Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflect, plan and rest

As a part of "Speakers Group" on, a discussion was begun with the question - "In your expert opinion, what do we need to be doing during this last week of 2010 to make ourselves the best we can be in 2011?" I liked the question enough to respond, and I liked my answer enough to share it here with you all.

Reflect, plan and rest. I believe we all need to take time to reflect about 2010 - a) what went well, b) what didn't go well, c) what do I want to improve, d) what dreams do I have - am I dreaming. All these are great things to think about so we can be ready to change in 2011.

Then a) write down your successes and put them somewhere you can remember them for days when you feel like I want to give up; b) forgive yourself for what didn't go right and see if there is something you can change to make it better, c) make a specific plan on how to improve what didn't go well, d) take some time to sit and dream and maybe write the dreams down. But for right now keep the dream(s) tucked in your heart to take out and look over, be strengthened and smile; and, when the time is right, share it and begin to work on it.

Rest - get your body and mind and spirit ready for next year to work. Let it rest. Meditate and spend time with God - preparing your faith for the next fights. 2011 will look better and you'll be ready.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas continues....

I've declared it the second day of Christmas!! :) With all this snow, it's beautiful, but I pray no one is going out. Can't wait to get outside and make a snow angel (this time I will have assistance getting up - LOL), and I have to encourage my Dad to make snowcream. Merry Christmas....continued.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Traveling Story

Today I presented "The Ragged King" again and afterwards I pondered how far this story has come and gone and continues. The story I told comes from a parable written by Soren Kierkegaard in his book, "Philosphical Fragments." (You can read the whole parable and thoughts at This parable was put into another book, which David Jeremiah referenced in his book, "Why the Nativity?"

Donna Thomas, Associate Minister of Music at First Baptist Norfolk, wanted to add a dramatic monologue to a program that our Young at Heart choir was doing. She asked friend, Sarah Brady. Sarah was unavailable and suggested me. Donna also talked to Courtnery and Courtney suggested me and obtained my contact information from Stephanie Freeman, who I went to Malawi with. Donna and I connect and she shows me the parable and asks to make it more of a story. So I come up with 6 mins. that becomes "The Ragged King." I send her the copy of the story (revised slightly just for telling) and she recognizes it matches the pastor's sermon coming up the week after next. She shares with the worship planning team and they ask if I can share this the week after the "Young at Heart choir program" to all 4 services in church.

So, Dec. 5 - I present "The Ragged King" at Young at Heart choir Christmas program for the assisted living/nursing homes. On Dec. 12 - I present "The Ragged King" right before the sermon at all 4 services at First Baptist Norfolk (my home church). On Dec. 13 - Burt Reed calls Mr. Rosser and tells him about the presentation. Mr. Rosser calls my Dad and requests that I come and present at their weekly men's prayer breakfast. So, Dec. 22 - I present "The Ragged King" at the Men's Prayer Breakfast (in Hampton, VA). Today, I was requested by the Sr. Pastor at First Presbyterian Church to present "The Ragged King" at the 5 pm Christmas Eve program.

From the heart of Kierkegaard (1800's) to the ears of those in the 21st century, and it still rings with the same conviction, same revelation about the depth of Christ's love, and is unmistakably the work of God's hand. What we do can have lasting results! Interesting to see where a story travels and how a good story never loses its power. Merry Christmas, Sheila

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stories and Songs

Yesterday I went to Cuffee Center, Chesapeake, VA and presented a Christmas story. It's one that had been working its way through my mind and I presented my version of "The Little Drummer Boy." It was well-received and I saw areas of improvment I could make. However, it begun me thinking more about the stories behind songs.

It's an area I haven't looked at, but there are so many good stories BEHIND the songs that are written or about the authors themselves. I have been reading the words to "I'm Satisfied with Jesus" by B.B. McKinney as part of my Quiet Time over the last few weeks and I have enjoyed learning about B.B. McKinney along the way. He was considered a gentle man, but wrote voraciously and helped edit some of the Southern Baptist Hymnals. His famed words, which he says came from his mother, "When you sing a song, make sure you believe in the words." Oh, what a story his life or even moments in his life could make.

The stories behind "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "It is Well With my Soul" and "Jesus Paid it all" - all powerful stories and worthy of telling, as well as singing. There are also many non-Christian songs that could made into, or might already be stories, but we only see the song side. "Pappa was a rolling stone" - hmmmm - what could we do with that. Maybe we can't use "Shake your groove thing" or "Baby, got back" - LOL - but there is a whole 'nother area of stories just waiting for us to share in the world of music.

Have a great day. It's snowing here and snowing hard and fast, we're expecting 3 inches and it's been steady and heavy for the last hour and a half. Then to turn to rain and freeze over tonight. You can imagine it's going to be a challenge; so if you're going out be safe, and if you're in - stay in. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Perspective

I just did a presentation of "The Ragged King", which is based on a parable that is included in David Jeremiah's book, What is Navtivity? (See Lesson 9). It's a beautiful parable about looking into the heart of a king who falls in love with a humble woman - a peasant. In the end the king realizes the only way he can ensure that this woman can love him for himself and can even see his glory, is when he becomes a peasant himself. It is the story of Christ to humanity.

As I was practicing this piece (and I often have to be careful with practice, because sometimes it leaves the world of storytelling and becomes a script), I reversed the perspective. Using almost the same words I looked at the story through the eyes of the humble woman. It was an amazing and startling change of view, and, helped me remember the piece better, particularly better as a story.

I often encourage teachers to have students write or debate from an opposite perspective. However, I hadn't done that for myself. There is a lot of storywriting happening from the other perspective - "The Three Little Pigs" and "Red Riding Hood" from the point of the wolf is the most common example. However, what if I changed perspective on even my most basic stories. "Possum and the snake" - from the point of view of the snake. "Tigertail Soup" from the point of view of the tiger. These stories become fresh and knew and give wonderful insight.

I don't think I will ever "tell" the story from these perspectives, but having at least told the perspective to myself, gives me more depth with each character. This is actually what Buck Creacy had me do when looking at each of my characters in the story, however, this is just a bit deeper in that each person is given the same story to tell.

Why not try a different perspective with your next story? or even when debating with someone or trying to figure them out? or maybe I should pass this on from Congress? Oh, but that's a whole different story. Peace.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Being Led

Hello, Friends. Yesterday I was performing at Beacon House, a place in Virginia Beach that helps teach and reinforce life skills for folks who have suffered a brain injury from a variety of things, i.e., stroke, victim of crime, car accidents, birth, etc. It was so much fun. I told the story "The Tree Called Beatrice" - a favorite of mine for Christmas. It was the perfect story because Adam in the story is "different" and treated that way by other folks, but he had such good qualities. The group seemed to really relate to Adam. I had not chosen the story for that purpose, but regonized the moment I started what a wonderful choice it was.

Later that evening while at my friend, Vicki Blett's, house, I shared this with her and her husband. Her husband, Larry (a fine actor in his own right :), said, "You know that wasn't you, it was the Holy Spirit - you were led." And that I believe is true. There are times when the story is perfect and I wasn't going to tell it, or I didn't have it originally on my mind, but it suddenly comes out. While I'm telling it, I can see "this is the one" and I do feel, and know that I am, led. Listening to the inner spirit, and I know this Spirit as one from God - can be difficult in my regular every day life, however in my life of performance, I find it much easier to hear. I think it's because I give over my performances each and every time and don't actively do that every day. (Was that conviction I heard, Sheila?)

Well, off I go, another "led" opportunity this morning. Presenting "The Ragged King", which is based on a parable shared with me from David Jeremiah's book - "Why the Nativity?" Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Tomorrow I head out to Mississippi where I will be doing two presentations at the Mississippi State Reading Association Conference. This is the second time I've been at this conference. Since starting my business I have presented at several different Reading and Social Studies conferences in New York, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia. (I think more, but I can't remember them right now.)

Usually for conferences of this type one must make a proposal, have it accepted and then pay for their transportation, room and board. It's great when you can combine your workshop with a paid presnetation, but how? Well, here's one idea. Check with conference organizers and see if they have someone performing for their large breakfast, lunch and/or dinner gathering with attendees. If they don't, find out their theme, and develop the "perfect" program to meet their needs at one of these meals, and set the price (ensure you put in expenses). Then offer them one to two FREE workshop presentations during the conference. The conference will get excellent entertainment/education during one its meals as well as a quality workshop they can offer members. You will get your expenses paid, the exposure, a well-needed brush up on teaching others and upgrading what you do, as well as more intimate time with folks that can lead to other programming. Make sure you have a sign in sheet (or two) for folks that gets their name and e-mail address. Always, send a thank you e-mail to workshop participants, more information about the topic and let them know you will remain in contact with them about programming and about the topic you presented.

Another idea is to get your proposal for workshopping accepted first and then start cold calling all the surrounding area schools, churches and other organizations about being in the area. Try to get 5 programs during the time you are in the area, and you will certainly cover the cost of your expenses. Make sure in your workshop to share where you have been in the area during this visit. This helps participants see that you are available for further programming, and gives them immediate referrals.

Good luck for your next conferences, or your first! Peace and belief, Sheila