Friday, January 26, 2018

Keep dancing!

Photo by Brevite

Wednesday night I left my kids in the care of my husband and headed to the city.  I listened to my own music on the way there.  I sat at a restaurant and ate a nice quiet dinner, during which I didn't have to pop every three minutes to get something for someone.  In other words, it was heaven. 

After dinner, I went to see the dance company of one of my favorite choreographers.  It was my first time seeing them.  Although I could only afford a balcony seat at the National Theatre, which feels a bit like you may fall at any time, I was thrilled to be there. 

I debate with my husband all the time about the power of dance.  He sees it as a bunch of people jumping around the stage flailing their arms about.  (Pretty much his exact words.)  I sigh and try to explain the years and years of training the body that is required to do that one move that looks incredibly simple but is in fact extremely hard.  I also spent twenty minutes discussing what choreography means to the choreographer and to the dancer and to the audience.  The intended meaning and the meanings we take away.

He was still lost. 

For me, though, Wednesday night was thrilling.  The training of the dancers, the costumes, the concept, the props...there were all so, so good.  The partner work and the intensely creative choreography left me in awe.  There were many moments in the piece when I just wanted to scream, "Keep dancing, keep dancing!"  I could have died and gone to heaven right then and my life would be complete.  Well, not really, but it felt like it in the moment.

Great art lifts us out of the everyday.  It takes us to a different place for awhile.  It draws us in to their world and transforms us while we are there.  We leave changed, inspired, uplifted. 

We leave wanting to dance.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

January restlessness

Photo by Arnold Exconde
There is a restfulness to January, but also a restlessness.

January begins as the end of the holiday season.  The craziness of December fades and the cold and quiet of January covers like a blanket.  It feels good to be done.  Finished with the shopping, baking, parties, excitement, craziness and anticipation of the Christmas and New Year's holidays.  It feels good just to rest in the regularness of days.  To cuddle up with family by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and watching snow fall.  To play board games.  To organize that cabinet you've been meaning to get to. January is a time to breathe.

And yet, January is soooo loooong.  I get restless indoors for so many days in a row.  After the third snow day, my kids are at each other like squirrels going after the last nut and my nerves are shot.  I'm freezing and tired and I just want to go outside and lay out in the sun.  But not yet, not for about five more months...

January brings with it a sense of newness, of starting over.  You can believe you'll do anything in 2018, that all your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled.  Or, like me, you may not be as excited about 2018 as you have been about other years.  I have a few more fears this year.  A lot of wondering.  A lot of praying and thinking and deciding to do.

I can't complain too much about January, because it is also the month when I have fallen in love.  Three times.  My very first love began in January, many years ago.  Another great love began while building a gingerbread house together in the middle of this long month.  My greatest love began its fulfillment as I married my husband and gained a partner to walk this snow-covered journey with.  In the quiet and cold we hold hands to keep warm.

I pray that, as your January concludes, that you find warmth, that you find confirmation of your dreams and that you enjoy the beauty of bare trees, ice crystals and the crackling of the fire.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017: The Year of the Mini-Calling

New Year's 2017
Looking back on 2017, I'd say that it wasn't a bad year.  We had some challenges and some really exciting joys, as I'm sure most families do.  My oldest started Kindergarten.  My littlest started preschool.  My hubby had some major accomplishments in his work and educational life.  These required quite a bit of time and sacrifice on our part, but we were happy to support him as he reached for his dreams.  We took a vacation to a cute little amusement part called Knoebels, celebrated my 20th High School reunion (What??!!), and survived the month of birthday craziness that is called August. 

The thing that stands out the most for me personally is the mini-callings that God has placed in my life.  In 2017, I opened myself up to his leading.  I prayed and waited and wondered.  God didn't answer with some big life-changing calling.  Not just yet.  But he did answer with some amazing blessings that I've dubbed "mini-callings." 

Over the Winter, I spent time at our church's coffee bar, called The Lobby (Check it out if you live in the area!  The proceeds support hunger around the world.)  writing a summer curriculum series for  I loved this opportunity!  It later lead to a new job as a content editor for the curriculum series, which I do once a month.  I have enjoyed reading the lessons and helping to edit the content using my love of English, theology and preteen ministry!  So fun!  If you work with preteens at your church, check out our comprehensive curriculum series called "Deeply Rooted.

In the Spring, I taught a class entitled "Writing Your Life Story" at the local community center.  I received so many blessings as my student told me her life story and we worked to develop it into a piece of writing.  It's never too early to begin writing down your memories and sharing them with family.

Due to my schedule, God afforded me the time to do some volunteer work.  I served at our church's food pantry over the summer and this Fall I began serving with our church's 4th and 5th grade girls. I also became a discussion group leader at our MOPS  (Mothers of Preschoolers) group.  Each of these things has brought me joy in serving the Lord once again in ministry. 

The most out-of-the-blue, amazing mini calling came in October.  While in worship one day, I had the inspiration to create dances for our church.  I had never seen a dancer on our church's stage, but it was something I had done in the past and loved. I had a lot of insecurity about this, due to the fact that I haven't been in a dance studio in five years and still carry around some extra pounds from the births of my children.  Despite my insecurity, I inquired at the church.  A couple of weeks later, in an odd coincidence I can only equate with God's timing, the worship team was looking for a choreographer for a dance for worship.  (WHAT??!!)  They have not had a dancer in years and at the same time that God placed the idea on my heart, they began looking for one.  (Chills, seriously.)  In October I had the privilege of choreographing a dance about the struggle to find God during life's challenges, set to the song "Say Something" by Great Big World.  I loved every minute of the two weeks (yes, TWO!) that I worked to choreograph it and teach it to a very talented dancer.  It was so awesome to see the dance come to life and to see our congregation respond to it. 

In December, I had the privilege again to choreograph a dance for the angel in our Christmas services.  It was a joy to watch her dance and to see the choreography come to life to "Oh Come Emmanuel" by the Piano Guys.

This Fall, I also went back to work part-time as a substitute teacher.  Despite the occasional really bad class and catching pink eye, I have enjoyed working with the students and learning more about the educational system.  I even had the privilege of teaching one lesson on the history of the Hebrew people, including Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon.  Another coincidence that God called me to work that day with that lesson.

My most challenging "mini-calling" continues to be the work/life balance between being a supportive wife, mommy of two, substitute teacher, writer and editor.  Life is crazy, but it's the good kind of crazy as I live out these mini-callings.  Thanks be to God from whom all blessings truly flow.