Acts of Renewal


When I was a fifteen-year-old junior in high school, my mom, my aunt, and I made a trip to Roberts Wesleyan College for a preview day. They were both RWC alums, and I was casually looking for a Christian school to attend for my undergrad.

As a part of the preview weekend, I attended a chapel service. I was blown away as chapel consisted not of praise songs and a stodgy speaker, but of an American Sign Language performance to music followed by an amazing drama performance by husband and wife duo Acts of Renewal. The team merged teaching, humor, biblical stories, secular themes, and eternal truths into an eclectic, beautiful, and powerful theatrical performance. I was hooked.

Coming to the end of my Roberts career having been active in drama ministry myself, I couldn’t believe my luck when Acts of Renewal appeared on the chapel schedule in the final semester of my senior year. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. Following the equally inspiring chapel performance, I introduced Josh and myself as the founders of Muse Creative Arts Ministry and told them about the impact they had had on me as a young Christian and artist over five years ago.

That was the moment when Jim Shores and Carol Anderson-Shores became my friends.

It was so surreal that the artists who I had idolized as the embodiment of what Josh’s and my theatrical love could grow into as a couple were sitting down to lunch with me and wanting to hear about my life and accomplishments. Jim and Carol were a total encouragement and inspiration. They offered specific advice for projects Josh and I have volunteered to participate in for ministry purposes, and they expressed general excitement that people with similar passions and talents were coming behind them.

I am so blessed to have met them, and hope that Josh and I will have the joy of knowing them for years to come.


Muse Creative Arts Ministry Presents "The Chains"

I kind of helped my graphic design/film/broadcasting/ dancer friend Aubrey with this design. He did all of the cool stuff. I did the boxes and text.

And if you are anywhere near Rochester, you should come tomorrow!

Let My People Go: A Poem from "The Chains"

Muse Creative Arts Ministry is in the thick of rehearsals for our first-ever show, “The Chains.” We’ve created a synthesis of poetry, drama, dance, and music that really blows the mind in terms of just how much unseen bondage there is in the typical human experience.

I’m so proud of what we’ve made together. I wanted to give you guys a preview of all of our hard work. 

This particular piece is by yours truly, and it will be concluding “The Chains” on the nights of November 28th and 29th.

Let My People Go

My people are in chains.

They grovel in prisons that look like homes

Dungeons that look like farms and plantations

And jail cells that look like souls.

Everywhere I turn, I see the ice-cold links dripping from their limbs.

I hear the solemn, rhythmic clang of metal against floors and flesh

The frantic shouts of child soldiers forced into the fray of battle

The midnight sobs of women caged to provide pleasure for a price

The muffled heaving of bulimics behind closed bathroom doors

The breaking backs of boys who will never escape their country’s caste system

The cursings of widowed fathers who swear they will never love again

The silence of wives loyally suffering at the hands of their husbands’ rage

The strangled wails of depression

The stifled screams of hatred

The grinding grip of a crippling grudge

The judgmental stares from you who have never known anything but freedom

I follow the chain gang to work

To school

To church

Slaves, one and all

Enslaved by others like them

Enslaved by darkness itself

Or enslaved by themselves, blind to their self-imposed oppression

But the chains are always the same.

The chains . . .

They dig into our wrists and ankles

Into our hearts and minds

I . . . I am in chains.

I watch my people suffer as I waste away on my own

Alone in the company of a million more captives.

I reach out to ease their suffering

And fall back on my own weight

Snapped to a stop by chains around my neck

My arms

My legs

My spirit

My people are in chains.

If You won’t show me how, I beg You

Show Yourself to me, and let my people go.

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‘Freud’s Last Session’ Should Last Forever

Kenneth Tigar and Ron Menzel in Geva Theater’s production of Freud’s Last Session

I’m a theater fan to begin with. I don’t need much encouragement to get a lot out of a quality play. 

I’m also a C.S. Lewis fan. Any combination of great theater and great literature is bound to be a Jessi-pleaser. 

I also love theology–respectful; debates about the existence of God, to be exact–and all of the inspiring words and art that can come out of it.

So imagine my delight when my trip to go see a play at Rochester’s Geva Theater in order to write a college newspaper article about the show turned out to be a perfect synthesis of the three!

Set on the turbulent cusp of World War II, Freud’s Last Session is a story of a meeting between C.S. Lewis, a soon-to-be renowned author and Christian, and Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and an atheist on the verge of death from oral cancer. What results is a genuine, compelling, and witty exploration of life, death, war, sexuality, God, and much more.

I was not only delighted by the content of this play by Mark St. Germain. I was also floored by the quality of the particular production. The casting was quite superb, and both actors were equally convincing. Their portrayals of each character was at once honorable and imperfect. Every time that Lewis’s voice cracked as he recalled his days in the French theater in World War II, my heart broke a little bit. Freud’s calloused crankiness hid a soul tortured by illness behind his white beard and well-executed Austrian accent.

In a true theater snob moment, I bit my tongue while a few of my friends and even a professor who had seen the show mentioned that they thought Lewis’s accent sounded “weird” and “muddled.” I resisted the urge to say, “Well, the actor obviously knew that Lewis lived in Ireland for a few years after he was born and was trying to incorporate that into the accent.” Hah, I didn’t think interjecting that into the conversation would have made me any friends.

It was really an incredibly effective show, and I liked it so much that I took Josh with me to see it again the next week. I was just as moved the second time. Josh was equally impressed and in love, and we spent the next several hours discussing how it had impacted us. Josh told me towards the end of the evening that it was inspired conversations like these that reminded him why he fell in love with me in the first place. Wasn’t that sweet of him?

Find an opportunity to go see it somewhere. It could save your relationship. Haha 🙂