Always Seek God First

Base the foundation of your life on Christ because what fills, spills. – Hope City Church

Matthew 6-33

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The Yoga Experience

I just tried an honest-to-goodness yoga workout for the first time. It was supposed to be a one hour and twenty minute workout. I barely lasted thirty minutes.

Most people who know me, know that I am a dance instructor. It’s what I’ve done for the past sixteen years and dance has been a major part of my life for the last twenty-six, but people are always shocked when they first learn that I am NOT flexible. Sure, the majority of what I teach is tap and I only really get to perform once a year in the teacher routine at recital, but because I struggle with inflexibility on a daily basis, I always thought it was more obvious to the outside eye. This is misconception number one.

When most people think about flexibility in dancers, I assume their first thought is the splits. Confession: I have never been able to do any of the splits, ever, in my whole life, and I’m not holding my breath thinking that one day this will magically change. But as I said before, I mainly teach tap, so why do I care about being flexible? Frustratingly, my flexibility issues go further than being able to do the splits.

All of my muscles are tight all of the time. It doesn’t matter if I get a massage once a week or once a year, I always get harped on by the massage therapist. I can get a deep-tissue massage in the morning and come back in the evening and it will be as if I’ve never had a massage before in my life. So, how does this relate to my failed yoga experience this morning? Because, the area of my body that gives me almost constant struggle, the shoulder/pectoral region, was highlighted within the first five minutes of the workout.

My pectoral muscles are so tight that my shoulders are literally rolled forward. I am unable to keep a purse up on my shoulder, push-up into a bridge position on the floor and even hold my arms straight above my head while keeping them close to my ears. It wasn’t until about a year ago, when I started getting a massage on a regular basis, that I realized this because the therapist was hell-bent on getting my shoulders to lay flat against the table. This is when it all started to click because during my years as a dancer, there have been times when different yoga techniques and stretches have crept into different classes that I’ve taken and I’ve always been extremely frustrated with myself. Insert misconception number two: I thought it was due to a lack of upper body strength.

As I was attempting Warrior 1 Pose this morning, very obviously struggling to get my fingertips pointed to the sky, the teacher started saying if I was having difficulty keeping my front leg bent, then I could straighten it. In my head I was thinking, “Dude, I could hold my legs in a runner position for forever, it’s my arms that are about to fall off!” That’s when it hit me – maybe it’s not that I don’t have enough upper body strength for yoga, but that my shoulders are positioned in such a way that my body is actually working against itself when I’m attempting things such as Downward Dog and Warrior 1.

My mom tried for years to convince me to try yoga because she was sure it would assist with my inflexibility. You know how we hate to admit this, but I’m starting to think mom was right. Honestly, after the first fifteen minutes, Warrior 1 was not happening, so I had adjusted to holding my arms straight out from my shoulders with palms up instead. After I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out anymore, I decided to try raising my arms again and surprisingly, my arms were closer to my ears than they had been before.

Okay, so maybe I can do this. Not the full class the first time and probably not the second, third, fourth or fifth time, but I’ll work my way up. The funniest part about all of this? I didn’t even want to do yoga this morning. I had first pulled out a more cardio-focused workout DVD but for some reason, that DVD wouldn’t read properly and after a couple of failed attempts, I settled for yoga instead. You can call me crazy, but I call that God.

I’ve been told by several people in the last few months, both medical professionals and friends, that I need to “gain some weight” in my attempts to start a family. When someone says this to me, I usually just laugh and say, “But I’m a dance teacher! I don’t even go to the gym!” I’ve also always joked that I’m “skinny fat” and after reading some recent articles regarding the subject, it’s actually not something I should be joking about. I’ll write more on that later, but for now, I’ve decided that I’m not going to focus on losing the love handles, or gaining weight so my BMI is up into the normal range because I’ve decided this is misconception number three. I’m not going to focus on gaining or losing weight, I’m going to focus on getting healthy. If you also know me, you know this is going to be no picnic. But now that I’m thirty and I have all of these goals ahead of me to accomplish, I have to make sure that my body is well-equipped because what’s the good of having a sound mind and soul if you don’t have a working instrument with which to fully utilize them?

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Why I Need Vacation Motivation

Today is the first day of a nine day vacation. It is the last vacation of this magnitude that I will have until Thanksgiving. Thank goodness the school calendar changed from a long weekend to a full week for Thanksgiving otherwise, this would be the only long vacation until Christmas!

During the last vacation, Blake and I traveled to see his family, which was great, but I am so excited about being at home this time. The only difference is, regardless of whether I want to stay physically busy during the next full week or not, I have to stay mentally busy or at least trick my mind into thinking that I’m going to be busy. Believe me, there is a whole list of things that I plan to accomplish between now and Sunday, August 6th but it’s nothing that requires me to set an alarm or keep a regular schedule.

I don’t know if this happens to just me, because I’m a little weird, or if anyone else can relate, but whenever my mind knows that I’m about to be able to relax a little, my immune system takes an immediate vacation of it’s own. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been approaching a period of rest and relaxation and I can’t even enjoy half of it because I get sick. It could be anything from a small cold to the full-blown flu.

So, I am NOT going to let that happen to me this week! I started to feel a little bit of a sore throat on Thursday and I said, “No way, Jose!” I am going to enjoy this week with a little rest and a lot of productivity and if I have to play motivational mind games on myself to be successful, then so be it!

I’ve also decided to try my hand at cooking dinner a couple of nights next week, so stay tuned for what is sure to be some interesting failed attempts there. I also just picked up some yarn for a new baby blanket project that I’m super excited about (I know, nerd alert) so I’ll get some pictures posted soon. AND my boss actually told me about a new relationship series being presented by a local church, Hope City, called Mixtape: Love, Sex & Marriage that’s so good, even Blake is listening to it with me! Stay tuned because, staycation, here I come!

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The Struggle is Real

On repeat…

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Fighting the Enemy

1 John 4-4

This week, I’ve been working especially hard to just live one day at a time. I’ve been focused on how I relate to other people and how I can best show love and when I say I’ve been doing it one baby step at a time, I mean it.

Multiple times a day, I’ve had to ask for God’s help so I can be loving to those around me. It’s just something that I struggle with and have for as long as  I can remember. I will say that I think I have been very successful both yesterday and today and as I look back on the two days, I don’t see a situation or instance where I reacted too quickly and now feel guilty for something  I said or did in reaction to someone else. I’m getting better, but it’s definitely not by my own strength.

Don’t you love it when you decide to commit to something positive and Godly and it’s like Satan must have received an automatic e-mail in his inbox alerting him to fight even harder against your plans? That’s how I felt during the first part of this week. Once you’ve decided to make a Godly decision or grow closer to Jesus or seek the Lord’s guidance, that’s when Satan starts to pay you extra attention and he will do whatever he can to try and deter you from your path.

This made me think of one of my favorite verses in the Bible and it’s one that I haven’t yet come across in study, but one that I know from a few of the songs that I hear on a daily basis when listening to Air1 Radio. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 (ESV). One of my favorite songs is “Greater” by MercyMe and it just so happens to revolve around this very verse.

I’ve had to remind myself multiple times this week that nothing is greater than God, that his spirit is what lives inside me and that I can do anything through him. Keep fighting the good fight and spreading the Good News!

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Why I Don’t Believe in Coincidence

This world is a really big place but so often, things occur in such a synchronized fashion that it can make the world seem very small. Some people call this coincidence, luck, good timing or a variety of other things, but I believe it’s the workings and perfect timing of God. Today, I received another great example of this as well as a reminder of the beautiful way that God’s words and Jesus’ teachings can be approached from more than one angle to bring his children the same message of love.

As I’ve said before, I tend to listen to Rick Warren’s Daily Hope radio broadcast most evenings on my way home from work. Right now he’s preaching through a segment titled, 40 Days of Love. I’ll admit, some days I’m paying more attention than others. If you know anything about me, you know how difficult it can sometimes be for me to focus on one thing at a time because my mind is constantly firing off in all different directions and tangents as I ridiculously try to conquer all of life on my own. For some reason, this issue is especially exacerbated when I’m driving.

It was either Thursday or Friday of  last week and I was paying attention as Pastor Rick spoke about how we can’t truly love others until we understand how much God loves us, regardless of who we are or what we have done. He illustrated this point by referencing John 8:1-11, the story of the adulterous woman. I listened intently as Pastor Rick made connections between this story and God’s grace and how we are to accept people even if we don’t approve of their actions.

Fast forward to today when I’m getting ready to go spend time with the kiddos in kids ministry. We didn’t get to bed at a decent time last night, so I decided I would sleep in a little bit and listen to The MET 9:30 am service on-line. The current sermon series is titled, Free, and it highlights the ways in which the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross gave Christians freedom. Today’s particular sermon was focused around the difference between guilt and shame, and guess which story from the Bible was chosen to illustrate this topic? You got it, the adulterous woman. I was reminded that once we have been forgiven of our sin, then it’s over. We are to move on and become better people and not let the actions or decisions of our past cloud our present and destroy our future.

Two different sermons centered around two different angles of God’s love and yet they used the same story as an example. I took it as an indication that I need to slow down today and give this passage some time and truly absorb everything that Jesus is teaching through this isolated act of grace and love. Admittedly, love is something that I personally struggle with and I feel like the similarity in these two sermons is no coincidence. God is speaking to me through this story and telling me that I need to make love a priority. God is love and if we are to be like him, we need first need to be loving.

1 John 3-1

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Fridays Are the Best

Fridays are definitely the best day of the week, especially in the summer! For some reason, summer camps take way more energy than teaching during the regular school year. Not to mention, today is the first Friday after our first week back in session since our week-long break for the 4th of July. That makes today an extra special Friday because everyone knows the first week back to work after a vacation is a major struggle!

This week was full of all kinds of things that are helping me to celebrate Friday a little more than usual. The kids in the princess morning camp were extra energized…all week…on top of regular summer classes I started two competitive solo routines and finished one, the battery in my car completely died on Wednesday evening and it took more time and money than I care to think about right now (and it caused me to miss Bible study!) and then I overslept on Thursday, which was just the icing on the cake. I know it’s a bunch of little silly things, but they add up quick!

There was one awesome part of the week and that was on Thursday, when my mom and I went to meet my friend and colleague’s new baby girl! She was so sweet and it’s so exciting to see the start of a new little life and family. It’s funny how hectic life can be when you make it that way. Things are always going to be busy but I have to keep reminding myself to be in the moment when things are good and “easy” and also remember that each time things are difficult or frustrating  it is an opportunity to make good decisions and to react in a positive way. All of that aside, I’m still really happy it’s Friday!

On a different note, I have come across a new, potentially addicting (my favorite kind!), app for a company called Jane. I first came across this online boutique through Facebook, where they are listed as Very Jane. They have all kinds of items at great prices! I was scrolling through the app today during lunch and I came across this awesome Bible reading journal. It has 36 different cover options and will sustain you through an entire year of study. Earlier this week, I decided that I want to read through the New Testament and I think this will be a great tool for my goal! Now I just have to be able to pick only one cover…

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