I Do Yoga

Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga

I do yoga. It used to be just another thing that I was moderately “good” at. And I wanted to be better. I wanted to handstand. For my Instagram. Because what’s the point of doing anything if you can’t do it well?

But now I do yoga because it’s good for me.

When it comes to life, there is mind, there is body, and there is spirit. But when we talk about ourselves and our hopes and dreams, trials and triumphs, we leave everything up to our brains and our hearts.

Yet so much of life is physical, carnal. And our physicality does not make us sinful. Our sin makes us sinful. My physical body remains part of who I am while I walk this earth. I can’t fully appreciate life and living if I’m not fully accepting of the physicality of being alive, read: my body.

Breath in, breath out.

The heady sweet musk of the forest after the rain. Heart pounding in my ears on the hike up. Her small hand in mine. A quiet I love you whispered in the dark. All just as much part of my life as my thoughts, my feelings.

And in my physical body, there are limitations. Since when did limits become bad? My knees don’t like running and my shoulders don’t like handstands anymore. This does not require pushing through, but listening. To MY body.

I am an anorexic. Even in recovery, anorexia loves to spin her lies. And after years of punishments and pain and carrots over cake, I am finally learning to listen to the voice of truth.

Because perfection does not exist. At my most fit, I was also miserable. Sore and tired and so stinkin’ hangry. There was always going to be someone smaller, faster, better, stronger. Nothing I did was enough; it would never be enough.

But as my eldest loves to inform me, “We’re all world record holders once. When we’re born. Because at that moment (and that moment only) you’re the youngest person on earth.” And since she knows pretty much everything, it’s clear my ship has sailed.

Which is why I love yoga. Because yoga is a journey of appreciation for my physical body as the house for my beautiful soul. No one sucks at yoga, because what is unlovely and unworthy about another’s soul? The effort it takes to be present and accept yourself at any given moment, rejoicing in our made in God’s image-ness. Not only did God breathe the breath of life into humans, giving us spirit, but we were formed. He gave us physicality, bodies.

And it is my charge to feed and move and appreciate the body I’ve been given.

In this body, I have sang loudly and laughed really hard and eaten lots of pizza and drank too much wine. I have danced with my favorite people, walked on mountains, and swam in oceans. I have carried and delivered two precious and uniquely beautiful human beings. I have tasted and seen and heard and felt and lived and loved well. All in this body. My body.

The physical, although temporary, is real. And in this time I have, I plan to use everything He gave me, mind, body, and spirit.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8

Beside Me

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power

I struggle with next steps. I like the writing to be on the wall, but sometimes my path remains dark. Lately I’m learning to just keep taking small tentative steps, remembering, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

For a while now I haven’t been able to shake my excitement over a certain undertaking. I see things about it and I feel the familiar trill in my spirit. I think about how awesome an experience it would be, for me, personally, and as a tool to draw others near to Christ. Even writing about it now gets me giddy.

And is so often the case, I am locked in the battle between my head and my heart. Obviously this undertaking comes at a price, as much of life does. My heart sings, “Trust,” as my head thinks of ROIs, once again caging my dreams.

When, as women, did following our hearts become not worth it?

“Follow Me” is the least sensible but most essential call we will ever receive. And I don’t think Jesus ever stops calling, but the longer I wait, the quieter that voice gets, until only my own thoughts rule the kingdom of my head and my heart again.

So much of my growth spiritually has been a result of strong women of faith planted around me. My mother, my sisters, good friends, all who take the commission of nurturing, encouraging, carrying, and just being with seriously. And as I work through this struggle of inaction with them, I see the same struggles in their lives, in their hearts.

We just want to follow that call. But sometimes, the call isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t always come like we think. I believe God’s directing in our lives comes in three ways.

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

  1. God behind me: This happens when God closes doors, directing my steps away from. He is behind me, protecting me and urging me forward.
  2. God before me: These are situations where I feel God calling me to something. He is out in front of me, beckoning me, come.
  3. God beside me: Now, this is the trickiest call in my own life, because it requires not only more trust, but more initiative on my part as well! We are walking, His hand upon me, as I cultivate what He’s planted in my heart.

The older I get and the longer I’ve walked with Jesus, unless I am deliberately going against Him, I’ve realized I cannot move beyond His will. His Spirit dwells within me.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

Maybe as you read this you instantly thought of your very own one thing. The one thing you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, the thing that sets your very soul ablaze. You’ve prayed and prayed about it, and your Spirit still sings. At this point, I would encourage you to feel the comfort of your Heavenly Father’s hand on you, and take a step forward.

Father God, in light of all of Your mercies, I offer up this body as a living and holy sacrifice, a sacred offering to bring You pleasure. May my life be my worship, standing apart, not molded to the world, but transformed from the inside out. May You continue to renew my mind, so I can discern what You will and whatever You find good, pleasing, and complete. 

Help me to be a good steward of this gift you’ve given me. May I move forward boldly and courageously. And in this one thing, may I do it well and honorably, loving others and living authentically. May I despise evil more and more, pursuing what is good, for my life depends on it. 

In Your most holy name, Amen. 

Her

Girl Power, Poetry, Writing

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.10.10 AM

The weight of her in my arms,

unchanged by time.

The smell of her

sweet, musky joy so pure.

Traces of the baby she was play across a woman’s face.

The full, ebullient round of my love,

the swell of heart,

it’s almost too much to bear.

Yet we endure

in this dance,

She as my girl

and I as her mama,

holding fast to her hand.

The Morning After

Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power

Last night, the unspeakable happened…I had to go buy bigger pants. Instead of attempting to starve or over-work myself out of the sweats, I actually just went and bought pants that fit. Any guys reading this will think, “Well, duh.”

But the woman’s psyche is far more interesting.

Fitting room conversations play out like this, “My gosh, what’s happened to you?! Maybe if I didn’t eat those cupcakes (noodles, wine, doughnuts, insert your preferred poison here)… I didn’t realize it was THIS bad.” There is often a degree of sweating involved as well, each little bead a tiny bubble of distress as panic sets in.

But truth be told, I kind of like the me that wears bigger pants. She’s a nicer person, a healthier person. She doesn’t judge her friends by what they do or don’t eat. She doesn’t reassure them that they are not defined by a number all the while smugly keeping her own running tally of calories, next workout, and meals skipped in her head. She doesn’t spend every waking hour worshipping at the alter of appearance, control.

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’ve noticed this lovely softening, not just of my body, but of my heart. When I am less hard on myself, I am less apt to judge others harshly. When I spend less time obsessing about food and exercise, I spend more time just living and enjoying my one wild and precious life.  When I am able to view myself as my Creator sees me, I realize that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And I want to take care of His creation.

Not by starving myself, but by fueling myself to live up to my fullest potential. If I am to do the work I’m called to and run my race well, I need to take care of myself. Which comes so much easier when you love yourself.

Sisters, let’s link arms on this: You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You are loved. Those soft spots on your bodies and your hearts are marks of a life well-lived. Spots your hubby loves to grab and your babies caressed as they nursed to sleep. Spots where you were hurt or faced impossible odds, but yet here you stand. This body has carried and sustained you from the moment you were born. And it will be with you until you take your final breath on this earth.

Let us be women who shamelessly love ourselves, not out of vanity, but because our love of selves shows appreciation to our Creator God and spurs on our love for others, showing our daughters, our friends, that pant-size IS a number, but heart-size is immeasurable.

I don’t want some online friends or acquaintances or followers,
who see my best side when I want them to,
the girl I wish I was.
 
I want to have real friends,
friends who are brave and let it get messy.
Real friends bare their souls, and share clothes.
Weaving stories, sometimes over wine.
They don’t judge if you act crazy or cry ugly.
They do life with.
 
I want those friends.
Who not only pick up the pieces,
but come alongside with the glue.
Friends who don’t just love me anyway,
but love me because. 
 
AS
Girl Power, Poetry, Random Musings, Writing

“Ladies, Read Your Bibles”

Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power

One last takeaway from the Women’s Retreat I attended. The speakers continually hit this phrase home, “Ladies, read your Bibles.”

I can still picture my mom in her comfy chair, before the sun was even up, Bible and journal on lap; and it’s the one habit I hope with all my heart my children pick-up from me. If nothing else, read your Bible. Read it to your children. Not books about the Bible, but God’s word. His power, accessed by us when read. (Don’t believe me? Read Hebrews 4:12). There is no quick fix and no other way to growing as a follower of Christ than reading the Bible. Both growing and going require knowing.

Imagine God speaking the following words to you each new day.

My [child], pay attention to all the words I am telling you.
Lean in closer so you may hear all I say.
Keep them before you; meditate on them;
set them safely in your heart.
For those who discover them, they are life.
They bring wholeness and healing to their bodies. 

Proverbs 4:20-22 {The Voice}

May you find life, wholeness, and healing in His words for YOU. That’s right, God’s word, that message of hope and salvation and restoration was written just for you and for everyone all at once. The One that authored the redemption for all humankind is also writing your story. As you learn more about God, you’ll find that you also begin to learn more about yourself in the context of God’s redemptive plan. (Hint: You get to play a part).

If you don’t know where to begin, I urge you to get a good study Bible. (I use a Life Application Study Bible available on Amazon and at most Christian bookstores). Then, just set a goal. Will you shoot for five chapters each day? It doesn’t have to be right away in the morning and you don’t have to journal or go through any prescribed study methodology. Just read His word, underline key verses, check the footnotes for additional information, and flag passages you don’t understand so you can look them up, ask a trusted friend or even your pastor.

As with anything else, context is key. As you read through whole passages, think on how certain verses relate to the passage as a whole. What is the situation? What is God saying here? To whom? Also, it has been very helpful for me to think in terms of PRESCRIPTIVE and DESCRIPTIVE when unlocking portions of the Bible. Prescriptive passages and verses apply to humanity as a whole both then, now, and into the future, while descriptive passages are situational and were applicable only in that specific situation. Again, if you run into a confusing passage (believe me, you will), I urge you to be courageous and ask someone. Who knows? Maybe your question will open up a whole new Bible study group or topic.

For additional reasoning on getting into your Bible and other study tips, I love this post from A Deeper Story last week: “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?

What has been instrumental for you in reading/studying the Bible?

— PS —

One thing that was so transformative for me was my time in the Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey courses through Village Schools of the Bible. We worked from Genesis through Revelation over the course of three semesters and 18 months. It was one of the most rewarding and equipping experiences I have encountered yet. For more information on course offerings or to inquire about Cover-to-Cover being offered at your church, I encourage you to contact them.

Living a Life of Worship | Devotional

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power, Writing

I just returned from a transformative, amazing weekend away at a Women’s Retreat. In the past, I have utterly avoided things like that. I’m more of an introvert and a thinker and I find all of the socializing and emoting utterly terrifying. Well, wouldn’t you know that God would just use that time to speak to my heart, through and through. Each session and each interaction was so uplifting and so targeted, that I just had to give Him the ultimate credit. He always goes before me.

The theme of the weekend was Living a Life of Worship. (Also note: Having to sing in public, etc. generally not in my comfort zone either). But, we are created for and called specifically to worship. We will always be worshipping, and if not God, we will find something. Exercise, TV, relationships, ourselves, other people, things, hobbies, habits, our list of potential idols is endless.

We generally start to run into trouble when we compartmentalize our worship of God. We place Him over there with singing and hand-waving and our, “Yes, Lord Jesuses!” But then, over here, we want to keep doing what we want to do. This is easy for us, because we feel that we can’t worship God and be ourselves, so we’ll just be ourselves six days a week and then worship God how we think we should on Sunday mornings.

But your Father has created you to serve Him and worship Him just as you are and He is glorified when you come before Him with those gifts each and every day. We can’t worship that which we don’t really know and we can’t really know God unless we enter into relationship with Him. Relationship stems from understanding, and until we can relate to God as we are (knowing who He is), we will not be able to give Him the laud he both desires and deserves.

Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and completeRomans 12:1-2 {The Voice}

Note that Paul indicates that we are to offer our own bodies (each and every one different in its gifts, abilities, talents, and passions) as our reasonable, essential worship. When you serve God (in response to His mercy to you), you are worshipping. Whether that means you are working, singing in your car, writing, encouraging, rocking babies, serving meals, or even folding laundry, your worship is lived out each and every day you inhabit your body. Our worship is never separated from who we are. Never.

Now, answer the following questions:

  • How do you usually try to approach God and a relationship with Him?
    • Does it feel comfortable in context of the person He’s created you to be?
    • What could you let go of in terms of pre-conceived notions about a relationship with God?
  • What things tend to get in the way of your worship of God?
  • After reading Romans 12:1-2, what encouragement do you find in those verses?
    • How do you think one renews his/her mind to be transformed from the inside out?
    • What is your living and holy sacrifice to God? (If you can’t think of anything, do you feel there is anything as far as “next steps” that He is calling you to?

Father God, help me to find peace in the person You have created me to be and even in my body itself. As I seek to live out my worship to You, help me to, “Shine like [a star] across the land,” bringing You honor. Amen