It's February! Can you even believe it!? I saw an advertisement for something on February 25th and I thought, "yes... I can't wait for February 25th because then it's nearly March." Can you tell I'm over winter? Come on Spring! Caitlin and I are so very excited about all that God has been doing even in just a month of opening up to receive and experience all that is offered to us. He's been moving hugely, and it has been nothing short of blissful being able to excitedly share these things with one another and with you. So without further ado, let's get into what the Lord has given us going into a new month.
It has only been within the last year that I have realized I have been dwelling in a wilderness for the last ten years of my life. Have you ever been there? A barren, desert place in life that leaves you dry and wandering? This particular wilderness space has been a place of numbing loneliness and quiet for me--I haven’t heard or felt God because I haven’t been listening for Him. I was unfaithful to Him, simply existing and not seeking.
Yet, in His goodness and love, God has been there all along, whispering to me to come back
You see, sometimes the Lord actually leads us to these wilderness places. In Hosea, a scripture that has become near and dear to my heart, we get to see God’s love for his unfaithful people through Hosea’s story. God has called Hosea to love and marry Gomer, a woman he knows will be unfaithful to him, essentially living out a real-life allegory of Israel’s unfaithfulness to their Groom.
In chapter two, after God says all that He will do for Israel’s unfaithfulness, the Lord softly speaks saying: But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. (Hosea 2:14, NIV)
The Message version says I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
What a revelation that was for me, realizing that the Lord himself leads us into the wilderness, not to punish us, but to romance us. He leads us into the wilderness not to leave us alone, but to pull us away from the distractions and to Him.
Though our wilderness spaces may seem barren and dry to us, though we feel as if we are wandering, we are never lost and alone. The Lord is with us in every moment of our wilderness, whispering to our hearts and romancing us to come back to Him. These are the spaces where He works deepest in our souls, bringing us back to the days of our youth. These are the spaces where He offers us restoration and transformation.
Where He offers us hope and freedom.
Has this first month towards freedom been dry or quiet for you? Have you hit some obstacles or faced emotional battles? If so, you are not alone friends. The Lord is working in all of us, calling us to a wilderness space of sorts for this year. To move forward in freedom, we have to let go of the chains, and that means we may have to enter into places that are uncomfortable and places where we must grieve. But our faithful God is ever present, romancing us, calling us to enter in, promising freedom on the other side.
*Looking for a great print for this months meditation? Check out this one from Stephanie Moors. You can also print this one out or save it to your phone for a great repeated reminder of His heart and pursuit of you.
Thoughts On Body Image
Entering into this year I felt so hopeful that this would be my year. The year that I ditch these haunting thoughts and replace them with freeing truth. I wonder what it feels like for God to watch us head into a storm totally thinking it's just a sunshower. That was me. January 1st. Ready to get a little sprinkled. Little did I know there was a hurricane coming.
From adolescence until now, I've been in one of two modes: hiding or protecting. There's been a lot of hurt, so my body and mind have learned how to cope--how to live in survival mode. So it's no wonder God is asking me to give Him my heart and trust that it's safe out in the open and in His rescuing hands. Having said that, it is important to recognize one very important truth if we are to fully entrust our hearts to Him: our body image cannot be dependent upon another person or persons. It must be dependent upon our God alone. Just when you think you've attained a healthy view of yourself something will happen, no doubt at the hand of another, and your lens will immediately cloud with doubt and despair. And going into 2015, my body image was still dependent upon another. You see, even your most intimate of relationships here on earth can and will wound you. Most of the time not even on purpose, but the reality is that these loves of ours are fallen just like we are. So our body image absolutely must come from our view through the lens of Christ.
My body image has been shattered over and over because of the actions of others or of my hopes of what others will give me. That, my sweet sisters and brothers, is a house built on sand. And you know what? Life happens... God allows certain things in our life to shape and mold us into our original design, and He doesn't do patch work--he does complete renovations. So while I may find a recent shot to my body image earth shattering, He sees it as vital in getting a good work done. In love He lets me stumble and grasp after false self worth and knows that with each scraped knee and scuffed hand I'm getting closer and closer to giving up on all that is less than Jesus. He's a really patient God. He wants to give me the gift of wholeness but He wants me to appreciate the freedom found there, so He's not going to give it to me willy-nilly. He's also not a rich and disconnected daddy trying to win my affection with instant gratification. He's after my heart. Not always my comfort.
So body image is a journey, and I don't think I'll ever fully achieve full satisfaction in this body, but I wonder if I'm supposed to. Our bodies are decaying, and if I were able to find complete satisfaction in this one then why would I long for my heavenly one?
I think one of the very first steps to receiving freedom in our body image is simply accepting the journey. Taking a big, deep breath and gearing up for the long haul. Like venturing out on hike up a mountainside, we step out knowing what awaits us: challenge, fatigue, small victories, breaks to catch our breath, and always, always, always beauty along the way. One day we will reach the top and the view will be breathtaking. And He is good to give us such beauty along the way, too.
Take a deep breath and venture on, dear ones. He's got this.
If you are working on your heart space, hang out here. If you are working into your hips and lower body, head on over to see what Caitlin has for you this month!
January brought with it some unexpected bumps, but God knew what I didn't and He was faithful to supply all my needs and show me that the change is not found in the yoga but in Him. With a few simple adjustments to my day to day life as well as to my practice, I've already been able to experience some incredible freedom in the opening up of my heart space. It's so very good.
Firstly, let me encourage any of you who are looking to correct your upper body posture and create some more space in your chest--it's so about more than just your yoga practice. How are you standing? How are you sitting? How are you sleeping? Begin to check your posture in all of these places. When standing have you let your belly go? Did you know that your entire core should always be slightly engaged when you are standing? It's not just your legs that keep you up; that core of yours is vital. It's so essential to all movement. Even just the movement of living out your life.
This month I have made a conscious effort to check my posture, and when it's off I draw my shoulders back, draw my skull back, tighten my belly a bit, and bring my weight back in line with my ankle bones. You can check out Christina Mroz for incredible insight into all things alignment. She is a wealth of knowledge and has helped me immensely.
Otherwise I've just made some slight adjustments to a few common postures in my practice. Consider moving into these variations as you practice at home or in a studio, as no instructor would (or should) tell you otherwise. It's your practice so do what your body wants and needs.
Try incorporating these variations into your practice and see if you don't notice a significant difference in your heart space afterwards. It's freeing, reassuring and oh so wonderful. I've felt the goodness and closeness of my Father just in making these seemingly "slight" changes. He's doing the work of reassuring me that my heart is safe with Him. I'm beginning to trust Him in that, and willing to keep doing the work to receive and experience all that He has for me.
Be blessed this month, beloveds! Let's see what He has in store for us in February.
Don't forget to show us how God is encouraging you to join in on experiencing the Freedom He has given by hashtagging #freedomin15. You can also tag your yoga/body-image specific posts with #experiencingfreedom and your meditation/soul-changing posts with #receivingfreedom. We can't wait to see what He does in and for you throughout the year!