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.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Life Hidden & New.


The morning was raw. Those first moments of waking from a deep sleep and trying to walk to the bathroom without falling over into a coma are often brutal.

As soon as the rich, dark coffee hit my veins though, the tides of that day began to turn. The ‘on’ light to my brain clicked alive, there was hope after all. I know, it’s a bit dramatic, but for me it’s often reality. And on this particular morning, my mind began to go on autopilot, asking things like,

“What do I need to accomplish today?”
“Really, if I don’t accomplish something today I might just wither up like the flower in that vase over there.”

My mind was going through a checklist, even though I just moved to a new city, have no ‘official’ job yet, and have a juicy summer to explore. But with unlimited amounts of caffeine at my disposal, my mind plugged along, and I decided a trip to the local library was in order. It was a type-A moment.

My drive to the library was nothing ordinary. Gigantic mountains loomed to the west, draped in fresh morning sunshine. Luscious trees and greenery exploded from my peripheral vision, and there was no shortage of early-rising bikers and runners lining the sidewalks. I wondered who they were and where they were going.  Already my steel resolve to ‘accomplish’ without distraction cracked.

Just as I was about to walk into a building filled with thoughts and ideas worthy of dissection, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Are you a Colorado voter?” a very soft-spoken, middle-aged woman probed.
Against my impulse to just run into the building and ignore her obvious interruption of my ‘accomplishing’ mode, I sighed, very loudly, and replied, “What is this petition for?”

Noting my overt annoyance she kindly explained that it was to help land an issue on the fall ballot to increase funding for K-12 education. Hmm, an issue I genuinely cared about, and I was about to shrug off the opportunity to fight for it, all in the name of my own ‘accomplishment.’

Her gentle mannerisms and patience with my self-seeking attitude caught me off guard. They soothed something in me in such a way that I felt convicted for failing to see the needs of those around me. There is always something to ‘accomplish,’ even if that something comes along completely out of my control.

As the week wore on, my God faithfully began to open my eyes to the fact that this life is no longer just my own, but that He gets to live it through me.

His life explodes from me in lengthy conversations with my sister Jennifer, who is fighting to complete school amidst a difficult season of test taking and making a long-distance relationship work.

I see His life bubbling to the surface on runs with my good friend Emily, whose beautiful spirit and perspective are refreshing in a world filled with gunk.

I hear His life in the words of my husband, who tells me that I have the freedom to cry, even though I secretly know it freaks him out to see girls cry. Even so, he patiently comforts me and listens without judgment. (How did I get so lucky?)

His life is displayed as I watch my dear friend Missy comfort her two-month-old son, who is an adorable, chunky little hipster.

Life is not found in accomplishing things or checking things off of a to-do list, though those things are important. Life is not even always found in doing. And thank goodness, because we don’t always do good things. Real, exciting life doesn’t even come from keeping a set of rules to a tee.

Life leaps out of a Person, Jesus Christ. And when this person is Alive inside of us, we become more than a biologically alive human being. Who we are is alive in Him. A new story full of new life opens, a new identity is forged. An identity rooted in unconditional love and a grace so huge it takes eternity, starting now, to explore.

“Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”    Luke 17:33

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Borders Inside.

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The phrase, “The arts have the power to break borders,” has graced my ears many times. That is, the arts have the power to tear down barriers between different people groups, where no other language has yet been able to, in order to spark a genuine connection between these people.

Like that first spark when creating a campfire just as the dusk snuggles in; it is a flicker of light and hope.  And this concept has always fascinated me. Perhaps because it uses creativity as a palpable tool for effecting lives on a massive scale.

To my surprise, this ‘creativity spark’ ignited, perfectly timed, at a smaller level within myself. The wonder of movement demolished a barrier that I’d constructed, one that hindered my ability to receive from God.

Let me explain. This season is peculiar to me. I’ve just moved to a new city, to be surrounded by little that is familiar – things like close community, the feel of driving familiar roads, places that are special to me simply because of the shared memories created there. This lack of familiarity screams adventure to me, but all in the same breath it brings moments when I feel like I’m floundering. It breeds new exploration, new community, new memories, fresh movement and space and breath. And, at times, freshly squeezed pain.

And so, with these brief pinpricks of uncertainty over the past couple of weeks came a frightful response: close off all vulnerability to my Creator. After all, He’s the one who led me here. What is He doing?

It almost reminds me of the frustration I felt as a child when playing that dreaded ‘bop-the-squirrel-on-the-head-game’ at arcades with my cousins. I hated that game because I could never predict when a little plastic rodent would rear its ugly head, and then just as quickly disappear before I could reach it. Like those pesky rodents, the moments of raw pain at leaving a place I loved seem to arise with no predictable rhythm, and without a way for me to squash their existence. And, since I’ve been here, I’ve struggled. I’ve fought to embrace this place with grace, with longing to devour the new with a distinct guttural passion familiar to me. I have little events or activities to distract myself with.

In one such recent moment, God broke through and spoke to my heart. He told me to dance. Not for anybody but Him. And so I listened and let the movement flow forth from the River of Life.

Something very living and awakening happened. The one who molded each star in the heavens allowed me to come to this place, simply because He knows that I will almost always do things in my own strength if left to my own devices. But in this breath, I needed Him even to dance.

There was a deep communication with my Maker that I can’t put into sensible words. It was delicious. I delighted to explore all different types of movement: balletic, jumps, skips, angrily frustrated choppy, jerky movements, contract and release, turns, leaps, letting gravity pull me to the ground.

And for those moments it was as if something in the deepest parts of myself that needed to be uplifted was, and was also deeply understood and embraced by my loving God. It was as though He let me know that He empathized with me via dance. There was a healing moment, right there in that place, as a daughter danced with her Creator.

Raw and honest, He saw me, loved me, inspired me, and moved with me.

A song that inspires:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Waiting Beneath the Rush

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A night full of dreaming.
A head in the clouds.
Clamped inside - pressure.

A day in Freedom,
aware of this new,

Morning quiet,
of a girl,
waiting beneath the rush.

To speak & move
brimming with life,
freely active.

Sometimes, letting gravity lead,
is like breathing,
after being in a smoke-filled room.
A breath-
A welcome respite,
for tired muscles.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Illustration of Freedom

Like real life, dance is multi-dimensional, never flat. It draws something from the very depths of my being and ignites the person that Christ created me to be.

It reminds me that the Lord adorns those that He loves, as a symbol of the beautiful mystery Who lives in His new creations - namely Jesus Christ. The creator, beauty-maker, ferocious healer, our God. His Spirit faithfully leads.

He is in us, and we are in Him. He dances over us, He is faithful to no end.

For me, there are moments onstage when I've expended so much energy that I feel like I'm going to puke. Heat molecules dash to escape my pores, as if I were a little engine. In the midst of all this dashing, leaping, spinning, hoisting, movement, is the Spirit. Though He is active, He also brings an inner stillness, a grounding force. He allows me to see beyond the exhaustion to dance.

In life, He allows me to see more than mere circumstances into a Joy that comes from knowing I am made new. Because of Him, I have the ability to choose freedom, when before I did not. Movement can illustrate this freedom.

I am in Him, and He is in me, and it is my honor to dance and live in my Creator.

"If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."
                                                        -2 Timothy 2:13