Made in His image.

Made in His image.
Photos courtesy Jan Ethridge Photography

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grace Lutheran Performance

      Yesterday, a few of our dancers had the opportunity to bring some Christmas cheer to Grace Lutheran Church in Destin. Amidst beautifully decorated tables with festive centerpieces, the ladies of Grace Lutheran gathered for a Christmas tea to usher in this joyful season, spend some precious moments together, and give thanks to the Lord for His infant birth.
      Backstage, our younger dancers giggled with each other and twirled in sparkly costumes and asked if they could watch the other pieces before it was their turn. The older dancers helped each other get ready, and although some of them had come from pretty busy schedules, you could tell they were happy to be together doing something they loved.
      The hostess welcomed the guests, opened in prayer and then it was time to dance! Our Ballet Conservatory dancers did a fantastic job bringing excerpts from this year's Nutcracker! Russian, Spanish, and Chinese Variations, the Party Scene March, and was a special sneak peek for the Dec 20th and 21st performances at South Walton High School. The Calling presented a piece from our upcoming "I AM" May concert and the girls did a wonderful job!
      It's a busy time of year, and although the performance didn't last long, it was a special few moments of coming together and sharing our gifts with others and creating a few special memories. I pray that each of us is able to take some time this season and step back from the busy-ness of this month and say a special prayer of thanks to Him who allows us each day. A very special thank you to Mrs. Poppell for allowing The Calling to be a part of yesterday's performance and a special prayer of blessing to all those involved in Nutcracker! You all dance beautifully and are such a joy to watch!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hating Patience and Suffering for Praise

James 5:7-11 says, "Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers as an example of patience in suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of Lord. As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

Why do you think we hate patience so much? I don't think it takes us very long to come up with about a million reasons:) It seems everything about our living today is convenience-driven (and I'm not saying that's all bad:) Drive-through meals have been dinner-savers thousands of times for this busy family! I am all about minimizing stress and shortening my to-do list as quickly as possible. And in my real estate life, I can't imagine how much more difficult and time-consuming everything would be without my smartphone!

Pair convenience with our Social Media obsession (I'm right here too btw) and you get a need to have a life just as good as our other 1200 "friends" whose Facebook lives are clearly Martha Stewart-esque and Travel Magazine, red carpet amazing!

As Christ-followers we are called to be patient and wait on the Lord. Particularly in the area of suffering. Patience, like faith, is a muscle that needs extensive strength-training. It would be completely wonderful if the extent of the patience required from us was a few trials of the most minimal level (like 'Ugh, why hasn't that person gotten back in touch with me yet? Don't they know we're on a deadline!), but we all know that this life is filled with steep, up-hill, arduous battles that can sometimes leave us ready to quit, ready to walk away, done.

Kurt A. Richardson (NAC Commentary) writes, "Here is the sobering truth about the nature of trials in the life of righteous persons, that God allows them to be tested in order to prove their some ways, their endurance proves the Lord's boast in them."

Beth Moore goes on to make an excellent (and extremely encouraging) point on this!
         "God permits and sometimes even dictates difficulty for those in whom He boasts so that they will prove what He already knows is true.  He boasts in His faithful followers then lets them prove Him right. Our God is not capable of lying (Num 23:19) when He boasts on you in your endurance, know that it is based on TRUTH!" * ( You are faithfully leaning on Him and He loves you!)

Easier to read than live through though, right?

James mentions Job in the set of verses above, whose story would have been incredibly well-known to all of his Jewish counterparts he was speaking to. If you don't know the story, I really challenge you to read the book of Job, not just to check it off, but to really hone in on the details of his trials. (It has a way of making some of our complaints look like we're crying over broken nails and spilt milk, just sayin).
Before chapter 2 even begins, Job, described as blameless and upright in God's sight, has seen his livestock and cattle stolen (let's liken that to losing your job), his servants slain, his sheep and still more servants set on fire, and ALL of his sons and daughters killed!

In the next test, as he is over come with sores on the soles of his feet and the top of his head, and as his wife is trying to get him to turn against God and curse His name, he says something that so goes against our nature, I had to stop and re-read it to make sure I saw it correctly.

Job's Wife: "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Since nothing but death is left for Job, she is tempting Job to provoke God into administering the final stroke due to all who curse Him.)

But Job says, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?"

And there's where I got caught. We accept the good things from God in stride, but when something difficult (to say the least) comes our way, we are quick to say, "Hold up! There's been a mistake." (Perhaps in our hearts we're saying 'I deserve better'.) How many times, in suffering, have I cried out to God, "No Lord! You have really messed up! This is NOT acceptable!"

 Life is so hard sometimes. Oh so hard sometimes. I know that sometimes no words are the 'right' words and that no amount of screaming will subdue the pain. Patience is the last thing we want to be called to practicing. To borrow from that scene in Forest Gump where he and Jenny are outside her father's abandoned house ......"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

But we have a hope that anchors our soul.

Isaiah 61:7 says, "Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs!"

In Job 42:12, "The Lord blessed the later part of Job's life more than the first."

God is awesome in the reversals of fate.  While it's hard to be patient and wait, He sees the beginning from the end. He knows how it all turns out. May that be fresh to your ears this time around, if they've grown accustomed to hearing that in the past. He Knows! God gives hope to the broken and is the expert in restoration. Be patient dear, sweet friends, and encourage one another in faith and in prayer.

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I will see Him with my own eyes! How my heart yearns within me!"  Job 19:25-27

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"I AM" Concert

Mattie Kelly Arts Center
May 14th, 2015

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thirty-One Gifts Fundraiser! Nov. 1st-Nov. 21st

1) Go to:

2) On homepage, click on 'My Scheduled Parties'

3) Find event 'The Calling Christian Dance Ministry - Fundraiser' and click on 'Shop Now'

4) Place your order!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Elijah and Ice Cream

This past Sunday, I had the great privilege of having about 18 sweet girls come over for a Bible study between our Senior and Junior Companies.  Shelley and Jess brought over pounds of different flavored ice cream, to which we all devoured with sprinkled cookies, delicious cupcakes, and tiny brownies! The Word of God is meant to be flavorful and sweet on our lips....we were getting in the zone:)

Our lesson, once we all settled down and a few cups of hot chocolate had been made, was on the story of Elijah.

What a story of trust in our awesome God! To brush up on this incredible story that comes to us out of 2 Kings, we have  Elijah, a prophet of God, facing off against 450 'prophets' of Baal (and another 400 prophets of Asherah). They have all been called together to Mount Carmel to settle this once and for all.....who is the one true God? Two bulls are prepared on two different alters and the god that is able to bring fire down to ignite the alter.....he is the real god worthy of worship.

So the 450 prophets of Baal get things started. (Can we just stop and appreciate that number for a second? What that crowd must have looked like to Elijah?) They start praying to Baal, shouting (no answer), dancing around the alter (still no answer), and even cutting themselves! "Maybe he's sleeping," Elijah says, "You've got to wake him up!" Midday passes and still there's no response.

Then it's Elijah's turn. He takes twelve stones (one for each tribe of Jacob) and built an alter. Then he takes four large jars and fills them with water and pours them on the alter and the offering three times. Finally he prays.
         "O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all of these things at your command. Answer me Lord, that these people will know you are God and that you are turning their hearts back again."

And then; the very next of God fell and burned up the sacrifice! (The very same sacrifice that had seconds before been dripping with water!) It doesn't say that Elijah had to wait, his prayers were instantly answered and the result was 450 men falling to their knees in worship, finally recognizing God for the true God He was (is).

I can't imagine how that must have felt! To feel the heat of those flames that had just come down from heaven, knowing that his faith in The Lord had not been in vain, and to see the looks on those people's faces as they recognized the Lord for the first time as the One and Only God. I like to think that even though Elijah was wholly devoted to proving that God was in fact the only God worthy of worship, that he delighted and rejoiced for these people that came to finally know Him too!  I hope that in all of our hearts, when we see someone come to truly recognize God (and the grace given to us by Jesus too now), that we can rejoice for the freedom that a friend, a relative, a stranger has now found!

Elijah didn't have to wait in these circumstances because it pleased God to make His presence known immediately. But lets not forget that many times we must wait on the Lord. I think that the Bible uses that phrase at least nine times. Psalm 31 says "all you who wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage." It's a chapter full of recognition that the Lord is the One who is our protective fortress and our rock. It says that He is "intimately acquainted with (our) deep distress" but He didn't hand us over to our enemy. He is a God that is invested and not surprised, by what we're going through. I pray that we, as Christ-followers, would take up faith like Elijah and pray boldly, bringing our requests before the Lord with humble hearts. To pray continually, rejoice always, and give thanks in every situation is God's will for us. For a suborn, head-strong woman like myself it can seem like a passive thing to sit and wait for the Lord. But God loves each of us and knows us by name. And when His time is right, He provides in ways that are beyond our wildest dreams. He makes His presence known.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


When I was in elementary school I tried ice-skating for a bit. I remember after one of my competitions coming back to school and telling all of my friends and teachers that I'd won 3rd place!! What I conveniently left out of my story was that there were, in fact, only two other people that competed with me in that category. It was a minor detail that I didn't really feel needed to be shared:)

As a dancer and choreographer, there is a certain amount of pride that comes in seeing a work come together. To see the dancers flawlessly execute the moves they've been practicing for weeks, to see beautiful costumes that were stitched by hand shimmer in the stage lighting and swirl over legs moving in unison, and (in especially blessed moments) to watch an audience lean slightly more forward in their seat as they connect with what's going on in the piece.....and then erupt in loud, thunderous applause as the final note fades!..........Okay, I let myself get carried away for a minute:)

In our careers, we take pride in the projects that took months of planning and finally came together, the deals that closed, the awards presented, the new discoveries made, the endeavors fully-funded. As parents, we have pride in our children and all of their accomplishments as they learn and grow into their own independent persons. (I remember the pride of being able to tell the daycare teachers, "Yes, our child IS in fact potty trained!" ....Hallelujah!). 

Pride doesn't always have to be wrong. It can be an attractive virtue when it continues to throw the praise upwards. As our pastor reminded us last Sunday, God desires that we have a healthy self-esteem. We are the apex of God's creation! I have value because my Creator loves me! Jesus calls us, as believers, His sisters and brothers! After all, if we fall into the snare of thinking we're nothing, we can live and act like we're nothing.(Take a look at the root of most addictions).

So what then, does it look like when pride becomes a sin?

In Proverbs 16:18 it says, "Pride comes before disaster and arrogance before a fall." That wisp of arrogance was the first sin in the garden. When Eve was made to believe by the serpent that eating that fruit wouldn't really bring the death the Lord warned was really that God just didn't want her to become His equal. (Wrong!)

You see God, in His infinite wisdom and deep love for us had tried to protect His two children from pain and from death with a simple command. But in that moment that Eve held the fruit to her lips, whether she was thinking it or not, her actions were saying, "I know better."

And there it is. The wrong kind of pride is self-serving. It's a haughtiness, a self-esteem that is NOT in order. It is deadly to ourselves and ultimately self-destructive whether we experience that end result in this lifetime or the next.

The world doesn't understand the problem. Go ahead and build yourself up (even if it means a few white lies, everyone does it). Seek money first and the rest of happiness will follow. Worldly whims are the ruler of the day.

But the system is broken. Because God says to seek HIM first (Matthew 6:33). Jesus tells us to store up our treasures in heaven where moth and thief can't reach (Matthew 6:20). The worst kind of pride replaces the Creator with the created. It acknowledges our need for redemption zero times a day. The bad kind of pride causes impatience within ourselves against others. It annihilates relationships and if left unchecked can be a seed for idolatry, deception, and all kinds of arrogance. The irony of pride is that it leads us to envy. In our self-serving ways, we start to covet what others have instead of rejoicing for them and having thankful hearts.

James reminds us to submit ourselves to God (chapter 4). Philippians chapter 2 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." (NIV)
Pride prevents us from confessing our sins because we don't see the need. It prevents us from saying we were wrong. It prevents us from saying there is One who knows better; who deserves to be Lord over EVERY aspect of our lives; who deserves ALL the glory, and in whom we can boast.
As Beth Moore will tell you, and I'm paraphrasing, 'I'd rather fall on my knees myself in humility, than be pushed there as a result of my pride."
Lord, let all that we do and accomplish through our ministry point the glory directly back to you. Lord give us humble and thankful hearts and let each of us think more highly of others than ourselves. Help us to love each other as You taught us how to love.
To watch the entire sermon on pride click the link below from Niceville UMC's website.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Draw close to God

Another sweet practice with the members of our Bluewater Junior Company tonight! In keeping with our study of the book of James, we read out of chapter 4, verses 7 and 8. 
  "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
I am always amazed at these young ladies' perspectives on spiritual matters and the way they so easily and readily share examples when we study God's word together. We talked about how daily, we have opportunities to draw close to the Lord, whether it's a situation that requires us to make a choice, whether it's the way we spend our time, or whether it's how we react to those around us. We can choose to respond the way Satan would like us too.....or we can choose to take shelter in the One that knows us best, loves us, and wants a better life for us than this world promises.
If we draw close to the Lord, He promises to draw close to us. Oh yes, we are saved by grace, so even when we make a bad decision we can confess and ask forgiveness, but we can also have a friendship with our Creator! How fascinating to me that God would desire my presence with Him, just spending time together. And when it says, 'the devil will flee''s not because he's intimidated by the likes of sir. It's because we have chosen to seek shelter under the Lord's protective wings. As my seven year old daughter shared with our family earlier this week, "He will cover us with His feathers."  

Monday, October 6, 2014

"I AM" Promotional Photo Shoot

Yesterday, The Calling had the great privilege to work with Jan Ethridge on another great shoot! It is so much fun to work with someone that has such creative vision and an eye for capturing the movement of dance!

Jan's photography has been a huge blessing to our ministry in representing the story lines and emotions we have sought to convey to our audience and patrons as we get ready for productions. She is incredibly talented and we can't wait to see the finished images!

It takes a lot of prep work beforehand with shot mock ups, lighting preps, costuming, wonderful parents that volunteer their time to help, and the tenacious energy of the dancers to keep jumping or bending until everything comes together in just the right way.

Below is a behind the scenes look at the shoot. Stay tuned for the final images!! Thank you to Bayou Oaks for allowing us to use your beautiful property for location! Thank you parents and dancers! And thank you Jan!

                      See more of Jan's great work at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What kind of Wisdom do you have?

For several weeks, I have been knee-deep in the book of James. For such a short book of the Bible it has some pretty heavy truths! Todays verses were from chapter 3, verses 13-18:

            "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from Heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness!"

Whew! That was a lot to chew on the first time I read it through. It is basically dividing wisdom into two types: wisdom that comes directly from heaven (and by extension prayer, studying God's word, the counsel of others grounded in scripture) and the kind of wisdom that is self-serving or as James puts it....of the devil. (Wow! He doesn't hold back does he?)

Did anyone catch towards the beginning what should flow freely from true wisdom? Humility. Is that the first word that would come to mind when we think of what the world tells us wisdom looks like?

Looking up the word 'humble' in the dictionary, it says, "Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful." Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking someone is wise just because they talk a lot........anyone else? Or I'll look at someone in our culture or on television and assume they're wise because of how they're dressed, what their title is, or even how old they are (just being honest:).

It's not a crime to be smart or to be an expert in a field, God has certainly blessed many with keen sensitivity and gifts in very specific areas, and some of us have trained in an area for years and gained a lifetime of experience that might well make us an expert. But y'all....if we as the Body of Christ are to count ourselves wise in the wisdom that is from heaven, look at the fruits that must naturally accompany such wisdom.  I'm thinking about the wisdom in our relationships and our friendships, the wisdom in our counsel to the cost of our being 'right' sometimes the sacrifice of another's feelings? As Christians, do we sometimes disguise our selfish ambitions as a gift of discernment? (Yikes! So guilty there.)

James says (inspired by the Holy Spirit) that enough is enough! If you have selfish ambition in your heart zip your lips and quit boasting!

When I think of a handful of people in my life that I would call filled with true wisdom, it is no coincidence that these people's reputation for gentleness and meekness precedes them. They are the kind of people that I believe follow what James says earlier about being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I have no doubt that people who are truly wise and filled with understanding have very deep prayer lives, crave time with the Lord in His book and daily die to themselves so that the Lord might be glorified through them. They are by no means perfect, but they do understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

This reflection and study today was convicting to me as I can recall moments where my tongue has been too quick and unharnessed....and as a result has brought about the pain of regret afterwards.  I want to desperately to be wise for my children so that I can be an  instrument of God's instruction to them as they get older and I of course want wisdom to discern the lessons God puts before me daily. I pray that for every splinter of selfish ambition the Lord removes from my heart He will replace it with wisdom from His throne that seeks His kingdom first and that offers up a fountain of purity and meekness. It's an ongoing prayer:)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Creation Rehearsal

We had a lot of fun this past Saturday at our first Creation rehearsal! You can see our progress above.....and yes, I forgot to turn off messaging on my phone so we had a slight interruption:)
Save the date for May 14th, 2015 when you can see this piece performed at Mattie Kelly!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beth Moore Simulcast 2014

       What a blessed, blessed day! I have been looking forward to this day for weeks! Finally!
The Beth Moore simulcast!
       As my dear friend and I pulled up this morning to the church, coffee and Bibles in hand, watching all the women pour into the building, you could feel the anticipation.....we were excited, because we were here to get a word from the Lord!
       Now if you have ever studied the Word of God alongside Beth in one of her studies, or listened to her speak, you know this blessed woman is anointed and has a sweet, sweet passion for women:) It is with this deep passion that she speaks from the heart, directed by the Holy Spirit, offering great lessons that usually include very honest and even hilarious stories from her own life. And let me tell you something...there were times today she had us laughing so hard, the tears just rolling over our cheeks, I'm sure ladies heard my snorts a few rows back:)
       There is something so completely awesome about studying God's Word together as a large gathering of women. We were just made to be around each other! We were made to love on each other and lift each other up. We were made to share in each other's joy and be the shoulder for someone else to lean on. We get joy in being able to celebrate with one another and ya'll it's scriptural!! Our joy is made complete when we are SHARING our faith and our joys with one another!
        Beth walked us through many points today of being a female well. That is to say, walking in womanhood greatly (and it has nothing to do with make-up, attire, profession, or marital status!). She reminded us that in scripture, each time a woman encounters Jesus they are changed! Healed, transformed, forgiven, loved, restored, you name it. There is not one kind or type of woman He rejects. Not one. There is not one set of circumstances that He will refuse to walk through right there next to you and not one sin for which He will withhold His saving grace. Widows, sisters, poor, rich, old, young, single, married, cohabitating, divorced, disabled, depressed, lonely, damaged.......whatever the story, the woman is loved!
       We had some good reminders of what it means to be Christ-like in our friendships. She told us that in a survey she conducted earlier in the week, she had asked, "What are some things that have caused hurt among our Christian friendships with other women?" And don't you know the answers resonated:  Comparison, competition....jealousy. How often are we so callous to one another out of the need to make ourselves feel better about ourselves? How often do we toot our own horn to one-up our girlfriend? I mean if insecurity had a smell, Lord help me get the reek out of my own self and wash me in Your grace!
       It's important to remember who we are in Christ, but also to remember who we are not. She gave us these beautiful words on the screen to write down, to memorize, to remember and to etch on our hearts:

"I am a woman of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ,
loved, pursued, and chosen, equipped with words of life,
clothed in strength and dignity, commissioned here and now
gifted by the Spirit, forgiven and unbound!"
       Loved, pursued, and chosen.......if we allow Him, Jesus can rescue us from loneliness and bless us in a relationship like no other on this earth. Whether you realize it or not, He is pursuing you! Yes, you, the one reading this! Let His love wash over you and you will know a freedom like you have only imagined! Forgiven and chains of sin can bind up what Christ himself has set free.  And yes, we are commissioned. We have been called to a purpose. Not later at some point somewhere in the future when all the circumstances are right, but now, in this moment, He has a plan for you. Oh how I pray that I would always be ready not just to receive His word, but to respond to it!
       I know that for some, these words don't yet mean anything. It's so easy to dismiss them if you aren't currently walking with the Lord. There's too many of us conditioned by this world to miss the eternal perspective. Beth said something today that I so desperately want my children to understand: You can "know" all the right things.....perhaps even to the point of being saved, but honey, if you don't have a personal, real, relationship with God in His Word, if you aren't daily walking with will miss your destiny!  Your destiny!
      It's so easy. If you ask Him to, Jesus can and will rescue you from sin to an eternal life spent with Him. If you have perhaps been searching for something missing.....maybe not even realizing what it was...just knowing that something about your life wasn't quite complete.....I pray that you would ask Him into your life today.
      You don't have to do anything more than invite Him in and He will transform you into the person, the child of God, you were always intended to be! He loves you right where you are in this much so that rather than loose you, He chose death on a cross, willfully taking on the punishment that was rightfully ours, so that by believing in Him, you would live with Him forever!
       So what does a woman of God look like? There is a beautiful poem you can read from the Living Proof Ministries blog here. (And I hope you'll scroll down too on that page and read her closing commission in bold!) And to my sisters that were there today too, I would love to hear what else was said that resonated with your hearts today! How awesome it is to walk with the Lord!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rehearsal Clips - 2013

      So I'm sitting here with what may or may not be my third cup of hot tea for the day, making my lists for the week, diligently putting off the laundry that needs to be folded and writing down goals and deadlines for the year ahead with The Calling. We have once again been blessed with talented dancers with passionate hearts for Jesus and I can't wait to see how the Lord continues to allow us to spread His gospel through the art of dancing!
      It's easy for me to fall into the trap of getting overwhelmed with the mountain of details it feels like lie ahead of us when we embark on a new production. So rather than getting lured away from the ministry's focus, I thought I'd spend some time in the Word. I've been studying the book of James and verses 22-25 go like this:
      "But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For anyone who is a hearer of the word only and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror, goes away, and immediately forgets what it was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of freedom, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in all he does!"
       And as I'm meditating on what that implies, I'm thinking, "Yes Lord, exactly!" Allow us in all we do not just within the ministry, but in our individual lives to be doers of the Word not just listeners. Let us train our eyes on You first and all these things shall follow. Let us trust in You Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding because You promise to direct our paths. Let us encourage each other and be quick to listen and slow to speak, bridling our tongues. And let us always be worshipping You and coming to You in prayer.
     In our small group time earlier this week the question was raised, "What often keeps you from hearing Gods voice?" My answer came voice:) When I really stop my worrying I can almost hear an audible voice saying, "Sweetheart, I got this."
     Yes He does:) I really can't wait to experience what lies ahead, but as I drag myself up from this table and take one last caffeinated sip, I'll close this post with some clips from last season's rehearsals.   
     Dancers, you amaze us with your sweet spirits and your talent! You are EACH beautiful and as I put this video together, know that you each passed over my mind in a sisterly love:) What an awesome journey the Lord has allowed us to take together!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Designed to be Together

School is back in swing and in another week we'll see our girls again in rehearsals! Oh how we have missed them:) Seasons of rest are always a blessing, but we love our girls so and keep them in prayer faithfully as they get ready for a new season of dance! And how blessed we are to have each pray for each other and encourage one another. To lift each other up, to celebrate with one another in good times, to offer authentic compassion for each other during trials, and also just to laugh together! And we share the common thread of a talent that we believe was given to us directly from the throne of heaven above...our dancing!

Our pastor spoke today on how important it is to be plugged in to the body of Christ and in community with one another. Is it enough to go to church each week and never invest in more personal relationships with one another? Do we go to church and then leave without speaking to anyone else? Surely we weren't meant to walk through this life alone. You see SO much happens when we spend time together in fellowship, be it small groups, Bible studies, Sunday schools classes, ministries, or just genuine friendships founded in the love of Christ.

 The apostles demonstrate great examples of this in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:42 it says, "And they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer." The first century Christians mentioned here experienced tremendous persecution. They were under an oppressive government and even their property was plundered for what they believed in. But don't we, living all these years later still go through incredible trials and suffering? Life happens whether we want it to our not and it happens to all of us. But we aren't meant to go through it alone.

The apostles studied God's Word together. Recently, my husband and I were going through a study on Nehemiah together and after we had completed our section for that day he said, "I could just spend all day doing this!"  God's Word is very much alive and when we study it together we are blessed with insights and a source of living strength and wisdom that we so desperately need in this lifetime. Praise God! I could never experience too much of God's word in my heart!

The apostles broke bread together and they prayed together. Our pastor recently returned from a trip to Africa and he gave a very striking image for us to digest. He read a description of a certain type of African buffalo and how that animal bands together as a herd to defend its members from attacks by predators, usually lions. He described how there were documented cases of these buffalos not only defending themselves against lion attacks, but chasing their predators up trees and trapping them there for hours! Not exactly the typical buffalo-lion scenario I would normally picture. He even told us that entire herds will respond to the distressed cry of  even one of its members being attacked by a lion, and that on more than one occasion a herd has rescued a calf from the very jaws of a predator!

As Christians we might think of it something like this:

"The Body of Christ is very protective of its members. When threatened by a predator, the Body of Christ will respond to the cry of one of its members in danger and has been known to chase down the predator trapping him for hours. When a Christian is in the throes of an attack, the Body of Christ will chase down the source of destruction and rescue their own from certain death. The Body of Christ is known for protecting their own and for standing together against the threats of predators."

 Please tell me that speaks to someone else like it does to me! I know I can testify that in my own life, there have been MANY times where the faithful prayers of close friends in Christ have literally rescued me from the depths of despair and given me the strength to press on in faith or the grace to forgive or any other number of blessings.

And that is my prayer for our dance ministry and whoever else might read these words. We were meant to be in community with one another! My heart overflows in joy when I hear our girls praying for each other! I love the moments we have together reading God's Word and just sitting at His feet. I relish the thought that our enemy hears our prayers for our girls and we can gladly boast that the One who lives in our hearts is greater than he who lives in the world!

 We all need trusted believers in our life to support us, to pray for us, to provide support when we need it, to share wisdom, and sometimes to lovingly
correct us. I pray that we can resist the temptation to withdraw from others when we are struggling and cling to those special life-giving friendships that the Lord provides us with for encouragement, wisdom, and strength. And if you don't currently have a group or a precious few friends you would trust with the deepest most honest prayers of your heart then pray.....ask the Lord to guide you to people that are worthy of that kind of trust and He will most certainly lead you to them.

And to all our girls, we love you, you are precious to us, and we can't wait to see you soon!