Saturday, January 26, 2008

Benzing Drama

The large, widespread Benzing family has known a number of successes on the stage. I guess you could say most of us share a bit of flare for the dramatic. From my dad in his frequently repeating "narrator" roles, to my uncle Matt as Harold Hill back in the day, to the current generation of Benzing actors and actresses (myself just a blip on the screen among them), we must have something in our genes that makes us unafraid to don those costumes and take on the role with abandon (side story -- the speech teacher at my college once used me as an example of someone who had "abandon" in her drama class. I was not in this class. I'm pretty sure it was a compliment.)

None of us have the experience that my cousin Elise Benzing has. She has been in "countless" shows from age 4 to 20, including Annie in Annie, Louisa in the Sound of Music, and her favorite, Alice in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Elise auditioned to be a part of the theatre program at the University of Central Florida when she was 18, and was one of only 12 students accepted. But after 3 semesters and several challenges to her faith, she decided to walk away. It was, as she said, a "Very hard time in life while considering that maybe God didn't want me in the secular theatre world (it is, I've come to realize, a sinful sinful sinful world. Surely not what God intended for it... and God, who used so many parables, must have had wonderful plans for 'storytelling' (theatre)... but it would take a stronger person than me to live for the Lord in that sector of the world). All things work together for good though and this was no exception."

These days, Elise lives with her mom and younger siblings -- playing a great role as an outstanding big sis! She is hoping and saving to go back to school, perhaps to BJU and study in a different field. I just love Elise's transparency and openness! She has a vibrant walk with Christ that is a huge encouragement to me. When I asked her to tell me unique ways God has blessed her, she answered "He has sought me: Luke 15: 4-7. Over and over again, I rebelled against God but he never stopped burdening my heart. I am so thankful that he asks us to know him and believe on him by faith. I am so glad he strengthens us in our afflictions. I am so awed by his mercy and his promises."

Elise also frankly and openly shared with me about her struggle with eating disorders. Her fight has come through counting the words of Scripture as true, dependence on God's grace and at
tacking the sin (she was pointed in telling me that it was not a sickness!). I think Elise is a beautiful girl who has an amazing story to tell, and will continue to bless those in her path her whole life long. She will make an amazing wife for some lucky guy, as well as a mentor for girls who are walking the same path she has walked.

Don't you love my gorgeous cousin?? My life is richer because of her!


Sara Mincy said...

Beautiful post, Gretchen! Love the pictures. She is an inspiration.

Paul Fuller said...

That is such an encouraging post. I am so blessed to hear about how well she knows her own strengths and weaknesses: In the area of what she loved, she knew that she could not pursue Who she really loves most; in the area of her life that I'm sure she hated, she realized that the power of the flesh is greater than one can imagine. My really good friend, Kenn Rudolph, has enlightened me many times over the years to the debauchery that occurs in the backstage culture. It does indeed take a very grace-filled individual.

Rebecca said...

Oh Gretchen, thanks for sharing about Elise. She's one of those cousins I wish I knew way, way better!! What an AMAZING testimony she is!!!! I didn't know she was at this place in her life. I figured God had been working from reading her posts. She seems like such a sweet girl. I hope she'll see my post her and know that I'm so proud of her and proud to be related to her. Drop me a line, sometime, Elise. I dont' have your email. Keep heading in the direction your going. You have such a testimony to share.
Thanks, Gretchen for sharing these family posts!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


How wonderful to hear your testimony and to know that God IS a God that seeks us. Your comments sound like they come from a much older person! Very happy to know more about you, and I would love to visit with you sometime. Maybe we could impose on Gretchen, Josh, and Emily. :)

Anna (Benzing) Cast

Anonymous said...

Dear Girls, (Gretchen, Anna, Elise)
I love reading all your post and seeing that the generation of our kids, are so passionate about following God.
Could you please email me your addresses?
Thanks--Aunt Diane (both your Dad's older sister) :) said...

Thank you again Gretchen, and now you too Rebecca and Anna - to God be the glory, really and truly. That sepia colored photo is of me at our Uncle Ron's amazing home - see, everything ties into the Benzing-ism. :) said...

Thank you ALL for writing kind words, I didn't mean to exclude the rest of the commenters :)

Karen said...

Wow! Great Bio. What a blessing and encouragement Christians can be to each other if we are just transparent enough and vulnerable enough to open ourselves up! Thanks for sharing Gret and thank you Elise for being so real. Wow. I gotta read this post to my girls.

Hugs Gret!

Brittany said...

Totally OT, but I don't have your email addy. Did you know that the pow-wow is coming back to town this summer?!? You MUST dance again to retain your title!

Matt Benzing said...

Very nice essay, Gretchen, and very nice blog overall. Glad to know so much more about Elise.

"Way back when"? hey, the Music Man wasn't that long ago was it? 1983...that's only yesterday...isn't it?

-Uncle Matt