Lessons I Learned at Drama Camp 2012 – Part 3 Get the Message?!?

The message is always the core of Drama Camp.  The script starts with whatever God has been hammering into my stubborn head and heart over the last year, and it ends up leaving me feeling pretty vulnerable once I see it brought to life in front of an audience.

It’s kind of like reading passages from your journal to a room full of strangers while you are wearing a bathing suit that keeps riding up.

This year’s message was “God’s way or not at all.”

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the cast singing and signing the worship song I wrote for camp this year, “It Has To Be Your Way.” (Thanks to Rhonda for filming and posting!)


It has to be Your way or not at all; what You say or I am bound to fall
Your will, O God, is the safest place to be; I want to trust and live within Your plan for me
However You direct that’s my priority; it has to be Your way…
I know that my life is not my own; I need Your hand, Lord, to guide me on
My plans will fail me and my strength is not enough; it has to be Your way…
If I knew the perfect road to choose I’d travel it with nothing to lose
But my vision’s small & I can only see a part, so it has to be Your way…
(c) Sabrina Justison 2012

I struggle for balance among the many, many things God seems to have gifted me to do.  I have a lot of diverse interests, opportunities, and abilities, and my biggest problem seems to be the lack of hours in each day.  However, since God designed the whole 24-hour system, I have to assume that He knew what He was doing and there actually ARE enough hours in the day….I need to learn to use them according to His direction.

And I need to rest in between adventures.

Or sometimes even in the middle of adventures.

Getting away with Fred for breaks from busyness is so important for us. We don’t rest well at home, so we’ve learned to hit the road for rest on a shoestring budget. I think I need to schedule one more of those before school starts!

And I need to listen to His plans for my life rather than being swept along into the plans He has for people around me, even if those are people I love to play with.  If He doesn’t have it on the agenda for me, I need to resist the urge to pencil it in.

Cameron and Nate learn that God’s call is unique to each of them. One was called to minister on the mission field for the summer, and one in his own back yard.

Family and organized ministry have to be in balance and the only way to do that is to be on my face in humility before Dad saying, “I have no clue how to do this!! Help!”  followed immediately by, “Thank You.  You are so good at this stuff.  I’m really glad You are God and I am not.”

Perpetually falling before Him in worship…without hitting bottom…ever.  Cool.


Lessons I Learned At Drama Camp 2012 – Part 2 Help!

Used to be, I didn’t think I played well with others.  I tried to do everything that was required for Drama Camp by myself.

Gradually the last five years of Drama Camp have taught me to ask for help.  To accept it.  To rejoice in it!

Drama Camp was amazing 10 years ago.  But Drama Camp is so much MORE amazing now that it is not limited by MY limitations.

The choreography needed a choreographer.  The production needed an assistant, and the choreographer needed an assistant.  Enter Rebekah Groop, stage left, and Hannah Joy Thorp, stage right:

Bekah and Hannah proclaimed themselves The Dancing Gnomes for this production.

A Stage Manager and Assistant Director was critical as the production grew in size.  Enter Kym Smythe, stage left:

She prays with all that she is….love this woman!

Photographs and video were needed.  This year’s production called for a video montage of tributes to a “dead” character, and a photo slide show chronicling her “life.”  Enter Samuel White, stage right (and stage left, and up center, and ….):

Sam created this self-portrait based on some of the many varied artistic influences he has appreciated as a filmmaker, singer, and writer.

Photos of the production process were needed.  I couldn’t be behind the camera while I was directing the actors, and I have a dummy-camera and only a dummy-brain to operate it.  Enter Rhonda Wampler, stage left:

Rhonda’s photos are in most of the blog posts here about Drama Camp 2012. She took oodles of great shots for me!

(BTW, check out the ministry organization Rhonda runs, Shoes to Share.  http://www.shoes2share.com/)

God created us to be connected to one another, to be the body of Christ.  This year I learned more powerfully than ever before how important it is to ask for help, accept it, and rejoice in it!


Lessons I Learned at Drama Camp 2012 – Part 1 New This Year

This year’s cast….21 fantastic young people, ages 12 – 18.

Every year I direct a Drama Camp. Here’s a quick overview of what that means:

* Some time after Christmas I seek the Lord about the theme for the script. I begin taking notes and outlining over the next few months.
* Some time around March I have a serious outline pulled together. I begin collaborating with my alumni team and my choreographer to choose the songs that will serve as “bookends” to each Act.
* Some time during the spring I write the first draft of the script. I run things through my alumni team for feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. I also publicize the camp via social media and take sign-ups for the 20-25 students who participate each year.

Marked-up scripts after script workshop this year.

* Some time early summer I hold a script workshop night where the staff for this year’s camp and a few alumni gather for a meal at my house, and we read aloud the script while sitting around the table, making notes about dialogue sections that don’t work, holes in the plot, areas of dead wood that need to be cut and the like.
* I finalize participant information packets and try to get the other areas of my life under control so I can give Drama Camp my full attention when it begins.
* Once Drama Camp begins on Monday morning, I live, eat and breathe it until it ends two weeks later with clean-up after the Sat. closing performance.

Curtain call at preview this year…Jesus gets all the glory!

This schedule was new this year.  That’s the first important thing I learned at Drama Camp 2012.

We simply must allow God to change the way we’ve done things in the past, even if those changes make us uncomfortable.

Drama Camp had never been 2 weeks before this year. 

–  I was afraid to carve out that big a slice of my summer calendar. God showed me how much lower my stress level was by holding a two-week camp instead of a one-week.

–  I was afraid the kids would lose the intensive experience that makes Drama Camp so spiritually significant.  God showed me that they had MORE ability to focus on the work He was doing in their hearts when they weren’t so worried about memorizing their lines.

Drama Camp had never had a script completed this far in advance before.

–  I was afraid to start too far ahead for fear that I wouldn’t be fully in the “Drama Camp groove” until closer to camp.  God showed me how much more I was able to joyfully anticipate the camp this way.

–  I was afraid to work with others on the script before the camp, fearing that my writing wasn’t strong enough on its own for evaluation, that it needed to be brought to life under my direction to show the depth of the message.  God showed me that He had given me every word on the page, and the message rang loud and clear as soon as we held our script workshop.  The comments and feedback from the team helped my edits immeasurably.

Next post…Lessons I learned beyond the change in scheduling.

Drama Camp 2012 – More Than a Decade Later

I’ve been mighty quiet here at Perpetually Falling the last couple of weeks. That’s because those two weeks have been spent with the cast of Drama Camp 2012 producing my original play, “More Than A Decade Later.”

Drama Camp is a passion.

This was the 11th camp I’ve done with homeschooled actors. This year for the first time we worked for two weeks instead of one, and it was a great change. I’m so glad God pushed me out of my box of “how we’ve done it before” so that we could see Him do so much more than I even imagined.

Drama Camp is a completely consuming experience, and very little gets done other than that for the two weeks it lasts. But as I gradually re-enter normal life (whatever THAT means!) I will post here about the moments of falling before God’s throne that took my breath away during this camp.

In the meantime, here are links to Facebook videos of later rehearsals of the four choreographed songs that served as “bookends” to each Act of the play. (If you don’t have a FB account, I’m not sure you’ll be able to see them. I believe you have to be logged in to FB to view them. I hope to put them on YouTube soon.)

My amazingly talented daughter Rebekah Groop served as our choreographer. You may feel free to envy me for having a daughter with this much talent if you like. I would tell you how beautiful and fun and smart she is, too, but that would just be unfair to all of you, so I won’t mention it. 🙂

So thankful to have the chance to write a play and produce it with Drama Camp students every year!!

“Hello McFly” by Relient K.
This served as our prologue, and got everyone on stage and brought the audience into the high energy from the starting gate. We were dealing with looking back at things that God had done with our mistakes in the past, and understanding how to take His redemption and wisdom forward with us into the present and the future.

“Lead Me” by Sanctus Real
This showcased my male and female leads who were playing a married couple serving in a fast-growing ministry called “Unlabeled” (the ministry doesn’t exist yet, but God may be bringing it to life….want to find out what the idea is behind it? Click here to visit www.Unlabeled.org!) and trying to balance family vs. organized ministry.

“This is Your Life” by Switchfoot
This opened Act II with a challenge to believers everywhere. There are hurting people who will never darken the doors of our churches. Will we get out of our comfy pews and go to them with the redeeming love of Jesus?

“Strong Enough” by Matthew West
This was the epilogue. We must always stop our efforts long enough to ask if we are working in our own strength or trusting God to do through us what only HE can do.

Thanks to Hannah Joy Thorp, my fantastic niece, production assistant and Dancing Gnome for the videos!

Book Review: Thomas Hardy’s TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES

Published in 1891, this book by British author Thomas Hardy has been on my list of “wanna reads” since high school.  A guy I was dating my sophomore year was in a different English class than mine, and I remember his class read Tess while my class did not.  He mentioned it, I asked what it was about, and he said, “Nothing.  It’s not about anything.  It’s a total waste of time.”

That immediately piqued my interest!  This guy was not a book lover, so if he thought this book was pointless, there was likely something rich just below the surface, and I was curious to find out what it was.
Apparently I was not THAT curious, because it took me 28 years to get around to actually reading Tess, but I finally did.  And I was right!  There was, indeed, something rich just below the surface.

I really liked this book, but it was also a gut-wrenching read at times.  Hardy’s writing style is lovely.  Of Tess, he writes:

…there behind the blue narcotic haze was potentially the ‘tragic mischief’ of her drama — one who stood fair to be the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life.  She had an attribute which amounted to a disadvantage just now; and it was this that cause Alec d’Urberville’s eyes to rivet themselves upon her.  It was a luxuriance of aspect, a fulness of growth, which made her appear more woman than she really was.  She had inherited the feature from her mother without the quality it denoted.  It had troubled her mind occasionally, till her companions had said that it was a fault which time would cure.”  (Phase the First, ch. 5)

When Tess meets Angel Clare, his loving and tenacious pursuit of her almost restores her hope for the future, but even so she cannot shake the feeling of unworthiness she carries.  The other milkmaids who work at the dairy alongside her, and who have each hoped to have Angel for her husband, wish her well:

When they were all in bed, and the light was out, Marian whispered across to her: ‘You will think of us when you be his wife, Tess, and of how we told ‘ee that we loved him, and how we tried not to hate you, and did not hate you, and could not hate you, because you was his choice, and we never hoped to be chose by him.’

  They were not aware that at these words salt stinging tears trickled down upon Tess’s pillow anew; and how she resolved with a bursting heart to tell all her history to Angel Clare, despite her mother’s command; to let him for whom she lived and breathed despise her if he would, and her mother regard her as a fool, rather than preserve a silence which might be deemed a treachery to him, and which somehow seemed a wrong to these.” (Phase the Fourth, ch. 31)

Tess is what the story is about.

Thomas Hardy’s full title was:  Tess, of the D’Urbervilles: a Pure Woman.

Tess is betrayed by a man who violates her while she is still almost a child, and later betrayed by the man for whom she holds the utmost love and respect when he cannot accept her as a pure woman in spite of the crime done against her.  She is pure in her heart, in her desire to do what is right (as puzzling as it can be to discern the right again and again in her life).  She is held unjustly accountable for someone’s sin against her, and yet she refuses to pity herself.

She is also PURE WOMAN.  She is beauty, hard-work, loyalty, stubbornness, and intelligence without the benefit of education.  She is independence longing for someone to rely upon.  She is nurturing even when it costs her everything and she receives nothing in return.  She is eager to please, and tragically quick to believe that she will never measure up no matter how hard she tries.

She is fascinating, and I loved her story.

I find it amusing that my high school boyfriend thought it was a story about nothing.  Hardy was almost 50 when he wrote Tess; perhaps 15 years was not enough time on earth for a male to understand the richness of her story!


Good – Better – Best: 4th of July Pie

GOOD: Pie.  Pie is good.  Period.

BETTER:  4th of July Pie.  AppleBerry.  And yes, I cut a flag on the top crust and baked it myself!

BEST:  Living in this country with the freedoms we have been given by so many who have bravely protected us!

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!