#freedomin15--His Unique Creation

One of the best things about being with other believers is the (hoped for) grace usually given by all. It's March 16th and this month's freedom post is just now posted. Grace. February was a shorter month anyways, so I'm not as off track as the calendar says. How are you? Where is the Lord taking you in your freedom journey? How far off were you in your assumption of how this would go down? I was way off. Like, waaaaaay off. And I can only assume I'm still way off, even knowing what I do 2 months in. Grace again, right?


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The Lord has brought Psalm 139 to the forefront of my mind this month. Several times it has been referenced in various places, and has come across in my own study time. For me it's one of the many verses that I sort of skim over because, well, I know all about it (insert finger quotations).

I'm wonderfully made. 

His works are marvelous.

He knew me in my mother's womb.

But He knew I needed a lesson in His heart. I needed to know, in a different way, the words He knew my heart and mind longed to read.

O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.     Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,     and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.     It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,     and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;     the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.

Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?     Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?

If I go up into heaven, You are there.     If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. If I ride on the wings of morning,     if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, 10 Even then You will be there to guide me;     Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. 11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,     the light around me will soon be turned to night,” 12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.     For You the night is just as bright as the day.     Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.

13 For You shaped me, inside and out.     You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. 14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.     You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;     Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. 15     You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret,     carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. 16 You see all things;     You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;     You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. 17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!     How grand in scope! How many in number! 18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!     Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

19 I wish You would destroy all the wicked, O God.     So keep away from me, those who are thirsty for blood! 20 For they say such horrible things about You,     and those who are against You abuse Your good name. 21 Is it not true that I hate all who hate You, Eternal One?     Is it not true that I despise all who come against You? 22 Deep hatred boils within me toward them;     I am Your friend, and they are my enemies. 23 Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am.     Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. 24 Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me,     and guide me down Your path forever.

-Psalm 139 (the Voice)

There is so much here. And if you do like I had always done, and skim through this, you are missing a very direct love letter to that girl inside who shames herself and her body. Who tells herself that her talents aren't good enough and that her body will always disappoint. Come with me to verse 14:  

"I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.     You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;     Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul."

Read that verse again and then stop and ask yourself this question: What kind of woman or man would I be if I truly lived these words?

What if your heart was deeply grateful for His handiwork? For the ways in which He is using you in this world? For the wife He made you to be, or the mother? For the brother He has made you to be or the son? What if you could truly open your hands to heaven, let a smile sweep across your face, and stand in wonder and awe for what He. has. given. you?
This is a big deal, brothers and sisters. Because regardless of what we feel or see with our own eyes, the TRUTH is that HIS WORKS ARE WONDERFUL. Period. There is no possible way you could win an argument against this truth. You would lose. Badly.
So trade in your debate cards on this subject for the knowledge of this truth. And begin to carry it deep within your soul. The exchange is a no-brainer.

And allow me to challenge you to something greater. To a life immersed in His truth. Ask the Lord to grow you in your ability to default to what you know of HIM instead of what you know of you when the going gets tough and the enemies taunting words of deceit seem to sound a lot like truth.

-Laura

*For added encouragement this month, go ahead and print or save this image. And make this your mantra--for March and maybe even for the rest of the year. image


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My life these days is a far cry from what it used to be. A few years ago, if you had asked me who I was I would have immediately recognized myself as an endurance athlete, but now I no longer consider myself one which is at times odd considering I somewhat branded myself as a triathlete by tattooing it on my arm. I no longer train or follow a weekly regimented plan. There are no future races on my calendar to obsess over, and honestly, I am barely practicing yoga on my own except when I am teaching.

Yet, I am the happiest I have ever been in my body.

When I reflect back on my time as an athlete, I realize now I was striving for deep perfection in body image. I started racing because I was running from deep hurt in my life, and so I identified myself through training and the way I was disciplining my body. My time on the road, in the pool, or in the gym became the spaces in my day where I could escape from life, and at times God. I found myself so ingrained in training for perfection, that I misconstrued the idea of healthy living. Though my body was probably in it’s best shape physically because I was pushing it so hard, I was never truly happy--with life or with my body image. I always needed a little more definition, more shapely abs, and less curve in my hips.

Now, as I practice yoga for healing and the sheer joy it brings to my soul by being able to connect with my Creator on my mat, I am starting to view my body in a different light. Though my legs are not lean and taut, and my abdominals are not defined, God has opened my eyes to what my body has been designed for. The way He has created us as women, our bodies are meant to go through changes, and mine, in all of it’s curves, is preparing, eventually, to house a tiny human and give life. Though my journey to the splits has not advanced over the last two months, and even in my realization that I physically may never be able to move my body into this pose because of how I am structured, my striving for this pose does not run my life. As I advance in my forearm stand, I see how God is helping me to let go of my deep-seeded distaste for my curves allowing me to freely shift my world upside down. I am letting go and learning to fly.

I am no longer practicing yoga to escape from something.

I am practicing yoga to find the woman God has created me to be. Every curvy piece of her.

-Caitlin


Yoga Poses

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!

I'm so thankful that winter is over so I can get outside and cartwheel around in the sunshine. So I can #stopdropandyoga any and everywhere. It's not the easiest to kick up into handstand or hold crow pose when you've got a big ol' jacket on, boots, mittens and a hat. I'm in dire need of some dirty bare feet.

This month for me has consisted of a lot of non-yoga exercises to open my heart space.

Christina Mroz has published several great posts about opening the shoulders and realigning your posture. Please oh please head over and view her video on opening shoulders. If you don't have a bolster yet then go and get one. They are amazing and can be used to release basically any part of your body.

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I've been doing this one almost daily and just love it.

Another part of my problem is my neck. Chad Walding and his wife have created a program called Sitting Solution, and their website is chock-full of wonderful resources. This exercise has been a good one for me to strengthen the muscles in the back of my neck. Along with this I have been very aware of the placement of my head during my practice. So instead of hanging my head in plank/bear/chair/up-dog, I've been intentionally drawing up and back and engaging those muscles along the backside of my neck. image

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Sometimes it's a matter of adding a variation or another whole pose to your practice in order to move into greater openness and sometimes it's a matter of doing things off of your mat in order to create more freedom on it. Please take a few minutes and check out these resources, and see what else you can be doing off of your mat to increase openness in your heart space. Our dysfunction is still our dysfunction whether we are on our mats or not. Becoming more aware of that can be the key to greater success and fruit for your labor.

Thanks for being patient this month. March is halfway over, so I will see you in about two weeks!

Peace, dear ones.

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#freedomin15--The Magic In The "Slight"

freedom in 15 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.

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Meditation

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.

-Caitlin

*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.

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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.

-Laura

Yoga Poses

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.

Chair Pose with Heart Opener (Or as my husband calls it, "ready to jump" pose)

Forward Fold with Heart Opener

Extended Side Angle with Wide Reach (that's my own made up name for it, anyways)

Crescent Lunge with Cactus Arms

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.

laura b

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!

This Year I'm Choosing To Receive

freedom in 15 As we begin the year, my sweet friend Caitlin and I are embarking on Freedom in ‘15: a Journey of Receiving & Experiencing Freedom, and we hope you will join us.

 Over the course of the year, we will be sharing scriptures and meditations in the hopes of helping each of us receive the freedom we are already gracefully given.

A life of freedom starts in scripture and so the first part of this journey is rooted in the Truth of God’s word with an intention settled firmly in Him.

The second part of the journey comes in the experiencing as we talk through body image issues that seem to be the struggle of many women. Two of the major areas we tend to carry trauma and self-hate are our heart spaces and our hips, so to work into those areas, we will be offering yoga poses to physically work on freeing ourselves and find healing from the trauma and emotions that are deep seated.  There is something profoundly powerful about meeting Christ on our mat and letting him work through us in our movements.

Walk with us together friends as we live, move, and breathe in Him.

 

receivingFMeditation 

Freedom. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say or think or act as if we are enslaved to our sin or bondage?

“I’m so trapped in my body.”

“I feel like such a prisoner to my negative thoughts.”

But guess what… we’re not trapped and we’re not prisoners.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

-Galatians 5:1

The word “freedom” here is eleutheria which means “liberty”, saying that “true liberty is living as we should not as we please.” How comfortable is it for you to just revert to your ways of bondage? It’s way more comfy for me to just settle in with the “my posture will always suck” thoughts rather than believing that Christ has also set me free from the effects of years of self-hate. Liberty is mine because of Christ, and it is found in living according to the gospel.

If I could break up Galatians 5:1 for you, after picking apart each word’s meaning and some commentary, I would say this to you:

Christ set you free from the dominion of sin so that you might choose to live your life for Christ, according to that freedom. Sometimes that means life is lived uncomfortably. So be persistent-- don’t let yourself be ensnared by what used to hold you in bondage.  This is life lived for Jesus. Free. Rooted in what you know is true. And ready to go forward through uncharted waters in hope and faith that He is so much better.

That’s what this year is about for us. We’ve been free all along. It’s time we start receiving and experiencing it. Where are you putting the shackles back on? Where in your body, heart, practice, relationships or faith are you believing that this is just all it will ever be? Where are you choosing to turn your back on freedom?

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” -Gal 5:1 (msg)

-Laura

*Click here for a PDF download of our scriptural meditation for this month. Print it out and let it remind you daily of the freedom that is already yours for the taking.

experiencingFThoughts on Body Image 

For most of my life, I have struggled with my body image.

I have never been too skinny nor have I ever been overweight. I’m a average-sized, typically healthy, little on the short side, curvy woman. I have no need to complain about my body, but we’ve had a love-hate relationship since I developed hips my freshman year of high school.

Over the course of the last several years, I have found myself running (quite literally) from a deep seated and hidden revulsion of how I have been created.

I never truly knew this until now.

In the last few months, the Lord been revealing to me that I carry self-hate as well as trauma in my hips, and just this week He has shown me that I am not alone.

So many of us are in bondage to the way we feel about specific areas of our bodies. And it’s time that we realize we are already free in Christ and begin to experience freedom.

-Caitlin

 

Yoga poses

To begin the year, Caitlin and I have chosen a few heart’s desire poses that we plan to seek freedom in for the course of the year. We are not looking to these as goal poses to work to perfection, but instead we are prayerfully asking God to move in freedom through these poses helping us to release the trauma and emotions we store and physically find freedom in our movement.

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Laura-forearmstand

 

  This year my focus will be heart and chest openers and sharing freedom finding poses to work into that area of the body. Caitlin will be focusing specifically on hip openers and will be sharing her freedom finding poses on her blog Wildly Free Life. Each month we will be offering different sets of poses that work into those specific areas and will help us in the physical aspect of the journey.

As we share these poses this month, we encourage you to do the same. Prayfully ask God what pose does your heart desire to move into freely? Where are you holding negative emotions or storing trauma? What area of your body do you tend to dislike or unintentionally self-hate? Ask Him to reveal to you the area He wants you to find freedom in, and share a photo with us (via instagram with #freedomin15 or in the comments section below) this month of the pose you hope to move into. This heart’s desire pose (or poses) are something we can continue to work through as the year progresses, a symbol of our disciplined trust in Him to free us, and a physical representation of our obedience to Him.

Caitlin and I have been praying for years that God would instill a dream in our hearts and pour forth words from our souls that would allow us to collaborate and share our stories and our lives with those around us. It is a joy to finally come together and share our mutual love of Christ, writing and Holy Yoga with you.

Our prayer is that this journey is rooted in Christ, authentically beautiful, and an adventurous romance.

He is calling us higher friends--He is calling us deeper. Changing us from the inside.

Are you willing to go where He is leading you this year?

A beautifully free adventure is waiting!

laura b

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

#stopdropandpray

So within the Holy Yoga family (and the world of Instagram) many of my fellow yogis participate in something called #stopdropandyoga. The premise is this: you're tagged. you stop what you're doing. you do some yoga (usually just a pose... we're not like, randomly breaking out into a full Son A or anything). then you snap a photo and share it on Insta... and of course, you tag others to join in on the fun. I love it. I always want to be tagged. I beam with excitement when I do get tagged. But I think many would join me in saying that we don't always just stop what we are doing and do some yoga. I know I think about the pose I want to do, and find a time that is convenient for me to do all of the various steps.

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Now, on to my next thought.

The other day one of my sweet little nephews couldn't be found by his parents. They were at a week long event, with campsites and RVs and all the people. Sweet little 5 year old rascal wasn't in his usual playing spot and so began the prayers.

I texted my closest circle of warriors to pray. I prayed. And I prayed some more.

Then they found him and we all breathed a sigh of relief. And I returned back to the task at hand-vacuuming. 

Did you notice what was not included in the post-finding of said rascal? A prayer of thanksgiving. Isn't that such a sucky thing to realize about yourself?

So I continued to think about this while I vacuumed. Step after step I pushed and I pondered, all the while never heeding the Spirit's direction to turn the damn machine off and say thank you.

Finally, like a silly little child, I did what I should have done 6 minutes earlier. I hit that red button, knelt on those steps, and prayed a prayer of mighty thanksgiving for His mercy and favor on that sweet boy, on our family, and on me in the midst of my disobedience.

As I began to vacuum again I thought, "hey. Why don't we stop, drop and pray?" Because if we are all really honest with ourselves, I think we would find that we pray when it's convenient or when we are in need. And seldom do we come back to thank Him for bending down to listen and respond.

So here's what I propose:

Let's make #stopdropandpray a thing, ok?

If you're tagged, let that be a nudging on your soul. Stop what you're doing, whether at that moment or some time throughout your day, and pray. Literally stop. Drop something if you need to, or better yet, drop to your knees, and then pray. Pray for someone. Pray for something. Pray for the person you tag. Just pray.

Then later, when it's convenient, post a photo of what you prayed for. Then go ahead and tag a few people. People you know or don't know. People who you prayed for. People you know are prayer warriors. Tag away. And make #stopdropandpray a thing. Because how could we not benefit from broadening His kingdom by submitting to the nudging? He's always nudging, and we are [almost] always too busy or distracted to respond.

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So yeah. Make it a thing.

#stopdropandpray 

Rescued. Redeemed.

I have a lot of thoughts. Today was one of many times when all the loose threads seemed to intersect and make something beautiful in my head. A complete thought. A complete reality.

I've had several moments in the past few weeks where I've been reminded of my youth. My painful past, full of a significant amount of regret and many wrongdoings, both from me and to me. Isn't it just hard when you face those things again? And then immediately after you taste that ugly, you are washed with grace remembering that it is no longer a part of you anymore. You're clean. You're white like fresh fallen snow. The kind that when the sun shines on it it's almost blinding. That's how redeemed I am. And if you know and proclaim that Jesus came for you, to rescue you on the Cross, then so are you.

I'm often in awe of the reality that God set me apart... that He made the choice to save me for His purposes. This has always been a beautiful truth to me but not one where I've been able to recall memories of His hand on my life before I knew of salvation. Yesterday, while going through boxes of my old childhood junk (including my shrine to 'NSYNC, to which my 13 year old niece said, "Who are these guys?" I mean, can you even believe that?!) I was taken aback by how present God was in my life long before I ever knew Him.

I found a Veggie Tales journal, that I, no doubt, had because I thought the vegetables were cute, and inside I wrote what Bob the tomato always said at the end of each episode: "God made you special and he loves you very much." I was like, 12, so I didn't frequently watch those vegetables, but my little cousins did. While I was enamored with the animation and the cute veggies, somewhere in my youthful and fragile heart, He was drawing me. Without knowing it, each day that I wrote an assignment in that journal for school, I was doing so on a page with scripture printed on it. His Word was in front of me, long before I knew how life-giving it would be.

In Holy Yoga we often come against those who feel strongly against what we believe God is doing in the hearts of those who worship this way. And please hear me when I say this:

*I am not inviting debate on the topic by writing about this. While I am always open to discuss what I believe God is doing in this, I do not believe in doing so via comment reels. So please refrain from taking a soapbox here, and if you would like, I'm happy to speak directly. Just shoot me an email.*

I read a discussion between several instructors yesterday about this topic and as I drove home from attending a Holy Yoga class this morning I found my mind going back to the whole idea. Everything on this earth was created by God. Everything. The movements we make. The air that goes in and out of our lungs. The words that we speak. Everything.

My God is big. He's big enough to redeem everything back to Himself.

He was big enough to redeem me.

You see, He created me, but like yoga or sex or alcohol, I could have been lost for forever. All that bad that I did as a youth could have continued into adulthood and I could be contributing to corruption in the world I live in and influence the same way that alcohol, sex, drugs, adultery and violence do in others.

But He rescued me.

Because in the midst of all that badness was the imprint of the Creator on me.

As I drove this morning and listened to a beautiful song that spoke directly to my rescue, I couldn't help but think of a couple of specific poses that very personally reflect my adoration of God for saving me.

In my eyes, that is like His imprint on yoga.

Others can use yoga for their purposes, just as they use their bodies, which were created by God, for their own desires and self-fulfillment. But for me, and many others, so many of the poses reflect one beautiful action: full worship of the Creator God.

We don't live in a culture that often practices full-body worship. But I encourage you to try it once. In your own space, just between you and God, see what it's like to lay flat on your face while you cry out the song of your heart. Or stand in your room, close your eyes, lift your hands with fingers spread wide, and just move for Him. Show Him how worthy He is of ALL of your praise.

Because whether we think it's appropriate or not, He is worth immeasurably more worship than we ever feel free enough to give Him.

The enemy would like us to waste breath and heart on discussing whether something is right or wrong. God looks at the heart. He looks at your heart. Are you willing to look with Him? And believe me, if He knows your heart is out of line He will waste little time in telling you so. So take your Bible and your body and stand before Him. And do yourself and God a huge service and leave anyone else's opinions at the door. In this time, they will not serve you.

John 3:30 says, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." (NLT) The "less and less" in this passage means "to decrease in authority or popularity." Do you think that maybe, when it comes to matters of political correctness or "choosing the right side", "we", with our opinions and ideas, should become less popular and the Truth that comes from the Spirit through the living Word of God should be given ultimate authority?

Just remember, He was planning out your rescue plan long before you knew you needed it. And maybe, just maybe, He has a redemption plan, even for yoga, to be used to bring Him glory.

When I got home I just had to move a bit to that song, and worship Him for having His hand on me long before I knew of my need for salvation. While it is so far from perfect, and not exactly planned out, this is worship. Just move for Him. He gave you your body so that the Spirit of the Almighty would dwell there, so worship Him with it.

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Mama First

photo (5) Can I be a little honest about something? Since Holy Yoga retreat ended at the very beginning of May, my fellow yogi's have been on the fast track to building successful ministries/blogs/businesses/followings... Or at least it has seemed that way... and this leaves me feeling a bit like the kid on the first day of school who realizes she got all of her school supplies wrong and will consequently be light-years behind everyone else for the remainder of all time.

Have I ever told you I can be a bit dramatic?

Ok, really though, not only is it ok and great and totally wonderful that favor is being granted and Truth is being told through these women and men already, it's something that I am so SO for. My real heart, the one that has been redeemed and washed clean by the blood of Jesus, is jumping up and down and cheering each and every individual on because this is what we are here for--This is what He has called us to! My flesh heart, the one that likes to always make everyone else's business in the whole wide world all about "me", says that if I don't get my act together I'm going to be left in the dust.

This week I began a weekly teaching gig on Wednesday mornings; a class that has been on-going for some time, and I am yet another instructor to take it over. It's a good, solid, desired class and I am so honored to be the one to instruct these hearts through the summer months. My "usual" class prep routine ("usual" meaning I've done it a whopping three times) consists of:

1. Pray about my nerves. 2. Pray about the topic to be meditated. 3. Pray about my nerves. 4. Pray about the flow. 5. Pray that the flow is long enough and actually does flow. 6. Go through the flow so that I'm sure it makes sense. 7. Pray for the class. 8. Pray for my nerves. 9. Pray for my nerves some more. 10.Execute class nervously and be amazed at God's provision and the silliness of all the nerves.

I thought I'd have all kinds of time to complete the above routine Tuesday. It turned out that M, and allergies, and laziness and life knew differently. My sweet boy, and myself as well, were pretty down and out with sniffles, sneezes and those dang itchy eyes. Naps were few and disrupted, and alone time was non-existent.

I talked to T late that night (after I thought I had a minute to prep and before M decided he needed to sleep with Mama) and I was explaining to him that I had, "basically nothing ready for my class tomorrow. M just isn't feeling good and has needed to snuggle and be with me a lot today so I'm totally not prepared."

Then T said it. And ever since it's like the scabs have fallen from my eyes.

"Well, you're a mom first, so that's ok."

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Guys. All the other lovely, wonderful, beautiful daughters and sons (who are also moms and dads and laborers) out there making and taking the time to jump on their ministries/businesses/blogs/media blah are so awesome. God has provided them the time and space to do so and that's such a beautiful thing. And He's providing me that too. He provided me materials for that class on that morning, in 20 minutes prior to the class. I've never felt more at home teaching, but that's because it was me, a servant of my King, coming before Him with zero to offer. Just a willing heart and the belief of this Truth:

I'm a daughter of the King. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a minister for His Kingdom.

And what's neat is that first and last one really encompass the two in the middle. My family is my ministry, and when I nurture it, when I don't try to "keep up with the Joneses", He is actually given more of a chance to radiate His awesomeness.

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So my ministry will be what He makes it.

My son will receive all the snuggles and boog-wipes he needs.

And my heart will rest in peace.

"It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for." - Eph. 1:11msg

He has many purposes for me, and in this, "I am a mom first."

Man, what an incredible thing.

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If you're a mama, and you feel the tug that you should be devoting more time to building your social media presence, but doing so will take away from those little ones entrusted to you, then I encourage you to stop in your tracks and evaluate if it's worth it. There will be plenty of time to create a killer etsy shop, or blog your heart out when they are in High School and would prefer you to have your own hobbies. Make them your ministry now. God will bless you, them and your ministry for doing so.

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When They Met Jesus

Well, I am (almost) officially a Holy Yoga Instructor. Once I get that certificate in hand it will really be real. Entering back into "the real world" leaves me, at times, wondering if all of the memories of the past week actually happened. It went by thoroughly and quickly; each moment dripping with meaning. I know that these photos in my mind represent reality because seeping through all of them is one truth: it was there I met Jesus. While that could sound somewhat confusing, seeing as I've written about, talked about and learned about Jesus for years and years (He first ransomed my heart when I was 16), let me clarify. Similar to Mary, or Thomas, or the others who saw Jesus after His resurrection, it wasn't a first meeting. But also similar to them, it was a meeting that would change the way I worship, serve and adore Him forever.

I've been trying to decide what to do next. My days have been full of homework, practice, reading and anticipating since March. Now that's all done and I'm wondering, "what do I do?" I decided, after conversing with my King, that I should spend some time seeing what others did after they met Jesus.

Upon reading the gospels, it doesn't take long to see that Jesus met a lot of people. The proud. The sick. The educated. The lame. The desperate. The "satisfied".

Each had their own responses to Jesus. Each acted or reacted differently. The one similarity is that they all came face to face with the opportunity for change.

The Pharisee's, time and time again, ridiculed, cornered and slandered Jesus. They had the One true Messiah right there with them, and they chose to listen to their educated minds instead of opening their hearts to what God was doing.

The man born blind obeyed, regardless of how ridiculous Jesus' command was. In that obedience he not only witnessed but was a part of an incredible miracle. He didn't laugh at Jesus and tell Him He was nuts. He didn't doubt and tell Jesus He was unable to do as He asked. He got up and went to wash, just as he had been told, believing there was a purpose for it; a purpose that would immensely bless the blind man and wonderfully glorify Jesus.(Jn 9:6-12)

While enjoying their last supper with Jesus, having been explained the events that were to come, the disciples chose to discuss which of them was the best. With the Messiah right there at the table, their focus was still inward. (Lk 21:24)

Jesus, pulling a little child into their circle, sets the disciples straight by stating that unless they become more like-minded with this little child, they will never enter the Kingdom. How uncertain, and possibly anxious, must that child have been, being pulled into the middle of a discussion with Jesus and His disciples? That's like the popular of popular kids choosing him to come and partake in their secret discussions. And yet Jesus used him, the least likely, to educate the ones who were the "chosen". (Mt 18:1)

I have seen myself in all of the above stories. There are so many things I've taken away from them and many other stories of meeting Jesus. Seeing the close-mindedness of the Pharisees, the simple obedience of the blind man, the pride and self-awareness of the disciples and the unknowing use of the child all encourage me and inspire me to heed these examples as I process the last week of my life. There is one person, however, that really brings courage, understanding and hope to my heart.

Peter.

When Jesus asked him to leave his job and all he knew to follow him he obeyed. He earnestly proclaimed to Jesus his undying devotion. Throwing caution to the wind he unabashedly fought to protect Jesus from danger. When cornered by unbelievers, he chose non-confrontation over the truth of his heart and denied his devotion to his King. When he heard Jesus' body was missing he ran to it, and without fear entered in. Jesus appeared to Peter and some of the others while they were out fishing and upon seeing that the Savior was ashore, Peter jumped into the water to run to his Lord. He was given a new start--a clean slate-- and never turned back. He went on to save thousands and proclaim the Messiah Jesus Christ. Peter got to be a part of some incredible things, and like so many before him, he was chosen regardless of being so very far from perfect.

I'm so thankful for Peter. Remembering him reminds me that, even though I've loved and served and proclaimed Jesus for many years, there is grace for all of those moments I chose myself over Jesus. There is mercy for the many times I chose my sin and my idols over my God. That it is more than possible for Jesus to ransom my heart, yet again, and this time for it to "stick".

You see, the reason things haven't stuck in the past has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with me. Each and every day that I wake up and take that blessed breath, I have the opportunity to choose life over death. The things I saw, the freedoms I felt, are true and real and good. The realities of my past were washed away long ago, and my heart and mind have finally made the choice: to believe my Savior and to no longer live in the false reality that I am unforgivable.

Isn't it crazy that it's really that "simple"? All I had to do was believe. Really believe.

Believe that Jesus is who He says He is... because either all of scripture is true or none of it is. I can't believe He died and rose from the grave but not believe that it happened to wash me clean.

This is (a bit) of the story of what happened to me when I met Jesus on that mountain.

Like Peter, and countless others, I've chosen to believe the truth of my salvation. I've chosen to grab hold of my Savior and never look back. He is undeniably holy and good. I am ruined for anything other than Him.

From what was: "too fat, never enough, always disappointing, ever-failing, never succeeding."

To what is: "child of God."

Hallelujah!

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Tomorrow's The Beginning

I get to wake up, grab my over-packed bag and head to the place where adventure often begins: the airport. These past few weeks have been especially hectic; this last one the most. But when your life and heart and soul are about to radically change and bring you closer to the living God than you've ever thought possible, it would make sense for the cares of the world to try to draw you back in.

But tomorrow it all begins, and I couldn't be more ready.

I think that maybe many of the events of my life have simply been the paving stones, creating the way to this place of ministry. We can't just arrive at our ministry, we have to be pruned and readied for it. If you know my heart, my struggles and my sins, you know this is a very unlikely and yet perfect ministry for me, because it will always demand I go back to Jesus. Every day. Every moment. In and of myself, I have no capacity to carry this out, which creates in me that much more excitement and anticipation for what He has in store.

The ministry of Holy Yoga is a mighty one. God has done incredible, indescribable works of freedom and victory in and through it.Tomorrow, nearly 130 other souls will gather alongside mine and we will enter into this work with hearts open and bare, waiting for Him to break us down and build us back up more like Him. This is, without a doubt, Kingdom work. I am humbled to be chosen for it.

As time continues and life progresses this next week, would you consider praying over those gathered on that mountain in Arizona? While you may have never attended a holy yoga class, or you may even have a difficult time wrapping your mind around the ministry, I know the desire for wholeness in Christ is mutual, and prayer, regardless of opinions or understandings, is a shared and very powerful practice. If you have been involved in the ministry, even a little, you know how wildly God is working in it. He has now called 130 more people to go out and do His work. Hallelujah!

Family and friends, if you desire, you can take hold of the below photo and use it as a guide for what to pray. I know, in the deepest parts of me, that He has a mighty work for me in this. I desire nothing more than to become less so He can become more in this heart of mine.

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I am so thankful for your love, support, encouragement and faith. We'll see what He has for LuluLuvs after this week is up!

Get ready!

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He Thought He "Might"

I've been given the assignment to read Luke 22-24 every day this week, in varying translations, in preparation for the celebration of my Saviors Triumph over sin and death. So tonight I thought I'd get started. Chocolate in hand, I nestled in to begin my reading. I distractedly fumbled through various translations until I came across the one I felt my busy mind could clearly digest. I believe I read the first 3 verses at least 5 times, each time ending in some sort of distraction. When I finally got focused enough to read past verse 3, I came to a screeching halt at verse 4.

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"And Judas went to the priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus."

We all know how we feel about Judas. I mean, right from the get-go we know not to like him because some way or another we know he's the slimy one. He's the "one" who dared to betray Jesus. But if we hadn't been given a glimpse into the end, would we feel that way? Would we know him to be any different than the other 11?

"They were delighted and agreed to give him money." (V. 5)

Whether these priests and temple guards knew of Judas' temptation with money or not, Satan knew. Verse 3 clearly states that Satan "entered Judas", so really, the guy had a lot going against him. As I read this, I couldn't help but think of my weaknesses. Of your weaknesses. Of all of our weaknesses and things that set us apart from Jesus. There's always a tug for us to come back to this dark world; the things that could turn our "might"s into "will"s. Satan knows which strings to tug because he sees the weak ones.

So the priests offered him money.

I found this commentary on Judas and his money-lovin' to be quite enlightening: "Then entered Satan-- but not yet in the full sense. The awful stages of it were these: 1) Covetousness being his master... the Lord let it reveal itself and gather strength by entrusting him with "the bag" as treasurer to Himself and the Twelve. 2) In the discharge of that most sacred trust he became "a thief", appropriating its contents from time to time to his own use. Satan, seeing this door into his heart standing wide open, determines to enter by it, but cautiously; first merely "putting it into his heart to betray Him" (John 13:2), suggesting the thought to him that by this means he might enrich himself. 3) This thought was probably converted into a settled purpose by what took place at Simon's house at Bethany (Matt 26:6). 4) Starting back, perhaps, or mercifully held back, for some time, the determination to carry it into immediate effect was not consumed till, sitting at the pashal supper, "Satan entered into him", and conscience effectually stifled, only rose again to be his tormentor." -Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Commentary on Luke 22

Judas struggled with other gods. I struggle with other gods. You struggle with other gods. We all have a door, that just might be wide open, and Satan sees it. What's so incredible to me in reading this commentary is within the first couple of sentences. "The Lord let it reveal itself." Often the question arises, "If Jesus knew everything, why did He let someone like Judas into the Twelve? I think He knew what all of their doors were. Maybe some were open wider than others. But that is not the point-- the point is that He chose him anyways. He knew Judas would betray him in an awful way, and yet He loved him, chose him, and entrusted His wealth to him.

One of my doors is food/self-indulgence. God knows that. He knows that over and over I will have chosen those things over Him. But He doesn't relinquish food from me in an effort to ensure that I will prove myself faithful to Him. If anything, I'd like to know why He has given me a love of baking and a talent for cooking--seems a bit counter-productive if you ask me. He could have made me an awful cook or a failure at baking. But therein lies the beauty.

He wants to see Himself in me. This can only happen through refinement by fire. Refinement cannot take place in the absence of defect. If it were so, there would be no need for refinement.

"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver." -Psalm 66:10

God is not put off by the work required in refining me. He attentively, tenderly, and passionately sees through the muck and mire and stays by my side until refinement has taken place. And I think this is when we can see the doors close, if not completely, at least a little bit more.

By grace and His attentive care, I can confidently say that my food door is closing rapidly by the minute. Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son!

Judas, like millions of others before and after him, did not enter the fire. His conscious stifled, he allowed Satan to enter in. I think that Judas merits our efforts, upon reading of Jesus betrayal, to move ourselves from the side of "oh I know him, he's that guy who did the horrible thing I would never do." to the side of, "oh I know him because I know me. Jesus, mercy please. Thank you for saving me." Because the reality is, we all might, do a lot of things. It is when we draw close to God that He allows those "might"s to reveal themselves and in mercy we are given the choice to go a different way.

Judas, like the other disciples, has a mighty lesson to teach us if we will be honest enough with ourselves to listen. We are more like him than we think.

Praise you, Jesus, for your merciful love. Thank you for trusting us anyways, even when you know we will fail you. Your love is boundless and we will never understand it. Please, Savior, show us how deeply you entrust Yourself and Your commission into our feeble, failing hands. Mercy, beautiful One. We praise you.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

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One Of The Nine

Well, I am one of the nine. I was sure it couldn't be true but turns out it is. Allow me to explain.

This morning, as I rocked my sweet M before his nap and read to him out of his Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, I found myself reading a story of Jesus' healing that I didn't remember. If you've ever read either this children's bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible (an absolutely amazing one that I sort of want for myself), it's easy to find yourself uplifted, challenged and/or encouraged by stories you've read a hundred times before. There's something about reading it through the eyes of a child that brings about simplicity.

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As I read the above story (which you should read too) I told myself, with such confidence, that I was definitely the one who came back. Surely I would have remembered Jesus and gone back to thank Him first thing! I mean, how could you not?

Fast forward about an hour.

I had just finished spending some time with the Lord on my mat, and with each stretch of the tight spaces I found my heart crying out for Him to come into the tight spaces of my heart. To bring release to the "ways of the world" that are so ingrained in my behaviors and responses. By the time I finished I found myself so encouraged by His promise to bring healing to this heart of mine that I just knew I needed to share that encouragement with the world.

So, naturally, I got out my phone, snapped a few pictures, examined which was the best, and began my usual social-media-posting process.

And then it happened.

I joined the nine.

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As I stared at this photo, I came to realize the parts of my heart that I don't like to see. The parts that find a little more satisfaction in telling others of His goodness and grace than in coming back to Him and thanking Him, in the intimacy of the two of us, for all that He is doing in me.

I could chalk this up to reason #498 that Social Media is slowly ruining our lives but really, that's just blame shifting. It's not that those nine had it "wrong", they just got ahead of themselves... but sometimes care must be taken to not "get ahead" of where He wants to take us. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus wants us to share these revelatory moments with the world, in order that the Truth of who He really is might be known. But I CANNOT forget to thank Him-always. In everything. And I cannot forget that while He wants to use our stories to encourage, grow and change others, our relationship is not about the "others". It's about Him.

And sometimes, like the story of Jairus' daughter in Mark 5 (thank you, again, Bible Storybook), Jesus asks us not to tell the world. Sometimes He wants to keep it between us, because that's when intimacy is created.

So there you have it. I'm one of the nine.

Oh Lord! Open my heart to love you more, that I might become that one.

May I discover what it means to share His goodness with the world after first delighting in Him with a heart of thanksgiving. And may you, too.

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40 Days of Prayer...

40 days of weak knees and tear stained Bibles... this is what I am hoping for and believing in these next 40 days. God is so awesome. Not the "awesome" you may hear from the mouths of tweens but what you would read from the dusty pages of your Webster's Dictionary (or dictionary.com, either way). Awesome: causing feelings of fear and wonder: causing feelings of awe. Extremely good.

Did you catch that? Extremely good. Man, isn't He?

I can't wait for these next 40 days, and I also hope they pass slowly, that I may soak in the essence of each day. The time spent with my Dad, talking intimately and deeply about His very precious child. I know that He has quite the agenda for it, and so I will strive to leave myself at the door and proceed in the Spirit alone. Laura really has nothing of value to share. She is grumpy and selfish and generally a bit too emotional as a whole. But her God is beautiful, powerful, gentle and so wise. So let those things be what you take from this experience... His goodness and His goodness only.

The God that we kneel to on behalf of our husbands, ourselves, our children, is a mighty God. His name alone has the power to make the ocean rise and fall. So as you go before Him these next 40 days, begin so by making your heart and mind right before Him... by acknowledging that this is not a chore but a privilege. Loving that man, and being entrusted into his care and love is a privilege. Being the one who allows him to feel strong, to feel a need to protect and provide, is a unique and beautiful honor. There is so much beauty in these roles as husband and wife.

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"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derive it's name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19

Let's  back up a bit first to verse 7 where it says, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power." That man I love was not just born into a Christian home. God purposefully and powerfully worked. He selected him for a purpose and did so with more intention than I could ever begin to wrap my mind around. The man you love isn't yours because you both went to the same University and fell for each other, or because you made some bad decisions in your youth and tried your best to make it right. God powerfully placed you together. He is not a God of chance or lackadaisical effort. He is a God of purpose. You are his wife for a purpose.

These men, they are made in the image of God, which means they have the capacity to experience the same emotions you see God experience in the pages of His Word, as well as the emotions you yourself feel. Granted, some are experienced on a microscopic level compared to ours but they are there nevertheless. So the same difficulty you have relating to the good that you are and that you have been given because of Christ is also present in them as well. Which brings me to this passage from Paul. In order for our men to grasp just how deep the love is of the Father, the Spirit of God must be home in their hearts. I find it of no coincidence that Paul first prays for them to be strengthened, before he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. It takes strength to open yourself up to truth. The Spirit residing in their hearts produces what the Voice translation calls "the rich soil where their lives take root."

It's such a domino affect. If we can pray them through this passage, in this order, I believe we will be thoroughly praying them into a place where they could begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of His love. So today, He has made things easy for all of us by giving us His very word to pray. With a few slight textual changes on my part, pray this over your husband and yourself. Let it soak into your soul and then let it soar. Allow this to launch your prayer into whatever you may know he needs specifically. And allow yourself the freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to determine your timeline of prayer... because it could go further than you may have allowed it on your own.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your son. Fill his soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in his heart. May love be the rich soil where his life takes root. May it be the bedrock where his life is founded so that together, with our family, we will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through his entire being. (From Ephesians 3:16-19 in The Voice. Changed for these purposes with an effort to keep the original message.)

In life we are ever surrounded (usually just from ourselves) by the "should" and "shouldn't" but tonight let yourself soak in the good that you are doing as a wife. Your Father is so very proud of you. Even today, in this very moment with the very emotions you're feeling and the sins you're battling. So rest in His gleaming pride for his daughter, while you spend some time praying for the man you both love so dearly.

Laura

Side note: if you are familiar with the yoga posture "Child's Pose" might I recommend a prayer posture for you? Find a quiet space and bring yourself down into child's pose, with your bible placed in front of you. As you stretch your arms out before you, allow your forehead to rest on the Word and your hands to face heaven. With each breath let your body sink deeper as your heart opens wider. And if you're anything like me, you will soon have a very tear stained Word of God beneath you.

Exciting News! *It's not a baby... duh*

After months and months of active and passive prayer, sought out counsel and some heels stuck in the ground, I've decided to dive into a new adventure. On February 27th I will begin 10 week training to become a Holy Yoga Instructor.

What is Holy Yoga? Well, it's awesome, that's what. It's a ministry of people, all kinds of people, who love our Savior. It's also people of all fitness backgrounds and levels who come together to enjoy and further their yoga practice. But instead of me trying to explain in my own fumbled words I'll just direct you to them.

Why Holy? I've felt for some time His gentle nudge... His patient desire to use me. I would say about 90% of the time I desperately try to ignore Him. And out of that 90% I usually actually obey about 45%. But I do know that He desires to use my voice, as He desires to use yours. I guess I just finally decided to relinquish control and let Him have me. The "holy" part of this ministry, if I can be so bold, is the aspect I feel I have the most control of. Now, God knows I absolutely do not have control of it, but He, in his mercy, will show me that slowly as I travel forward in obedience. In my head and in my struggles God and fitness have always been two separate entities. It has always been a mystery to me why God would care about my physical fitness, because in my mind, it was always with the end goal of looking thin, toned and smokin'. So obviously He wouldn't be for something like that... boasting in my body? In my hotness? Not a chance. But apparently He cares a great deal about my physical fitness, but not with the end goal of making me smokin' but making me alive, well, and able to actively grow with my husband and children as we live each day. Which leads me to the "yoga" part...

Why yoga? I've practiced yoga "lightly" for several years. It has always been my favored form of exercise because it allows me to challenge myself but also feel able. Because my natural stamina does not represent that of a cross country runner, and I'm far too nerdy and insecure to hang out in the weights area of the gym, I find that I feel at home on a mat in a room of people who are (usually) all in varying places in their practice. It has a very welcoming feel to me and I like that. I would like to feel welcome when I am standing face to face with my head full of lies, and that's usually what happens whenever I approach fitness of any kind. Yoga has always allowed me to dig deep and find that confidence I usually can't find. The other thing I find enticing about yoga is that, like our faith, you never really reach a place where you have "arrived". There is always something you can grow in, a new posture you can excel in, another variation you can try. Both of these things, my walk with Jesus and my yoga practice, give me something to work towards always. And both are gracious enough to allow small, reachable goals in the process.

Why now? Well, why not? I mean here's the deal. T gets home from the far-away land mid May. My course is 10 weeks long. This is quite literally my last goal to achieve before he is home and my heart can fully smile and we can be whole again. If I waited I would be juggling curriculum hours and payment plans and going to classes while my husband tries to go to school full time and work part time and blech... just not ideal. So the timing couldn't be more perfect... but His timing usually is so I'm not surprised.

 

So I have two things for you... yes, you.

 

One) Be praying for me in this, if you would be so kind. I'm going up against some nasty, deeeeeeep rooted lies going into this and I'm praying and believing Him to be more than enough to deliver me from them through this. If you know my heart you know that my insecurity is enough to paralyze me at times, so going forward in a ministry that is about spirituality as well as physicality is slightly terrifying. But my God is faithful... this I know full well. My desire is to be obedient in this task so that others around me may see the freedom He came to give them, through the physical practice of yoga and the spiritual act of worship. My life is His, always and forever, and I long more than anything to be a vessel of hope... to show that there is so much more than what you see around you. And in whatever way He desires to use me in this specific ministry, I choose to move forward in faith and obedience.

Two) In an effort to help support myself through the financial aspect of the course I will be putting some of my lovely little "crafts" out there for the world to enjoy as well. I will be putting other things out over time, as I haven't been able to get all of the ideas in my head manifested in real life. But I do have two things currently and if you know of anyone or you yourself would be interested in them then please consider helping me out in this journey by supporting our family (and my increasing addiction to crafting).

Without further ado, let me introduce you (or your little ones, rather) to the "Drool-y"

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Ok, I realize the name might need some work but the item itself is pretty awesome. Made of cotton t-shirt material, it is essentially a baby cowl to help soak up that never-ending faucet that is your child's mouth. Yes, my child's mouth too. You may be thinking, "Man, that's cute and all but who would ever actually put that on their kid?" Well, you're "looking" at her. M wears his all the time (when he is in someone's supervision, of course. Don't leave it on during naptime) and it has been a shirt saver and a mommy-sanity saver... and a baby skin saver too. M is old enough now that bibs are no match for him. Those suckers are down for the count a mere 15 seconds after they've entered the ring. So all I'm left with is a kid with a sopping wet shirt... or changing his shirt about 5 times a day, which I'm not into.

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I got the idea from a little mustard-yellow cowl I made him while visiting family in Canada. But I'll get to that in a minute. The nice part about these versus the little mustard cowl is that, because it is made of cotton, it can easily be thrown in the wash with other laundry. With a knit or crochet cowl, if you're like me, you would want to consider hand washing that. I've got a few different patterns I'm going to come up with in the days to come but this is the pilot option and we love it.

I'm also offering what I've coined "Cowly's". No craziness here, it's a baby cowl. 

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What is great about these, despite what others (ahem... our husbands) might think, is that they truly are a chilly-baby necessity. In the winter months, when these poor little big bellied, barely walking people try to go outside, they must first be wrapped and zipped and stuffed and covered. The more mobile they become the harder it is to keep these garments on them and them toasty. M's jacket, when zipped up all the way, stabs him in the neck/chin, especially when he's sitting down or in his car seat. His hat's flaps either don't come down far enough or drive him nuts and he's done with that mess before we even step outside.

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So not only is mama a fan of the cowly but baby is too. It took him two or three wears to really adjust but now it's no big deal for him. He really loves it. And this one also serves to help with the drool factor, too.

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Bonus: by next winter they should work great as headbands! *thumbs up*

What I'm asking:

Droolys-

  • 4-8 Months: $12
  • 9-12 Months: $13
  • 13-18 Months: $14

(Also planning on having options if you want more than one.)

Cowlys-

  • 9-12 Months:$15
  • 13-18 Months: $17

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My other little buddy that I would love to make available to you is the "Lovie".

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M is quite infatuated with his blankies (and by that I mean he is obsessed with them.) It's a fight between his blankies and his robe for his true devotion. At the end of the day these always win out. I made his first one when he was 8 months, and it didn't take long to realize he needed another one. I'm not about to spend precious hours searching for a blankie because he needs it to go to sleep.

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There are SO many options for this it's ridiculous. Between the minky fabric to the pattern piece on the front it's endless. I wanted to put the feelers out and go from there. These are about 15 inches in diameter, so they are a good size for little hands to carry around the house, and not too big to worry (as much) about them suffocating themselves in a fit of rage. (Is my kid the only one who has to bite a mouth full of his fist or his blanket when he's angry? Yes? Alrighty then...)

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One thing I will recommend with these though, is to consider getting two. It's nice if they can be similar in color, so if you have to swap one out for the wash, little buggy doesn't throw a fit when you throw him or her the color they don't like as much. I'm a little crazy and I tried to "ask" M when he was 7 months old, what color he preferred. I personally leaned more towards green, but in a show of paci's (blue or green) blue won out. So I stuck with the same minky blue and chose different patterns for the middle... keeping variety and security in the same blankets.

For the Lovies:

  • Standard 15" cotton and minky mix- $18
  • Anything larger, like the crib comforter I made M, would really depend on the size and fabric but they are definitely doable and so cute. (M's is a minky hedgehog print on one side and a flannel birch forest print on the other. SO cute. I'll post pictures soon.)
  • If you want to get two then they would be $32.

Please, please, PLEASE give me feedback. Let me know if you are even remotely interested in any of these. I can post some pictures of color options but really the sky is the limit for all of these things, so you can let me know what colors you would enjoy seeing. M is often drug through the fabric store so it is a frequented destination for us.

I realize for some of my very crafty and talented friends these items are not anything super challenging. So to that I just ask you to remember that this is solely as a way to help support my journey into the Holy Yoga ministry. I know and believe that God will provide, and I also know that He has provided me with these talents and there is no reason for me not to put them out there for others to enjoy too.

 

So again, PLEASE let me know if you're interested. I need feedback to know if I should keep going down this road. And we're at the halfway point with winter, so take the opportunity to save your little ones neck during the last half.

 

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