Thursday, March 5, 2015

Redemptive Arts: A Call to Unity

Late nights in the dance studio are a catalyst for morning reflection - time to savor God's presence and what He is doing through the redemptive arts in this city. Those who write, sing, dance, paint, sculpt or create or innovate in any other way in Him - God is building His artists into an integral, united part of His overall body.

We are not isolated from Him, and nor should we be isolated from one another. Our gifts were meant to bring His life, beauty and hope into dark places. We are not a decoration for the church, we are an essential expression of Life. Life does not stagnate. Effort becomes collaboration under the umbrella of His embrace. Unity. 

The Morning Notes

Chai tea notes
and snowflakes dance,
atop a mid-February morning,

Light rests
on morning’s branches,
an invitation to explore.

Like the heavy current of pounding heartbeats,
muscle contractions 
rush to

Bring creative (life) force,
Piercing light,
Fierce fighters, wrapped in (Be)auty,


Friday, December 26, 2014

(RE)demptive Creativity

Before the day’s noise and pollution rush in, stillness waits. It seeps into my pores and invites me to inhale Being. It is a pause before the day starts swirling. The early morning’s message is rare but so inviting.

God’s tangible presence in these moments is delight, like a warm, heavy blanket that seeps forth from His spirit to mine, wrapping around my soul, calming my mind, ambitions, emotions. And one morning God showed me his life as a river. Not an expectedly peaceful, quaint little brook, but a roaring, passionate, raging river. Wide and transparent, compassionate and dangerous. Rich and risky.

Stepping into His life, this river, is dangerous. It’s not a great place to stay comfortable. But the
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wonder of this river is its ability to humbly level everything in its path. Every obstacle, every lie, every hint of pride, every daily reality that begs to suck the very life from my core. Our cores.

But the daily realities are some of His greatest shaping, making, (re)creating tools. Creative wonder is often cloaked in the common, if we will only receive.

Redemptive creativity cannot be forged from the outside-in, but must come from an unending, internal source. That is the nature of its re-demptive-ness. It isn’t grown of self or ego but shines from being brought through a variety of elements. An internal river.

The restless side of my own creativity definitely tempts me to grasp for source from the outside-in. I seek the novel, breathe spontaneity and stimulation (and that certainly has its place!), but, true peace, true fulfillment comes from a mind that grips for dear life to unending, internal rest.  Teeth gritted, fists clenched, to trust the internal “morning” stillness.

Redeem.  In Hebrew it is the verb ga’al, to act as a kinsman redeemer, to redeem from death, bondage or exile. In the Greek it is exagorazo, by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off. This redeeming is something that is done to us, a foundational element of (re)creation. Why do we need to be re-created?

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction… “ Hosea 13:14

Death. The grave. Emptiness. Separation from God. He redeems us to (re)create us, recover us from death. His redeeming is not simply slapping some better behavior on us, giving us a checklist and calling it a day. Remember, his River of Life is one of dangerous compassion. Dangerous to what we know on our own. He invites us in, he empathizes, and His deep heart breaks over our pain. He is not distant, nor does he want to be kept at arm’s length. No, he doesn’t just clean us up on the outside. He doesn’t want his people just sitting like empty cardboard boxes in a dry pew, sunlight streaming through the windows to settle on particles of dust in the air, while inside, many storms are brewing, un-(re)-deemed. Covered up. No, that’s not who He is. He wants the sunlight to settle on our souls instead.

His river is transparent and uncovers all, and if we receive Him, truly, this (re)creation starts in our spirit, is planted in our soul, and works its way outward. It stems from a deep trust in and hunger for Life. Jesus. Only the fullness of time will reveal its true glory.

Create. What does He (re)deem us to? Life. In order to have life there must be creation, birth.

Create. In Hebrew it is bara. To create, shape, form. God is the subject and we are the object. This speaks of submitting to the one who is doing the (re)creating.  He doesn't redeem us to leave us sitting, hapless until the end of this life. No. Transformation. It's real, now.
 “…by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one humanity out of the two, thus making peace.” Ephesians 2:15 
“For behold, I create new heaves and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Isaiah 65:17 
This is a very real thing, this creating. And the need for (re)creation screams, claws for our attention when we notice the emptiness, the meaninglessness, the need for something, someone, greater than ourselves. The need to exchange our source for the Source. We are always craving Him, even if we don’t realize he is the one whom we crave.

God is so etched in our very cores that we must define ourselves in relation to him somehow. Do we believe? Do we not believe? Why do we have a need to believe anything in the first place?

(Re)creation is not a matter of replacing “bad” with “good”. It is a matter of ransoming us from death so that we might have His Life. Instead of death, He gives us life. Death can masquerade itself as all kinds of “good” things, but in its futility it never trusts Him. Death is the place where lies cover themselves up in faux light to ensnare so many who are thirsty. But the River still beckons.

Death lies to us and whispers for us to never step into the roaring river. Because if we do, we are submerged, and then we emerge as new, alive. A journey of this life working itself out in us.

Real life submits to dangerous compassion, the kind that re-makes us. The kind that would dare to re-make the world. It is His finished work, working itself out in his kids, who he loves with the most ferocious passion. It is his finished work on the cross, working itself out through us, working itself out through all of creation itself.

Life brings rest inside. Singularity and unity of spirit, soul, body. He remakes his children from the inside out.

(RE)deeming, (RE)creating, writing a story that is controversially-stunning, scandalous, wildly alive.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Something Old, Deepened

Sometimes things that are dusty need to be picked back up. Sometimes they need a second, longer, deeper look - not a quick glance. This is the season that God has me in right now. It's a season of rich deepening, of remembering who He is to me in light of a fresh perspective on who I am in Him.

In recent years, I've somewhat abandoned writing for non-work related purposes, but now my gaze is falling back on that love, and I love what I see! So I'm picking this blog back up, not to be great, but as a simple outlet for the words that swirl in my head. How fitting then, is it that God led me to this poem I wrote before I gave him my life. His gentle leading has me here, looking deeper into something He's shown me before, but now must deepen. Sometimes we dance around in circles, only to come back to what was there all along. 

Divulge, engorge, or give free reign to the opposite of what years of society has tried to get you to shun.
It wanted you to close your eyes and write it all off as a tempestuous slippery slope.
Are you so afraid to slide? Will falling bruise more than your ego? If you are that fraught with fear, what are your real cares?
The ones that you cling to, whether or not they only surface at dawn or dusk, the grainy bits of light disposing your real face.
You say that Spirit is like a tree, quiet and growing, but I scream,
"What the hell are you afraid of?"
Spirit and Risk are brothers.
Seven days in a week, many more in your lifetime, each is part of a map, and each is also sovereign.
A Tree gives breath to the world. 

Photo: Creative Commons, flickr, jerome: Hornbeam Leaves

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thoughts Before a Morning Run

Amidst the frenzied activity of the week, taking time to reflect and be still is often like a drink of fresh water. As we usher in the New Year this weekend, I encourage you to reflect on God's deep love for you and His faithfulness toward you, even in difficult circumstances. Only He can provide you with a sense of worth this year, or any time. The poem below was born out of a difficult time in my life, one where God showed me His courage, strength, love, and patience in a way that I hadn't previously experienced. Enjoy.

Lord, how many mornings? 
Let my sensitivity to you 
be sharp and flavorful, 
drenched in joy, peace, 
a strengthened will, 

If I appear low, 
let it be in love. 

If I am trepsing a mountain's edge, 
barely trying to catch my dad, 
let it be in love. 

You quieted a little, 
African owl, 
Your love is so great. 

Saying to fear, 
You deceitful bag of air! 
I have and hold these, 

My own. I care tenderly for them. 
They know me, hear my voice. 
A voice of love that casts away all fear. 

In that demon's mold, 
instead lies a hope, 
rooted and established in love, 

It grows and changes, 

deepens and listens, 
opens hungry mouths to satisfy 
a muse for a dancer, 
an inspired measure for a musician. 

A tree so tall it greets the man in the moon, 
whom I was so intrigued to have met, 
from the tops of my dad's shoulders, 
on a turquoise summer night. 

Yet that height is even too short, 
he is a mere pit stop, 
left behind as this tree grows, 
soaring, roots shooting beyond, 
the earth's most southern axis. 

A tree which bore so much, 
taking unto death that which 
was meant for real, knowable life. 

And the wind about the tree, 
ensconces each leaf and branch, 

'Abba,' their hearts whisper back, 
We see you. 
We hear your voice. 
We cry out, 'Love that is great.' 
'And your palm will yet remain true.' 

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a place I love to hike with my dad.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Chrysalis Dance Company: Love Never Fails

After a while of no posts, I came across this dance on the International Christian Dance Fellowship's Facebook wall. Choreographed to Brandon Heath's song "Love Never Fails," this dance is a creative illustration of how we live, move, and have our being in Christ, in His love.  Hope you enjoy this dance from Chrysalis Dance Company.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dance & Worship: Relevant Magazine

Why has dance (and the arts for that matter) struggled to find its niche within the church as a valid form of worship? I address this question and the need for Christian dancers to confront misconceptions of dance in the church in a column for Relevant Magazine. Read more here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thought I would Share...

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I read this lovely little blurb tonight while working on some dance ministry homework, and thought I would share. Clumsy at times, I can definitely relate to breaking vases, or really anything else for that matter. Hope this gets the wheels turning, beginning to think about God's love:

God's Transforming Power
Once whilst traveling I found a lovely oriental jar in a market. It was beautiful and I knew it would go wonderfully in our home. I took great care of it, carrying it with me in the plane so it wouldn't break. As we stepped out of the taxi in front of our home, I placed it carefully on the ground. As I turned after getting the other bags, I promptly trod on it. I heard that dreadful tinkling noise that meant of course that it was broken into many pieces. I was so disappointed but stayed up late into the night piecing it back together. My husband couldn't see the point of going to so much trouble to fix it; however, he hadn't chosen it, or carried it, or loved it.

Even though over the years you can see the glue marks, it still serves as a reminder to me of our brokenness and of God's love in putting the pieces back together. Left alone the human spirit is like a piece of that jar, shattered and useless. But in God's eyes it seems to be a picture of our wholeness.
-Author Unknown

So this got me thinking about how great God's love really is. And then, I realized that His love transcends merely 'putting the pieces back together.' If compared to a jar, vase, or pot, those who are in Christ actually become entirely new jars, vases, or pots! New creations, in other words. God's ability to (re)create, renew, refresh, restore, and more absolutely astonishes me. I can hardly begin to get to the bottom, or top, or sides of this kind of love, but I do know that it's worth swimming in. Just a thought. Feel free to share any comments, thoughts, etc, below.