So it’s been a hot minute since I have posted. I have been totally immersed in our high schools spring musical. I was hired to do the choreography by the new theater teacher. I have been loving every single minute of it. I have worked on multiple dance numbers, formations and stage directions. I started at the end of February and this week was tech week. Tonight our show was opening! It has been crazy, exhausting, and has filled my heart with so much joy. Joy that I didn’t know I was missing until these new (and some I have known and worked with before) teenagers came into my life. Joy that dancing has brought me since I was 3 but a pandemic took away. But it has also been filled with lots of hard things…

I’m tired of doing hard things. I’m tired of our kids continually getting things taken away, cancelled, or postponed. I am tired of life constantly hurling one bad thing after another. I’m tired of continually telling our kids that things will get better and then they get worse. I am tired for our dear teachers and administrators who are putting their hearts, souls and hard work into our children and then have to constantly be the ones that have to be bearers of bad news. Tonight should have been opening night of a fabulous show for an amazing cast of kids who have worked tirelessly to perfect their performances. Instead, we were all sent home. Storms coming into our area were too severe to warrant our having anyone in our school buildings. Even attempting to do so with the tornados warnings would have put our children, faculty, staff and audience members potentially at risk for a disaster. These storms have already proven deadly and have caused significant damage in Alabama. I completely understand the reasoning behind sending everyone home. But the timing of these storms could not have been any worse. This cast of kids has endured leads being contact traced and kept home for 2 weeks. We have had kids have to learn remotely for brief periods of time for various reasons. We have had injuries, costume catastrophes, missed cues, lighting disasters, sound debacles and tears. Understudies have stepped in and stepped up to make sure rehearsals ran consistently, not knowing if they were playing the part they were cast in or their understudy role. They never complained once. They had amazing attitudes throughout it all. These kids not only star on the stage, but have an entire crew that has built and painted sets, sewn, shopped and borrowed costumes, run sound and lights, and call and run the entire show! Opening night was sold out!! We weren’t even given approval to sell our in person tickets until Monday!!! And then we got cancelled! All this excitement, anticipation and hard work was suddenly replaced with disappointment, sadness, frustration and some anger.

Tonight our shows theater director and fearless leader held it together while she watched these children deflate as the school administrator shut us down and sent us home. She immediately went in to scramble mode to began to pick up the pieces. She never faltered. She continued to encourage them and did what she could to keep morale up. But inside I know she was hurting so much. She is so invested in these kids and in what she does, and it shows! She stayed behind to make sure everyone was out safely, and all students were picked up and headed to a safe place.

Tomorrow, good lord willing, we will have our opening night. I have to remember that God is in this. I don’t understand the reasoning behind any of this. There is so much that I don’t have answers too. I do know that God opened this door for me to be a part of this gloriously talented group of high schoolers. I know that they will be phenomenal when that curtain opens and the lights hit their happy faces. I want them to feel the energy of an audience. The thrill of the applause. The joy and exhilaration when the curtain closes after bows. The proud family members who come to see them and show their support and give kudos for their performance’s. I want them to experience every aspect of live theater. They deserve it. They have worked for it. They have earned it.

If I have learned anything during this pandemic, it is to enjoy the little things. To be in the moments. Because in an instant it can all be taken away from us. This life will continue to throw hard things at us. We will never be immune to that. I know it is hard to think like this when it feels like our lives are constantly being cancelled. Today, I came home with sagging shoulders and a heavy heart. I pouted for myself, for the kids and for the teachers and families. This life is stupid hard somedays. I am thankful that we are all safe at home. We can all rest and be fresh for a new opening night. Tomorrow I look forward to seeing all those shining faces (even when they are behind masks). I can’t wait to see them perform and do what they love. I can’t wait to hear the applause and roar of the audience. I can not wait for tomorrow to come.

God never promises us that life will be easy, in fact, he tells us it will be hard. I will not lose hope. I will not allow the troubles of this world to steal my joy!

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

By Laurel Austin Henson

Laurel spent 8 months caring for her first husband after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He passed away at 33, leaving behind a daughter of 7 and 5 year old twin boys. After sowing millions of tears, Laurel sought out God daily and began to plan for a life of being a single mother, but ready to raise their children in faith, hope and love. God gave her more than she could have ever imagined when she brought Matt into her life, along with his 2 children. He was recently divorced and the providence of God had been leading up to this life for more than 20 years! Now Laurel is reaping joy with Matt and their 5 beautiful children. Thanks be to God for all the beauty created from the ashes of death and divorce.

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