Last week, we went on a whirlwind trip back to Illinois for one sole purpose. CYT. (Christian Youth Theatre.)
A few years ago some kids at our church invited us to the first CYT production in Rockford. I admit, I didn't have the highest expectations from a kids' show. But wow, were we surprised. They were professional and excellent and not at all what we'd seen in kids' theatre (or community theatre, for that matter.)
We knew we wanted to get involved--theatre had always been a part of our lives, but when we dug our heels into the ministry, we thought we'd seen the last of "Guys and Dolls" and "The Music Man."
Ministry doesn't often afford you the time on the weekends to do that sort of thing. CYT was different. Shorter rehearsal periods, incredible parental involvement, the directors don't have to also build/paint/assemble sets.
It is, in a word, a community...and one we needed more than we realized.
So, we flew in to the flatlands...
...and stayed here, with my parents.
Here I am in my favorite place in all of Rockford: Barnes and Noble. I was there all day and could've spent longer...especially with two very important friends...
Chris has been a great source of encouragement in my life and Ronnie is now and always will be one of the most genuine, caring people I know. I was so excited they were able to meet me last minute.
The last show we directed before we moved was Godspell, and our disciples in that show grew to be a really close bunch. And they let us in their little circle.
We are awfully lucky that way.
So, when one of the girls asked if we could do a "disciple dinner" on Thursday night, we were all over it. She was going to handle all the plans--we just had to show up!
When she asked what food we missed most, we didn't even blink...
So that's where we went.
And that's where I realized how very much I miss these kids...how very much I miss CYT and how very much I miss encouraging people at this point in their lives.
You see, when you're away, you can block out the things you miss. You can convince yourself that you don't really miss those things. You have a new life now...but the truth is, the old life is only a memory away. And while I was there, it occurred to me that having theatre as a common ground with teenagers is kind of a beautiful thing.
You don't have to figure everything out, you get to discuss this mutual love you have for performing.
We sat across from my beautiful friend Holly and her husband Dan (Dan, you're beautiful too...) because one of the kids (JoJo) told us to "go sit with the old people. (And because we love them.)
Holly is a dance teacher in Rockford and one of the kindest, most talented people I know.
The kids all looked a little different. Everyone was taller and thinner.
But just as goofy...
...and just as loud!
I love hanging out with teenagers because you find a wide assortment of photos on your phone that you didn't even know were taken.
I think I was the only one that didn't know this one was being taken:
But all of this got me thinking about this group of people that we don't get to work with anymore, and I guess it made me realize that our life here has been in limbo. We live in temporary housing. My kids are in a temporary school. We haven't set down roots. We aren't involved yet because our community is changing again.
And it made me a little sad.
I think one of the greatest things about our life in Rockford was being able to work with kids like these...
...and seeing them go on to audition for colleges and get scholarships and write them recommendation letters because you already know how incredible they are and some college theatre professor is going to be let in on that little secret...
...and they make you feel like you mean something to them...and you hope they realize the feeling is mutual...
...and can't wait for them to come to Colorado to check out the colleges that are in your new neck of the woods...
...and you burst with pride thinking about all the roles they're getting and the way they've blossomed and started to believe in themselves...and you hope you added just a smidge to that self confidence...because you've known for a long time how talented they were.
I guess it was eye opening. It made me miss this. At my core, I think I was born to encourage...but these kids have done more for me than I could ever do for them. They've built my self confidence.
Adam and I were talking the other day about how I second guess myself. And he said "Is there ever a time you feel totally confident in your decisions?"
And without a doubt, I knew...I feel that way when I'm doing theatre. Directing a show, teaching kids. I don't second guess myself. I feel confident. I love teaching them they've got more inside.
Because they do. We all do. When you dig down deep, there's so much more in there...and I want to be one of the people who helps kids realize it.
It was a long-short trip. I learned a lot about myself and tomorrow I'll tell you the whole reason we actually went...but today is a work day so I need to get to it. I hope you had a wonderful week!