Ga-linda, the not-so-good

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, I remember Glinda the good witch being this puff of pink that wasn’t involved much in the story except to bestow the ruby slippers on Dorothy for killing the witch and send her on her way to Oz. Granted, it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, so my idea of her may be a bit vague and incorrect. But, I love how Ga-linda (yes, with a Ga) is portrayed in the musical Wicked.

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In the musical, Galinda is the popular girl in school who likes pink and always looks like she has her life together in perfect order. Even though she treated Elphaba like the plague when they first became roommates, her perfect façade quickly fell away as she got to know Elphie and the two of them became the best of friends. Until, of course, all of Oz turned against Elphaba and Galinda was thrown into the spotlight as the sudden hero of all Oz. With the people looking to her to lead, she had to look the part of perfection and continue to lead in the hunt for the wicked witch.

In a recent blog post, I asked if you had ever felt like the wicked witch of the west. In the same vein, I ask, are you more of a Galinda, or just a Galinda wannabe perhaps? I say wannabe, because, who could be Galinda anyway? She’s perfect. She’s popular. Her hair is blonde. She travels by bubble. Her fiancée is captain of the guard. What’s not to love about her?

But, underneath all the fluff and glitter, she’s not as good as she appears to be. She betrayed her best friend for fame, and she knows the stories they’ve been telling about Elphie aren’t true. But what’s a girl to do? She has the standard of perfection to uphold.

I wonder how many of us have felt like that Galinda. Everyone having one idea of how you portray yourself on the outside, but never really knowing or seeing the war that’s going on beneath the surface. I don’t know about you, but I have felt like Galinda the not-so-good many times in my life. Being a Christian, that’s sometimes an extra hard burden to bear. Growing up in the church, you always have a certain standard to uphold or expectation to meet. And being a believer, you often strive to meet those standards and expectations. But how many of you go home after church or Bible study and feel you are living a lie or half a life, or even a double life?

I confess, unlike the song in the musical, I am that girl. With different things going on in my home life, I have come to feel very much like my life was a façade. Always putting on the happy smile at church or work and pretending like everything is fine. Feeling like I could never share what was really going on out of fear of what people would think of me, and of my family. Always feeling like you have to keep your true feelings and hurts and wounds inside because you don’t want to destroy the perfect vision people have of you.

Taking it deeper still, living with the deep darkness of a secret sin you have kept so buried your entire life, that if discovered, everyone who knows you would be completely shocked and probably be ready to take up stones to flog you to death for such unthinkable, unmentionable things you have done or thought. You no longer feel like the sweet, beautiful fairy everyone thinks you are. In fact, you’re probably feeling a little more like Jekyll and Hyde right about now.

Luckily, for you and me, the story doesn’t have to end there, and it didn’t in the musical. When Elphaba’s life was on the line, Galinda found her and in one of the most beautiful songs of the play, they sang about how they had been changed for the better because they knew each other. All was forgiven and their friendship was mended. I can tell you from personal experience that you too can be mended. For years I was racked with guilt and shame over the things I thought. And, even though the Bible says if we confess our sins, He will be faithful and just to forgive them, I was sure He was getting tired of hearing me confess and ask forgiveness for the same sordid sins over and over and over again. But believe me, God’s love is far greater than we can ever imagine and He didn’t just send His Son to save us, He sent His Son to change us.

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If you have given your life to Christ, your old life holds no power over you anymore. Your past guilts or mistakes or problems, whether self-inflicted, or inflicted by others, can no longer control you. The only power they hold over you is the power you give them. It may seem like they are still holding onto you and you will never break free, but the truth is, they have already been destroyed and overcome. We just have to realize that we are already free and let those imaginary chains fall away as we walk forward in our new life in Christ.

Don’t let your Galindo not-so-good, or your Mr. Hyde, whichever the case may be, control your life. Let the love of Christ dwell in you richly and live in light of your salvation.

 

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Wicked: An Elphaba kind of prayer

Have you ever felt like the wicked witch of the west? That may seem like an odd question. Especially since most of the time we would like to think we are more like Galinda the good witch, or even the heartless tin man or cowardly lion. Maybe even the heroic Dorothy who saves all of Oz from the terrifying witch.

Maybe this will help clear up my question a bit. The other night I was sitting in my bed reflecting on all the confusing and entangling events going on in my life and it felt like I was searching for something, anything to say to God and figure out how to figure out this mess. It felt like I was grasping at straws. Seeking answers to nagging questions. Looking for peace in the turmoil. Pacing the lion’s cage hoping to find the magical thing that would set me free or fill the hollow emptiness inside.

Being the musical theatre buff that I am, this goose chase my mind was taking me on brought to mind the scene in Wicked when Elphaba is chanting frantically across the expanse of the stage trying something, anything, to make sure Fiyero can’t be harmed. If you don’t know the story, it’s a creative retelling of the Wizard of Oz that takes a look at the witch’s side of the story. It follows the life of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west, and her friendship with Galinda the good witch and Fiyero, a new boy in school, Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, and a munchkin boy named Boq. I don’t want to spoil the storyline for those who haven’t seen it, but it comes to a point towards the end of the story where Fiyero ends up running off to help Elphaba and he gets taken prisoner because of it. Desperate to save the one good thing in her life, Elphaba opens her book of enchantments and starts saying whatever she can hoping it will be enough to save him.

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My life has felt a bit like that, and as I mentioned, that scene came to mind the other night as I wrestled with so many of the questions on my mind. I don’t know if you have ever had moments like that, where much like Elphaba in the song, you feel like shouting at top of your lungs, trying to figure what you want to say to God or what you want Him to do. You just keep going round and round not knowing if you are supposed to listen to what He has to say or if you are supposed to spill everything on your heart. You just know that things aren’t right in your life and you have to do whatever it takes to make them right.

Sometimes, you do have so much on your mind, you don’t know what or how to pray. But, that’s ok. You don’t have to have all the right words or have all the right things to pray. God knows what our hearts are trying to say. Even when it seems like our prayers are coming out in gibberish and make no sense to us. If we are praying in earnest to our God, He will hear us. He hears us in our tears. He hears us in our laughter. He hears us when we are so full of sorrow we can’t even speak. Just make sure you do pray, and that you keep on praying. Pour out your heart to your Father and let His never-ending love enfold you.

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The story of Wicked comes to a bittersweet end. Elphaba does ultimately save Fiyero and herself, even though it may not have happened the way she expected it too. But God works like that sometimes. We will ask for one thing and He will give it to us, just not how we expected it to happen. Or, He will give us something else that’s better for us. He knows our lives better than we do and knows what we need. So, when you’re overwhelmed or feel you are just mumbling nonsense, rest in the fact that God has already written your story and knows what the outcome will be.

 

 

A Word to the Masses

Tell me. What were you marching for? What reasons united you in this frivolous display of femininity? What were you expecting to achieve by your actions?

I cannot say I am proud of the female sex after yesterday’s embarrassing display of… what, exactly? I am still puzzled as to the reasons behind the march. Because another man was elected our president? Is that the real reason? You’ve achieved the right to vote, the right to equality with men, the ability to work with and even above men in some cases. You have every right a man has and in some cases more rights than a man, yet you fell short at the voting polls in achieving the right to rule a nation by the hands of your first lady president. If that’s the issue, you should have used your voices to elect her as president to begin with and not let that opportunity slip through the cracks.

We live in a democratic nation, which gives each and every one of us the opportunity to vote for the leader of our country. Not be submitted to the rule of a familial hierarchy or fall under whoever shed the most blood to get to the throne of higher power. We are blessed to be in such a nation, but it seems we’ve been given too many freedoms to be a rational people anymore. The liberal freedoms our founding fathers fought so hard to achieve and our friends and family in the armed forces have fought so hard to defend have made us a spoiled rotten child of a nation. Everyone has become self-entitled and feels the world should cater to them. We’ve become obese off of our first-world problems and throw a tantrum when things aren’t done our way. Especially when those things aren’t done in the split second after we ask for them. We have become a sorry mess of a nation, and it saddens me to think of the world my children will grow up in. Not because someone was elected president over someone else, but because of the way the people of this nation have chosen to live and carry on with their lives.

We are no longer a nation united under one cause. We are no longer a nation that can stand indivisible. We are no longer a nation that cares about liberty and justice for all. We are a nation divided against itself, looking for the almighty “ME” in everything we do or say. And any nation  that looks to the individual rights of every person will quickly become so disheveled and torn apart, it will no longer have any foundations on which to stand. And any enemies we have created in this world will make quick work of destroying what little things we have left to hold onto. In the words of one of our greatest presidents, who took the words from the very God whose principles and morals and Word were the very foundation of this nation, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” We are in a dangerous place, America, and unless we start waking up to our troubles soon, we may end up in a place far worse than we can ever imagine with no way to get back to where we were.

A place where you no longer have the freedom to speak about what you want. No longer have the freedom to work where you want. No longer have the right to vote for the leader of your country, or anything pertaining to your country, city, or state. Things may not have gone your way in the election, but just remember how blessed you are to be able to have the choices and freedoms we have in this nation.

Don’t take your freedoms and liberties for granted. And don’t abuse your access to those freedoms. We have no rights. All of us were simply born luckier than others. And those who weren’t born here work hard to get here and stay here. These “rights” are things that have been given to us by the leaders of our nation as our nation has grown over the 2 centuries we have been around. Such precious gifts, I would not be so hasty to destroy.

 

Broken Angel

Her wings are torn and tattered. Her heart is battered and scarred. It’s hard for her to feel the love and joy that once flooded her heart. Her soul is worn and weary from fighting this war that seems like it will never end. Her nerves are raw and are breaking. Her mind is filled with confusion. Her body is battered and bruised.

This once beautiful angel is falling into depths of despair. Her will to carry on has been crushed beyond repair. There is so much pain in her heart. Silent pain that has taken root and has grown deep into her veins. A pain so deep it seems no one else can see the brokenness inside.

Her heart has been shattered so many times she can no longer put together the pieces to make it whole. The enemy is working overtime to fill her world with darkness and doubt. Filling her mind with everything that is going wrong in her life and smothering every glimmer of light that comes her way.

Everyone keeps telling her that this suffering will come to an end, that her battle is the Lord’s and He’ll carry her through to the end. She wants to believe He will take all her sorrow and pain and turn it into joy and dancing, but it’s hard to believe when she feels so battered and scarred.

God,  lift up this angel and carry her close to your heart. Wrap your arms around her and let her know everything will be all right. Mend the wings that used to soar and heal the heart that is shattered and torn. Restore beauty to her mind and strength to her soul.  Lift up this broken angel and make her once again whole.

Love the broken angels and lift them up in prayer.  They need it more than you know

Bugs on the Windshield

I struggle with anxiety and doubt. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it and it seems that doubt leads to anxiety. Just as suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, I feel doubt does just the opposite of that. It makes us believe we can’t carry on, which causes us to think about giving up, which leads to anxiety about everything in life and we end up a jumbled mess of uncertainty and confusion.

I’ve been thinking this week about how much of my thought are clouded with doubt and how I’ve lost sight of the power of the God who is in control. In thinking about this, the image of a bug-covered windshield came to mind

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You’ve all been there(if you haven’t, you’ve never driven through Kansas in the summer time). You’re driving along and SPLAT, a  bug meets your windshield. Soon another bug bites the dust. And another. And another. And, before long, you’re entire windshield is covered with bug juice and no matter how many times you’ve turned on your wipers to clean it off, it just smears their remains all over and makes what little visibility you had left zero. All you can do is keep driving to the next rest stop with a gas station where you can put some elbow grease into scrubbing the little buggers off.

Our walk, or drive, with God is like that at times. We’re going along, enjoying the scenery, rocking out to praise tunes, when SPLAT, a little flick of doubt about a situation hits the windshield. And SPLAT, another, “What if this” or “What if that.” And another. And another. And, before long, the entire windshield is covered to the point where you can no longer see the road in front of you. No matter how hard you try to wipe the doubts away and keep going, they only become messier and messier. Anxiety and panic begin to set in and we try to stay in control of our lives but in reality, we have no clue where we’re going and are starting to be a danger to ourselves and those around us. If we don’t stop soon, we may end up driving off a cliff and end up hurting ourselves or others who may have been on the road or in the car with us.

Sometimes we need to careen completely out of control to realize our need for God, but sometimes, we just need to pull over and let Him take the wheel. He is our Shepherd and loving Father and He will guide and lead us safely to our destinations. Even if there are bumps in the road or detours, or complete crashes, He is there with us every moment and He is in total control of every situation. Rest in the fact that He is far bigger than those little bugs on the windshield and He will get you through. You may not be able to enjoy the scenery right now, but you can use this time of blurred sight to refocus your eyes and heart on Christ and let Him take control.

Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts… Continue steadfastly in prayer.” Colossians 3:15, 4:2

The Storm is Still Raging-Reflections from the Tidal Wave

It sucks to be caught in the middle of the storm. It sucks even more when the storm continues to grow bigger and bigger and you can no longer see the ground beneath you or any of the sights that were once familiar and comfortable. All you see is water and wind for miles and miles and miles….

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How did I get here? Which way up? When did it even start raining?

Life isn’t always calm nor is it full of sunshine and roses. Sometimes we experience little sprinkling of rain here and there and rarely see a truly turbulent storm. Other times what starts out as a sprinkling of rain becomes a pelting of drops that become bigger and harder and faster. Pretty soon the troubles of life begin to flood in all around you and before you know it, you are swept under by the tidal waves raging all around you. The water is rushing and moving so fast now that no matter how hard and long you fight to stay on the surface, the current keeps pulling you under and spinning you around until you no longer which way is up and which way is down.

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A lot of us experience these storms in life but we often bury these storms deep inside. We paint a picture of a calm and smooth sailing surface when underneath we are fighting the hurricanes and monsoons and tidal waves that never seem to let up. But no matter how deep down the storm is, or how well we think we’ve got it covered, it will almost always make it’s way to the surface.

In a sense it’s funny and ridiculous that we feel we have to keep a perfect appearance on the outside because no one is perfect. Sometimes I wonder why we put such ridiculous expectations on each other. God sees us and accepts us as broken, imperfect people that need a lot of work and help. He, a perfect God who should demand perfection, shows endless compassion on wretched souls and wants to help us on our journey. We as humans put such high and unrealistic expectations on ourselves and each other that it’s no wonder people never want to tell others what they truly feel.
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I of all people struggle with allowing other to see the real me. I struggle with how others perceive me and hope to God that no one sees how broken and messed up I am. I dread the thought of appearing weak or incapable of doing something. If I had my choice, I would keep my messy life locked away in a closet and make sure no one would ever be able to discover its contents.

It’s unpleasant to be messy, but maybe God has called us to be messy once in a while. Maybe He has asked us to take down the masks we all put up and be real with each other. The next time you attend church or interact with fellow believers, think about the words of the song by Casting Crowns “Stained Glass Masquerade”
Continue reading The Storm is Still Raging-Reflections from the Tidal Wave

Fairy Tales in life

Sometimes the fairy tale stories we dreamed of living don’t always turn out the way we wanted or expected. Sometimes what you wish for turns out to be what you didn’t want and what you truly want isn’t what you wished for. Dreams of a grand castle and parties and princes turns into a nightmare full of emptiness and loneliness. Hopes of beauty and youth come with consequences that sometimes become irreversible and dangerous. Desires for adventure and excitement can lead you down a path that is dark and dim and full of wolves waiting to devour those who wander down those paths. In fairy tales we see and read about, we often only see the happily ever after but in missing the reality of life after the happily ever after, we are caught up in a world of dreams and wishes that don’t come true or crumble around us when the “happily” part of the ever after fades away. But, sometimes we need those fairy tales to give us the hope that there is good and happiness in the world and that the bleakness in this world isn’t all that bad.

If any of you reading this know me, you know that I love stories, especially fairy tales, and I love it when those stories are told well either through words on a page or through actors on the stage or film. Something you may or may not know about me is that I also love finding the similarities in those stories to life and love to see those comparisons come to life in a real and wonderful way. Theatre is, after all, a reflection of life. But I would go one step further to say that stories in general are a reflection of life. That’s why we tell them. To share our life’s journey with others that they may fare better on the journey or be encouraged when their story seems to be in a tail spin.

There are a couple of movies that have come out in the past few months, both fairy tales (of course ☺ ) that have come at a much needed time in my life. “Into the Woods” and “Cinderella” were both filled with stories that were well-written and well-told. I love “Into the Woods”, one because I’m a complete theatre geek and it is brilliant, but the main reason I love it is the story, or rather stories, it tells. It paints the picture of a journey that must be taken into the woods to retrieve what the characters need to fulfill their wishes. It is not an easy journey but on this journey, each character learns many things about themselves and about the world. They all get their seeming happy ever afters but what they thought they wanted isn’t always what it seemed and when the light becomes dim and the way becomes dark, their tales take a different twist. The light of reality almost shines brighter in the dimness of their crumbling tales and makes them realize a lot what they wished for isn’t what they wanted but they are all better for the journey they had to take. As I said, I love this story because it is such a reflection of life and the journeys we have to take sometimes into the woods. Some of you know some of the things that have been going on recently in my life and I admit I have felt very much like I am in the midst of my journey through the woods. I’ve wished a lot of things throughout my life and sometimes the most disappointing thing is to find that when you get the thing you wished for the most and went on a journey into the woods to get, it’s the one thing that you don’t really want. You feel like you have been left with a crumbling dream that turns into a nightmare. But, that nightmare isn’t the end of your journey, but simply something you must go through to truly discover who you are and what it is you truly wish for. I love the words of the (almost) final song.
“Careful the things you say, Children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn. Guide them along the way, children will glisten. Children will look to you for which way to turn, to learn what to be. Careful before you say, listen to me, children will listen.
Careful the wish you make, wishes are children. Careful the path you take, wishes come true. No free. Careful the spell you cast, not just on children. Sometimes the spell you cast, not just on children. Sometimes the spell may last past what you can see, and turn against you. Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell. Children will listen.”

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SO many things in this show and song!! But, I digress. With things going on in my life, I felt I was in the midst of the darkest part of the woods in my story. I was losing site of the fairy tale God was, and is, writing with my life and getting caught up in the trap of the woods and believing that the fairy tales we dream of living were much like the stories told in “Into the Woods,” full of holes and the reality of not-so-happily ever afters. But, I love how God works in our lives at times. Just when times seem bleakest, He blesses us with a little ray of sunshine that reminds us of the happy part of the fairy tales we’re living and I found that glimmer of hope in the new “Cinderella” movie that recently came out in theatres. The story is well-known, but the telling of it was beautiful and added a reality and depth to the story that I never expected. It reminded me over and over again that fairy tales can still have happy moments and happy endings and not to give up on the fairy tale God is writing with my life. The song that was played during the end credits really hit home with me, so, because I am not only a theatre geek, I am a music nerd and lyric junkie, I am going to share them, in hopes that they help you on your journey through the woods as well. (and if you haven’t seen either of these films, GO SEE THEM!!!!)

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“In a perfect storybook, the world is brave and good.
A hero takes your hand, a sweet love will follow
But life’s a different game, the sorrow and the pain
Only you can change your world tomorrow.

Let your smile light up the sky,
Keep your spirit soaring high
Trust in your heart and your sun shines forever and ever
I believe in you and me
We are strong

When it “once upon a time” in stories and rhyme
A moment you can shine and wear your own crown
Be the one that rescues you
Through the clouds, you’ll see the blue
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A bird alone on the wind
Can still be strong and sing
Sing…

Let your smile light up the sky,
Keep your spirit soaring high
Trust in your heart and your sun shines forever and ever
I believe in you and me
We are strong