What are our pens doing?

Each morning I read from 3 published works. They have become my friends that greet me in the morning. I open each with anticipation that the words in these collections are waiting to speak to me; specifically and gently. My habit of reading these is old enough to have taught me that indeed the genius minds before me are able to comfort me, inspire me, to give me hope. It’s why I get up so early!

You see I don’t wake up calm and collected. I wake up with butterflies in my stomach, worried about something, anxious about a little bit of everything. But these three friends always prepare me to step into my day with eager anticipation.

These three collections found me. My friend Teresa Noble gave me a little paperback called Thoughts for the Quiet Hour years ago. It’s no longer published but Dexter finds copies for me on the internet; “Used…gently used …excellent condition”. I never asked him to do this. He just surprises me because he knows I love to give them away.

My second book, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, found me in Colorado when I was on a trip I couldn’t afford at a conference that I was driven to attend. And last, and as they say “but not least”, is my Life Application Bible from my sister-in-law Janeece. I never knew there was a bible with “helps” at the bottom! All those years of church and no one told me! Really?!

So here it is, February 11th and I am thinking about November 21st from Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. It inspires me each time I read it. It’s like I have forgotten the words, and then there they are, reminding me again “to write”. Each day, this collection of philosophers starts with a verse from the bible. D.L. Moody collected 365 of his favorites; that in and of itself is amazing. And then he collected someone’s commentary supporting each verse. Now that I can Google, I keep my phone in my robe pocket just to see who these unknown geniuses are. Not every morning mind you, but sometimes.

November 21st starts with a quote, “I heard from behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet saying… write.” It sounds like Shakespeare, right? Well almost, it’s Revelation. And then Thomas Champness says, “Are there not others who would dry their tears if we would remind them of past joys, when we were poor as they are now? Would not some, who read these plain words, place inside the envelope something bearing their signature to which would make the widow’s heart dance for joy! What are our pens doing??”

What are our pens doing? My daughter-in-love (law doesn’t say it right) Sarah, my son Chad’s wife, heard my cry for personalized stationary a few years and ago and now it’s a staple of my budget. Envelopes bearing my address and personal cards bearing my name are like crystal champagne glasses. It states to whomever I am writing that what I am saying is intensely personal and very important to me.

I look for those moments when I can slip a word of love to someone else who may be experiencing life in a way that brings particular joy, or sorrow, or generosity. They should know their kindness to me meant something or that when I woke up they were the root of my anxiety and that I am honestly praying for them. Or perhaps, they just need to know I remember some past sorrow that is revisiting them just now.

What are your pens doing?!? ….. Write! Do it! Don’t wait. “Are you adding joy to other men’s lives? If so, then angels may tune their harps when we sit at our desks…looking at our pens as writing music for them to sing because what we write makes their client’s joy be full!” Joy! You see what I mean about these people that inspire me! So now, you …. Write. Write. Write.

Spell check. Save. Send. 🙂


Watching Creativity Become

It’s that time of year when parents are invited to come to class with us and we share our work. What has been a private process of creativity becomes public for the first time. I suppose you could argue that the class provides a weekly audience, but by now that audience has shifted to a trusted legion of fellow travelers. Your classmates are your comrades on a journey that opens up new worlds of insight that are nearly impossible to explain to anyone else. Hopefully, if all goes well, your class has become your best audience, providing a mirror for your discoveries; a group that can delight in those revelations right along with you, in fact sometimes before you.

But once parents arrive everyone gets jittery all over again. Perhaps this audience will enjoy being an observer of their child’s self-discovery and savor this one tiny glimpse of their child’s journey. Experience tells me that for some, this hour becomes a time of discernment that may bring a jab of criticism or the need to measure success. That’s the chance you always take as an artist when you show your work, but with your family it’s more personal.

So to all whose job it is to observe creativity on its journey, I have these words of encouragement. Creativity is precious and very private. I once taught a class where one child was so exceptionally shy that the mere idea that everyone’s parents were coming to observe gave him an instant case of the flu. I knew his cold sweats were motivated by his tender soul not germs floating in the air. And so we created a plan.

Every great work needs a lighting design and every production worth seeing needs a great stage manager. The flu disappeared as our lighting designer/stage manager was born. When everyone’s parents arrived this young boy stood proudly by the door. He knew his role in our collective success. We started working and proudly he stood. He had joyfully participated in the class all semester warming up, becoming the man who owned all the caps in Caps for Sale, happily playing a monkey in the tree. But not today. Today he was prepared for something else. Today he would shine the light on the other actors. His cue came and flawlessly the light switched on! Bravo!

How could I begin to explain to a type-A parent that he was indeed learning, becoming more confident by the moment and especially today? What I know is that until an individual develops enough confidence in what he or she has learned you may not get to see it. It may remain hidden until it has gelled.

I don’t remember his parents’ response. I do however remember his! He was elated with his role stage left. OFF STAGE LEFT to be more correct! He knew. I knew. It was a good day.

I Choose to Have a Sunday

I choose to have a Sunday, a time apart. Not just to do the wash or pull weeds, or go to the grocery, or all that other stuff we don’t have time to do during the week, but to head to my spiritual home. To have 2 cups of frothy coffee at a much slower pace than a Monday or Tuesday, put on something nicer than jeans, but less corporate than my suit, and go “be”.

I need a place to go once a week apart from the cares of my world, to be refreshed. Going to church, for me, especially when I don’t rush off after the service, when I slow my pace and connect, grounds me. This is where I learn to rest, to serve, to let go, to be thankful. Once I am there I become less worried about results. It’s like stepping into a zone where I realize there is an entire universe out there so much bigger than me, and ever so gently my daily worries melt away. I am reminded to forgive, to tell the truth, and above all else to be kind. It presses me to pay attention to the details of other people’s lives, to show up, to get outside of myself.

I loved reading that Jim Henson said he spent time in prayer every morning; that this time helped him start the day with a good frame of reference. I absolutely know this to be true. Finding white space! Ah me. Filling our spirits is as necessary as breathing.

Meet Donny Murray

Donny MurrayDonny Murray
Years at Kids Who Care:
2004  2013

  1. What are you doing now? I’m a sophomore student at The University of Tampa in Florida, majoring in Management and Marketing.
  2. What was your favorite role or show you were in at Kids Who Care?  My favorite role with Kids Who Care would have been this past summer (summer 2013) as I got to be both on stage as Riley Warren Fuller and backstage as a PA for Ehleshea Woodruff. Being given the opportunity to be in Deep in the Heart was incredibly memorable to say the least.

  3. What is the strongest lesson you took away from your time at Kids Who Care and how has it made you who you are today?  One of the most important things I learned at Kids Who Care came from Mini Camp but is so applicable – Make every day an adventure. The atmosphere at Kids Who Care is unmatched. There really is some sort of magic that exists there every day which stems from the energy, positivism, and dreams of the people there. The idea of child wonder is something that most people lose, but it is not forgotten here and I love that, because there’s Donny The Kitehuge difference between being child-like, and childish. Everyone just seems to be happier when they get to “whistle while they work” – have some play organically infused into the work. If I can emulate this feeling into every task and every job that I have, then I will always be content with life.

  4. Which KidPower Point of Power do you most identify with and why?  I relate to every point of power, but if I have to choose one, it would be Vision. I love looking to the future and seeing potential. It inspires me to think about future possibilities and to hear the dreams and aspirations of others. And I believe that Vision encompasses some of the other points in the long run – you have to be efficient with your work in order to accomplish your goals, you have to encourage others of their passions (for you will most likely get encouragement and support in return), and you have to put yourself out there by making connections and letting others know of your plans so that they can come along for the ride.

  5. Tell us how what you are doing today applies to what you wrote on your cloud card as a kid. My cloud card has changed over the years to reflect my changing interest and dreams. When I was young, I aspired to be an actor as any young theatre child dreams. As I got older, I wanted to go to college and have a job with the freedom to travel the world, have a family and still be happy. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in hopes of graduating college. As for the rest, I have wishful thinking for the future yet to come.

  6. Donny DITHAny favorite or funny story about your time at KWC that we may not know? One of my proud personal accomplishments in Kids Who Care was assisting in coordinating the summer Dance-A-Thon event for two years (Andrea’s creation!). During the first go-round in 2011, I was extremely anxious and excited to put on a great event, and worked hard and diligently to coordinate assignments, communicate information, and deal with the logistics of the event. People tell me it was a blast, but I never gave myself a break until around the last 10 minutes, but it was a GREAT 10 minutes. Dance-A-Thon has always been my favorite event, and I was so thrilled to be able to make it happen. And going crazy on the dance floor with my friends to Time Warp and dubstep was exactly what I needed that night.

  7. What is your dream for Kids Who Care? My dream for Kids Who Care is to stay the way they are. I don’t mean that I want them to stay EXACTLY the same, because I would love to see these kinds of kid companies pop up all over the country and the world. What I do want for Kids Who Care is to hold on to the ideals that Deborah Jung had in mind 25 years ago, because those are the ones that inspire people to do great things and be great people in the communities around them.

A Charmed Life at Kids Who Care

www.zuilma.comI was listening to Charles Osgood this morning, as I do when I get ready for church. I heard words that describe why I hope that I always work at Kids Who Care. It is the key to relationships for me. We create a work of art together and it allows us to be in relationship. We teach each other the things we know. I get to share words of the all the greatest geniuses I’ve read about or observed. I get to pass along advice like “always say important things face to face”, “written thank yous matter”, “leaders pick up trash!” And you say things like “my heart is smiling”, or you show me your fairy notebook, or squeal with glee at the thought of a real Tinker Bell climbing through the window. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be in those rooms and basements and on those sidewalks? I have spent my entire adult life in relationship with artists and children. A charmed life for sure. A rich life beyond anything money will ever be able to glean.

1996 – Gone to Texas!

Over the hills and through the woods, this 1996 cast was Gone to Texas! Kids Who Care is an international company with roots in the city of Cowboys and Culture, Fort Worth, Texas! The company wanted to celebrate everything Texas, especially their Texas moms, and that “BIG COW STATUE in their neighbor’s front lawn!” This show has been revived several times and renamed Deep in the Heart.


Kids Who Care on iTunes


Kids Who Care Releases First iTunes Album and Book of their Original Musical, Deep in the Heart

Audiences can now take Kids Who Care’s Original Works home with them when they leave the theatre

FORT WORTH, TX – October 10, 2013 – Kids Who Care, a non-profit international musical theatre company based in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, continues to celebrate its 25th Year with the release of their very first iTunes® Album and published book of their Original Musical, Deep in the Heart.

The Deep in the Heart album sells for $10 on iTunes and includes 11 studio tracks which feature current Kids Who Care Resident Company members as well as Kids Who Care Alumni. There are also 5 bonus tracks that were recorded during the 25th Summer Celebration of Kids Who Care at the Scott Theatre in August of this year. Download on iTunes.

The Deep in the Heart book features pieces from the original script paired with images of past productions and children’s drawings. In addition, there is sheet music included for seven of the songs in the original production. Books can be purchased from Kids Who Care for $35.

“The 25th year represents more than a birthday party. It’s more than a business milestone. It’s about moving into a time in our history when we can deliver our work in a lasting way.” said Deborah Jung, founder and executive director of Kids Who Care Musical Theatre. “For years our audiences have been asking for the soundtrack! And now they can get it! Bravo!”

Deep in the Heart is a collaborative effort of Texas playwrights and songwriters, including Kids Who Care alumni. The youth actors at Kids Who Care helped steer the show’s content, through their words and feedback as the script and original songs evolved.

About Kids Who Care
Founded in 1989, Kids Who Care is a non-profit international theatre company based in Fort Worth, Texas that seeks to produce creative and confident kids through musical theatre education, performance, and leadership opportunities. Kids Who Care offers professional musical theatre classes, leadership training, summer musical theatre camps, international cultural exchanges, a touring Resident Company, public performances and more. The Kids Who Care Resident Company has performed Off-Broadway at the Lamb’s Theatre, at both Disney’s, at The Kennedy Center, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, at 30,000 feet aboard an airplane for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and at many other locations across the U.S. and overseas. The core values of the organization include: excellence in artistic development, artistic integrity of kids, leadership roles for kids, financial and cultural diversity and ensemble production. For more information, please visit http://www.kidswhocare.org

Local Media Contact:
Andrea Ballard, Marketing & PR Director
817.737.5437  |  andrea@kidswhocare.org

1994 – Earth and Soul

This flashback is to a group of forward-thinking kids in 1994 who wanted to make a musical about taking care of the planet. They gave life to the musical Earth and Soul. The kids sung out, “Let’s give them a place they’ll be proud to call home!” in the upbeat dance song, “A Place Like That.” The company knew that taking care of Mother Earth had to be the message because the future is “in our hands (and it’s in yours too!).”

KWC Alum 095

This company had the opportunity to perform at Disneyland!

1993 – Make Good Choices

“Make good choices,” is now a popular catchphrase that moms and dads shout to their kids as they leave for school, the movies, and even church! This phrase gained popularity after the 2003 film Freaky Friday was released. This means that Kids Who Care was way ahead of its time with the 1993 musical Choices. The kids created this musical to let their peers know that the choices that we make aren’t just superficial, but can deeply affect the way that others feel. We have a choice to compliment someone instead of bullying them, or to give up our bus seat to an elderly person instead of ignoring him.

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Check out current Production Manager Chad Jung in the center of the front row!