Resolutions: Do you ask Google or God?

It’s a new year and as we all ushered in 2016 (joyfully or otherwise!), many of us also conjured up a “New Year’s Resolution” or two…or three…. I’m one of those people who tends to phrase my resolutions as “attempts to try.” Example: “I will try to gossip less. I will try to eat more healthily. I will try to be on time this year.” I’ve told myself this is a sensible and reasonable approach. However, the truth is, by phrasing resolutions this way, I’m giving myself an easy out. Come March (or, let’s be honest, February), when I’ve already abandoned a resolution, I can say, “Well, at least I tried to not gossip. At least, I tried to eat healthier. At least, I tried to be on time. Get off my back, at least, I tried!!” Pretty smart, huh?

resolution

Screenshot of my Google search for “resolution definition”

However, my recent Google Search (screenshot above), yielded quite the abrupt realization that resolutions are, by their definition, rather rigid and marked departures from the way things once were. They are not ambiguous. They reflect a definitive end & a new beginning: “a firm decision” and the “solving (of) a problem”. Yikes. The stakes just got a lot higher in my plan for 2016. Google says that resolutions not just be “attempts to try” but rather “decisions to do”. But, what does God say?

Anyone else ask Google before they ask God? No? Just me? Well, maybe that’s why my resolutions so often fail. I look without rather than within. I often resolve to force a conclusion rather than commit to a journey. But, in doing so, I realized that I am suggesting that I know best. I’m suggesting that I know what 2016 needs to be and what needs to happen, rather than asking God what He needs from me in 2016.

So, this year, I’m going to try DO something new. I’m going to borrow from my pal, St. Francis, and resolve to let God use me for His plan rather than my own. What is His goal & how can I serve Him? I’ve always loved the prayer of St. Francis and I offer it here to you, so that maybe you will be inspired to also resolve yourself to God’s plan for 2016.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Ah…I’m feeling better about March already!

What’s your resolution? Share it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CYT Mom’s POV: 5 Life Lessons from The Music Man

This post was originally posted on CYT mom Lauren Hunter’s blog, Words + Worship, and was inspired by Lauren’s daughter’s recent performance in CYT Sacramento‘s production of The Music Man.* We share it here with her permission.

That wise old Music Man.

That tenacious Music Man.

 

The story of Harold Hill, Marion Paroo, and all the townspeople of River City, Iowa in the classic music by Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man is one of near disaster and certain redemption. What could have ended with tar and feathering, lost money, and broken dreams in fact, ended in love, forgiveness, and changed hearts and attitudes towards, well, traveling salesmen among other things.

My mother’s family had a sort of cult following of The Music Man, which consisted of her father waking the entire house up every Sunday morning by blaring “76 Trombones” over the record player. They would then march around the house singing the song together. This went on for years.

This fall, my daughter has had the opportunity to audition and be cast in the full version of this musical with our local Christian Youth Theater chapter (CYT Sacramento).  It’s been an incredible experience for her, as well as for myself, as we delve into our first real “theater” experience complete with long practices on the weekends, tech week, parent committees, and seven full-length performances. I’ve listened to the dialogue and songs over and over again, and haven’t yet tired of “Wells Fargo Wagon” or “Iowa Stubborn”.

CYT production of The Music Man.

CYT Sacramento’s production of The Music Man.

In fact, as the dialogue and musical numbers become ingrained in my head, so does the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the transformation of the characters as they morph from what they were at the start of the musical to something completely different at the end:

#1 Don’t be an Alarmist

Harold Hill: Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it’s too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang? Are certain words creeping into his conversation? Words like “swell” and “so’s your old man”? If so my friends, ya got trouble!

Harold is indeed an excellent marketer. He creates a problem, offers a solution, and intends on giving everyone a run for their money. At the end of the day, the citizens didn’t have much to fear except Harold Hill’s schemes themselves; yet at the end, the driving force behind allowing their children to join the band is what gave them so much pride.

Sometimes fear inspires us to try something we never intended to, and good things happen.

#2 Seize Today

Marian Paroo: No, please, not tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

Harold Hill: Oh, my dear little librarian. You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.

It’s wonderful how Harold eventually wears Marion down and she realizes that putting off her own happiness is not the best thing to do.

Pause and make today count. You never know how many tomorrows you’ll have and this moment right now matters the most.

#3 Don’t Set Your Standards Impossibly High

Marian Paroo: Do you think that I’d allow a common masher – ? Now, really, mama. I have my standards where men are concerned and I have no intention…

Mrs. Paroo: I know all about your standards and if you don’t mind my sayin’ so there’s not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend of Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat, and Noah Webster you’ve concocted for yourself out of your Irish imagination, your Iowa stubbornness, and your li’berry full of books!

[On Marion’s choosiness when it comes to men]

Mrs. Paroo: It’s a well-known principle that if you keep the flint in one drawer and the steel in the other, you’ll never strike much of a fire.

With the theme of Iowa stubbornness that runs throughout the movie, it’s a wonder that Harold is even able to eventually melt the frozen heart of Marion. Thankfully, her wise mother gives her good counsel.

Follow your heart, listen to your mother, and trust that finding the right person doesn’t depend on a defined check list of qualifications.

#4 Share More Generously

Citizens of River City: So what the heck? You’re welcome! Join us at the picnic! You can eat your fill of all the food you bring yourself.

The dichotomy of the Iowa Stubborn scene where the entire town is gleefully singing about “giving Iowa a try” when in fact, the lyrics actually laud their independence, stubbornness, coldness, and lack of generosity is downright genius.

At the end of the day, being more generous, sharing from the heart, and including others in your dreams are what constitute success.

#5 Don’t Run Away from Personal Risk

Harold Hill: A man can’t turn tail and run just because a little personal risk is involved. What did Shakespeare say? “Cowards die a thousand deaths, the brave man… only 500”?

You’ve got to give Harold some credit for waltzing into town, creating a problem, offering a solution, falling in love with the coldest librarian around for miles, then coming clean, asking for forgiveness and sticking around to conduct the band even after the gig is up. He didn’t turn away, and he earned Marion’s respect and love – even though he had lied and she knew about it.

If we avoid personal risk, we avoid the possibility of growth.

What other life lessons have you learned from the characters within The Music Man?

Has a recent CYT production inspired you? We’d love to hear about it! Submit your story here

*The thoughts and views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and views of CYT, Inc. 

You are enough.

The following story was submitted by Tessa S., from CYT Spokane, as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Contest. 

MyCYT-Story-logo

        My whole life I’ve never felt like I actually belonged to something. I spent year after year trying new activities, hoping to fit in someplace. I spent years trying to figure out where I belonged, where I could be myself. It wasn’t until my eighth grade year that I found it. A friend of mine convinced me to audition for The Little Mermaid Jr., and when I walked onstage for the first time I knew that I had found my place. However, it wasn’t until I was a part of Honk Jr., that I truly felt like I belonged.

          During those two years being a part of CYT [Spokane], I was depressed, insecure, and felt like an outsider. Then, I auditioned for Honk Jr. and the show quickly became my favorite. I was relating to a young duckling that was experiencing the same feelings I felt. This duckling had been bullied and trusted the wrong people, something that many of us experience. Ugly had felt left out and alone. With the heavy subject matter, how could someone not relate or love this show?

         After that show, my life changed. I slowly became more confident and realized that I didn’t have to be like everyone else to fit in. After that show, I realized that it was okay to be weird and different and to not have everyone like you. CYT had shown me that being a part of something didn’t mean I had to have a bunch of friends that I had pretended to like; it meant having one or two people that liked me for me. CYT had given me a family, a purpose, a way to live my life. After opening night of Honk, my best friend came up to me and said “I’m glad CYT did this show. It shows that being yourself is enough” I couldn’t agree more. I want everyone who reads this to know that my friend was right. Being yourself is enough! You are enough. You do not have to be something you are not because certain people don’t like you. CYT has shown me time and time again that being yourself is what matters. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a lead, or even cast in the play at all, as long as you stay true to yourself and be who you were meant to be and who God wants you to be.  That is what matters and will get you much further in life than wishing to be someone else or pretending to be something that you are not. CYT taught me that being yourself is enough.

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here!

*DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

Hey CYT, Tyler is back & Texas just got even BIGGER!

It’s happened again. We see it over & over. CYT peeps love CYT and when they move to a new place, they bring that love with them. Such is the case with Tyler Hutchinson. Having fallen for CYT while serving as Artistic Director at CYT Indy, Tyler has since enjoyed quite the journey with CYT. Read his letter below about how he is planning to whip up some ridiculous fun in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. They say everything is bigger in Texas, luckily,Tyler is all about going big or going home!

Tyler with his peeps.

Tyler with his peeps.

Hey CYT Family across the Nation!

I’m happy to be able to write all of you and let you know about what’s happening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area! We are starting a CYT! Woot Woot! I know, right?! CYT is taking over the world! It makes my heart sing (obviously, show tunes). Alright, alright, before I break into Defying Gravity, maybe I should calm down and catch you up on how I ended up here doing this. (Don’t worry; I’ll give you the 1 Act version!)

As many of you know, I had the privilege of serving as the Artistic Director for CYT Indianapolis (I miss all of you by the way…I’m due for a visit, soon!) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tyler working the stage.

Tyler (in the blue sweatshirt) working the stage & the jazz hands, because, you can’t have one without the other.

However, as great as CYT Indy was, the Lord led me on a new journey. Earlier this year, The Lord allowed me to take a trip to South Africa and it literally changed my life. While there, God spoke to me and told me to move to Dallas, TX. (I know, crazy right!?) To be honest, I was very surprised when God told me to move. However, I did what I was instructed to do. Of course, He wasn’t finished with me, and while in prayer one day, the Lord spoke to me again. This time, He told me to start making moves to get a CYT in the Dallas area up and running; and that’s exactly what we’re doing!

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Already, God has blessed our effort in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) with an awesome steering committee that is ready to jump into action and get this show on the road. We launched a GoFundMe page in order to raise our startup costs. We’ve also been able to connect with some amazing churches and businesses that love supporting, not only the arts but Christian organizations! We’re moving slowly, but moving forward! Our goal is to make CYT DFW the best performing arts program in area; not because we’re great, but because The God inside of us is!

CYT is making it's mark in Dallas-Fort Worth.

CYT is making it’s mark in Dallas-Fort Worth.

As we come to the conclusion of this act, I want to share with you the importance of allowing God to be the Director of your life! His voice is not always audible, but if you take some time to slow down, I promise, you’ll hear Him. I never would have guessed a year ago or even 6 months ago that I would be in Dallas; but God knew. He holds the blocking! He has amazing things in store for your show but you’ll never see them until you silence your voice to hear His. I encourage you to seek Him and ask Him what He wants for you. I assure you, His directing is more than Tony worthy!

Until EXPO,

-Tyler

You can support CYT DFW by:

  1. Praying for them!
  2. Donating to their GoFundMe effort.
  3. Staying connected with CYT DFW on social media.

Thankful: CYT Alum, Kaitie’s Story

CYT North Idaho Alum, Kaitie Hunt, shared the following letter with us. Enjoy!

To the people who shaped my life:CYT North Idaho

These last two weeks have been odd for me. For the first time in more years than I care to count, I’ve missed a CYT North Idaho show. I can’t remember having not been present for a show since CYT North Idaho began its journey as a family.

Along with more than a little bit of sadness and a healthy dose of nostalgia, I’m filled with gratitude when I reflect on my years spent as a (CYT) student.

This gratitude is felt for every person who touched and altered my life during my most beautiful and precious years. There is not a lesson I learned at CYT that I don’t continue to carry with me and utilize on a sometimes hourly basis. My best qualities I owe to CYT and the family I was adopted into there.

Although I’ve chosen to pursue Chemistry – a far cry from the theater of my youth – not a day passes when I don’t silently thank CYT and praise God for placing such a wonderful organization in my life. Thanks to you, the beautiful humans who were willing to be the hands and feet of our creator and do High work in my life, I am confident, I am a cirtical thinker, and I know how to admit my mistakes and short-comings. These skills may not have made college and learning to “adult” a walk in the park, but they have certainly made is easier.

I’m sure there are ways of getting through life without confidence, but that’s a life I’m grateful not to lead. Because of CYT I have an ingrained confidence. Learning to sell raffle tickets and stand in fron of hundreds of people, even while wearing a ridiculous costume, taught me to be sure of myself. because of CYT I’m not afraid to approach professors with problems I’m having or raise my hand in a crowded lecture hall to ask or answer a question, even though I run the risk of sounding silly or illiterate. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and to show people my silly side and to admit when I don’t know how to do something. Thank you to every director who reminded me to cheat out, every parent volunteer who made me look good, every fellow cast and crew member who offered a prayer or a pat on the back when I needed encouragement, and every audience member that gave me a chance to entertain them.

CYT also taught me how to think and to think well. Through the Improvathon, mistakes happening onstage and crew catastrophes I learned not only how to solve problems, but how to do so quickly, calmly, and while maintaining my character and composure. Every time I make a mistake in a chemistry lab, attempt to solve a new Calculus problem, or have a quarrel with a roommate or dreaded group project team member, I am grateful to CYT. While it may be a while before I have the opportunity to spit out a witty joke in an improv scene or cover for someone’s forgotten line, the thought processes and mental acuity learned there have served me well. I offer my thanks to every teammate who ever set up the perfect one-liner for me to drive home, every cast member who missed their entrance, every set piece that ever broke and every costume that ever malfunctioned for teaching me patience, calmness, and mental dexterity in times of crisis.

Above all else, though, CYT had a knack for knocking me down just when I needed it most. In all of the directions and correction that I’ve received and the failures I’ve experienced, CYT has taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s even better to take and apply constructive criticism. To every director who told me “no,” every choreographer who fixed my footwork, every fellow HYPE member who held me accountable, every musical director who grimaced when I was flat, and every crew boss who ever shushed me backstage, you have my undying gratitude.

Indeed, the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life, all the instruction God knew I needed, has been delivered via the tough love, the smiles, the high-fives, the warm embraces and the instruction of CYT. So to all of you, thank you for being my brothers, my sisters, my mentors, my coaches, my advice-givers and my closest confidants. Thank you for giving me such great laughter and such beautiful tears. Thank you for being my family, and for allowing me to be a part of yours. In your arms I was molded and crafted into the daughter of the King I am today. No individual or group has been more influential than you. You’ve shown me what’s important and what to laugh off; you’ve built my confidence, strengthened my thinking, and proven the value of taking instruction. You’ve changed my life. You, CYT family, are one of the greatest blessings I have ever received, and for that I am eternally thankful.

Sincerely and forever yours,
Kaitie

Thanks for the reflections, Kaitie! We’ll be praying for your continued successes! For more on CYT North Idaho, click here

Have your own CYT Story to share? Click here.

Quiet Strength: An Introvert on a Stage of Extroverts

Grace Humphreys from lets her introvert out at CYT Denver

Grace Humphreys from lets her introvert out at CYT Denver

Introvert.

Nine little letters that spell out depressed, people-hating, and socially inept. Nine little letters that comprise half of the population, but only in hiding. Nine little letters. That’s me.

My name is Grace Humphreys, I am seventeen years old, and I live in Denver, Colorado. And I am an introvert, but my life is not defined by this fact.

An introvert is a person who recharges their energy by being alone. Conversely, an extrovert restores their energy by being around others. I have been an introvert since I was born. I am the girl who let others borrow her pencils but couldn’t get enough guts up to ask for them back, the girl who spent 24 hours reading when she was little, the girl who only stays for fifteen minutes at a party and goes to bed at nine. When I was younger, I was terrified to speak to anyone I didn’t know: people working at fast food restaurants, adults, boys… (Well the boys part is still true).

During the summer of 2012, my mom pushed me to get out of the house, directing me towards a children’s theatre company named CYT. “Audition”, I thought, “I have to sing AND dance AND act before total strangers??” Needless to say, I was terrified. But nevertheless I received a part. And at the rehearsals I would sit and read in a corner until the director was working with my group. I felt isolated and uncomfortable and would often come home crying because I felt so alienated.

Flash-forward a couple of years. Now I had a handful of friends, but still questioned why I continued to put myself through this pain. I struggled to put myself out there. I asked, God, why did you make me like this? Why can’t I be like these other people, naturally talkative and friendly?

It wasn’t until, through the help of some very close CYT friends, I came to a startling conclusion. That’s not me. I had tried, and unsuccessfully, to make myself an extrovert when physically and mentally I am not. I accepted my introvertedness. Being an introvert does not make me any less of a person, any worse at singing or dancing or acting. And certainly not any less loved by God.

In a world of extroverts, the world of theatre, it’s hard to be an introvert. But it’s also very valuable. I provide a unique listening ear and quiet voice for the Lord that isn’t very common. I have been able to mentor and touch the lives of the quiet because I understand that it’s frustrating when your voice feels unheard. My strengths are quiet.

Now I am using these strengths to lead, leading with a gentle hand and an even gentler voice. I am the current president of CYT Denver’s HYPE, and hope to create an environment within CYT that celebrates both introverts and extroverts.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not snobbish, depressed, and people-haters, but rather pensive, cautious, and just regular people. They are nine little letters that will silently change the world, if you let them.

This post was submitted as part of our 2016 My CYT Story Competition. Have a CYT story that you’d like to share? Click here

*DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

Who’s that? It’s a CYT Alum starring in a National Broadway Tour!

Thanks to Allison Mayberry, the Marketing and Publicity Director at CYT Fredericksburg, for this joyful letter! We love it when CYT sneaks up on itself!

Hello AMAZING CYT family,
I wanted to share with you blessing that CYT Fredericksburg came upon. This weekend, 50+ CYT families headed to Richmond, VA to see (the Broadway national tour of Disney’s) NewsiesEveryone came away from the show inspired and refreshed.

CYT Fred at Newsies

Many of the kids headed to the stage door and got to meet many of the cast members and get autographs and photos. We even got to sing with three of the Newsies! You would think meeting the Newsies could not be topped, but God continued to bless us. While speaking to one of the leads (Morgan Keenewho plays Katherine Plumber in Newsies) we found out that she was from CYT Spokane!!! Can you imagine the faces of our CYT kids? A CYT alumni is touring the country in Newsies???? They were thrilled.

Read all about it! CYT kid in National Broadway tour of Newsies!

Morgan spent a pretty long time with our CYT kids, answering questions, giving them tips and was above and beyond kind, sweet, and loving. She is the perfect example of what CYT produces. She inspired so many that day.

So,  THANK YOU ALL!!!!!! Thank you all for your hard work, dedication, long hours and patience with us all. Sometimes we get bogged down with all the paperwork and day-to-day tasks that it takes a blessing dropped in front of us to remind us of why we do what we do in the busy times. I can not thank you all enough. And of course, Sheryl and Paul…God bless you for dreaming this program up and NEVER giving up! I cry tears of joy quite often not just for this organization, but for my children who have grown up in this family and I can’t imagine life without CYT! My oldest ages out after our Winter show and the anxiety has already began.

I hope you all have an amazing day!

Thanks for the great story, Allison! Keep up the great work & continue to Seize the Day at CYT Fred!

 
For more info, check out:
Morgan’s website here.
CYT Fredericksburg here.
CYT Spokane here.
Newsies FB here.