Made in His image.

Made in His image.
Photos courtesy Jan Ethridge Photography

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:)