Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Showing up.

"Show up. Hold space. Do the work. Abandon perfection. Flirt with your curiosity. And for the love of the process, keep coming back..." This is a Yogi quote from Lululemon.

Showing up and holding space is not the same as showing up, checking it off of the to-do list, and moving on to the next item.

It is time many of us learn how to do the work, and do the work well. And not the noticeable work, the internal and life changing work....

For me, this concept was one of the key factors that brought me back to my yoga mat--time and time again. Being an avid "fitness-lover" most of my adult life, the benefits of yoga weren't as appealing as a run. One hour running burns a whole lot more calories then 1 hour on a yoga mat. (Now, if we were practicing Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga, there would be a close comparison.) However, if you were to enter the activity and length of time into any calorie counting/weight loss app, Yoga doesn't rank too high. There goes that dessert you might have been hoping for.

Many of us live by a check-list. I will not deny it, I love lists. But when a list becomes more important then the why and who you are actually running around and checking items off for, there may be a problem...

When I was first discovering yoga, what kept getting to me was that I couldn't always force my way through a pose; nor could I skip the beginning of class because it moved slow. I couldn't just mentally check out either. When I run, my mind can cover quite a few topics in 30 minutes or more. To lose focus in yoga meant I would spend the next few minutes trying to figure out why I was not on the same place on my sticky mat as other the class participants. Some truths about myself became obvious. I often always did things just to get them done, I didn't always stay engaged (my mind was great at finding tangents). I was impatient with what I could not do. I hated to slow down and take my time—my mind kept reminding me there were too many things to fit into a day to allow room for slowing down!

The next truth was even worse then the previous ones. I wasn't any better off of my sticky mat. Whether it was my quiet time, my time with my kids and/or husband, at work or school—I lived with the exact same mentality—always struggling not to rush to the next "thing".

In no way have I begun to live without the same struggles, but now they are obvious to me. So when I show up, I really am working at showing up. When I start my day, it is with intention to make space—for God to speak into my life, rather then me give him my expectations. When my day gets hacked and is not at all like my list is—well, there is tomorrow. And it just might not get done... And, yes, I am "burning" less calories with my hour on my mat, but dessert is not a necessity, and learning to love God, my family and others is.

I think most of us have managed to learn to live really busy lives, and possibly look like we have conquered how to make it all work. And maybe we have—if our to-do list is what we are working for. I don't want my to-do list be my reason for living. I want a life that is full of God's grace. Working out the life that He has intended, not the one I constructed via my own lists and plans.
And I'm hoping you don't either...

" Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."  - 2 Timothy 2:15

Friday, June 10, 2016

trading your voice for someone elses...

It doesn't work. And more importantly, you weren't created to borrow or trade. You have your voice for a reason. Your genetic makeup is as it should be. It doesn't mean that you will always recognize your own voice. Your voice can be lost in the hustle, or in the crowd; because truthfully, you can forget what your own voice sounds like.

Maybe your heart is bent toward adoption, but no one you know has ever adopted. Possibly all the other moms you know are softball moms and football moms, and your children have no desire to be softball players or track stars. Maybe you have just had a child, and you are trying to figure out if staying home, working part time, or returning to full-time work is best -- but everyone in your circle of friends and acquaintances still chooses to works full-time. The possibilities of life choices are endless, and to add to the challenge, the possible interruptions shift with each season of life.

Hopefully, you know you have your own voice. Possibly you just don't know how to make it sing yet? How loud is too loud? How quiet is so quiet that you can not create change? Knowing our voices - our true voices - takes more then knowing ourselves. Ourselves have the tendency to fall into line with those we spend time with, how we perceive that we are perceived--even how we perceive ourselves.

This past week I had the opportunity to sub a yoga flow class. This should have been a great thing. Should have been... as I entered the classroom, my own voice was lost in insecurity and fear that I was too different from the other teachers. Yes, I know my sequencing was in line with the class, and yes-I knew what my plan was. But as each new person walked in, I was less sure. By the time I set up on my mat, my own voice was gone. And instead of offering a class that would have met everyone where they were--my own voice was inaudible and my frontal lobe no longer recognized the sound and commands. What followed was a separation between mind, body and voice. It looked like a train wreck-disjointed and beginning to separate from the rails, but unable to hang on. My greatest regret were the lovely passengers that were on board with me.

Living with your own distinct voice takes courage. Finding the right tone and volume level requires practice--and sometimes failure.  Knowing how to live with in healthy parameters, but not letting your thought process stop with what you know, or all you think you know...

As life choices come and go, because they always will' with each season of life--something new will pop up... I believe we need to be less concerned about making the "right" choice; and more discerning if our decision allows us to grow in the direction we want our life to go. I am a firm believer in the need to have some amount of "slow" in our day. Where we set our to-do list, our Bible Study, our agendas aside, and really search for the quiet, to allow God room to shape our hearts and minds--otherwise we choices and wants in life will easily get tangled with the busy of life.

"Above all else, guard your hearts; for it is the source of life." - Proverbs 4:23 This verse is there to serve as a reminder to guard our hearts against evil, but especially the busy and crazy that distract us from a life lived in wholeness with Christ.

If you don't already have time set aside each day for some slow, please begin to create some space for some. God may desire to speak to you and help you see decisions from His vantage point; but He will not force His way into your day. That choice is ours. Where do you want to end up?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


When a yoga class is coming to a conclusion, the teacher closes class with the term, "Namaste." Because the word is Sanskrit, and many of us have only heard it mentioned in a yoga class, and typically is offered of the bowing of ones head, it throws people. What am I bowing to exactly, or why am I saying the word Namaste?

Namaste is just a form of greeting one another. In the western world, I have yet to meet someone that didn't say some form of hello and/or goodbye before they parted ways. If someone did, we would think they were being rude. Well, this would be the same with Namaste - which is used at the beginning or ending of conversation.

Namaste is a deeper greeting. I compare it to the person that says, "Hello, how are you doing? And really want to hear how you are doing. More often then not, "hello, how are you?" really means hello and I am going to assume you are great... So - it is also a form of respect. And then it goes deeper then that. Broken down in Sanskrit, it is defined as I bow to you... I'm leaving a bit of my ego at the door. My life force is equal to yours.

Hold up? That just got a bit weird... maybe, or maybe not. In Genesis 2:7, "God breathed the breath of life into man." That is when man became alive. That does not make me god, but it does mean that God is why I am even alive. And that goes the same for each of us. And if you are a Jesus follower, and have studied God's Word, you know that the whole Bible is a story of His love for us. Jesus came to earth, to die for each of us... "Whoever believes in me, just as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water." John 7:38

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." John 3:16 God loves each of us the same. He offers each of us mercy, grace and relationship. Why would I want to live any differently then that? So when someone offers a Namaste - they are offering to let their ego and agenda get out of the way for a few minutes - to respect and honor the time you have together. Because you are worth it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

small beginnings.

"Do not despise small beginnings, for God rejoices to see 
the work begin." - Zechariah 4:10

Whenever starting something new in life, from yoga to a new job, it is easy to become frustrated with how hard or slow the process seems to move. In Jon Acuff's book, "START: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters," he talks about what it takes to become someone who is exceptional at their craft—10,000 practice hours is a part of the magic equation. That is a lot of time.

In Zechariah, the Angel of the Lord is speaking to a man called Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was one of the Israelite's who lived in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. Around 538 B.C., while Cyrus was King, Zerubbabel was the appointed Governor of Judah. He was the first to lead a group back into Israel. In Zerubbabel's second year back, he built an alter to the Lord, as well as laid a new foundation for the Temple of the Lord that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.

In Zechariah 4, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in what seemed like a dream. Since everything recorded in the Bible is for a purpose, I wonder if Zerubbabel was feeling like progress was moving too slowly. Or maybe he felt like there was too much to do, and not enough qualified help to pull it off—himself included—for some reason, a conversation took place between the Angel of the Lord and Zerubbabel. And the conversation was important enough that it was recorded for us to read and study today.

Picking up something new is hard, especially when we have in mind exactly how we believe everything should fall into place. Not only do we struggle with the unfamiliarity of something new, but we also tend to battle our own insecurities.

When ever you step onto your yoga mat to practice, I invite you let go of your expectations of how you think your day and your yoga practice should look and feel. Begin each practice with leaving the rest of your life off your mat. This is a way to begin to teach your mind and heart the freedom of surrender. A small beginning, but a powerful one.

In Zechariah 4, just a few verses earlier, Jerubbabel hears the Lord of Hosts tell him, "Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord." We aren't given the privilege of life so we can live with the constant struggle of trying to figure everything out. God knew before time what our choices would be, when we would hit walls and roadblocks. He truly does have the best plan (2 Thessolonians 5:24). However, learning how to not rely on what we think we know is difficult. So, every time you unroll your yoga mat, remind yourself of the freedom that can happen with small beginnings.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


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.