Ballroom Dance, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, sacred romance, spiritual warfare

What Is Being Revealed?

I firmly believe that every trial, struggle, and difficulty has lessons to teach us if we will only choose to find them. No matter the size of them in reality or the size they appear to be in our mind, there is a message in them.

We’ve been ballroom dancing students for 10 months now and we’ve learned a lot.  We can competently dance steps to about seven different dances – Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing and are learning steps to two more.  But competency isn’t what makes anyone want to watch someone else dance, nor is it the end goal of our lessons.  The goal and what makes dance grab your attention is the beauty and grace of the dancers.

In order for a dance to be beautiful and graceful, the dancers must create that picture on the floor.  Our instructors remind us that the gentleman creates the frame, but the lady creates the picture and this spring our studio began to offer “Guys Night” and “Ladies Night” classes to help us do just that.  I’ll be honest, I HATED most of those Ladies Night classes.  It was irrational how much I hated them, and after several of them, I literally drove home in tears. For several weeks, I couldn’t even explain why I hated them so much, but something made me keep going back.

At the same time, I had been studying Brent Curtis’s and John Eldredge’s book, The Sacred Romance, with a friend.  We were in chapter ten, when I found this:

“In the day-to-day pattern of things, our journey is shaped more often by dragons and nits–crises that shake us to the core and persistent troubles that threaten to nag us to death. Dragons and nits: Are they tragic events and random inconveniences, or are they part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways?” (p. 150)

They go on to tell the story of Mary, a woman who lost her permanent teeth in an accident and had trouble replacing them for years with a permanent solution.

“Her teeth were a source of shameful arrows lodged deep.  A seemingly irrelevant nit that God refused to take away became an opportunity to face a fundamental question the heart of every woman asks: Am I lovely? Without the nit, the deeper issue of her heart would never have come up. Once it did, the real battle began.”

Why were these classes so difficult for me?  It was because the whole point of them was to help me create a picture of beauty and grace which ran counter to a core lie that I had believed for most of my life – I am not beautiful, I am not graceful, I am less than.

There are a few times that I could point to in the last 40 years where I felt beautiful. They were fleeting and usually tied to some sort of event, but day to day, more often than not, I believed that lie. Even now, looking at pictures of those events, that lie colors my recollection of those events. I nitpick every picture and find fault with myself in nearly every one.

“Both dragons and nits take us into the deep places of the soul, uncovering the sentences we have long lived by.” (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 154)

My nit, Ladies Night, revealed the “sentence” that I had “long lived by”, and I began to want to believe something different.

I don’t remember where I found this verse, but it’s been helping me counter that lie every time it pops into my head.  Psalm 45:10-11 NIV says:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

God doesn’t see me the way I see myself.  He sees me as his creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He is enthralled by the beauty of whom he created me to be.  As I repeat this verse over and over, I am beginning to see myself through his eyes.  And this last Ladies Night?  Well, I danced to enthrall my King, because he finds me beautiful.

 

What long-held belief might your “dragons and nits” be attempting to reveal?

 

 

 

Ballroom Dance, kingdom living, Marriage, romance, sacred romance

How is your connection?

Back in March, Brian and I attended a dance camp held by Fred Astaire Illinois and taught by legendary dancer Corky Ballas. We learned a lot, but most memorable for me was a lesson on connection. Corky had us stand facing each other with our palms touching and sway back and forth. He said that the most important thing in ballroom dancing is knowing where your partner’s feet are and the only way to do that and dance at the same time is through the hand-to-hand connection.

I knew that the connection was necessary, but I did not realize that through it, I can feel Brian’s feet moving and the transfer of his weight from foot to foot. The transfer of weight from foot to foot tells the other where the foot will be next.

That connection must be firm and strong, but not overpowering and dominating. It must be matched by each partner so that each can feel the movement of the other’s feet. If one partner overpowers the other, then there is no knowledge of where the weaker connected partner’s feet are.

If you are connected rightly, you move as a couple as though you are one.

Jesus said this of marriage in Matthew 19:5-6 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

In ballroom dancing, the couple must move together as one. In marriage, the couple must become one.

Becoming one requires a deep, strong and intimate connection with your marriage partner. As your marriage moves across the ballroom floor of life, you must move as one being.

If you have allowed the connection in your marriage to falter, why not spend some time together this weekend, just the two of you?

#ballroommarriage
#stayconnected
#whereareyourpartnersfeet
#followmylead
#leadyourwifewell
#ballroom
#marriage
#dancesport

Ballroom Dance, kingdom living, Marriage

Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot

Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot are all dances that travel widely across the dance floor.

As the dance travels, that frame I referenced earlier  (#BallroomMarriage – The Frame Matters) truly matters. With many other couples on the floor, the man must be able to communicate to the woman that obstacles are coming and that we need to maneuver around them. If the man’s lead or the woman’s reading of that lead falters, the beauty of the dance will fail. A collision can occur, a toe or toes gets stepped on, or the dance stops altogether.

In the frame, the couple does not look at each other because of this need to navigate the floor and avoid other couples. Each looks to the left and by doing so, half of the floor can be seen. The man sees what lies ahead and the woman sees who is coming up behind. Then through unspoken communication in the frame, adjustments are made and the dance continues unhindered.

In a way, the couple has each other’s backs.

How is your frame with your dance partner these days? Do you have each other’s backs? Are you looking out for obstacles in the path of your dance? Is something coming up quickly behind you?

Spend sometime in the “frame of your dance” with your partner this weekend!

faith, kingdom living, sacred romance, spiritual warfare, worshipping

Building Muscle

I have this great trainer, Linda, who has been helping me rebuild my body after my weight loss surgery.  We were working out yesterday on some specific areas that I’d really like to see improve.  But while we were doing it, she pointed out that while I might not see improvement, she is seeing definition that wasn’t there before.  That was encouraging.  It will be especially encouraging tomorrow when the after-effects of a tough workout will be very obvious!

This morning, after a particularly tough day in our family yesterday, I had planned to read a book on my Kindle and opened the app only to find that I already had a book open.  The open book was the one I really needed to read — When the Enemy Strikes: The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles by Charles Stanley.  I’ll share a few key things that were particularly helpful today in hopes that you will find them helpful as well:

What is a satanic attack?  A satanic attack is a deliberate, willful, intentional, and well-designed act intended to bring harm to a person in any way–physical mental, economic, relational, or spiritual. (Stanley, p. 16) What are the objectives of a satanic attack?  He has four:
  1. Satan seeks to draw us away from God. That’s always his ultimate goal.
  2. Satan seeks to thwart us in God’s purpose and plan for our lives. He seeks to get us off track and out of the will of God for our lives.
  3. Satan seeks to deny God the glory, honor, and praise due Him as we live Godly lives of faith and trust in God.
  4. Satan seeks to destroy us–literally and eternally. (Stanley, p. 16-17)
Whenever the devil strikes us, we can take heart that God has a purpose in allowing the devil to act.  The purpose is a divine one that we may not understand but that nonetheless is for our good or the good of others.  The grief, suffering or pain is for a season only.  The end result, as we remain faithful to God, will bring glory to him. (Stanley, p. 28)
Three Things You Can Always Count On
  1. You can be certain that God will help you.  God is holy, omnipotent, omniscient, and immutable.  The Bible tells us “Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.” (Isaiah 59:1 NLT) The Lord desires to help you. He is waiting for you to ask Him!
  2. You can rest assured that the attack will come to an end. No temptation or crisis lasts forever. A temptation may come again in another form, or come again after a period of time, but every temptation has a time limit put on it.
  3. You can expect to be stronger in your spirit after you have resisted an attack of the enemy. (Stanley, p. 30)

 

I was encouraged so much after reading this this morning.  And then, about an hour later, I received a text from a friend who was very discouraged.  I called her and we talked about what was going on for both her and me and then things began to coalesce in my head to form an analogy for her and me.

Just as building muscle is painful, but results in definition and strength, so too are the spiritual battles we face.

I found this little gem as I was doing some research for this post: “For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you must force your muscles to adapt by creating stress that is different than the previous threshold your body has already adapted to.” (https://www.builtlean.com/2013/09/17/muscles-grow/)

This same principle is true in our spiritual growth.  If we are to deepen our walk with the Lord, we must be challenged beyond where we currently stand.  I’ll refer you here to John 15:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:2-5.

No one likes to face spiritual battles, but if we change our perspective, perhaps we can see them in a different light.  I don’t really enjoy lifting weights (I’d really hate it if it weren’t for Linda!), but I like the results.  Linda says my calfs are “cut” and that she is seeing the cut of my muscles in my thighs.  Personally, I see only cellulite in my thighs until she points the definition out to me.

As I face my own spiritual battles, I’ll be asking God for his perspective on them.  Which spiritual muscle group are we working on developing today, God? I want to be a vine that has great strength and bears much fruit for His glory!

 

 

Uncategorized

#BallroomMarriage – The Frame Matters

You may, or may not be, wondering why we dance with instructors of the opposite sex. There’s a very simple reason. Brian is learning to lead and I am learning to follow. (Those who know me well are probably laughing at the thought of me learning to follow!)

So much of ballroom is unspoken communication through the hand-to-hand connection in the frame. If the frame is not strong, leads can be misread and steps missed so that the dance becomes choppy.

I’m learning that so much of ballroom dancing applies to marriage.

If our marriage is choppy and not flowing well, perhaps we should go back to the basics of our frame. Do we still know each other well, are we cultivating friendship and a deep connection not just physically, but also emotionally?

I gotta be honest. Our marriage, while strong initially, is improving with each new ballroom dance step.

#ballroommarriage

#strongframe

#learningtofollow

#leadyourwifewell

#dancesport

#fads

#fadsil

#ballroomdancing

#marriage

faith, kingdom living, sacred romance

The Allure of Hope

The other day I posted about a new book I am reading, The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heart by Jan Meyers.

I’ve had several people mention that they plan to pick up the book and so I thought I’d create an online discussion group so that we can learn from each other.  If this interests you, please fill out the contact me form to the left and I’ll get in touch with you.  Likely this will be on a weekday evening.

You can order the book by clicking on the title or by clicking the image below.

Looking forward to discussing this with you!

 

 

 

faith

Believing in Beauty

How critical are you of your reflection in the mirror? Do you look at photographs and judge yourself as harshly as I do?  The reality is that I’ve been my own harshest critic for years, at least 45 of them!  Lately, with the instantaneous feedback of digital photography, I’ve become even worse. I’m sure Brian is tired of having to show me a photo he’s just taken, delete it and retake it until I am satisfied.

Sound familiar?

In March, as many of you know, we competed in our first ballroom competition.  When I look at the photographs, I don’t see a beautiful woman, I see rolls of extra skin left over from weight loss surgery.  My pant size says I’ve changed, but I still see myself with the same fat stomach.  However, when I show these pictures to others, that isn’t what they say they see.  Who is right?

The voice in my head says they are just being kind.  My husband, however, says I look beautiful,  but I am quick to quash that opinion as soon as he finishes speaking.

I know I am not alone in this.

If this is a struggle for you too, I hope you will join me in reading The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heartby Jan Meyers. Here’s a great quote from the back cover:

We either respond to hope with our hearts or we try to push it down. Responding to hope brings a deepened sense of thirst and ache, but it reminds us what it truly means to be a woman.

Will you join me?

adventure, faith, kingdom living, leadership, sacred romance

What Size is Your Story?

I love movies.  It’s one of my favorite things to do with my family on the weekend.  Many of my children do as well, and since the youngest is heading into his tween years, we’ve been slowly introducing him to some of the great movies we’ve seen over the years.  Last night it was The Matrix.  He loved it.  I loved it for the fourth or fifth time.

We actually watched two movies yesterday, my youngest son and I.  He wanted to see Thor: Ragnarok again. That movie makes me smile because Thor seems much more human in it.

This morning on my facebook timeline, I noticed that someone posted a beautiful sunset/sunrise and then referenced yet another of my favorite movies, The Last of the Mohicans.

I love movies for the same reason I loved books as a child.  I wanted a world bigger than my own. A world that’s not so mundane, where everything is hanging in the balance, and where there is epic love and epic friendship and epic battles.

In our couple’s group tonight, we’re discussing Chapter 4 of The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.  This chapter is called A Story Big Enough to Live In.  Like my son and me, these two authors love movies.  The authors contend that “if we’re going to find the answer to the riddle of the earth — and of our own existence — we’ll find it in story.” (p. 40) They go on to say that we “create our own storylines to bring some meaning to our experiences,” but they claim that we lose ourselves in the smallest kinds of stories.  You’ll have to pick up the book for more (I promise it’s worth the read).

I am 100% sure that my youngest son would say that his storyline involves some superhuman abilities and epic battles to save the world.

I know I created my own storyline as well as a child, also with superhuman abilities and epic battles.  Unfortunately, my story began to shrink throughout my life.  But I am dreaming again of my childhood storyline and smiling, and as I do, I find it’s getting bigger and bigger.

How about you?  What size is your storyline? Is it epic, or the smallest kind?

 

adventure, faith, kingdom living

Transition

So today is a big transition day for me.  I’m stepping out of a role that I’ve filled since the first part of July for one client and out of the business entirely of being a virtual assistant.  I’ve enjoyed filling this role and being in this business, but the reality is that it was a place to hide out and be comfortable.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was hiding from a call of God on my life.  I’ve taken a few steps out of my hideout in the last few weeks, but today is a big step. It’s a weird feeling.

Several years ago, I read a fascinating book by Erwin McManus called The Barbarian Way. That book had a huge impact on my faith journey at the time.  So much so that I adopted several word pictures from it to describe my journey.  I even wrote about one of them here.  McManus explains how a group of rhinoceroses should be a picture of the church, although I have appropriated it for me. Here’s what he says,

But my favorite of all is the group designation for rhinos.  You see, rhinos can run at thirty miles an hour, which is pretty fast when you consider how much weight they’re pulling… Just one problem with this phenomenon.  Rhinos can see only thirty feet in front of them.  Can you image something that large moving in concert as a group, plowing ahead at thirty miles an hour with no idea what’s at thirty-one feet?  You would think that they would be far too timid to pick up full steam, that their inability to see far enough ahead would paralyze them to immobility.  But with that horn pointing the way, rhinos run forward full steam ahead without apprehension, which leads us to their name.  Rhinos moving together at full speed are known as a crash.

I’d put aside my rhino mentality for at least two years, but I’m picking it back up.  I’m no longer willing to hide out, but rather I’m picking up steam and moving forward without apprehension.

Join me and let’s become a crash.

faith, Uncategorized, writing

Jonah and me

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  Primarily because I’ve been hiding out.  I’m not generally thought of as being shy or timid, but the last few years, I have been an ardent avoider.  Not in all areas of my life, just one in particular.  This one.

If you scroll below this post, you’ll see that the last post here was in 2015.  Hard to believe that I haven’t written anything here in 2 1/2 years.

You might well ask why.

I didn’t realize until recently that I was having a Jonah moment.

Jonah, according to scripture, was also an avoider. He was given a specific task to go to a specific group of people to tell them to repent of their sin.  This group of people, the Nineveh-ites, some 120,000 strong, were a vile society and God had called Jonah to call them to repentance.  Jonah, instead, goes in exactly the opposite direction.  He’s trying to avoid the difficult task.

Four years ago, I began working on an idea. I set up a separate blog and a facebook page and worked at it here and there.  Two years later, after a move, I resurrected said idea and developed it into a presentation which I gave at our current church in January 2016.  I had several people tell me at that time that I was a gifted speaker and that I should turn it into a book and maybe start looking at giving that presentation elsewhere.  These were people who I respected, who knew of my spiritual gifts and were encouraging me to seek God’s leading in this area.

Instead, I decided to hide.

I stopped writing altogether and focused on easier things.  I was still using some of my gifts and abilities but I was really hiding out.  In January of last year, I even took on a new job.  This new job totally fit my skills and abilities, but it was really just another place to hide out.

Well, I’m not hiding any longer, thanks to a mission trip and the devotions during that time which God used to call me out of hiding and point out that I was acting like Jonah.

Expect to see more from me here.