Chit Chatting with Play Writer Elizabeth G Honaker

 

By Jill Sheets

I have never gotten the chance to interview anyone who wrote plays before until now. I am absolutely thrilled I got to interview Elizabeth G. Honaker. She started writing plays when she was very young and is still going. Read on and learn more about her, her plays, and her advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a playwright themselves.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start writing plays.

E: I have always been “dramatic.” I bugged my first-grade teacher (a nun) to let me participate in Saint Gabriel’s annual Christmas show – and I was allowed! In 8th grade, I wrote science fiction scripts and tried to persuade my friends to rehearse them during recess (it didn’t work!). As a young adult living in England with my husband Allen and children James and Christine, I started becoming interested in Christian drama – especially writing three-minute skits; so I wrote them for our church’s family service. When our family moved back to the United States, I was asked to take over our church’s Easter presentation of The Living Last Supper. It was interesting, but it was a static presentation, so I asked if I could add Mary’s testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Lord. The next year, I added more of the Holy Week events, and in 1994, I wrote my first play that focused on one character. I have written somewhere around twenty different full-length Easter scripts, half of which are in print. I intend to publish them all eventually.

 

R: Tell us about some of your plays and how you got the idea for them.

E: I have long recognized that the ultimate ideas for all of my scripts come from divine inspiration – the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that in the sense that He gets all the glory for touching lives, and I get all the blame if there are defects in the script. In any case, I most often get ideas that inspire me and get me wanting to write during communion or during a sermon. The Pascal Lamb came from a communion service, as did The Bread of the Servant. I’ll admit, though, that I got the idea for Journey to Life while vacuuming the living room! Behind every single script, though, is my own struggle with a particular issue; I think that’s why strangers walk up to me after performances and say, “You wrote that play just for me.” I share my life problems, and the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ, provides answers.

 

R: I found this book and I couldn’t help but buy it! Tell us about Mizz Liz’s Five Steps to Good Writing.

E: I have been teaching students how to write good papers for decades now. It started when I taught high school English, and continued when I began to tutor students at my home. I boiled down everything I knew about writing into five steps that are not difficult to understand, but they take explaining (for instance, I used to integrate these steps into my high school curriculum over the period of five months). At one point, I wrote them down with bullets for my college classes, and then I started to develop handouts for students who had been absent from one or another lecture. Finally, I decided that a book written at the 8th-grade level would help me to teach my at-home tutees more efficiently. I now use that book with everyone – even my college students.

 

R: What is your writing process for your plays? How do you come up with the ideas?

E: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I attribute all the good ideas to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is funny, though – it’s as if the Spirit and I have an annual “appointment” during the Christmas break (which is something all teachers look forward to for relaxation, not for producing a script!). It all starts with a story from a Gospel. I will contemplate a person or group of people and how they might have encountered Jesus – what He would have done for them, how He would have drawn them from the suffering, etc. The concept will “simmer on the back burner” for months, until the day after Christmas. (That is pretty much the “last minute” for producing a workable script for the Disciples to perform for the following Easter.)

When I was teaching high school, I would close the door to the study where the family computer resided and type away all day every day until the play was done. Sometimes, it would reveal itself in three days; sometimes it took a week or ten days. Once I had worked out a story, it seemed that I would see the action of the play, hear the dialog, etc. I would just type it as I saw it. Occasionally, I would write an entire scene and then realize it didn’t fit the story. I would just set it aside and move on. I never obsess over “now where did THAT come from?” because the ways of the Spirit are much bigger and more complex than I am. Who knows? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great classic The Scarlet Letter came to him from a short story he had written years before – which didn’t even focus on a woman pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Nowadays, my main computer is in my study upstairs. Instead of locking myself away – which doesn’t really work because my study is our balcony, not an enclosed room – I now ensconce myself in the family room, and Number One Husband (Allen) pretty much leaves me to do my thing however long it takes. Of course, he stills feeds and waters me, and nags me about going to bed when it gets to be one a.m. But without little ones running around, it is easier to “rule the roost” this way. I still get the script ready for the Wesley Grove Disciples (in Maryland – they still present my plays each year at Easter) by their first scheduled read-through in January.

 

R: Do you have a favorite play or book?

E:  Gosh, that one’s tough! I love Dorothy Sayer’s The Man Born to be King, which started as radio plays about the life of Christ over the BBC during WWII. I love all of C.S. Lewis’ works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety at least three separate times in my life. I love teaching T.S. Eliot, especially the works he produced after he became a Christian. I am a fan of Calvin Miller and Ravi Zacharias. I love well-written biographies of the founding fathers (and I have David Barton to thank for getting me hooked on those). I…now how long do you want me to go on?

 

R: What is your favorite Bible verse?

E: My favorite verse is whatever connects me to the mind of the Lord each time I read the Bible. When I read with a willing mind and an open heart, the Holy Spirit makes the Word live to me. I have to say, though, that the very first verse I memorized when I became a real Christian at the age of twenty-one was Romans 8:28. And I remind all my students that Philippians 4:8 does not mention God or Jesus, and yet it is the best advice for anyone seeking reality.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to write plays?

E: Study how to tell a story with actions, and as few words as possible (a la Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and – if necessary – use words”). Study Shakespeare and how he packaged his messages, including comedy in the middle of his tragedies, to focus the groundlings’ attention on what was to come next. Reflect on modern plays or episodes that move you and ask yourself, why do they move you? How have the characters impacted you? Then write your action and dialog down and have someone else read them aloud. Make your characters speak like normal human beings; don’t give them sermons to preach. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. And – of course – you can always email me for advice: efghonaker@gmail.com . I promise I’ll respond.

 

R: Where can people get your plays and other books?

E: Right now, all of my plays and books (beside my book on how to write, I also have an historical novel on the martyrdom of Saint Paul and a thesis on the medieval mystery plays) are all available through Amazon.com.

 

R: Do you have an official website? What about social media?

E: My husband recently took down our website because of software issues – the software was no longer supported and we found that we couldn’t update our site. We are working with a third person to design a better site. The domain will be bolb.org and it will have an online store for our new ebooks on how to start drama groups in your church, make affordable costumes and props, and use inexpensive sound and lighting.

I have a page on Facebook – Bread of Life Books – where I’ve posted pictures and video excerpts from my last three plays. The plays are all presented by amateur actors (by that, I mean they are not professionals) but they really put their hearts into the production each year. I am humbled just to watch how they bring each script to life!

I also have a Linkedin page under Elizabeth Golibart Honaker.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

E: Once upon a time, a gentleman whose opinion I valued very much told me that drama was sinful – no matter whether it had a Christian motive or not, the actors were sinning in pretending to be their characters. I respectfully disagreed with him, but then felt I had to study the Bible more closely in order to affirm the truth of what I already believed. I discovered that God had commanded several of the Old Testament prophets to depict His messages in dramatic form – and the drama was not at all “warm and fuzzy;” it depicted real judgment and real consequences for Israel. In the New Testament, Christ told parables, which reproduced vivid pictures of heavenly truths in the minds of His listeners. When a pastor preaches from the pulpit, does he not present illustrations from real life? People watch Christian plays and dramas knowing full well that the people who play the parts of characters are not trying to pass themselves off as people they are not. The actors help the audience members “lose” themselves in the story so that the power of the Spirit can have an opening into their hearts. And knowing the impact that Christ-centered drama has had on both audience members, stagecrew, and actors, I cannot help but believe that this is a God-sanctioned phenomenon.

Christian drama is not just for the talented; it is for the taught. We learn the message of the Gospel, and we present it via drama to others. People like me write the words, so that the story flows and engages the audience, but Christian actors can come from every walk of life, and from any age level. I have had police officers and homemakers and school children and babies and retired teachers and Boy Scout members and pastors and – well, you get the picture.

Lastly, I just want to leave people with a reflection: What could be more dramatic than the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? He didn’t merely talk about the Plan of Salvation; He enacted it in the flesh! He didn’t come to save well-polished “actors” – He came to save those people who find themselves lost, with no Director in their lives. Voila!

 

True Beauty: Understanding What It Means

God tells us we are wonderfully and fearfully made, and to Him, you are beautiful and unique. He does not compare you to others, as you are the person He made you to be.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where we can feel judged. Despite what the Bible says, we can face pressure within ourselves, or from others, to conform to a false idea of beauty. In this article, we will try and get some perspective on the matter, and try to understand what true beauty means.


On the surface

When most people think of beauty, they think of face value. First impressions are made, wrongly, by the way somebody looks on the outside. The media doesn’t help. From magazine models to movie stars, we wonder why we don’t look like the people we see on the page and screen. There is also peer pressure at school to look and dress a certain way. If you are too fat or thin, or you are wearing the wrong fashions, you may struggle to fit in with the crowd.

For starters, don’t be fooled by the false image the media portrays. The pictures you see in magazines and on the internet have often been photoshopped, with any blemishes removed before publication. Movie stars are as insecure as anybody else, spending a fortune on making themselves look beautiful for the screen. You can look after your skin, with advice from a website such as Exfoliate.com, but you don’t need to compare yourself to others, as chances are, they will still look like you do first thing in the morning.

You don’t want to neglect your body, and we have offered advice at Relatemag.com. Health is important, so while you don’t need to feel ashamed about the way you look, there is still the need to be sensible and take care of yourself. Body shaming has become a trend, but there is no ‘perfect’ weight provided you are healthy and looking after yourself. There will always be bullies in life, but don’t subject yourself to their torment and criticism.


On the inside


The Bible tells us we are made in God’s image. We don’t know what God looks like, but the verse refers to the qualities of God, rather than physical appearance. You have probably noticed some of these qualities in other people, including love, kindness, and grace. It is this writer’s opinion that true beauty radiates from the inside. As you will know from movies such as “Mean Girls,’ people can be beautiful on the outside, but very ugly on the inside.

Focus on your inner beauty. Be somebody that cares for others. There will be people in your life who may not be physically attractive, at least to society’s standards, but you won’t notice this when their beauty radiates from the inside. Think of the people you love, and ask yourself why you do. It will be who they are on the inside, and the way they care for you.

So, what is true beauty? You decide, but above all, love yourself, for who you are, and be good to others.

Love: It Can’t Coexist with Hate

You only love Jesus as much as you love the person you like the least.  Or, how about this:  your love for Jesus equals the amount of love you have for the person you hate the most.

Harsh, right?

You’re shaking your head and saying, no way, I love Jesus way more than that.

I’ve thought the same.  In fact, I’ve been in denial for several years.  I’ve looked at other people (Christians, mind you) who were burning with anger and hatred and thought, “Wow, they must not love Jesus very much.” But all the while, I’ve not put much thought into what this meant in my own life.

The fact that the difficult equation has surfaced many times throughout the years tells me that it’s something I need to work on.

The fact that I felt compelled to write about it tells me I’m not the only one.

Think about this.  Jesus tells us to love one another.  People who aren’t Christians like to call us out on this one, too; they like to point out our hypocrisy.  And it’s rampant for a reason…loving someone you don’t like is really, really hard to do.

It’s so hard to do, in fact, that it’s easier to walk away from people we don’t like and stop dealing with them altogether rather than find some common ground or forgiveness or, gulp, here it is again, love.  We harden our hearts and dismiss people like they are broken or out of date cell phones that can be replaced by shiny, unfamiliar, newer versions.  I know because I’ve done it.  Repeatedly.

Until I decided that I’m done, I’m not walking away.  I’m going to deal with it.  By giving it to God.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but here is the thing…GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY.  I got so fed up with the fury churning at the inside that I’ve simply prayed, “God, please, fill up that space, that gap, where I am so shamefully lacking, and help me love this person.”  I had to mean it.  I had to empty myself of the anger by no longer giving it my attention, and I let God do what He does.  And here’s the thing…He did.

I have stood across from people I have absolutely nothing in common with other than the fact that we both have noses on our faces; our political, spiritual, moral codes, our likes and dislikes so polar opposite it’s difficult to see them as people, and I have loved them for reasons I cannot explain.  I have recognized them as souls that God made with a purpose, and I have felt nothing but compassion.  I have faced people who have hurt me deeply and personally, and I have prayed the same prayer, and all my hurt feelings have shriveled in God’s pool of forgiveness.

Loving others, the ones that are most difficult to love, the ones that are the most distant, have brought to me more peace than anything else I have experienced in my life.  I wish there was something that I could so eloquently say that would convince you this is true, but I don’t have those words.  I can only pray that you want it enough in your own life that you try it.

And, while this may be another article of its own, I think it’s important enough to add: this goes for yourself.  If the one person you can’t stand to be around, the one person you wish you could change or punish or perfect is the girl staring back at you in the mirror, you have to love her, too.  You can’t love Jesus and hate yourself.  

Anger and hate and contempt cannot coexist within a soul that claims to love Jesus.  They are too big of burdens to bear, and they will squeeze out all the goodness that Christ wants to bring out in our lives.  Fortunately, the opposite is true.  His light is brighter than the darkness of contempt, and He will quench it if we allow Him to.  The question is, which one will you choose?

 

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Let God Be Your Giant Slayer

Life’s problems and challenges, I call “giants”, seem insurmountable and impossible to resolve. The Bible story of a young David taking on the giant, Goliath, and winning gives me a lot of hope! Consequently, we know we can win our battles too when we let God be our Giant Slayer!

Young David, the youngest of his father’s eight sons, was a keeper of his father’s sheep. David’s job was to shepherd the sheep, keeping them safe, warm, and well fed. Now sheep are not particularly smart so they must be led to fresh grass and water. They need protection from predators. David’s job was challenging!

Funny thing, as he learned the challenges of being a shepherd, he didn’t know that God was preparing him to shepherd a kingdom. Life changed for David when Samuel, a prophet of the Lord, came to David’s father Jesse looking for the one who replace King Saul as king. No one expected David to be selected, especially David.

God had specific qualifications he was looking for in the future leader of the Israelites.  God is looking for one who is His, one with heart who loves God more than life, and loves others as God loves. God is looking for someone teachable and willing to obey His commands. Samuel 16:7 tells what God requires:

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Our battles are the LORD’S. He knows we are weak and dependent upon Him. He will fight for us, just as He enabled David as he fought for the Hebrews.

David wasn’t afraid of anything as long as He kept a right relationship with God. David knew God would provide the direction and instruction he needed. Saul doubted he could fight Goliath and win, but David told him how God had prepared him:

“Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear:  and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.  And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD Be with thee.” 1 Samuel 17:36-37

We too have our challenges ahead of us, but we can be assured that God has it all worked out if we will follow Him. He will lead and guide us each step of the way. Like David, He will prepare us, even when we don’t realize it!

What are your giants?

Bitterness? Bitterness keeps us from staying focused on Him. It is the result of us seeking our will and being angry when we don’t accomplish our plan. Feelings of being let down by God when we don’t get our way, leads to resentment and separation from our LORD. Bitterness is a giant that must be conquered.

Addictions? Addictions weaken us. Depending on something or someone other than our LORD leads to disappointment. When we can’t handle life’s challenges and consequences from wrong decisions, we often turn to artificial means to cope. Addictions are giants that must be overcome.

What is the giant that seems insurmountable in your life? Tell the LORD. Seek His help.  The LORD overcomes all giants, if we let Him.

Written By Linda Hull

Chit Chatting with Dr. Erick Schenkel

 

Written by Jill Sheets

It always amazes me when someone is so dedicated to Jesus that they would spend years in the Muslim world, or any other dangerous place, to preach the Good News, even knowing that they are risking their lives. That is just what Dr. Erick Schenkel and his family did. Read on to learn more about his sixteen years in the Muslim world, the Jesus Film Project, and what his favorite Bible verse is.

 

R: Tell us about yourself and about your book Everyone, Everywhere.  How did you come up with the idea to write the book?

E: Five years ago, my wife and I returned to the USA after sixteen years in the Muslim world to lead the Jesus Film Project. A few months ago, one of our team members at Jesus Film Project asked the question, “What would it take to finish the job of making it possible for everyone, everywhere to know someone who really follows Jesus?” My book is an attempt to answer that question, based on the best thinking of our whole team.

 

R: You went through a lot while spreading the Good News–you and your wife have even been beaten.  Despite this, you never stopped proclaiming the Gospel. How did you do it? 

E: The amazing grace of God! God has been so good to us in so many ways, and we know that eternal life with Him is ahead of us. We want everyone to have a chance to know God personally, for time and eternity. Everything else is so much less important.

 

R: If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

E: One of my regrets is how narrow my focus was as a young man and a new Christian. I wasted time arguing with other followers of Jesus over less important issues than the life and death issue of taking the Good News to everyone. I held my opinions way too strongly.

 

R: You said, “Which is more important, good works or preaching? The answer is always both a and b.Would you mind explaining this and why it is both?

E:  New life in Jesus is something we show as much as it is something we proclaim. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Knowing Jesus changes us into people who love others and want to serve them. As soon as I met Jesus, I went to visit my family members who hated my side of the family, I started feeding street people…the love of God changed me. No amount of words speak as loudly as a changed life. But only words can explain the change people see in us as we follow Jesus. We must explain: “You are not seeing a good person here, you are seeing a person energized by knowing God, and you can know God too!”

 

R: What was the Reset: Together 2016?

E: Reset: Together 2016 was an amazing meeting of thousands of Christians on the National Mall in July 2016, organized by a coalition of Christian groups led by Nick Hall. It was remarkable, because it included such a broad cross-section of Jesus-followers of all ages from so many backgrounds. The main statement the event made was, “There is a new generation of followers of Jesus in this country who are ready to humbly offer their lives to make Jesus known to people in need.” It was hot that day, but the spiritual atmosphere was hotter! Those who think the church in America is dying with the millennials are going to be surprised by the folks who were in Washington that day.

 

R: What would you like people to take away from your book?

E: There is nothing better than following Jesus and making Him known to others. I hope a lot of people who are casual Christians will catch a vision for real life in Christ and get excited about living a whole new way.

 

R: Where can people get your book?

E: The book can be found at jesusfilm.org/EveryoneEverywhere or at Amazon.com.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

E: I am working on doing what I wrote about in the book: giving everyone, everywhere a chance to know Jesus. I travel around the world learning first-hand how people are using video to share the Good News of Jesus, and then I come back to our office in Orlando, Florida and try to help us do better at making powerful video material available in every country of the world.

 

R: What is the Jesus Film Project?

E: The Jesus Film Project (JFP) was started in 1979 to translate the feature film, JESUS, based on Luke’s Gospel, and to distribute it globally. Over the years, other films were made, and, to date, there have been 7.5 billion views of JFP films in 1,510 different languages! The film JESUS has become the most watched film in history and over 490 million people have indicated decisions to receive Jesus Christ after watching our films. The Jesus Film app makes all the JFP films freely available on Apple and Android devices.

 

R: Tell us about about some of your experiences in the mission field.

E: Some of my most memorable moments took place in official Muslim countries in Central Asia, where my family lived and served for twelve years. In those countries, I became friends with several former Islamist radicals who have become followers of Jesus and who risk their lives to tell others about him. I also suffered the loss of dear brothers in Christ who were killed for their faith. My strongest lasting impression is that, despite deep cultural differences, people are the same everywhere in the world. God can change the hardest heart—just as he did for Saul of Tarsus in the Bible—and make apostles out of persecutors.

 

R: What was your first thought when God told you what he wanted you and your family to do?

E: Excitement! My experience of God’s leading is that He prepares my heart to want to do what he wants me to do. That’s how I understand the Bible verse that says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When I sensed God’s call to leave America, I knew there were many things I would miss—the Boston Red Sox, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee, and leaf-peeping in the fall in New England. But I was excited about what I would see and learn, and I have not been disappointed! The awe of experiencing the majesty of thousand-year-old civilizations, the rush of taking aid into a war zone, the thrill of seeing people who have never heard of Jesus before receiving Him and being transformed just as I am being transformed—nothing better!

 

R: What is your favorite verse?

E: Psalm 113:7-8. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the dung pile, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” That’s what God has done for me—a poor kid from a single parent family–and I am grateful.

 

R: What advice would you give a teenager who has trouble preaching to people, whether they are shy, nervous, etc.?

E: Be yourself. Have a real relationship with Jesus. Find ways to love people that are natural to you. Don’t worry about “preaching” to people. Learn to listen. Find ways to connect with a person, then share your experience of Jesus in the flow of your relationship with the other person. Share early and often what Jesus means to you.

 

R: Are you or your book on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website?

E: My official Facebook page is Erick Schenkel Jesus Film. You can read more about my work at the Jesus Film Project at jesusfilm.org.

 

Photo Credit: Jesus Film Project®

 

Watermelon Seeds!

Summertime always reminds me of watermelon! The sweet red fruit is so good on a hot day! The sugar boosts energy levels, and its electrolytes quench thirst. It would be the perfect fruit except for those black seeds!

How disgusting it is to have to keep spitting seeds out. Yuck! The joy of a perfectly good piece of fruit ruined. Trying to pick out the seeds leaves a pile of mushed up fruit. Not very appetizing.  

Our hearts are sometimes like a slice of watermelon, full of seeds. Seeds? Yes, seeds of bitterness. These seeds of bitterness have grown slowly over time. They are the result of each little hurt that you have hidden in your heart.

Maybe it’s a circumstance that has left a bitter seed. Something didn’t go as planned. You’ve been humiliated. Harsh words have been hurled. Promises have been broken. Ridicule, slights, and all those tidbits of pain you never forgave are still there, hidden out of sight.

A key word brings one to mind, and the pain is felt anew. Memories surface that cause us to lose our joy and contentment. Maybe you blame God or someone dear to you for what happened.

When something triggers the pain or the memories, our hearts feel the seeds of bitterness.  They rob us of our peace because we can’t get past the hurts. Sadly, we willingly let go of our peace.

Seeds serve a useful purpose. They produce the fruit we love so much! They are a necessary part of God’s creation process.

So we see there are two kinds of seeds:  good and bad!  Seeds reproduce to kind. If we want good fruit, we need good seeds. Seeds of bitterness only produce more bitterness.  

We need to cultivate our heart to produce good seeds. These good seeds produce the good fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells the good fruits we can produce:  “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”

It’s difficult to overlook a hurt. It’s far easier to blame someone else for your seeds of bitterness than forgive. Life is tough. People make it tougher, so you may think they deserve your bitterness and hatred.

Did you know that those seeds of bitterness and hate can be cast out of your heart?  All you have to do is confess each thought of bitterness as sin, trusting our Lord and Savior to remove it. Let us remember Jesus took the punishment for all sin. Whatever was done to you has already been punished on the cross.

Galatians 6:1-2 teaches:  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Bitterness can keep us from forgiving those who have wronged us. When we are sorrowing over our own sin, our hearts long for forgiveness and forgetfulness from the one we wronged. We seek a restored relationship. So too must we provide that same gift to those who have wronged us if we want to free ourselves from seeds of bitterness.

We each have the responsibility of actively forgiving the one who hurt us. It’s wonderful to receive an apology! However, it’s important to release the hold this person has over you.  When you forgive, those seeds of bitterness disappear! Forgiveness leads to freedom!

 

Following are some fun watermelon websites:

http://www.watermelon.org/Watermelon-101

http://www.watermelon.org/Carvings

http://www.watermelon.org/Recipes

http://www.watermelon.org/Nutrition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Amanda Collins

Living in Nashville, when someone says, “I just moved to the area to pursue music,” there’s an inside voice of the listener that responds, “You, along with everyone else.”  It is that common.  Nashville is to musicians what Hollywood is to actors.  One or two might “succeed” while thousands of others . . . “don’t.”

So when I first met Amanda, who is gifted with a rare genuineness and light that everyone is drawn to, I immediately felt protective of her. Like an idiot, I was thinking of the odds…

Until I heard her music.  I ate a big piece of humble pie, and then I had to apologize to God because doubting her is like doubting Him.  Her faith is the backbone of who she is:  her life choices and her leaps reflect this, and therefore, her lyrics are saturated with hope.  As talented as she is lovely, God has bestowed her with gifts that she is using for His glory, and it is absolutely awe-inspiring to witness.  The cynic in me says that there truly is nothing new under the sun, but Amanda’s voice is unique and fresh, and her approach is creative enough that she does anything but “blend in.”  Even if I didn’t know her personally and adore her, I’d say that the Christian genre specifically needs her desperately.  But because I do know her, I’d say that there’s an audience that needs her even more so.

You see, Amanda is a smart girl.  I’m sure she is very well aware of the odds, but she chose to ignore them and put her faith in God anyway.  That, my friends, is winning.  I apologized to her when asking her to do this interview, saying Relate’s reach isn’t that big, but sometimes, even if it is just one person who listens and is inspired, then that is enough.  That one person, me, has already been touched, but it is my sincere hope that a few more listen and are encouraged in much the same way.

Relate:  First memory of music:

Amanda:  When I was younger I used to steal my older brothers cd’s and listen to them in my free time. The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot was the first record to really make an impact on me. I can’t even number the amount of times I listened to that record. 


R:  Name one song you wish you had written and why:

A:  Superstition by Stevie Wonder. It has such a simple message and I just love Stevie. That song always gets me on my feet!


R:  Tell us about a favorite song of yours that you’ve written and your source of inspiration.

A:  I’m always very critical of my own writing, but if I had to pick it would be my song called You Know. I had a lot of crazy things going on in my life when I wrote that song. Many crossroads ahead of me and I was super stressed out. The message of the song is just to let go of all your worries. God has it under control. Even if you don’t know the future, it’s all gonna be ok. 


R:  Tell us about your latest single (did you help write it, how does it differ from other songs you’ve done, etc.)

A:  My latest single is called Flight, and I had an absolute blast recording the song. I wanted to step out and do something outside of my comfort zone. So I collaborated with a rapper. I came up with the idea and wrote the song all in one day. I wrote the music to the song, I wrote the lyrics to the hook, and then I left two open verses for the rapper friend of mine to work his magic! It was such a crazy and fun experience. It’s a synth/pop/rap song, needless to say it’s very different from anything I’ve done in the past. 


R:  If you could work with anyone in the music industry, who would it be and why?

A:  NEEDTOBREATHE hands down. Not even a question. I absolutely love love love their style of songwriting and performing. Plus, I kinda have a crush on the guitar player. 


R:  What made you decide you wanted to pursue music?

A:  I honestly don’t remember the exact date, but it just hit me one day. I was fresh out of high school and I remember sitting there one day, thinking about the future and what I was going to do with my life. I hadn’t been writing songs for very long at that point. Singing and writing music was a huge passion of mine and there was a point that I just knew I wanted to keep doing it.  


R:  What has been the best thing about moving to Nashville? What has been the hardest part about moving here?

A:  The best thing has been the PEOPLE! I haven’t been in Nashville for more than 8 months now but it already feels like home. People have been so kind and welcoming. I will forever be grateful for that. The music has been alright too!!

The hardest part has definitely been leaving family behind in New England. I miss my brother and sister in law so much! They are my best friends and I miss them like crazy. I’m glad they are only a short plane ride away. 


R:  How has your faith helped you the most?

A:  My faith is everything. God has been by my side through it all, it’s only because of Him that I’m able to do what I do and pursue my dream!

 

R:  What advice would you give your thirteen year old self?

A: I would tell myself to play piano a lot more! Take practicing more seriously. Work harder. Ignore the haters. Don’t give up. 


R:  What is your definition of success?

A:  Doing what you love to do. Doing what you feel called to do! Always doing your best at whatever you do. 


Just for fun-pick one in each pair:

-beach or the mountains

I love them both! but if I had to pick…beach!

-pizza or hamburgers and fries

Pizza!!

-high heels or boots
Boots!!


-shopping or hiking
Hiking!!


-book or movie

Movie

 

Please visit https://www.facebook.com/Collins-318414765028113 for more information and be sure to get her latest single “Flight.”  Like, right now.

 

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Lessons From a Master Gardener

When I was in San Francisco I toured the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It was created by Makoto Hagiwara in 1894. Mr. Hagiwara was clearly a master gardener. I was awed by the cultured beauty and peace of the garden, but I particularly loved the Bonsai trees. How did they grow so perfectly shaped? I knew there must be a story behind each one, just like each of us. I found the answer in the Bible.

Through my brief study of the art of Bonsai, I learned the trees are actually regular size trees or shrubs that have been cultivated to a small size. To maintain the tree’s small size, constant  pruning must be done to control growth. Roots must be cut back so the tree will not grow beyond the size of the container. Branches are wired to shape them into the desired position. The trees require regular maintenance to keep their design intact.

When I began to read my Bible regularly, I realized a Christian is like a bonsai tree. We start out as a new believer, ignorant, eager, and desirous of becoming like our Lord and Savior. We are raw material waiting for our Lord to teach and train us, so that we may be pleasing to Him and able to do the work He calls us to do.  

Jesus explained this in John 10:10b, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Most importantly, God wants us to bear fruit. Jesus said in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:  and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

In John 15, we learn about the true vine. Who is the vine? Jesus. God, the Father, is the husbandman or gardener. The branches are Believers. In a biblical sense, we find that abiding is the result of a personal relationship with Jesus. If we are not part of the vine of Jesus, we will wither and die.

Just like the Bonsai master prunes his tree, so does the Lord prune His children. The beautiful form of the bonsai is accomplished by placing wires around the branches to bend each one gradually into the desired shape. Through God’s shaping process, the Believer is groomed to better produce fruit.

The Lord shapes us through His Word and through life experiences. He trains us to put aside the selfish and self-interested tendencies of the natural person. He reminds us that we are rooted in Him through the Holy Spirit. He keeps us, just as the Bonsai master keeps his trees.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10:  “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

As a Believer, we are expected to obey God’s Word because we love Him. We recognize the sacrifice He paid so we might be saved from the punishment for sin. Abiding is about love, commitment to Jesus, and obedience to His commands. As we grow and develop as Believers we will be used to reach others. Our Lord created each of us for a purpose that He reveals to us in His good time.

Change in us and in a bonsai tree is gradual and oh so slow. I am thankful that my Lord is patient and kind to me, giving His life that I might have eternal life.

Written by Linda Hull

 

More about the Bonsai…

*Here is a link to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:

http://japaneseteagardensf.com/

http://sfrecpark.org/destination/golden-gate-park/japanese-tea-garden/

 

*If you would like more information about bonsai trees, check out this website:

https://www.bonsaiempire.com/

*Here is a link to the United States National Arboretum’s page about The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum which features a bonsai photo gallery.

http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/BonsaiGallery/index.html

Cimorelli’s New Album Might Be The Best Yet

 

Written by:  Jill Sheets

Cimorelli’s newest album has just been released. Even thought Alive is not their first album, it is their first pop/Christian album. The Cimorelli sisters wrote every song on it. (When you think they cannot get any better, they do!) Personally, I think Alive is their best album so far. It’s catchy and upbeat; it shows off their strong vocals and meaningful lyrics. They have worship songs, but they also tackle hard issues like worthlessness and addiction. These inspirational and uplifting songs will get stuck in your head, especially when you need a certain message.  It is hard to pick my favorite song, as I love them all. Each song speaks to me in a different way, and I’m sure they will for you too.

 

Track Listing:

  1.    Your Name Is Forever
  2.    One More Night
  3.    Alive
  4.    Never Let Me Fall
  5.    The Love Of A Man
  6.    My God Is Here
  7.    Hope For It
  8.    Kick The Habit
  9.    Find Me
  10.    Love Song (Over Me)

I had been waiting a while for this CD, and it was worth the wait. I cannot wait to see what Cimorelli does next. If you are interested in learning more about this sister group you can go to the links below.

https://www.cimorellimusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Cimorelliband/

https://www.instagram.com/cimorelliband/

https://www.youtube.com/user/cimorellitheband

 

Save The Lost…The Game!

There are lots of fun games out there — but how many of them teach meaningful Christian principles?  Of those that do, how many are cool enough that kids and teens WANT to play them?  The obvious answer: “not many!”

That’s why we created Save the Lost.  It’s similar to classic outdoor games like Hide and Seek, Tag and Capture the Flag — but unlike those games, it’s played with specialty glowing lights.  LED Candles mark important boundaries. Players wear illuminated cross necklaces and flashing red bracelets.  The game’s objective revolves around one beautifully lit orb, called “The Light.”

This is not a “sit around and talk” kind of game.  This is a glow-in-the-dark adventure game, one that’s active, that calls for hiding, searching, running, even sneaking up on people!   It really is FUN — but it also teaches profound Christian principles.

Check out this video of the game in action:

Interested in learning more?

Visit the official website:

http://www.savethelostgame.com/

Or check out it out on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX3WQ6X