Excellent Christian Entertainment: NarroWay Theatre

by Sally Matheny
Photo courtesy of NarroWay Productions
Photographer: Ken Rice
Are you looking for something different, something highly entertaining and yet wholesome in nature where you can enjoy a night out with your family or friends? 

Not long ago, I discovered such a place.

I wanted to surprise my sweet hubby by taking him somewhere we’ve never been before. 

Researching online, I stumbled across NarroWay Theatre, located in Fort Mill, S.C., just outside of Charlotte, N.C.

The nonprofit theater presents original, Broadway-style shows. At that time, what caught my eye was the WWII-theme production they were putting on called Not Just Another Love Story. I love the history of the WWII era and my husband loves the music, so I purchased our tickets online.

Patrons have the option to add a meal to their theater tickets. The meals vary. For this show, it was a chicken plate with sides and cherry pie for dessert. Performers serve the guests at their seats on pull-up trays. I thought it would be fun, so I added two dinner tickets.   

When we arrived at the theater, we were warmly greeted by the performers and ushered to our reserved seats. Unfortunately, I had a migraine that night, but I was determined not to let it dampen our night. The woman who led us to our seats learned of my headache and asked if she could pray for me. How many hosts at entertainment venues do that? I felt blessed.

Even before the show began, my husband smiled broadly and said, “Thank you for bringing me here!” We knew by the atmosphere and the people we were in for a treat.

Courtesy of NarroWay Productions
Photographer: Ken Rice

After the meal, the production began and what a treat it was! Incredibly talented performers presented a musical with two intertwining storylines. One about a love story during WWII and the other about Hosea from the Bible.

The acting, singing, period costumes, and the multiple stage set designs were excellent. 

Oh, and you've got to try their delicious ice cream floats. The homemade fried apple pies will give even the best of your family recipes a run for their money. I’m not exaggerating. If you’re within a day’s drive of Charlotte, N.C., you should go.

The performances are always changing. Most will run for one to three months. I really wanted to see The Gospel According to Tennessee but forgot and missed it. Sampson is running now. Lord of Light sounds like a good one for October—not sure if it’s suited for your littlest ones but I bet the teens would enjoy it.  

The description of Lord of Light on the NarroWay website says,

“From creation to Revelation, "Lord of Light" is an action-packed, one-of-a-kind portrayal of the unseen battle in heavenly realms. With aerial artists, stunning blacklight effects and sword-wielding angels and demons, this show is a physical representation of what happened spiritually during the three days Jesus was in the tomb. All Hell really does break loose in this sensational thriller!

The production company offers discount days and has special performances and activities for kids. Many of the shows involve live animals, so there’s usually a lamb you can pet or a camel you can ride if weather permits. 

Winner of the Gift Card

Congratulations to R. McCausey of Six Lakes, Michigan! Your name was drawn from my list of blog subscribers. I'll be contacting you soon about where I should send your gift card to Christian Book Distributors.

Thanks to all of you who subscribe to the blog via your email. As always, I never do anything with your email address except send you a new blog post each week. Oh, unless you count when I contact you personally to let you know I'm sending a prize your way!

Stay in touch. I've got another great giveaway coming soon.



Book Review of Devotions for Sacred Parenting & Gift Card Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

Devotions for Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
“Do you think your children feel more like projects or deeply loved children?”

When I read that, I thought of all the times I have tried to shape my children into productive citizens.

If you’re like me, sometimes that training-them-to-live-in-the-world mindset overrides the cherish-them-for-who-they-are moments.  

The question above and the devotion that followed in Gary Thomas’ book, Devotions for Sacred Parenting, sent me immediately to talk with my heavenly Father.

This devotion tugged at my heart because he talked about a phrase I have often said, “raising kids.”

Thomas wrote,

“It can diminish family life to a farm activity—raising crops or raising pets. Kids are so profoundly different. I’m relating to them, caring for them, involved with them. I don’t want the utilitarian aspect—growing them into adults—to become the defining point of our relationship.”

“We can get so busy trying to make sure our children complete their homework, display good manners, not watch too much television, get enough exercise, and eat well that we can forget to enjoy them and relate to them."

Ahhh . . . and that is why I love, love, love this book. It’s not just another book on how to parent effectively. It takes a fresh look at how God uses parenting to transform us, to draw us to Him, and how that makes us better parents.

This hardback book, published by Zondervan, contains fifty-two devotions followed by reflection questions.

It is for parents of all ages and stages. My husband and I have two grown children out on their own and one teen still at home. We are gleaning precious reminders as well as introductions to some new things to ponder and pray about.

Normally, I’ll use the books I’m sent to review as giveaways here on my blog. I like this book so much I plan to keep this one.

*However, I like it so much, I’m hoping you’ll get one for yourself, so I am giving away a gift certificate to ChristianBook.com!  A name from the list of subscribers to this blog will be randomly selected as the winner on Friday, August 10, 2018.

Is your name on the list? Check back next week to see who won!

In the meantime, share with our blog family here, something you cherish about your children-- who they are, what they're teaching you, or ways you enjoy spending time with them.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Sharing the Son Means Leaving the Shade

by Sally Matheny

Enthusiasm fresh as the morning
My enthusiasm glittered with the morning sun. It was my first time serving a meal at the project. 

People slowly filtered into the commons area. My cheerful greetings were not returned. 

Instantly, I sensed a divide greater than the table between us. They had come for the food. Nothing else.

An inexplicable heaviness stifled communication. Icy silence, as well as sharp tongues, severed most attempts at interaction. It was obvious. We were not welcome.
After helping distribute the food, I retreated under the outstretched branches of a tree. Thankfully, I’d thought to bring a lawn chair. It provided a secure place to perch and watch the crowd. Most of the missions team stayed under the shady tent. Two or three pastors mingled and tried to chisel out conversations.

Then I saw her.

A young woman, probably in her early twenties, stood off to the side, alone. She was looking around as if searching for something.

I hesitated. The last woman I had approached gruffly informed me she was waiting on someone. Perhaps this young woman was waiting as well.

Yet, she continued to stand there. Sweat flowed down her face. She hugged her drink and chips in one arm and her hamburger in the other. What was she looking for?

Seating was limited. Most people grabbed their food and hustled back to their homes. Could this woman possibly be one of the few who wanted to sit and stay awhile?

Slowly, I eased out from under the tree’s protection. I wondered if she would be like the others and berate me for being there. I was an outsider—different ethnicity, different economic level, a different worldview.

“Hi. Are you looking for someone?” I asked.

She shyly shook her head no. I didn’t recognize any anger in her face. It appeared to be more like discomfort.

“Would you like to sit down to eat?”

A simple nod yes.

I looked around at the few tables provided. No empty seats. I scanned the grassy area under the trees. An empty chair sat beside mine.

“Would you like to sit under the tree? It’s cooler.”

Sharing the Son Means Leaving the Shade

She nodded and followed me to the tree. The distance was short, but we didn’t arrive in time to claim both chairs. Only my chair was left so I offered it to her.

As she sat down, I introduced myself. She told me her name but I couldn't hear her over someone yelling. I did not ask her to repeat it.

I smiled, trying hard not to be insincerely cheery. “It’s nice to meet you. I hope you like your burger.” 

An awkward silence followed. I motioned toward the tent. “I’ve got to go help serve.”

She smiled with another silent nod.  

As I stood under the shade of the tent, I kept looking back over at the tree. The woman quietly ate. A young man chattered away beside her but she wasn’t responding.

Something inside told me to go tell her why we were there. We weren’t just giving away free meals. We were sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
But the earlier rejections of the crowd stifled my response.

The crowd dwindled. Only a few remained in line. I decided handing out napkins to folks would be helpful.

“Would you like a napkin?”

A few minutes passed. Another expressionless face approached.

“Would you like a napkin?”

Another five minutes passed before anyone needed my valuable napkin distribution service. This is ridiculous. I should just go talk to her.

I neatly stacked the napkins on the corner of the table and turned back towards the tree. 

She was gone. 

As quietly as she had slipped into my life, she had slipped out. Along with my opportunity to tell her how much God loves her. And how He offers a joy so great, that she’d have a hard time staying so quiet.

Plant a seed of hope.

And for my silence, I am sorry.

Perhaps she already had a relationship with Christ. I hope so.

I understand when we first meet someone, it’s not always the best time to share Christ.

Although often,

it is.

 ”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 
Always be prepared 
to give an answer to everyone who asks you 
to give the reason for the hope that you have. 
But do this with gentleness and respect.”  

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)


Going in Circles? Recognize the Progress.

By Sally Matheny

     Do you feel like you’re going in circles and wonder if you’re accomplishing anything? We work like crazy, but often we find ourselves questioning if we’re succeeding at anything. We may understand our goal, but we fail to recognize any progress in achieving it.
Sound familiar? I have days I feel like this. Lots of days.


Honoring True Freedom

by Sally Matheny

Honoring True Freedom
In my youth, I did not realize the full value of my freedom. My understanding only went as far as my own limitations.

“Why can’t I watch that T.V. show?”

“When will I get to drive a car?"

“Where can I go with my friends?”

As I grew, so did my perception of freedom.

I learned people sacrificed their own freedom for mine.

I may never fully comprehend the price some have paid, or adequately appreciate those who are still hammering out the preservation of my freedom.

One reason for my ignorance is because someone cared enough to protect me from that knowledge. I once heard a special agent say if an evil event didn’t make the news, because his team prevented it from happening, then their mission was accomplished.


The Treasures Found on Our Diamond Dig

by Sally Matheny

The Treasures Found on Our Diamond Dig
(Photos by Sally Matheny)
When I first heard of the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, I knew our family had to go. We are all into watching television shows of folks mining and digging for buried treasures. 
We have panned for gold before since it’s part of our region’s history.

Although today, gold is like an elusive family member in these parts. Diamonds are like aliens from another planet.

Maybe they’re not as rare as aliens, but the last diamond found remotely close to where we live was in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. And that was in 1893!

So we headed to Murfreesboro, Arkansas where thousands of diamonds have been discovered. Let me tell you about about the treasures we found on our diamond dig!

In route, we discussed what we would name our diamond, should we find one, because that is what you really get to do. It's officially recorded in the books.
Of course, my boy was coming up with crazy names while I was thinking how much of the gospel I could fit into a name. Don’t laugh! There has been a 2.93-carat “God’s Blessing,” a 5.16-carat “God’s Glory” (found after only ten minutes of searching!), and a 2.85-carat “God’s Jewel” which later sold for $20,000.
So, if the Lord blessed me with a diamond, you bet I was going to fit Jesus in there somewhere. 
Once we arrived, we paid $10.00 each to enter the world’s only “Keep What You Find” diamond site.
Our enthusiasm to “get rich quick” pushed us quickly through the informational section of the center. I tried to catch a few glimpses of an instructional video while the guys went to retrieve mining equipment. 

On average, one to two diamonds a day are discovered at the crater, so we wanted to get started and find one before anyone else. Oh, my, that does sound a bit greedy, doesn't it?

It's all fun in the sun until Mom gets hot and hangry.

Once on the field, my family’s search techniques varied. My husband picked a spot smackdab in the middle of the thirty-eight acres of plowed volcanic dirt and sat down to sift one bit at a time.
My son found a shady spot on the edge and I began walking. One of those quick glances at the instructional video mentioned something about just walking around looking for something shiny. I can’t stay in one place long, so I set out to meander through the plowed rows. 
My plan was for us to search from 8 -12:00, take a break and eat a picnic lunch, and then search again from 1:00 – 3:00. 
Even though we began early in the morning, the June day heated up quickly. We were glad we brought water. We carried it and the little shovel and hoe we brought from home in a white five-gallon bucket we purchased at the park. 
So, from time to time, we’d all gather at our white bucket of supplies, drink water and show our recent finds.

Are we searching wisely?
Our pockets quickly filled with rocks we thought looked unusual enough to hold onto. Perhaps they contained a valuable gem of some sort. 
While we knew most of the diamonds found are smaller than a pencil eraser, we also knew a 16.37-carat diamond had been found there in 1975, so if rocks were shiny, we shoved them in our pockets. We also crammed in a few just for their unusual green and red colors.

After searching for what seemed forever, I finally found my husband and told him I thought we must have worked through lunch and probably needed to stop and go eat. I’m one of those you don’t want to get “hangry.” 
I thought surely it was well past 2:00 when I asked my husband for the time. To my surprise, I learned all the toil and sweat occurred in only three hours. It was only 11:30! I was so hot, tired, and almost hangry. 
I wasn’t the only one. The guys said they’d had enough. What? But we have not found a diamond! I suggested we at least go to the sluicing station and rinse off our rocks so the park ranger could identify if we had any treasures.
And that’s when the truth hit us like a boulder. 

We had not bothered to take time to listen thoroughly for instructions. Sweaty with exhaustion, we noticed people with more patience and experience working in the cool water.

They had carried dirt in their buckets to the station. The same kind of bucket in which we had only carried bottles of water and other things for our comfort.
They were sifting handfuls of dirt and TINY rocks, not at all like the ones bulging like tumors in our pockets.

After sifting in the water, their trays of dirt were lifted out, and quickly flipped over on a wooden board. Then, carefully, bit by bit, they studied meticulously, sometimes with the end of a knife, in search of anything reflective. The deceiving mica was flicked out and the search continued.
I sensed the seasoned miner in the safari hat trying to suppress a grin as he saw our empty bucket and bulging pockets.

Trying to save face, I announced, a bit loudly, to my son, to “go ahead and wash your SOUVENIR rocks.”
Yes. Yes, I did. 

And no, no my son would not do it.

My sweet hubby handled the situation differently. He said, “I’m going to go get a bucket of dirt.”
I sat in the shade, too embarrassed to pull the clunky rocks out of my pockets. I watched my husband dump his out in front of the pros. He washed them off and set them aside. 

Then, he watched the others and tried his hand at sifting. After a while, we called it a day and went on a picnic.
After I suppressed my hanger with food, we laughed about our experience.  The park ranger had kindly identified our pretty souvenir rocksThe "treasures" we found on our diamond dig were not what we had expected.


Chiming In With Humility and Grace

Chiming in with humility and grace.

After several days of rainy weather, a sunny afternoon enticed me to sit on the back porch.

Enveloped in the warm rays of sunlight, I closed my eyes. A faint, peaceful ting-ting stirred from the metal, wind chimes.

Burdened for a Christian family struggling to find peace, I began to pray. I did not know all the details, but apparently years ago, their miscommunication hurt some friends' feelings.