Reflecting on Love

It’s been four days since we opened the curtain to the first-ever audience for How Love Wins. I have been in a dreamy fog ever since, reveling in awe at how amazing our first performance turned out.

I want to thank the company, and specifically Jacquelyn Maxwell and Claudia Rhodus, for the absolutely gorgeous commemorative pointe shoes given to me (check out the picture below!). In case you didn’t get to see them, they feature the logo with a beautiful cross and crown of thorns as well as a scroll that lists each piece from this premiere performance. Every detail is so lovely and thoughtful. I can’t wait to display them and will never forget this special time they represent.

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The journey of this production over the past two years has been one of the biggest challenges but also biggest blessings of my life. I’ve heard so many positive reviews of the show from our audience. The dancing was incredible and the dancers themselves performed as never before, growing in artistry and passion. Parents volunteered in new ways, filling in every need the show had with generous, selfless hearts.

All the outward successes are awesome and are worth praising God, who put this show together. However, reflecting now about how God used this experience personally in my life, I can’t help but be more amazed at how He used this show to change and grow me inwardly in some profound ways. Through this show, God changed my heart, and I will never stop thanking Him for that. As a believer, I know that the Lord will go to great lengths to reach us. What has touched me more is that He will go to even greater lengths to grow us.

Through the creation of How Love Wins, God guided me to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk. I was often scared to step out in faith this way. During each experience where I had sweaty palms, sweaty armpits and a dry throat (why can’t those be reversed?!), I learned that during some steps of faith, it’s okay to be afraid, uneasy and uncertain. But it’s not okay to doubt God. Though I messed this up a lot, He eventually worked every detail through in His perfect plan. And each time I had to step out of that comfort zone of mine, even if I was still afraid, I learned to trust Him more, and I never had to do it alone.

There were many times in the production process where I came up against hurdles. Through these times I was often frustrated that God, who gave the vision, inspiration and promise for this show, seemed silent. Why would He give me this dream and then, seemingly, not see it through?? So many times when I felt this way, God would speak to me… “Stop depending on yourself. Depend on Me.” God would reveal how I so often attempt to rely on my own strength and not His. When I got myself out of the way, God was able to move as only He can. So often He met my needs through others, and these are the greatest blessings ❤

I learned that when God seems silent, that’s the time to press into Him more, to praise Him more. God asked me to trust Him the most while in the midst of uncertainty and to surrender my fears to Him. I had to change my focus from being determined to figure out what God wanted me to do, and instead to focus on who He is. In the end, He brought everything together perfectly. The show was seamless, God was present and glorified and so many were touched.

The great thing about what seemed to be the end (the show is over!), is that it’s actually just the beginning. I can’t wait to see how, where and through whom God continues to direct How Love Wins.

Thank you all for being part of this journey, and may it continue to grow us all!

Love,

Wendy

 

 

Always a part of who I am…

Where do I even begin?

As I look back on all the years I’ve been dancing, I’m flooded with emotions and memories that come along with each experience. I still can’t believe how privileged I am to have been able to experience Christmas Joy to the fullest. I can pretty much sum up my journey in three words:

  • Worship
  • Work
  • Warmth

There is no better way to Worship the Lord than to do our best with the gifts He has given us. To be able to worship my Savior Jesus Christ in such a unique, emotional, and dynamic way is more than I could ever ask for. I’ve been given the opportunity to perform acts of adoration using those very gifts, on stage and at the studio. Worship is twofold. It blesses God’s heart and in return it refreshes me and strengthens me as well. I can be having a really rough day, and without fail, the words in the music reach in and touch my heart, grounding and centering me once again. It’s almost as if for the 3 or 4 minutes that I’m dancing, the stress and cares of this world vanish, leaving me standing at the feet of the Lord worshipping His goodness. Dance is my passion and worship is my goal. When they are combined it’s an incredible experience. I’d say worshipping through dance is definitely the best!

There is no alternative to hard work. If you don’t put forth the effort, the results simply will not be there. Hard work is the foundation of our success. So much work, time, effort, sweat and tears are put into the show. So much more than most people realize. Not only from the dancers, but from everyone involved; from the artistic director, to all the moms and dads who help out backstage. Everyone involved is such an important part of the puzzle. Our work is both creative and productive. Preparation for Christmas Joy starts at the beginning of the year. We spend the whole year honing, developing, and perfecting our skill. We go to class day after day working on the little things that most people might find insignificant. Little do they know that it’s the details that make the difference. Hard work, time and dedication play a big part in the outcome of the final product. Team work is a dream work!

 The warmth of friendship adds so much to the dimension of what Christmas Joy is all about. Over the course of time I have created friendships with some of the most talented, smartest, funniest, wittiest, and overall fantastic people I have ever met.  Boy do we know how to have fun!!!  Every year we count down the days to August 1st: cast list reveal. Which means rehearsals start and “shenanigans” begin. Fridays and Saturdays are always packed in with rehearsals. Most people think the good stuff or the best parts of Christmas Joy are the performances. As much fun as it is to perform, its the crazy stuff leading up to the performances that makes it so exciting and memorable. Every year there are new things that go on backstage, but there are always the Christmas Joy traditions to which we vow to stay true. As the time is nearing for the curtain to open, “swimming” is a must. I’m not sure where that silly little ritual got that name.  It has nothing to do with swimming at all, but it’s a tradition and we do it every time! Almost everyone in the company owns a pair of footie pajamas. You can’t have Christmas Joy without them! We wear them for rehearsals, warm up, and between shows. It’s all the “skirt babies” and laughter. All the petty arguments about where the arms go. All the bonding we do outside the studio and all the cuddling we do inside.  The food, snacks, birthday treats, scary stories, boy stalking on Facebook and Instagram, jokes, lunch runs, or simply lying around just listening to music.  I’m so thankful for every bit of it and I’m really going to miss it all.  

With all that being said, you can understand my feelings of sadness as I come to my final performances in this amazing show. It’s difficult for me to accurately express in words how much this show and these people have meant to me over the years. I’ve been more than blessed to be a participant in this incredible production.  To all my beautiful dancers, “I love you all” and I owe all my praise and thanks to my Lord Jesus Christ.  To Christmas Joy, you will always be a part of who I am!!!

Written by Natalia Ruiz, Senior Dancer

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Two Simple Words

Christmas Joy. Two simple words, yet they represent so much. Each word by itself holds great meaning. But together, these two words are the embodiment of childhood memories and friendships that will stand the test of time, not to mention the sheer joy that is brought about by worshipping our Savior through dance. As this chapter of my life draws to a close, I find myself realizing how special this show is, and what an enormous impact is has had on me.

Being a part of Christmas Joy has assisted me in strengthening my technique and developing my artistry. The hours of class and months of rehearsal preparing for this show have been a huge part of forming the dancer I am today. This production has also provided me with a wonderful group of friends that love the Lord. That common spiritual background has helped us to bond in an exceptional way. To top it all off, Christmas Joy has helped me discover what God has called me to do. I never thought the world of dance could be a mission field, but I’ve recently discovered that anywhere God calls you to be is your mission field.

There are so many scriptures that talk about how dancing is used to glorify God. Ecclesiastes 3 speaks about how there is a time for everything under heaven, including “a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Psalm 149:3 states that we should “praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” Even King David “dance[d] before The Lord with all his might” (Samuel 6:14). With all these references to dancing in the Word of God, it only seems fitting that we continue to praise the Lord through dance today. There is no better way to use the gifts He has given us, than to give them back to Him through worship. Using dance to celebrate the birth of Jesus only seems natural.

Christmas Joy has enabled me to worship in a way that may seem unconventional to others. Through dance, I am able to speak from the heart, and express what is verbally inexpressible. The joy I feel while dancing for my Jesus is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Some feel closest to God while in a garden, others while singing a worship song, but I feel closest to Him when I am dancing. This show has grown my walk with the Lord by drawing me closer and closer to Him through every class, every rehearsal, and every performance. I am thankful for this, and I am thankful to have been a part of Christmas Joy. 

Written by Lindsay Dekleva, Senior Dancer

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Behind the Scenes…

My favorite memories throughout my years of dancing in Christmas Joy are the moments behind the scenes. Each year has been a unique experience with my friends.  One of my first memories of rehearsals for Christmas Joy was when my friends and I were cast as Angel 4s (Estrellita Angels), and we dubbed ourselves “The Fellow Four.” And how can you be “The Fellow Four” without a fabulous handshake?  Although our handshake lasted longer than our time on stage, there was nothing more special than starting out as a Little Angel.

Then it became all about playing cards before rehearsals. My dad was always confused as to why I had to go to dance two hours early. Little did my dad know, that that’s when the card games began. You can’t be late for a good game of “spit!”

The following year it became about who had the cutest onesies to wear during theater week. Where else is it socially acceptable to wear a onsie when you’re 13 years old?  

As I grew out of my onesie we started telling scary stories during rehearsals. All of a sudden a studio covered in mirrors became a scary place to be.  

Then we entered the years of becoming dancers with driver’s licenses. Hello Starbucks! Hello Keva Juice!  

But throughout all these years, the most rewarding journey has been dancing for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  My senior year I leave with great friends, great memories and great honor to have danced in Christmas Joy.

Written by Taylor Winter, Senior Dancer

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Shining For Him

Rehearsals. Days and weeks and months of rehearsals. Long hours spent pushing every muscle, pointing each toe, extending every fingertip for the goal of perfection. Aches and pains and blistered feet are a daily result. As a dancer, we work and train and fight for one thing, that one huge reward that comes each December. Christmas Joy.

“Dancers are God’s athletes,” said Einstein himself. What a wonderful thing to be able to dance for Him! Four times each December, we as dancers have the great honor of being able to bless hundreds of people with the Christmas story. And this isn’t just a story for entertainment, it’s a story about love, hope, redemption, and joy! This is a show with deep meaning and beauty that has the power to touch not only the ears and eyes, but to touch the heart, mind, and soul.

As dancers, it is our great honor and responsibility not only to dance with technique and grace, but to dance with a passion, with an attitude of reverence and great joy. Anyone can dance with lovely feet, graceful limbs, or a smiling face. But the inner joy is what brings out the best in our beauty. We have the ability to captivate the audience, and speak every word with meaning through our dancing. An abundance of physical strength combined with an attitude of great devotion to our Savior is what makes the show truly incredible. But of course, every beautiful thing begins with something less than lovely. Huge amounts of time, effort, work, and stress go into such a production. The dancers are worn out by countless hours of preparation and hard work, physically and mentally. Sometimes, we may even feel like giving up! But through continuous pushing and by setting our minds on things above, we can receive the strength to keep going. For we know that something beautiful will be our reward. The effects of such a show will be for a lifetime-for the dancers, and the audience. With such deep, emotional lyrics and dancing, some dances will bring people to tears. Others may make the audience bright and hopeful. But most of all, it will fill many with joy, at a time when so many people will need it most. And as a dancer, the effects are just as powerful! From the dances of excitement to the dances of deep emotion, we find ourselves swept away, lost in the beauty of the story and the hope found within. And for as long as we live, Christmas Joy will have a place in our hearts. As I watched the curtain rise on No Eye Has Seen through my eleven-year-old- eyes, a dream was born. I wanted to be a part of that incredible show. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, like the Christmas Story come to life before my very eyes! And each piece had a different message, a different story, a true wonder and joy. Now, I come upon the show of my senior year, and look back on all of theamazing memories I have of this show. I am truly blessed to be a part of such a bold, God-glorifying production. Christmas Joy is the ultimate show of the season. It is a dazzling testimony of all that Christ was, is, and always will be. May it be that we as dancers communicate it in it’s fullest, brightest form, for all that He Is. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “Don’t shine so that others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.”

Written by Senior Dancer Allison Bamberg

Allison

New Angels Don’t Have To Do Ringlets

When Kaitlyn started taking dance classes at Alwin’s, it was January 2011. As I watched and waited, I overheard many of the moms talking about Christmas Joy. I had never heard of this and gathered it was some type of performance but did not give it much thought. It was not long until Kaitlyn heard about The Performers and Christmas Joy from other dancers at the studio. She took it upon herself to talk to Ms. Karen and find out about this group that so many girls loved. Kaitlyn was thrilled when she got to participate and started rehearsals.
One day, on our way into the studio, we ran into Kaitlyn’s kindergarten teacher, Chris Kelly. Mrs. Kelly was there to buy tickets for Christmas Joy. She told us how her own daughters had danced in Christmas Joy for many years and how it had become their family’s favorite time of year. Mrs. Kelly continued to attend Christmas Joy every year. Kaitlyn and I thought that was great and we looked forward to seeing Mrs. Kelly at the show.
Over the next few weeks, all of us new moms learned about volunteering, make-up, hair and theater week. The experienced moms gave us numerous tips: Bring a cooler with lots of snacks. Don’t wash your dancer’s hair every night. Keep Tylenol handy. Don’t ever volunteer in the Angel room two days in a row. There was even a bit of a scandal when everyone found out the new Angels didn’t have to do ringlets! (Apparently, this is quite a “rite of passage” and those who had endured it made sure we knew how lucky we were!)
Things were getting exciting and we were all looking forward to the performances. Theater week was finally here. The first couple days were great and then things started getting hectic. There were late nights, early mornings, lots of driving, torn tights, lost ballet shoes in addition to homework, brother’s basketball practices, errands, chores, packages to mail, Christmas cards to write, a dental appointment and six dozen cookies to bake for the PTA cookie exchange. It was crazy and exhausting. Is this what Mrs. Kelly had loved so much? Was I missing something? She must have forgotten what it was really like.
I finally got to watch the show for the first time Sunday afternoon. It was amazing and I absolutely loved it. The show far exceeded all expectations I had about it. But even so, I was still really tired and could not help but think that although it was beautiful, all the preparation took a lot of time. I decided I would very discreetly try and convince Kaitlyn that things would be a lot easier if we just did dance classes and recital every other year. Christmas Joy was a big commitment. I began by asking her, “So what did you think about Christmas Joy?” She replied, “I LOVED it.” This wasn’t going to be easy but I continued, “It was a great show but didn’t you get tired?” A little. “Did you like having to do your homework there?” Not really. “I know you did not like having to miss play dates with your friends.” No, I didn’t. “Don’t you think it would be better if we just focused on getting everything done for the holidays and we didn’t have to do all the rehearsals and put all the time into the show?” No. “Well, if we did that we would have all our shopping done and we could make lots of cookies and relax.” Then my daughter looked at me and said, “Mom this is about the story of Jesus. We are dancing to tell it. It doesn’t matter how much time that takes because that is most important. Jesus would never say He was too tired for us or didn’t have enough time for us.” Wow! I really had missed something. Something big. I am embarrassed to say it took my nine-year-old daughter to remind me what and who Christmas was truly about.
This year, my perspective has changed. I’m not concerned about the cards and I’m not volunteering to bake cookies either. I am, however, committed to Christmas Joy and to all it represents. The teamwork and the friendships. Being part of something bigger than yourself. Telling HIS story. Celebrating real Christmas Joy.
Written by Valerie McLeod, Performers’ Parent
Pictured above, Angels from 2003

By Design

By Kara (Schubert) Carroll
Christmas time is one of the busiest times of the year, and every year it seems like the season starts earlier and gets crazier! My checklist is longer every year, the number of parties and school programs and gifts to be purchased grows, and I often find myself exhausted by the whole ordeal.
The Christmas season has always been busy for me, and as a girl it was even longer. From the age of eight all the way through high school, I danced in “Christmas Joy,” and if I was in a new number, choreography rehearsals often started in August. I spent every Saturday at the studio, and then a lot of days during the week as the performances got closer, perfecting choreography, trying on costumes, hanging around outside between rehearsals.
I remember running around town to do interviews on Christmas radio stations in between Saturday rehearsals. I remember late nights at Rodey, studying for finals in the dark theater during dress rehearsal. I remember going straight from school to tech or dress rehearsal, getting home way past my bedtime, and waking up early for zero hour the next morning, only to repeat the process the next day. From my early days as a “Little Angel” to my years as a senior dancer, “Christmas Joy” was an essential part of my fall semester, my Christmas season, and one of my favorite parts of the year.
Unlike almost everything else that competed for my time at that time of the year, Christmas Joy didn’t wear me out. Oh, I would be physically tired- sometimes even in pain (I remember a foundation bottle being dropped on my toe one year backstage, and I still don’t think that toenail has recovered from the trauma of dancing on pointe all night after that event!) But no matter how much time I spent on Christmas Joy related activities, it didn’t exhaust me. I didn’t grow tired of it, I felt a slight twinge of sadness as the curtain fell on the last show, and I eagerly looked forward to rehearsals starting again the next fall.
Because unlike a lot of the other things that fill my Christmas season, Christmas Joy was something that reminded me of the real reason why we celebrate. The lyrics to every song reminded me of that amazing night in Bethlehem that changed the world. The stories told in the dances made me realize that these were real people who experienced these extraordinary events- a young, pregnant girl, a man watching the woman he loved give birth in a barn to a child who wasn’t his, lowly shepherds whose jobs made them societal outcasts, scholars who worked for kings of questionable morals. I could lose myself in these dances, and feel like I really was an angel proclaiming Christ’s birth, or a shepherd running to meet this king who came as a baby. Everything about Christmas Joy pointed me to Jesus, reminded me that this holiday had a bigger purpose, reminded me that my life had a bigger purpose.
I left high school, dance, and my years in Christmas Joy behind when I graduated in 1999. Since then I’ve moved several times, gone to college, gone to grad school, got married, had babies, and am now a wife, mom, and history professor in Phoenix. I’ve been back to see Christmas Joy several times, and had a wonderful time returning with all the alumni for the 25th anniversary show. But on the years when I haven’t made it back, something seems to be missing from my holiday celebrations. Something that is so important to who I am, and why I love this holiday, isn’t there.
Last year, right before Christmas, I found myself up late, wrapping presents while Christmas carols played on my parent’s CD player. It had been a long day, filled with too many errands, too little time, and probably too many tantrums from my young daughters. Annoyed that I was still up while everyone else was sleeping, and annoyed that I was so irritable at a time of the year that’s all about hope and peace, I was hoping that singing some of the Christmas songs to myself would improve my mood. It didn’t- until suddenly, Sandi Patti’s “I Wonder as I Wander” began to play. I was cast in that number for three years, so I still know the choreography by heart. And while twelve years away from ballet (and three babies!) has definitely impacted the quality of my dancing, I got up anyway and began to bourée, all by myself in the dark, quiet house. As I danced, I could picture myself in the white, flowy angel costume we wore in “Wander,” and I could see the dark theater, and the little wooden manger at the right hand corner of the stage, resting underneath the star. The words of the song filled my racing brain, chasing out the irritations of the day, and I realized all over again how amazing the Christmas story is. “I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior did come for to die, for poor on’ry people like you and like I . . .”
The best part of Christmas Joy was that, by design, every single part of the production pointed me to Jesus. Every song, every costume, every dance, reminded me of how that amazing story began. The Savior of the world came to earth as a baby, in the most humble of circumstances, witnessed by ordinary people who didn’t occupy places of importance in society. He became one of us, so that through His life, love, and death, we could be saved. When your job is to tell that story through dance, not even long, disastrous, late night dress rehearsals can steal your Christmas joy.

Fuzzy Socks

Fuzzy socks. That was the only thing I wanted my first year in Christmas Joy in 2001. All the “big girls” wore them, so naturally, I wanted my very own pair. The next big thing was Moshi pillows, and scrunchies; lots of scrunchies. Those would fit nicely over the “cinnamon roll” buns that we all wore and tried to get bigger than anyone else. It was a crime to steal anyone’s spot in the dressing room, where we sat and played with our Tamagotchi toys for hours between rehearsals. At the theater, we all walked around in footie pajamas and got scolded for “elephant knees” in our tights right before we went on stage. After the Saturday matinee performance, we would all walk over to The Frontier and Saggio’s for a much needed fuel up for the evening show. Finally, after a long weekend of performances, the cast party would come and our mysterious “Secret Sisters” would introduce themselves. In my twelve years of Christmas Joy, I have seen many trends and phases come and go, and it’s fun to see what phases the younger girls go through now. But even through growing up, switching theaters, the introduction of new dances and the retirement of old, and all the other wonderful and sometimes sad things that can happen in that many years, one thing has stayed the same; our passion for the show.
When I was an “Angel 1,” (as they were formerly called) I remember going to the studio on Saturdays and watching the “big girls” rehearse in Room D. I remember always looking up to alumni like Lauren Bernard and Brittany Johnson and thinking that someday I wanted to be just like them. They were so passionate about the show and about the Lord and it showed through their dance. Now that I am a “big girl,” (which is still hard to wrap my mind around!) I see the little girls watching rehearsals and talking to each other, and I know that they think they same thing that I used to. The passion is still there, no matter what else changes.
For the members of the company in the show, Christmas Joy is more than a pageant or a recital that we do every December. It’s more than a chance to dance on stage in a pretty costume. Christmas Joy is the reason we go to class day after day, sometimes missing out on things that we would get to do if we didn’t dance. Christmas Joy is the reason we spend three weeks of the summer getting pushed by guest instructors at our summer intensive. Alumni that have graduated come back year after year to watch the show or help run rehearsals. Other shows come for one season or change casts so frequently that the dancers in it are forgotten about by the next run. In Christmas Joy, the legacy of older dancers lives on each year. Christmas Joy has created a family of people who are passionate about dance and about Jesus.
Christmas Joy is the reason I dance. I watched my sister perform at my first Christmas Joy when I was three months old. I performed alongside her in my first Christmas Joy when I was six. When she graduated in 2008, I thought that my love for it would leave when she did. Obviously, that didn’t happen. In fact, I have only become more passionate about the show since. In the last years, Christmas Joy has become one of the most important things in my life, and I doubt anything I do in the future will ever compare. Though I cannot wait to see where the Lord leads me, I know that I will always have a family and a home in Christmas Joy.

Written by Cassidy McKee, Senior Dancer

Christmas Joy Means…

Christmas Joy means more to me than I can express, and yet here I sit, trying to put it into words.

Like any masterpiece, many elements come together to make Christmas Joy each year. Among them, sacrifices and struggles, as well as laughter and wonderful memories. Christmas Joy is made of long Saturday rehearsals, late nights at the theater, plastered hair, millions of bobby pins, new make-up remover, marley burns, blisters, and sore muscles. Christmas Joy is made of Secret Sisters, body slamming front and center on opening night, using the “Amen” skirts as blankets, “Swimming” backstage before the second half, and laughing up at storm in the dressing room.
To me, this show means so many things. It means a new form of dedication each year, diligence, and rediscovering my passion for dance. It means life, bringing Him praise, and the purest form of joy I have ever experienced. Christmas Joy means the weekly reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, company prayer, and His love for us. To me, Christmas Joy means the highlight of my year.
My favorite part of our show, and the biggest thing I look forward to every year is the ‘He Was’ slideshow. No amount of meaningful songs, beautifully orchestrated choreography, or dances I am in will ever amount to the meaning of that slide show to me. The words in the ‘He Was’ slide show are the reason I do Christmas Joy. They’re the reason I live.
I have been looking forward to my senior year of Christmas Joy for as long as I can remember. The most challenging part of my senior year has been knowing that my fellow seniors, Julie Daffron and Emma Grazier, won’t be joining me in my final performance. I never thought that I’d be facing my senior year of Christmas Joy without them by my side during the finale or walking upstage at the end of ‘I Believe’ hand in hand. Those girls are some of the best people I have had the chance to meet, and will always mean more to me than they know. I wouldn’t know them without this beautiful production and the studio, and I cannot say thank you enough for the opportunity to meet them. Julie and Emma, please know that I love you and will be dancing my final show for you two. SENIOR PRIDE.
I think about Christmas Joy a lot in my life; how proud I am to be a part of it, how much I’m going to miss it, how much the cast and crew members mean to me, how I will show my kids the DVD every Christmas and take them to the National Hispanic Cultural Center to see it live. Christmas Joy has been such a big part of my life ,and will continue to be.

Written by Shanoah Ulibarri, Senior Dancer

A moving testimony…

After last year, and my first season as Artistic Director, I was privileged to receive many testimonies as to the inspiration and “power” of our show, Christmas Joy.

I found this one especially moving. And as we head into our final weeks of rehearsal before our shows, I thought it a fitting time to share this story with you…

Wendy,
Just wanted to thank you for the beautiful performance yesterday of Christmas Joy….I had never seen it before and I took my son, who is a dance enthusiast and my 83 yr. old grandmother. Her husband passed away 2 years ago and she still has not yet been able to move forward with her life or her happiness. When he was alive, they would always enjoy various dance productions and concerts and since he passed, she has not wanted to leave the house much, wanting to stay in and brood. 

I convinced her to attend Christmas Joy with me and as soon as the first number ended, I looked over to see tears streaming down her face. She looked so peaceful and happy, despite the tears, and had a smile on her face.

At intermission, she told me how all of the fond memories had been flooding back as she watched the dancers and listened to the music. She said that the performance was like a gift to her from my grandfather and she was so grateful to be able to experience the show. She said that for the first time in two years, she felt alive inside and was so grateful. She realized again how much God loves her. 

I too am grateful for you and all of the dancers who worked so hard to put on such an amazing performance. I had tears watching some of the parts, relating to Mary as a mother of a son. Thank you so much for your efforts. You have no idea how the show has touched the lives of those in your audience. I am forever grateful for the way that God used you and the show to breathe life back into my grandmother and show her His love for her.

As a powerful follow-up to this note, just this week I received this update:

My grandmother is now hosting a ladies’ Bible study at her house each week and has started attending church again as well. She truly is alive again and it has been remarkable to see the transformation in her from last year to today. Thanks you again! We will be back to see the show again this year and she is sooo looking forward to it! Please know that you are not just dancing but sharing the love of Jesus with your audience. The word of God never comes back void and you can be certain that He is using you and this show in BIG ways! 

My love to all of you, as we make our final preparations to this show we love so much,

Wendy Miner