my grandparents, my aunts, and my entire extended family as I ask for your prayers. We're working through what it means to have a family member with a serious form of blood cancer. For the sake of privacy, and also because we don't actually know all what's going on ourselves, I'm not going to share much more than that. But I do want to say that my Aunt Lisa is one of the strongest people I know, and her attitude is heartening. This is not going to be an easy road - it's already harder than anyone could've imagined - but we will get through this, and we will be stronger because of it. Pray for us.

Friday, May 24, 2013

when a show closes.

sometimes you miss the show itself, like the way I still miss Bye Bye Birdie with every fiber of my theatre-kid heart.

sometimes you miss being *in* the show - because it's one you've always wanted to do. Like Sound of Music.

but sometimes, you just miss people and the atmosphere. Annie isn't my favorite show, but this has been my favorite experience. the joy and community backstage, the wild humor, the support. I was pretty sick with a strep infection for both show weekends, and the prayers and love I received from my cast made it all worth it.


I shared this show with six of my siblings. Six of my TALENTED siblings, I might add. I'm so proud of them, and those three days that we shared the stage were pretty awesome. And, ask anyone who saw us, and they will tell you that Michael pretty much stole the show. Wacky for the win!

This show brought a lot of theatrical firsts for me as well: first time playing multiple roles within a show (grand total of three!), wearing a wig, dancing with a newspaper (it's the newsie in me *grin), throwing said newspaper into the audience, and working as a dresser for a lead role (Annie). It was quite an experience!

Here's a link to some of Ashley's professional pictures from Cast A (my siblings were Cast B, I was in both). I'll share our photos on here or Google+ once we get them :)

I love my Black Box family, never more so than after this show. Every production endears them to me more and more.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Right now, I'm praying for nearly ten families with baby-related requests. With some, I'm rejoicing over a healthy birth, lifting up some who have newborns with health complications, and several more are looking forward with anticipation to an upcoming arrival…but also my heart is grieving with one family who just learned they will never meet their precious little one in this life.

Through all this baby drama, the joy and the heartbreak, one thing has stood out to me: 

every single one of these lives is precious and perfect.

The world may have one version of perfect - the healthy kind, the "wanted" kind - but the reality is God created each of these little lives, and NOTHING about these babies is a surprise to Him. 

Victorian Mother and ChildIt's no surprise to Him that Baby W's heart is healthy, it's no surprise that Baby G's heart is not. It's no surprise to Him that the Baby P's mama had to go on bed rest, or that precious Baby C got to go to heaven early. Or even that Baby M is a girl, and the other Baby P will be the youngest of nine. No surprises.

What IS surprising is that there are people in the world who would call each of these miracles an "accident", "unwanted", or "unnecessary." Not blessings. Not acknowledging the fact that God ordained each life, and has a name for each child. Most importantly, ignorant of the fact that each baby is made in God's image. 

I cannot wait for the day when, Lord willing, I will hold my own baby in my arms. A baby that is not a surprise, beautifully created, and a blessing to his parents. Until then, it's my joy to celebrate and pray for each new life given to my dear friends, no matter what the circumstances, because the simple fact is:

children are a blessing.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

happy life post.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately - just got through tech week and our first show weekend, and now I'm facing one short month before I leave my family for the summer, so I've been a little pre-occupied. But it's a happy, wonderful life I'm living, and here's some reasons why:

01. blessed that I have a theatre family who cares so deeply and sincerely about my welfare. It's been a rough week, what with fever, congestion, exhaustion, and finally the strep diagnosis. The boatloads of prayers and emails from them were so wonderfully encouraging and kept me from getting discouraged.

02. happy pangs of nostalgia sweeping over as we visited our old church on Mother's Day. Did we even leave? Even though I love our current church home, and I know that's where we belong, I didn't realize how much of my heart and who I am is *still* bound up in the church where I grew up. Precious memories.

03. spending time with family, celebrating the new little person sharing our table, letting the weird feeling sink in that Julia just *finished* her first year at UVa - wild, and just catching up with everyone in general. A relaxing Mother's Day.

04. celebrating my wonderful Mama on the Thursday before Mother's Day, due to our hectic weekend plans. We surprised her with a special lunch (reubens), a cake from Chandler's, cards, gifts and lots of love. It was a good reminder for me that everyday should be a mother's day - and I should be going out of my way to bless her on a daily basis, not just a couple days a year.

05.  a stellar opening weekend for Annie! I wish I could've enjoyed it more, and not been so stuffed up and icky-feeling, but I still had fun, and both casts worked so hard and did a wonderful job. And, after years of hoping, I was able to share the stage with six of my seven siblings. They are SO TALENTED and Michael managed to steal the entire show with his portrayal of Wacky the Puppet in the Hour of Smiles radio program scene. I love these guys so much.

06. my summer playlist. I'm a shuffle girl generally, but for this particular playlist, I always start at the beginning and listen straight through. It gives me that happy "all's right with the world" feeling.  And I know it's not summer yet, but it might as well be.

07. living in the beautiful town that I live in. Nothing like an afternoon ramble across the Downtown Mall, exploring quirky boutiques, scribbling a funny message on the speech wall, or checking your reflection in the windows of the Paramount. Somethings never change. *winky face*

08. being in preliminary prep for my trip to Colorado, such as putting together outfits, buying shoes, looking for plane tickets, etc. With just four short weeks between today and departure, I'm starting to get the travel bug, as well as pre-big-trip jitters. It's exciting - the thought of meeting 100 new people I've never seen before and spending all summer pursuing God with them….just wow.

09. seeing the incredibly talented touring cast of West Side Story. They were going through some illness, so the cast was a little jumbled, but they put on a wonderful show and it made for a special evening out with Dad. Being who he is, and knowing that I wanted to meet some of these folks, Dad found the back way to the bay and we had a great little chat with two of the cast members and I got some signatures. Thanks, y'all! :D

10. bye bye birdie. And if you dare to tell me that I was in that show a whole year ago and it's OVER, then you won't be feeling so good. Our newspaper clipping is still stapled on the bulletin board at preschool, so as far as I'm concerned, it's still running. Abbey and I can still do our "Lot of Livin'" choreo - we showed it to Whitney on Sunday - and I still can't listen to "Telephone Hour" without choking up at at the "hi-ya Hugo" part. Oh, happy denial!

What's made you smile lately?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

new every morning

It's Saturday. I slept in until seven thirty because I honestly can't make myself sleep later than that no matter what day it is. I took a shower, didn't blow dry my hair, then sat criss-cross applesauce on my unmade bed running my fingers through it trying to help it dry on its own. I pulled my bible off the desk and flipped absentmindedly through the highlighted, dog eared, precious pages looking for the Proverb of the day. Finger running down the page, and then the prayer, "Lord, show me something new from your Word this morning."

I did get something new. A new verse. I must've read it before, since I've gone through the Bible cover to cover several times in my life, but I have no recollection of this gem. A new verse. How often does that happen?

It rang through my heart like nothing else has in a long time. It's poetry, beautiful words straight from God, painting a beautiful picture in my mind.

But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
proverbs 4:18

With all that I'm facing, all the excitement and anticipation and ache and tears and emotion, all that's rushing at me this summer, this was the Word I needed to hear. 

With tears in my eyes, I thanked the Father for showing me He cared. That He's still listening to me, even when I ignored Him with the uncaring attitude of an unfaithful bride. I've been handed a fresh start - because His mercies truly are new every morning, and He alone can make my path to shine ever brighter unto the perfect day.

Friday, May 3, 2013

faces // meet jim

time to switch things up a little! after our Phantom run, we're jumping to The Lion King to meet one of the cast members over there. This is someone I met in real life back in February, and I can't wait to introduce him to y'all.

meet jim ferris
actor. standby Pumbaa, Zazu, Timon
in The Lion King on Broadway

To start, introduce yourself to us! Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Jim Ferris and I am an actor whose is currently performing on Broadway in The Lion King..

How did you get started in theatre?
I became interested in theatre when I got cast in my first school play in the 7th grade. By the time I graduated high school, I started pursuing acting as a career.

How long have you been with this show?
I have been in The Lion King for the past 9 years.  The first 3 years was on the national tour and the last 6 in the Broadway company.

What's your favorite thing about being a stand-by?
Because I cover 3 of the lead "character roles" (Timon, Pumbaa & Zazu), I never get bored with the show. During an 8 show performance week, I probably average going on for one of my 3 roles 1 to 2 times a week. You don't get "burnt out" this way.

Something you love about being on set for The Lion King?
The show just turned 15 years old on Broadway back in November. Because this show has a timeless feeling, it never seems to get old. My favorite thing is to watch the audience, on a regular basis, experience the open number The Circle of Life. No matter how many times I have watched it, it never gets old.  It's so wild to see audience members from all over the world joyfully and emotionally react to the start of the show.

How does it feel, bringing The Lion King to life for children who have grown up watching the Disney movie?
It's wonderful because it's not the movie. The movie is SO amazing and their is no way to recreate it onstage. But, the way the original, creative team developed the musical has been one of the most artistic and thrilling things any child or adult can experience in live theatre..

My sisters are curious if grubs and bugs are actually slimy yet satisfying - do you have any experience in that area?
Slimy? Yes. Satisfying? Not really. You have to eat a lot of them to feel full.

What's something you enjoy doing on your off days, or in your free time?
My wife and I love to take day trips and visit nearby states. During the Spring and Summer I love to work in my garden.

What's been one of your career highlights?
This past November for The Lion King's 15th Anniversary performance, the entire audience was completely filled with celebrities, Lion King alum, VIP's, etc. The actor who plays Timon got sick earlier in the day and couldn't perform that night. I was called to play Timon for the big, gala performance. It was pretty thrilling. Plus, I got to meet a lot of celebs at the after-party.

Do you have a dream role you'd love to play someday?
I would love to play Truman Capote in the one man show TRU. And I would love to play Bill Snibson in the musical ME AND MY GIRL.

Favorite thing about being on Broadway?
The greatest thing about it is that I made it. It's a wonderful testament of working very hard to get to your goals. I'm living proof that if you work very hard, keep you eye on the prize, and DON'T GIVE UP, anything is possible.

Biggest challenge about being on Broadway?
Once you're  in a Broadway show, you want to be in another Broadway show.  The biggest challenge is working even harder on your craft so any other opportunities that come your way, you are on the top of your game. This will make you an asset and hopefully many people will want to work with you in the future.

Who are your heroes/role models?
My parents grit and work ethic are a part of my soul. My cousin Rob is one of the most creative people I have ever met. Creatively, I always wanted to have his brain. My theatrical inspiration is an actor named Jim Dale (you may know him as the narrator for all of the Harry Potter books). Some of my comedy influences are The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Charlie Chaplin and Nathan Lane.

Do you have a quote that challenges or inspires you?
It sounds intense but I really understand the challenges of the quote: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
Now listen, in order to get better at anything, you have to fail. Hopefully, the more you fail the better you will get an understanding what you are doing wrong and you are learning how to get better and better. I see failure not as the end of the road but the beginning of a new adventure.

Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I have no cavities. How about that ?!?
Liza's note: Haha! It must be all those slimy yet satisfying bugs - keeps the teeth in good condition. *wink*

Such a fun interview, and inspiring as well - thank you so much! I like to read these interviews aloud to my siblings, and they loved this one! Of course the question about the grubs came from them too - we couldn't resist. Hakuna Matata!