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

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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, sacred romance

A Good Friend Comes to Stay

We’re blessed to have one of my close friends and her daughter join us here at OLTCH. TJ and Anna came this afternoon, just in time for a tour and then dinner. I have been anxious to share this place with her because of her love for fatherless children.

After dinner, I asked her what her impressions of this place were so far. She responded, I’m overwhelmed.

It’s a great thing to be able to share a place that has stolen your heart…. and OLTCH stole mine the minute I walked through the gate.

I invite you to learn more about their ministry here. Like them on Facebook at OLTCH for a ton of pictures. You can also visit their website to catch their vision for the new property called “Isaiah’s Grove”, 13 acres of property right on the beach. We are blessed to have the aid of Samaritan’s Purse and EFCA and numerous donors to build a wall, grade a road and the land and build a well.

Our hope is that Isaiah’s Grove will be a light to Leogane and the surrounding area.

Please add the orphanage to your prayer list. There is always a lot of opposition in Haiti and we need to raise up the canopy of prayer of this place and the new property.

Thank you to all of you who have faithfully praying for us.

adventure, Bible Study, kingdom living, sacred romance

A Memory of What I Am Called To Be

My husband and I are leading a growth group at our church and we are studying John Eldredge’s amazing book, The Sacred Romance. This is not a book on marriage as it’s title suggests, instead it is a book on “drawing closer to the heart of God”. It’s a book about discovering who and what you were made for. And the sacred romance is about the love God has for you.

We’re studying the second chapter and one of the assignments in the workbook is to write about one of your best memories from childhood, so I decided to share it with all of you.

Every summer at least from first grade on, my parents made the sacrifice of sending both my sister and I away to summer camp for a week with the Camp Fire Girls. By sacrifice, I mean it couldn’t have been cheap. We went to Camp Sealth on Vashon Island in the middle of Puget Sound and we had to ride a boat to get there. This is the place where I first remember hearing a call to a grand adventure.

I remember standing on the dock with suitcase and sleeping bag nearby. The air was salty and warm and the sun was out. I’d give Mom and Dad a hug and board the ship for the 45 min ride to the camp. The first time I went, I probably cried the whole way, but every year thereafter, it was like I was sailing off on my own adventure. As we docked at the camp and hefted our stuff to our cabins, the smell of Douglas fir and the crunch of the needles under foot accompanied us. My first cabin was on Blueberry Hill.

Camp Sealth was a magical place. Each year, I learned a different adventuring skill. One year it was how to ride horses, another was a week-long canoe trip, and another where I learned archery. I loved being under the canopy of trees where sunlight would reach down in shafts to kiss the ground, where the carpet I walked on was fir needles and where at night we sang songs about adventures we would have.

The roundhouse was our dining hall and it was the first place I learned that there are fairies on the edge of the table, so don’t squish them with your elbows. That Mr. Pepper was married to Mrs. Salt and so we always passed them together. I remember it’s warm, varnished cedar interior.

After dinner we would gather near the shore for campfire. One of my favorite songs was “Barges” and I sang it over and over again in my childhood, always at night and always with a longing for the lapping of waves on my barge as I went sailing along.

Barges, I would like to go with you, I would like to sail the ocean blue. Barges, are there treasures in your hold, Do you fight with pirates, brave and bold?

The Ship – The name was a promise!

Camp Sealth – View from the water

One of the Blueberry Hill cabins – nestled up under the trees.

The Roundhouse

The Campfire Setting

Where were you when you first remember hearing a call to a grand adventure?

P.S. – Many thanks to my parents for all the wonderful memories!! I love you!