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For two weeks each year, my life revolves around “The Play.” For those two weeks, I live and breathe “The Play.”

Practice starts this morning at 9:00 a.m. As I dive into these wonderful two weeks, I’d like to tell you how “The Play” became such an important part of my life and how that has continued for these many years.

I usually begin this story by telling about the day fifteen years ago when our daughter Mary Evelyn asked me if she could write a play and ask homeschoolers from our church to be in it. I thought the idea sounded wonderful and answered yes.

Hosanna became the focus of Mary Evelyn’s English and the focus of much of our family’s homeschool. No one in our family knew then that Hosanna was only the beginning and that Mary Evelyn would go on to do a play each year. She was a fifteen-year-old homeschooled high school student when she wrote Hosanna. This year our thirty-year-old daughter, who is married and the mother of two children, is directing play number fifteen.

Pretty early on, Mary Evelyn began to invite other local homeschoolers to participate in her plays, in addition to the children in the church where Ray was a minister at the time. This year’s cast is 98! The plays quickly outgrew the facilities of the church’s family life center. We moved first to a small local theater, and later, to the performing arts center.

Mary Evelyn is the brains and the heart behind each play. However, they are quite the family affair. Our daughter Bethany served many years as musical director. She and Ray are chief play editors. Our son John has acted in several, sometimes as the male lead. I am privileged each year to serve as her assistant director.

As I watched what God was doing through Mary Evelyn’s plays year after year, I began to pray that God would send her a husband who would support what had become a ministry. He answered amazingly. To my knowledge, Mev’s husband Nate had never been involved in theater before their marriage, but now he puts his carpentry skills, his amazing creativity, and his belief in what Mev is doing together to create fabulous sets. His parents are very involved, too.

Like I said, I usually start this story by telling about Mev’s request fifteen years ago, but when I think back, I realize that seeds were planted much earlier than that. There was our friend Janay who gave Bethany dress-up clothes as part of a 4-H child care project. There were the hours Bethany and Mary Evelyn spent doing plays with their friends in our basement. There was Wayne the Hebrew scholar who wrote plays for the church kids when Ray preached in Illinois and Kenny the new Christian who built sets for those plays.  There was our son John who got our family started doing plays with the teens at church. There were the parties where Ray and I did our silly version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” routine?

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“Who’s on first?”

Oh, how we like to orchestrate things in the lives of our children. I did nothing to orchestrate this wonderful aspect of my daughter’s life. I’ve just gotten to watch God put everything together.

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul?
Servants through whom you believed,
even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but God who causes the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

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  1. How exciting, Charlene! My oldest daughter is very involved in community theater, and she is quite passionate about it. She’s been acting for the past six years, and it’s provided a wonderful outlet for her creative talents and an awesome opportunity to develop leadership skills. She was named captain of the theater group a couple of years ago, and she serves as prop manager and is a terrific role model and mentor to the younger children. Theater has been such a blessing to her life. I can’t wait to read Part II of your story tomorrow! 🙂

  2. Charlene, that sounds wonderful!!! I’m sure it is a great experience for everyone. Just wished I lived in TN to be able to see it. God Bless you all!