Friday, March 30, 2007

A Whole New World

My thoughts and heart have been elsewhere this week as I watched 26 amazing kids bring a wonderful story to life. Three months of hard work, early morning practices, painting, sewing and searching paid off as the lights went down in our little town then spotlighted something entirely different. I watched as my daughter took off her shoes and stepped into another character, complete with sparkling gowns and the voice of a nightingale. I held both breath and tears as my little girl in the Jasmine T-shirt with a Barbie in hand was transformed into a beautiful young lady whose hand was now held by a charming young man.

It was all make-believe...and yet it was all quite real. Over the course of 12 weeks I saw tentative, shy and even comical teenagers become confidant, serious young actors. Despite the fact that they started out as the little engines, they learned that they indeed "could" as they chugged up the hill, gathering steam and bursting through the long tunnel with strength and purpose and song. It has been a journey for each in his or her own way, and the results were spectacular.

Under a colorful canopy and a glittering skyline, they danced and sang, made us laugh and cheer. With each performance their characters grew and within those portrayals, they found themselves.

Working with the drama teacher and our pianist was a complete joy. We learned, bonded, grew and developed a new respect and admiration for each other. It was a joyful experience, one I am thrilled to have been a part of and I am so very proud of these dedicated and lovely young people.

Once in awhile our lives take a turn and we are transformed. That is what happened this week. Eyes have been opened and hearts ever changed. For all of us who were a part of "Aladdin", it truly is a whole new world.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Train Coming

"If you're tied to the railroad track and a train is coming, pray to God for the train to stop.
If you're not tied to the railroad track and a train is coming, don't pray to God, get up and move off the track."

Our lives often feel like a train thundering down the track, carrying a load of problems. Sometimes we can hear the whistle blowing far in the distance as it works up momentum, and we are able to move out of the way. Other times we are distracted and oblivious until we see the flashing lights, warning us of impending danger. And there are moments when no matter what we do, we're frozen in place; trapped on the tracks.

Often when I'm praying I wonder: "Am I really tied down or do I have the tools to help myself? Is this a train I can stop, or should I merely step aside and wait for it to pass? Do I truly need divine intervention, or should I be asking for strength and guidance instead?

I think we often hold our own answers. Though we need to go to God for help in our choices as we contemplate life along the tracks, our minds and hearts are gifts given for decision-making in hopes that we can maneuver with care and wisdom on our journey. It's easy to think God is responsible for everything and that we can idly stand by and expect Him to fix all that is wrong in our world. But this path is a partnership. We walk side by side, using the judgment given us to make the choices within our power, then leaving what we cannot change in His hands.

Any time we are on the tracks, we are not alone. Sometimes we need His help to free us from the perils thundering down upon us. But more often we need to draw from His presence, to follow what is already in our hearts and to walk beside Him, to safer ground.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Once you have a child, you are never the same again. Even if you think you're ready, you have no idea the grasp a child will have in your life nor the power she'll hold upon your heart. It is an overwhelming, unconditional, all-consuming relationship you enter into the moment you hear that first heartbeat and feel the flutter of movement from within.

When a baby is born, you watch it in awe: ten tiny fingers and toes; perfect little nose and ears; bright eyes that look deep within your own. A little person in the making who has descended directly from God.

You think you could not love her any more than you already do as she takes those first steps and enchants you with her baby giggles. You think there is no stronger feeling than when you hold his little hand in yours, cherishing the warmth of his babyness next to you.

But you are wrong.

When you have a child, your love grows up, right alongside him. The feelings held for him as you rocked him to sleep escalate into a profound and deeper place as he turns the corner from childhood into a young adu
lt. It is the magic of parenthood...the gift of love.

It is a place that is stronger and more real because now you don't just love her for who she is, but for who she has become. She
is no longer just of your heart, but of her own.

I watch as my stepdaughter holds her own baby, the charm of new love written on her face. He is her new life, her new path and it will be filled with adventures. As precious as he is now, the feelings will only grow through the years as she fights to protect him and nurture him and teach him the way to go.

How lovely to know that even though his babyhood will one day end, the wonders of a parent's love are only just beginning....and what a magnificent journey it will be!

Friday, March 16, 2007


For anyone who has ever accompanied a young lady on a mission to find the "perfect dress", you know it can be a harrowing ordeal. Colors, sizes, lengths, all comes into play, and sometimes even when it looks right on the hanger, it doesn't work at all.

Today my daughter tried on layers of pink satin and chiffon and found that place of perfection. Being a tiny-framed girl she has met with much frustration in the process and left many stores disheartened. And though a dress is hardly a prerequisite for self-confidence, there are times when it's a much needed boost.

She has never been the kind of child to insist on her way and I love her conscience as it looks through the clearance racks, always keeping things in perspective. And because of that, I wanted her to have her first choice this once.

Because even though it truly is about having an inward beauty, once in awhile it's OK to have an outside to match.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Keeping it positive

It's been one of those weeks. Thoughts going through my mind that aren't particularly productive and that, if put into words, would be a poor example for anyone who was looking at me to do the right thing. I've told my kids many times: We cannot always control our thoughts and the things that cross our minds, but we can control what crosses our lips and how we choose to act - or not act - upon them.

Yet all that negativity is washed away when I see this photograph of my son and daughter: those crazy, spontaneous, wonderful kids who can put it all in perspective with one goofy pose.

Thanks darlin's.....for reminding me what - and who - is absolutely perfect in my life.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mister Aladdin, Sir

The winds are blowing through I sit down again at my sewing machine.

This year's musical is Aladdin and we are busily preparing, from painting sets and putting together props, to shopping for material and 'finds' at the local Goodwill stores.

The Magic Carpet came first, fashioned from a chenille throw and appliqued with a fitting motif. Add tassels and a place for face and hands and poof! Transformation. A lovely beaded gown was found at G.W. and adapted to fit a tiny-framed Jasmine, and royalty isn't complete without a bejeweled top and Harem pants. Scarves and bangles and sparkling head pieces will adorn our characters as they stay 'one step ahead of the bread line' and soar on a magic carpet into a star-filled night.

Iago's feathery suit is next and in two more weeks, the curtain rises on an amazing group of teenagers who have dedicated many hours and poured their hearts out to turn an ordinary little town into a 'whole new world.'

And guess who'll be at every performance, cheering them on?
But then, where else would I possibly want to be....