Tuesday, May 24, 2016

peace.



There is a scripture that is often used for a lot of card signing and big event celebrations to encourage church-goers. It is found in Proverbs 3:4-5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

These are two amazing scripture verses to live by! However, I think for a lot of years I read "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will then make your paths straight." Notice which portion I tended to leave out? "... and lean not on your own understanding."

Not until I began practicing meditating on God's Word did I begin to notice I had always said it, but never listened or heard it when I did. How much different does the day or future look when we aren't trying to figure everything out? When we are just focusing on one moment and day at a time, it can be freeing and live changing; and also seem scary. When we begin to realize we really do not have control of the world., but we do have control of our moods and our attitudes, blaming others doesn't work anymore. And we really have to learn what it means to trust. The good part is, God created the sunrise and the sunset, He knew His plans for you before you ever learned to move into a Down Dog, and He knows what is coming. He can handle our future, and it really will be alright if we let go of trying to figure everything out.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Being a Mom.


I've been a mom for almost seven-teen years now. A few things I've learned about myself along this part of my journey.
-I first learned I wasn't very patient, I have practiced patience, prayed for patience, gained some patience —and can still lose patience when television and electronics are essentials and cleaning up after one self is not.
-Being Mom is risky. As a wife, I first shared my heart with my husband, and then each child. The longer I live, the more imperfect I realize I am... and my husband and kids are just as human as I am. I've learned that my perspective, and often change in perspective, can go a long way in parenting (and being a wife)—and where I find my joy.
 - At times, my heart tend to think more about itself then those around me. It is hard to give up the notion that I am wrong sometimes; or even if I never feel I was wrong—just might not get what I wanted.
-Being a Mom is rewarding and fun! Daily I am reminded on how amazing it is to see your kids grow up into people. Their talents, their personalities, there style and physical traits - so cool!
-Being a Mom (when you have a child between the ages of 9-13) often means some sort of breakfast in bed. It is really a bonus if one of your children enjoys being in the kitchen. ;)
-Being Mom is a gift. The opportunity to help raise the next generation, to impact the future for the better. Each stage you pass through with your children is an opportunity to know them and yourself better. And mostly, helps you see what you value the most. What you spend the most time teaching them and living out before them-that is what you treasure the most. "Where your treasure, there your heart is also." I love my family, yoga, running, gardening, great coffee, and a whole lot of other things, but of all the things I want to share most with my kids - it is that my faith in God makes me who I am, more then anything else. My faith can be weak or strong; I may be struggling or joyful; but God is always the same. No matter how I feel or what I think—if I remain fixed on His truth, He is who allows me to stand when the winds are pressing in and and my knees are weak and I feel uncertain. He is who I want my kids to long after, more then any other.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Freedoms and blackberries.


During Yoga Works Teacher Training (YWTT) we spent many hours reading and discussing the yoga Sutras. Many of them have similaries to scripture from the Bible, many do not. Some I think of as mindful words to help me grow in my journey with Christ, some I have just chosen to ponder, pray about, and work out what Patanjali was searching for. 

God's Words are never to be added to or subtracted from. However, His Words are able to guide us in the truth when we are in need of discernment. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper then any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

Never be afraid to think. God have us our minds for a reason - our mind is to use!  I think for so long, the typical christian has left the hard questions to clergy, and instead of truly seeking God for wisdom when hard topics and questions arise, they just turn to their leadership. It reminds me of the Israelite's and their relationship with Moses and God. God was right there, at their camp, and aside from Moses, Joshua, was the only human that was willing to go near His tent of meeting. They didn't want to trouble themselves with the matters of God. Follow His rules, but not let Him change their hearts seemed to be their motto. With that in mind...

Sutra 2.18 is one of those 'ponder and pray about' Sutras. 
2.18. The seen is of the nature of the gunas: illumination, activity, and inertia. It consists of the elements and sense organs, whose purpose is to provide both experiences and liberation to the Purusha. 

If you are new to the Sutras, some definitions for you:
  • the seen: Nature or Prakriti (active consciousness, fundamental category of nature)
  • gunas: one of the three qualities of nature that provide experience to liberate the Purusha
  • Purusha: the divine self which is placed in all beings...
This sutra is attempting to answer the question of "why are we here?" The answer being, that everything thing that happens holds a purpose to teach and correct our thinking, in order for the Purusha (our consciousness) to find its divine and true self. 

I have two shorts stories. The first is from Inside the Yoga Sutras, written by Reverend Jaganath Carrera. 
"Nature teaches us by exposing its limitations. In this sense, Nature is like a playpen which limits the movement of the child while he plays with his toys. Sooner or later the child tires of the toys and the restriction of the playpen. He turns to the only one who can help—the one who put him there in the first place—his mama. He cries out loud, and the mama drops whatever she is doing and rushes to the side of her baby. 
Likewise, the transitory nature of worldly pleasures becomes tiresome sooner or later. Another way we can learn form Nature is that God* cannot help but leave "fingerprints" all over creation. Every aspect of Nature reveals a bit of the Creator's presence to a mind with a receptive contemplative disposition. From observation of Nature we an find examples of qualities such as strength, patience, caring, selflessness, order, and perseverance that eloquently speak to the existence of a Divine Intelligence. 
All of Nature is at our service; ready, wiling and able to teach us the way to liberation." (p. 123)

The second story is one of my own. 
Last summer, I needed help in the garden and with my blackberry vines. There were many weeds that needed to be pulled, and dead vines needed to be removed, and I had the help of my son (who was 14 at the time). The earth was hard, so I knew the vines would be the easier of the two jobs, so I taught him how to find and trim the dead vines and weeds away from the healthy vines. After making sure he had learned the difference, I then I left him to work. And I headed to the garden to dig up the weeds. After a while he came to me, and had accidentally cut some of the healthy vine. By time he was finished, over half of our berries had been cut away and were lying on the ground, never to make it to our table to enjoy. He felt terrible about cutting the healthy vines, and so did I. We had a mom-son discussion about paying attention, working slowly to make sure you only remove the dead; and I practiced patience and headed back to the garden full of weeds. 

All summer I would think about the lost berries, and how we obviously needed to learn more about living with patience. Until I read the lines about the child in the playpen...



I should have given him the garden to tend to. I intentionally gave him the easier of the two jobs. It did not need to be a lesson about patience. It had the potential to be a practice in perseverance for him, and a crop full of berries for our family. But, I was like the mama who grabbed the crying baby out of the playpen. 

God—the one and only omniscient God—created us, loves us and has a plan for each of us. He also gives us all the choice to follow Him, or not. To make wise and hard choices, or take short cuts and the easy way out. God loves us so much that there are times, He will wait for us to quit crying, and seek Him, out of desire, rather then out of our selfishness. Maybe people think that He must be too busy helping someone else, or He doesn't think we deserve to be helped... that is not the truth. From before time, as we understand it, began. He already had His plan in place. When He sent Jesus to earth, to live as an example of how we should live in this world, and to take our sins and die for them—that was part of His plan. He already took care of our deepest need-to be united with Him. 

Lessons learned:

Lesson 1: Sometimes, we can read, study and live from only our own perspective. When we do this, we can miss out on what God desires us to learn. Our perspective if human sized, not God sized. We must be seeking out His truth with the desire to know Him, not from the need of personal justification and/or encouragement.

Lesson 2: In Romans 1:20 (ESV)"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Creation was created by God, to point humans to Him. The second half of the story over Sutra 2.18 is partially correct in teaching that nature is here to help teach us about God and ourselves. However, the truth to keep in mind is that God has placed eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The divine self that Patanjali teaches is that we will find our self-realization: god within ourselves. If we accept Christ into our lives, then we have the Holy Spirit living within us, but that does not make us God. Becoming a follower of Christ gives us freedom to live a new life, with freedom and adoption into His family, but does not make us gods.

Life application: To learn, I often need to just get out of the way and pay attention to what is going on around me. God has me (and you) here for a specific and beautiful purpose. When I am caught up in living life my way—even if it includes Bible study and time praying—if I am only living from my vantage point—then I may be missing what freedom in Christ really looks like. (Galatians 5)



 *The Sutras were written in Sanskrit, it is likely that the writer's beliefs were similar to Hinduism and believed that the universe is identical to divinity (the Creator is the mind or soul of the universe). Not the same as the God's Word. The Bible teaches that God is omnipresent. God's presence is everywhere—He created the universe—He isn't the universe.

The original sharing of this story was during our closing ceremony at YWTT in NYC - January of this year. Photos taken from previous summers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Let's talk a little Sanskrit, science and faith.

First, something you need to know about me. Actually, two things. I believe in creation science, the more I learn (and the longer I live); and grow fruit and vegetables; raise(d) chickens; and experience nature at work; the more I do not believe evolution could be more then an idea. Maybe we will move on to that topic on another day ... But for now, the first thing you need to know about me is that I believe that God created the earth, plants, animals, fish, birds and people - in six days. Second, I am a yoga teacher, who has had several college science and health courses, but I am not an expert in the medical field. I do believe that we are not to live blindly. So, if I am going to teach asana (the postures of yoga), then I need to be able to discern and educate others in regards to what ideas align with my faith in Christ, and what does not. Hence, this very long post.

Alright. Now if you are still with me, let's move on. Sanskrit is an ancient Indic language that is the language of Hinduism and the Vedas and is the classical literary language of India. It is also the language often used to describe different postures when you visit a yoga class.

For today, I'm going to narrow the topic down to the chakras, and what you really need to know about these  popular wheels of energy. If you are believer in Christ, who practices yoga under teachers who do not share a faith in Christ, it doesn't mean you need to stay away from their classes, it just means you need wisdom and discernment in what philosophy they might be teaching.

When translated, chakras refer to a wheel or a disk, and signifies a spinning energy center within our body. Depending upon your source, some believe that the human body has over twenty chakras, and some as few as three. Most of the time, if you have heard talk of the chakras, the number mentioned was probably seven.These seven run along the vertical line within the torso of the body (think around the spinal cord-ish).

The seven are as follows:
Muladhara (root wheel of energy)
svadhisthana (sacral wheel of energy)
manipura (naval wheel of energy)
anahata (heart wheel of energy)
vishudda (throat wheel of energy)
ajna (brow wheel of energy)
sahasrara (crown wheel of energy)

If you notice, each Sanskrit word, when translated, tells you the location of that particular chakra. What is even better then that a little bit of knowledge is that each of these seven charkas are at locations of the powerful glands that comprise our endocrine system.

Now for a bit of science. The endocrine system is a network of glands which both produce and secrete hormones directly into our bloodstream. In other words, these tiny glands work together and with the nervous system to help keep balance within our bodies. Remember homeostasis? Our bodies are constantly striving for stability and balance within itself. If you ever have heard the story of creation, you may remember that when God created the world, and humans, they were perfect. Designed not to die. The original bodies were perfect - then entered sin into the world, and death became something that would be a part of life, since then our bodies have been striving to find perfect again. So, if even one, tiny gland produces too much or too little of a hormone, then the body can move into a state of disruption, impairing function of the body systems. (Think hyper or hypothyroid issues, diabetes, fight or flight: all are related back to your hormones.)

Chakras are not the glands of the endocrine system, rather they are balls of conscious energy that interact with our endocrine and nervous system. They are not described as physical, instead they are thought to be part of our consciousness.

Chakras are energy. Genesis 2:7 (ESV) states "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." God's breath brought man to life. We are full of energy. God created us that way. Remember, He created us perfectly, in the beginning there was no sin. There is nothing wrong with energy. There is also nothing wrong with understanding our endocrine system. God's work is amazing. Spend a few minutes learning the importance of how our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system help our bodies work for our good, or at times,against us—and God will only get more incredible.

What is wrong, is when that study of energy becomes greater then our desire to know God. So, as far as the Chakras go: these balls of energy were brought into the limelight in India, within Hinduism. Hinduism is not yoga. However, parts of the yogic community share similar beliefs with Hinduism and believe that the universe is identical to divinity (the Creator is the mind or soul of the universe).

The Bible teaches that God is omnipresent. God's presence is everywhere—He created the universe—He isn't the universe. God is greater then the wheels of energy that affect my endocrine and nervous system. He created them. He is God. He is who we are to desire to know, more then if our root chakra is more open then our throat chakra. So, if mudras (special hand positions) are taught in class, or Sanskrit sounds are introduced. Before you take part-find out what they represent.

For example: Om (or Aum) is a Sankrit sound/symbol often used at the beginning or end of a class. Om represents both the manifest and unmanifest aspects of God within the Hindu faith. I have yet to see God call Himself by Om in the Bible. Therefore, I do not say Om when it has been taught, I say a prayer, or another name I know God uses to describe Himself.

If we have accepted Christ; and follow God the Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit; and if we give His Holy Spirit room to move and grow within our being - we do not need to walk in fear that other beliefs are bigger then our God. Solomon says in Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) -"that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." If you desire more health, wisdom and boldness—as a believer in Christ—that doesn't come from the study of the chakras, that comes from knowing God, and putting on His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

From blossom to nourishment.


In nature, there is always something beautiful before the fruit becomes evident and useful. Usually there is a blossom of some kind. Strawberries have tiny white flowers with yellow centers, blackberries are similar; peaches have the most lovely pink blossoms.

However, just because the tree/vines begin to  flower doesn't mean that the fruit is going to make it from farm to table. There is still a lot of work and enduring that has to happen before the fruit is ready to be shared. The winter season may have been mild, but that does not mean that spring will do the same. One night with a hard freeze has the potential to end the growing season. Each year, this particular tree has hundreds of blossoms-but we have yet to have a good crop from this tree. The tree also seems to bud out early, and lacks the hardiness to make it through the cold days that still loom ahead.

When I look back over my own life, just like our peach tree, I feel that I have struggled through the hard seasons. In my 20's and 30's, my faith and belief in the power of God was strong—but when my circumstances held twists that I did not anticipate, nor did I understand—I lacked the strength to bear only small amounts of fruit. And then there were some brutal seasons-seasons where I didn't know if I would be able to stand, let alone have anything to offer... Until one spring, I looked up. I determined to choose my faith and belief in Christ, over the circumstances. This choice didn't cause the season to change, but it gave God room to begin to change me.

It hurt, and it was rough, but there was a new freedom that started to rise up in me. One that I thought had been lost forever. Each day, as I woke up, and intentionally looked beyond my circumstances, by the grace of God, I started to come back to life.

Life is a crazy thing. "To live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21 (NIV) I think our human hearts naturally see the word "die" and begin to question what that is going to cost. What we can't see is the process God wants to take us through so that we are brave and strong enough to endure the seasons. We can not "get" what it is to be "grafted in"(John 15) until we experience the joy of being firmly united to Christ.

We are always going to live with circumstances. The externals of life will sometimes be good and/or hard. The good can become as much of a distraction as the difficult—sometimes even more so. Where is our attention? Where is my attention? This is why it is so important to die to self. When we decide that our external circumstances - all of them - aren't what we value, we are free to live beyond the natural human experience. We get to experience life through the power of Christ. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Life no longer is just about me and my immediate people. My life—our lives—begins to bear fruit, fruit that moves from our small plot of influence, to tables of families and individuals all over the world.

Blooms are nice and all, but nothing beats the taste and nourishment of fresh fruit. Especially when you are a part of the producing process. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

God's grace.


"God's grace affects man's sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him. It changes the individual to a new creature without destroying his individuality. (2 Cor. 5:17; Ephs. 2:8,9)"
- Beth Moore, from children of the day.

Sometimes, when life shifts with new seasons, it is hard to know what maybe should just let be, and what may still be a good investment of time and energy. Take this blog for example. It has been a long time since writing. And I have often missed it. However, every time I sit to write a post, I am reminded not only of how much life changed as our family grows and matures; but I am reminded how much I have changed. 

I still enjoy all the same things: knitting, dessert for breakfast, a great cup of coffee, running, reading, my time with family and friends, fresh flowers cut from my own yard... But now, more often then not, instead of picking up a knitting book and my needles and yarn; I grab a study book, God's Word and a journal. I drink more hot tea then coffee, and I practice more yoga then I run. 

I exchanged nursing school for yoga teacher training in NYC (this past January). I found I enjoy really good olives - not the kind that come in cans - and I enjoy riding in a crowded subway. I found my way back to teaching. I had missed teaching, but didn't know how or what I would teach - I am getting older, not younger. 

Mat and I are slowly in the process of starting a new business-while still running redlogic. (I tell you, he is amazing!)  I have started writing down some of my Bible Study ideas, so maybe some of them will become more then ideas, and a bit "bigger" then the Advent mini-book study. More then anything, I have been relearning the importance of prayer. While in NYC, my heart was stretched in many ways, and with that came a greater need to pray for God to make Himself known. Even when it seems like some parts of life still do not let up - God's Word and time practicing quiet and solitude with Him - change my day and rock my world. 

I am much the same, but my focus has shifted, and along with that, I have found some of my old desires have come back to life. So, I think now is the right time to start filling this space again. I will guarantee there will be less crafting. Although I hope that there will be more crafting time in another season. There still may be some recipes - probably gluten free or at least low sugar. More then anything, I pray that gratitude and encouragement fill this space. Most days still include a cardigan. All days include my kids - but they are no longer my identity. They have their own roles to seek and live out. And so do I.