Monthly Archives: June 2019

Trading My Sorrows- Psalm 40:1-3

There’s this song called “Trading My Sorrows” that we sang all the time in the theater group I grew up in. It’s based off of Psalm 40, which is a passage I find myself going to often. I sat down and really broken it apart, piece by piece, and these were my observations from the chapter. 

I waited patiently for the Lord- Waiting on God is the first step to getting out of your situation. Sometimes God has us wait to work on our trust in Him. 

…and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.- God is listening for us to call out to Him. We need to be proactive in stepping out in our faith so we can watch Him act. You see, God is always reaching out to us in friendship; we’ve got to reciprocate. 

He brought me up from a desolate pit- God brings us out of our most crappy situations. If you’re trapped in a pit with no way of getting out yourself, you need someone else to throw down the rope to you. You also have to trust your rescuer that they are more than strong enough to pull you out. Struggling against the rescuer will make the process much more difficult. 

…out of the muddy clay,- See above. I kind of like to think of this as quick-sand. The more you struggle in mud, the deeper your feet can sink in. The longer we just wallow in our situation without asking for help, the deeper we slip into our frustration and disaster.

…and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.- Now we are doing a complete 180 in this verse. God picks us up from instability and grossness onto a stable and clean foundation. Your feet can’t slip through solid rock. 

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.- We learn how to worship from God. We are all hardwired to worship something. Even though we were created for the purpose of worshipping God, out earthly desires often times pull us away from our original design. By reading the scriptures, we learn more about who God is, and with that knowledge, we are better able to worship Him. 

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.- From our actions, people can come to faith. People can watch us and learn where our joy comes from, and we can plant seeds to bring them closer to Christ. 

 

Psalm 40:1-3, what a set of verses. It’s a passage that has been made into a fun song that I play on my green guitar while jumping up and down with kids and teachers before classes, rehearsals and performances. Often times with any worship song we lose sight of what we are actually singing. I challenge you to look up the source of your favorite songs sung in church or on the radio. Study where the lyrics came from in the first place. I find when I do this for myself, it makes worshipping much more meaningful to me. Give it a try, and feel free to share your favorite songs in the comments so I can check them out too! 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

My Killer Quest Experience- “The Lighting Thief Musical”

On average, I find myself attending around 15 live performances a year, most of the time in education or community environments. I have quite the stack of programs in my room, not to mention that dozens that have gone missing over the years. There have been a handful of shows that I have seen that have stood out from the rest and have made me truly appreciate the career field I am so passionate about. The most recent one to be added to this list was, “The Lightning Thief.”

When I was in middle school, Rick Riordan’s book series about Percy Jackson and his demigod adventures were all the rage. My 7th grade history teacher loved them and set aside time to read a chapter of the first book out loud to our class whenever she had the chance. A few years ago, a musical was created based off of this book. At first, I was pretty skeptical. After the disasters of the two movie adaptations, I wasn’t too keen on seeing another interpretation of the story. However, with my dear friend Libby invited me to join her to see the tour in Tulsa, I agreed, open to the idea of seeing a show she loved so dearly.

During intermission of the show, I began typing out a list of all the things I was astounded by with this wonderful production. I just had to write about it! This was an experience that was reminding me of the joy that can come from theatre. So, without further ado, here is my Top 7 List, in no particular order, for the “The Lightning Thief Musical.”

Costuming- The more design classes I take, the more details I notice every time I watch a show. The costuming for this company was so carefully planned, and props must also be commended to the backstage dressers. With the amount of quick changes in the show, I can imagine that things can get super hectic super quickly. A little detail I appreciated was the compliment between Percy’s green jacket and Annabeth’s red striped shirt. Red and green are my favorite complementary color couple, and while I was a little bummed that there were no orange Camp Half-Blood shirts present, this was a nice design touch. Also, I didn’t know how they were going to get a centaur to work on stage, but the way they made that bit of magic work was hilariously clever. Our Dungeons and Dragons loving costume professor would have gotten a kick out of all the fantasy costumes used for this production.

Lights- This show could definitely fall under the category of “spectacle theatre.” I’ve gotten into debates with peers before about flashy shows before. I do agree with the fact that theatre can be done without elaborate “extras” such as projections, sound effects and complex sets. However, I believe that there is a certain kind of beauty that can be found from technical design. The lighting design for this show was unlike anything I had ever seen. God bless the Stage Manager who had to call this show, because holy cow, there was a lot going on. The designer created storms, underwater moments, the illusion of driving down a highway and so much more with the tools they had. Because of the high energy nature of the show, the design elements need to match the energy of the actors. This was one of the best examples of a design element working with the script and performers to effectively tell the story.

Stage Combat- I am a huge fan of well executed fights on stage. What was really interesting is that when you watch actors with good training, you realize they perform at about 75% the speed one would actually fight at in real life. There’s an immense amount of control that has to go into performing stage combat. The goal is to make the audience believe that you are hurting one another without actually doing any damage. I’ve taken a few hits from scene partners who decided to throw punches or kicks too quickly, so it’s always refreshing to see a really well done (and safe) live performance. Bonus: the staging for the reveal of Percy’s sword, Riptide, was fantastic.

Kid characters on stage- I think it’s very important for kids to see character portrayed on stage that are their age. While the touring ensemble is comprised of professional adults, it was astounding how well they were able to come across as twelve year olds. That was my biggest gripe with the Percy Jackson films: they made him sixteen! Young theatre audience members need to see characters that they can truly relate with on stage.

Opportunity for the future- While the tour company is made up by seven cast members, there are dozens of characters in this script. As I was sitting in the audience, I realized how great this show would be for community or educational theaters. There is a wealth of opportunity for actors to be featured in a high-energy show. This musical is definitely near the top of my list of shows I hope to direct one day: it would be a blast!

Children with ADHD- I’ve grown up learning about ADHD due to the fact that my brother was diagnosed with the disorder when I was in elementary school. It’s a subject that is very near and dear to my and my family’s hearts. I am really grateful for writers like Rick Riordan for creating characters like Percy Jackson who have learning disabilities. It’s so important for people to be educated as to what ADHD, dyslexia and other disabilities are like. In the musical, the lead actor did a stellar job of not only portraying a twelve-year-old, but also a child with ADHD. Seeing the frustration from not being able to focus and wanting to be a “good kid” made me tear up several times during the performance. It’s things like that which remind me how powerful this art form can be.

Friendship- If you’re a major fan of Rick Riordan’s books, you know that Percy and his friends don’t stay twelve forever. Riordan tackles the topics of crushes and dating in high school in books later on in the series. However, the main point between the relationship of Percy and Annabeth’s characters in “The Lightning Thief Musical” is their friendship. Sure, there’s a bit of flirting here and there, but it’s awkward and silly, just as all twelve year old relationships are. There is also the solid friendship between Percy and Grover, which was super fun to see in person, as Grover and Percy’s bromance is one of my favorites out of all the books I’ve ever read. It was refreshing to see a show with an absence of romance. It just goes to show that you can tell a good story without characters professing their undying love for one another.

I am so grateful for the Killer Quest I got to share with my sweet friend this summer. Sharing a theatrical experience with someone you are close to makes the show even better. If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, do yourself a favor and go. It was a hilarious, impressive and impactful performance that I will never forget.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Brother, Jeremy

Jeremy Wolff is an astounding human being. For eighteen years, I’ve had a front row seat to watch him grow and mature into the dashing individual he is today. To be quite honest, I don’t think my family was sure we were ever going to get to the point where we are right now. A lot of people told my parents that Jeremy was probably never going to be able to talk in full sentences, let alone graduate from high school. Well, he proved them all wrong, because if you’ve ever had a conversation with him about something he’s passionate about, you know that he has no problem talking anyone and everyone’s ear off.

To give you some background, when my brother was in preschool, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD. In today’s modern medical world, Asperger’s now just falls on the Autism Spectrum. According to Autism Speaks, the disorder can be defined as, “a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” For the first few years of Jeremy’s verbal communication, he would only mimic what other people said instead of having his own original thoughts to add to conversations. He also had a very hard time putting on weight and was tiny until we discovered how many allergies he had. When we were in stores, we would always make a run for it when we heard a musical baby toy go off because the high pitched noise would make Jeremy cry. These are just a few examples of the obstacles Jeremy has overcome. With the help of many amazing people, especially my mom, he learned to communicate, finally grew, and learned how to cope with the frustrations around him.

We recently celebrated Jeremy’s high school graduation, and I shared two things I had learned from being his big sister. The first is the importance of being willing to slow down. While Jeremy and I are siblings, we are polar opposites. I am the type of person to plan their life three months in advance because I am always on the go. I’m also the kind of person who likes things to be done quickly. With Jeremy, I’ve learned that it’s not only okay but good to slow down for others. Taking an extra ten seconds to further explain something or listen to someone’s excited rant is not the end of the world. In fact, it might open your eyes up to a bigger world around you.

The second lesson I’ve learned is to never judge a book by it’s cover. Yes I know, it’s an old cliche, but it is so true. There are so many times that Jeremy was dismissed for one reason or another, and so many people have missed out on the chance to get to know him. Multiple times over the course of my college experience I have been quick to judge others by their outward appearance and first impression, along with the opinions of others. However, time and time again, when I took the time to slow down and really get to know certain people, I kicked myself for being so quick to judge. There’s a bible verse that Jeremy and I both learned in Awana that says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” This was God talking to Samuel, who was trying to figure out which of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the next king of Israel. The most unlikely of the bunch was the one God chose, and the Shepherd David ended up being one of the greatest kings of Israel. Often times we move along with public opinion instead of forming our own. I cannot promise that I’ll never fall into the trap of jumping to a final opinion on a person too quickly ever again. However, from the experience of being Jeremy’s older sister, I can say I am getting better at treating everyone with the same amount of respect as I would like to have.

Jeremy is one funny dude. While he’s not a huge fan of photos, he has made many of our family photos experience quite hilarious. He’s also super passionate about his interests, and because of his love of talking about his favorite things, he does not know a stranger. This man can talk to anyone who knows how to hold a game controller or what an anime is for a good long while without getting tired of sharing his wealth of knowledge with them. If you wanna hear an amazing concert, just hang around our house for a bit, because you’ll end up hearing Jeremy’s amazing pipes from his bedroom. Most of all though, he’s the one boy who has been there through every heartbreak I’ve ever gone through. He’s the one who gives me his rare but blessed hugs when some guy has been dumb. He’s also one of the handful of people that has to approve any romantic relationship I have. If Jeremy approves, then I must have made a decent choice. To tack on, Jay is a total stud and any lady would be lucky to do on a date with this handsome man.

I won’t lie and say Jeremy and I are the best of friends. We bicker every other day and drive each other nuts. I irritate him and he irritates me. At the end of the day though, I know that the boy that lives down the hall from me is one of the biggest blessings God has given me. The hours we’ve spent watching Gravity Falls or quoting the Julian Smith “Hot Cool Aid video” are memories I will treasure forever. Jeremy has overcome so much and I know he will live a full life in the years to come. I am so grateful to have such a smart, funny, good-looking little brother, and I wouldn’t trade him or the lessons he’s taught me for anything in the world. As my mom says often, when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. No two cases are ever the same, and no person with autism is just, “that autistic kid.” People are not labels. Never underestimate a person just because they are different from you. You might find you can learn a thing or two from them!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby                   

 

Revisits: Suck More

There’s literally no good way to title this post.

 

With these revisits, I make it a rule for myself to not change anything that I originally wrote in 2017. I started this experiment with myself when I was cleaning out my Google Drive and ran across two documents in which I was pushing myself to write once a day for an entire year. Neither project was completed to the intended goal, but the original drafts serve as a sort of time capsule for myself. Though only two years have passed, I have grown and changed so much. When I first read this entry, I giggled at my past self a lot, but I feel like she had some good stuff to say. So, without further ado, words in bold are 2017 Abby, and italicized words are from 2019 me. Enjoy!

 

January 12, 2017

I need to allow myself to suck more. *Snorts* Okay I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the word choice just makes me chuckle. We as humans learn better through trial and error. In order for there to be “error”, you have to try multiple times. This is quite true. When starting a summer job where I make deliveries for a cafe downtown, I was told to not forget to check the orders to see if they bought potato chips. What did I forget the first time I did deliveries by myself? The chips. You better believe I have not forgotten since, because having to drive back to that office with a bag of chips was not the most fun thing in the world. As a species, we’ve made more advancements to improve our lives through failure. Take Thomas Edison; that guy screwed up so many times until he got something right, and he’s one of the standards for success.

Looking back on the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that I have put myself in a “I-Don’t-Want-To-Suck” bubble, mainly with my writing. When I was in middle school, I wrote a whole novel beginning to end, which was the only time I’ve ever done that. Why? Because that was during a time where I wasn’t pressuring myself to write brilliant things on the first try. That Drawn to Life draft was terrible, but it got done. Tis true. I have a 121 page manuscript still sitting on a flash drive somewhere that needs to get finished one day. It’s almost embarrassing that I’ve only finished one whole story when I’ve been saying almost my whole life that I want to be an author. Ugh, there’s a kick in the pants.

I think my biggest problem is that I want to be original, but so many of my ideas are based off someone else’s work. The kicker is that there is no “original” idea. Frustrating, yet true. It isn’t possible. In one way or another, everything is inspired by something else. As I think more on it, there is a sort of beauty in this. It’s an idea that artists of all medias are collaborating with each other to create new adventures for other people to enjoy. Do I condone straight-up copying someone else’s work? Absolutely not. But don’t beat yourself up because your *insert concept* is similar to someone else’s work.

I started this project in order to get back into the habit of writing. I figured that it was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect it to be this difficult already. Lol you have no idea, Abby. Another reason I think I might have dropped off the writing boat for so long is that it got hard. It wasn’t coming as easily as it once had. Here’s what I actually think happened: I started having higher standards for myself. I didn’t want to settle for anything less than my very best. The thing with drafts though: they aren’t *EVER* going to be your very best. The easy feeling of just writing whatever came into my head was gone. I had started to compare myself to people who had more experience or success and I didn’t match up to them. I have to come the resolution that it’s not a competition with anyone else; I am my own worst enemy. Side bar: this was around the time that I started wondering if I was dealing with depression, but thought that me being tough on myself would fix things.

It’s going to take getting over my pettiness and “woe is me” attitude to actually get some good work done. Tough self-love isn’t always the best route. I’m glad that I decided to take Mr. Warren’s Creative Writing class this semester. Ah Mr. Warren, my first and last professor at community college. He had me in his class when I was 15 and 18; he was a great influence. I think it’s going to help me out an awful lot. Over the past four years, I have learned that when a grade depends on it, I work a lot harder and end up making really great stuff. Other creative people don’t function like this, but I thrive on it. That’s why I’m going to school for art; if I am stuck in a classroom learning a skill vs. having to teach myself, I’m going to gain more progress in the classroom. So, my Myers Briggs personality type is an ESTJ-T, or “The Executive.” The most likely career paths for an ESTJ: law enforcement, upper level business, or military service. Least likely career paths: fine arts. Go figure.

School doesn’t start for another five days though. In that time, I want to start brainstorming and maybe even drafting SOMETHING. Literally anything. I have got to get back in the noveling game. For the past five years, “Write a Manuscript” has been on my New Year’s Resolution list. Now I know, we’ve talked about how I didn’t make a list this year, but maybe since I didn’t make an official list, it’ll actually happen this year. It didn’t, but that’s okay.

But seriously, who knew that this dinky little idea was going to be so hard 12 days into it!  My motivation is lacking; this is becoming more of a chore. Who knows if this is still beneficial? I’ll probably just be writing gibberish by December. Though, with how this week has gone, I’m surprised the last few days weren’t worse than they turned out. Being a hot, sick mess has been a struggle.

Here’s to writing SOMETHING!

 

I quit my 365 project about three months in. Later that year in November, I started writing again, but it was in a much lower level of positivity. About three months after that document was born, it was abandoned as well. That was the last time I had set a goal for myself with writing. Back in the December of 2018 though, I made a promise to myself to blog once a week in 2019. Since that first post on my once ghost town of a blog, I have not missed a week of blogging since. Almost six months of keeping up a writing goal is a big deal for me, and I’m happy to say that I am proud of myself. My advice to anyone who has failed before is this: try again. And again. And again. You never know when that “just one more time” will lead to a major success.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby