The Last Time

I had a thought yesterday morning whilst putting on my makeup--

when was the last time I did that thing I used to do to my hair?

It was this braid thing and I used to do it all the time and then, for some reason in my subconscious I'm unaware of and unconcerned with, I stopped. This revelation led me to another more serious one, which is usually how revelations go in my brain, and I found myself thinking of all the lasts in life.

The last time I fed M a bottle.

The last time I sat with my parents over a late night bowl of cereal.

The last time I woke up for a midnight feeding.

I'd say with 95% of our lasts in life, we don't know they are happening; which for overly sentimental people like me that's probably a good thing. I then began to think about all of the lasts I have yet to experience, like the last time I'll read to my kids, or the last time I'll send them off to school, or the last time they will sleep under our roof.

It's depressing, I know.

But what about the others lasts? The victorious lasts. The whole-and-free-and-alive lasts.

For all the things we do that don't serve us: what if there was a last-time for those?

The last time I self-sabotaged?

The last time I overate?

The last time I said those words to myself?

The last time I danced that age-old two-step with sin and traded my pretty shoes for hiking ones and trekked a new path towards the things of God and away from the things of my sin and flesh and failure?

There are so many things in our lives with lasts that are long overdue. We keep going back to our sins and our patterns of behavior because they are familiar, and if we are honest, the idea of being done with them is scary. Familiarity is a trusted companion but not always the best one. 

As I continued getting myself ready for the day I wondered at what it would be like to not remember the last time I said those worthless and devaluing words to myself. Or how it would feel to have this life of comparison and "not enough-ness" be but a hazy, distant memory. While I realize that women deal with these lies long into their golden years, I also stand with my two feet firmly planted on the Truth that I have a Father who is in the business of wiping away desolation and bringing life to dry bones. So for me, I long to fight for my golden years to be just that: golden. And with very little memory of the things that plague me today.

Let's fight for some more lasts:

The last bow to failure

The last whisper of defeat

The final act of worship to the deceiver

and lets fight by actively inviting in more firsts.

What firsts do you need to welcome into your life? What new habits, behaviors or thoughts do you need to actively integrate into your mind, heart and body so that you can say goodbye to things that don't serve you?

The first gaze of self-acceptance

The first inhale of pride and love

The first memory made full of love and laughter without a sliver of self-deprecation 

And once they're gone, let's not sit and ponder when the last time was that we _____. It's not worth the mourning. 

 

 

BONUS:

What are the lasts you can't quite remember but you should?

The last time you initiated holding your spouses hand?

The last time you asked someone new to go out for coffee and get to know one another?

The last time you put away all of the to-do's just to play with your kids?

Make a list and then make it right--give yourself a memory to go with each so that when asked the question, you can give an exact answer of when you last did that because you make a point to do it often.

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.

Laura-forwardfold

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!

 

 

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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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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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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