I love you enough for this; I love you more than this

I love the sunset over the meadow as evening ends
The vastness of the sky and the rustle of the grass
The peace that quietly, steps into my walk
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
I love the rush of being on stage
The lights, the costumes, the applause of an audience
The fulfillment of pushing yourself to the limit
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
I love the beauty of an attitude turn
The turnout and cross-diagonal lines of the arms
The beautiful way ballet technique is so exact and demanding
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
I love the sound of my husband’s heartbeat
Feeling him breathe as next to me, he sleeps
The tangle of our feet, the strength of his arms
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
I love the comfort of being at home
The safety of my space and the calm of being alone
The security of relaxing in the world I made
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
I love the satisfaction in teaching, and mentoring
loving and pouring yourself into someone else
Engaged in what life looks like from their perspective
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
Sadly, I love the addiction of being liked
The validation that portrays itself as lasting
The fleeting approval of people I know
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
Sadly, I love the thrill of someone flirting with me
The dangerous game that if played, destroys
The longer I struggle on this the happier I say
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
Sadly, I love the pull of being someone competent
aggressive, hardworking, confident, success
Self-glorifying pursuits that can masquerade
even so dear Jesus, I love you more than this
 
When the days are to busy, the list is to long
when there is no sun to set at night
When peace is elusive and there’s no time to walk
even so dear Jesus, I rest in you enough for this
 
When you take away my house and my home
leave me to wait in a seeming endless stream of days
Strip away my securities, my space, and my comfort
even so dear Jesus, I trust you enough for this
 
When you challenge my beliefs and purposes in life
when you discipline, correct, and allow all kinds of strife
When you ask me, even my dancing to sacrifice
even so dear Jesus, I respect you’re God enough for this
 
When my days are boring and stagnate and dull
when I can’t find something to be thankful for
When I don’t know what I’m trying to look forward to
even so dear Jesus, I enjoy you enough for this
 
When I walk thru the bleakness that comes in saying goodbye
the heart-wrenching, numbing grief and sadness
The listlessness of having to pick up and move on
even so dear Jesus, I hope in you enough for this
When you ask me to evaluate what I love, what I enjoy
ask me to search what I hope for, what I cherish
As you strip it all away you are still teaching me to say
even so dear Jesus, I love you enough for this
I love you more than this

Six years ago today-

I was having my nails done. I was packing a suitcase. I was reading Psalm 2 with Eric (we had counted down from 150 days out). I was dancing at the Kirkland Marina at Sunset with my fiancé; most of my closest friends and family watching. I was laughing at the church’s wedding coordinator’s reaction when I said, “No, actually. I’m running my own rehearsal thank you.” I was unloading 60something dozen roses at the church my Mom worked for, since it was the only place big enough for us all to work with ‘em.

How do you prepare for something you’ve never done? How do you pack for a honeymoon (It’s not anything like a normal vacation trip) when you’ve never gone on one before? I still don’t have the answer for that.

So on to a easier question, what am I doing today? Wearing a new white suit (it’s a pretty one). And getting out my “wedding smell” for the weekend. Say what?… goes like this.

I’ve always loved smells and the power of association. Intentionally, I wore a specific scent the summer I got married, during our honeymoon, and for the first few months we were newlyweds. Now, whenever I wear it, it instantly takes us back to that time. It’s like that with people I am fond of too. Certain friends, teachers, mentors, that mean a lot to me, I remember what cologne or perfume they wear so that later in life, I can find that scent again and remember them.

Perhaps the answer to how you prep for marriage is similar to how you celebrate it- by the goodness and grace of God.

 

And most important; I would guess my friends and mentors who have been married a lot longer than I have would concur: that’s also how you stay married.

Pieces of a letter

For a variety of reasons, I’ve had a huge influx of students from a past life contact me lately. I was writing a letter to one them and thought these excerpts might be interesting to post.

They are in no particular order and not proofed with my normal English grammer tools. Just my heart as I’m writing to someone I care about.

You don’t need to trust God for him to rescue you. His rescue and provision in your life is regardless of what you do or believe. That’s the great thing about grace. God’s greatest gift to us is faith, and joy, and peace. We can’t take credit for our faith when it is there, so when it’s not there…we have to cry out to God’s mercy to replenish it. or help it grow. Now yeah, obviously, if we’re in the word, or connected to other believers, or doing all of these very good Christian things to do, it helps. But all of that is worthless if God doesn’t create faith, love, life, joy, hope in us. He’s called the Creator for a reason. And He’s been in the business of creating new life in hearts that dying, marriages that are crummy, for a long time. Throwing yourself at the foot of cross for mercy, is the best next step for alot of things.

Thankfully, I had this really Godly counselor who I could trust to say… ok in this, you need to remember this verse and believe what God says… that He can heal you, that He is good, that He has a plan for you and your life yade yada, but also say in this area…. You just need vitamins, fish oil, and rest. Did you eat breakfast today? And over here…this is worth trying anti-depressants. Sometimes you need a little of all of them. They actually wrote us a prescription to play once. Really. Doctor’s orders…. On a prescription pad and it just said “PLAY”. We put it on our fridge for a long time to remind us. Whatever play is…games, walk, fun of some sort. It also releases positive chemicals in the brain that are natural antidepressants.

Depression is a common issue in Godly people in history. Jonathan Edwards was seriously depressed at times. Jeremiah the prophet had symptoms of depression big time. Ever read his stuff? Yikes….talk about emotionally roller coasterish. The fight for normalcy or just joy in our life is not one that excludes us from the Godly circle. I would guess that so many Christians struggle with this stuff but since it’s not cool to talk about it at church, inside we all are dying. If we took off our masks I bet most Christians are hurting because of this in some way. Some for their whole lives. I’ve had more opportunities (and joy) in ministry opportunites just cause I’m like…yeah I go thru seasons of depression. It was really bad for a while. And I might be again at some point. But this is what I’ve learned. How it’s better….and most importantly…this is how God pulled me thru.

I’ve a feeling some people reading this will be offended, argue my theology isn’t right, smile in triumph as they point out -see she is crazy. That’s ok. There’s nothing new under the sun.

I guess I miss mentoring more than I realize.

Giving Away Crosses

When my grandmother passed away, she left a large (600+) collection of crosses to me. Made from every kind of material, from all over the world, I treasured the heritage but wondered what I would do with all of them.

Always one for sentimental analogies, I started a tradition of giving away a cross to students that had graduated or moved on. I started with just those who were Christians since I didn’t want to offend anyone of a different religious background. I would explain a few things:

  1. These crosses are to be a reminder of how much I love you. For the rest of your life, see this and think of me; knowing that I still love you no matter how many years have passed since we’ve spoken.
  2. Each cross is different since I love you each differently.
  3. Each cross shares a similarity; mainly my love for you stems from my relationship with God. He is how I filter my world.
  4. It comes with one condition; may it challenge you to invest in other people’s lives. Learn to love and give of yourself.

There was this moment in my life, I’ll never forget. It was the last class I taught in Ellensburg, and as I said, “ok ladies, let’s begin,” they stopped me and said we have something for you. They wrote me this beautiful letter and gave me a very special gift. I don’t remember the exact words (that letter is still in storage) but in essence, this is what they said:

                You’ve given us so much over the years, the most important of which is yourself and the way you loved us. So in response we want you to have this cross to remind you, for the rest of your life, how much we love you back, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked. But it comes with one condition. Give the rest of your crosses away. In time, reengage again. Don’t stop making a difference in the lives of future students, like you did in us.

Surprised and crying, I stumbled thru some sort of thank you and then recovered to start class, but had I the option, I would have been speechless. Many times in the past few years I’ve reflected on the wisdom these young hearts had, and the way God used them to challenge me. It was exactly what I needed to hear from them.

They would be proud of me. Recently, I gave another cross away. It was different this time, since it wasn’t a student, but nonetheless I reengaged in a kind of friendship and gave of myself again. As we said goodbye, I shared the story of the crosses in my life. It was another moment I won’t forget.

One might think that with so much giving of myself, I would lose me, but it’s such a beautiful paradigm. With every cross I give away, my heart gains another treasure. Is it not the relationships in our lives that make them worth living?

… continue reading this entry.

What Ellensburg taught me – Part 1

I’m working, (again/still) on some special events that CBC (my office job) is holding for a departing Pastor and his wife. In the process, I’m researching some quotes Tim has said, used, quoted, etc. I came upon a blog post he wrote some time ago titled “A Surprisingly Sinful Preoccupation.”  It stopped me in my tracks.

John Seel wrote in the (now out-of-print) Evangelical Forfeit, that “we must confess our preoccupation with making a difference rather than being different” when it comes to being the church. How often has the former led to arrogance and pride?

I learned many things in Eburg: How to wear a cowboy hat; what leading worship thru dance is all about; who Kenney Chesney is; how to direct a ballet company; what it means to forgive; Labor Day weekend is mislabeled-it should be Rodeo weekend; but perhaps this lesson about idolizing successful ministry is one of the most important. Tim says it well.

Being different will take humility. Humility doesn’t always stand out – in fact, few seem to notice. Yet being different will make all the difference.

I’m sure God will need to remind me of this many times throughout my life. But that’s one of the ways He keeps me humble.  If I was “good” at learning His lessons, I’d be tempted to think I was capable of making a difference on my own after all.

May I find my value in being His, and becoming like Him, regardless of the impact.

 

 

Be beautiful… and know it!

Every time I walk into a dance studio to teach, I am aware of one question. Every little girl, from the smallest to the oldest, wants to know my answer to their question, “Am I beautiful? How do I become beautiful?”

My 2nd graders are so fabulously unashamed of this….Ms. Amy, Ms. Amy, like this? Is this pretty? Is my foot beautiful? Am I doing better? Do you like watching me? They have the cutest comments that so obviously reveal the topic on their minds, “Ms. Amy I love your hair, Ms. Amy I love your outfit, Were you ever ugly like me? Ms. Amy you’re too beautiful to be a Mom, Of course Ms. Amy’s married, she’s beautiful isn’t she?” On and on, these bring opportunity for me to talk about what real beauty is and that it has nothing to do with my hair, or my outfit,With a student or my legs.

My high-school ladies…. Most are more guarded. They’re already developing the hard edge often required to survive the onslaught of peers, media, heartbreak, etc. But buried under the tough exterior their eyes still ask me, “How?… Can you tell me how to be beautiful? They hate wanting, needing to be beautiful, but they can’t run away from the desire to be delighted in. I love this challenge in their lives. If I can help them become more beautiful as they dance, they start to trust me. Little by little, I can pull beauty from inside them and often they are surprised. A good dancer knows that real beauty doesn’t come from your legs, arms, lines, etc. A good teacher can inspire, form, encourage the heart, challenging their concept of what it means to be beautiful. How do they celebrate, share, and enjoy being a lady while at the same time, protecting themselves and learning good boundaries. I love to talk on this subject; challenging them to never use beauty as a tool, a way to manipulate, or for selfish gain; dialoguing about where the acceptable places to look for validation in being beautiful are. Or more importantly, where they’re not.

They listen to me…. Mostly cause they assume I know. They pick up that I’ve already found the answer to my question… which I have. Sometimes I even get to introduce them to my Answer. There is a peace that passes understanding, and I’ve found the only answer that satisfies. His Glory is real beauty, and He says I’m made in His image. But it gets better, where I am ugly (as we all are) He is the only thing strong enough to change it. This is the essence of why I love Jesus so much. He defines beauty, He creates beauty, He pursues it in me. He is the best Teacher I’ve known on how to be beautiful.

Now when I teach guys….it’s a whole different ball game. But that’s another blog post.

Collecting Stones

There is a story I love, about setting in place reminders of the miracles God has done. The Jewish nation had just crossed the Jordan river thru this sweet miracle (it is my favorite one) and when they get to the other side, God tells them to build a “monument”; a pile of stones so that whenever they saw this, they would be reminded of what God did for them.

When I closed my studio, one of my friends put together this incredible book filled with pictures of my dancers and memories we shared. Today, it’s my turn. One of my friends is leaving his work and ministry of the last 23 years. He, and his wife, have been an invaluable blessing to me and countless others. So, I have started collecting “stones” for them. I asked people to write about what Tim and Linda have taught them, memories they share, ways they’ve influenced people around them, etc. The response is amazing. I spent the better part of my day organizing and creating this book; this collection of reminders to what God has done thru the Jack family. And I’m not even close to done.

What is it about pausing to reflect about the difference someone makes that encourages you, inspires you, refocuses your priorities, and motivates you? Perhaps it’s because I’ve had that moment. The moment when you wonder again if all the work and pain was worth it, if you accomplished anything, if you made a difference. My book serves as a silent testimony to the grace and glory of God, challenging my unbelief.

I’m praying Tim and Linda’s book will do the same.

Never underestimate the power of laughter

 It’s April Fool’s Day and for years I’ve enjoyed the creativity of bringing fun to whatever environment I’m in. I encouraged my students to do the same “as long as we can still get work done.” One year, they had their cell phones hidden in the dance studio (absolutely not allowed in my class) and roped in one of the guys to call them all. It was fun, and we still laugh when reminiscing.

As long as it’s done in good taste and not making fun of others, it can be a good team builder. Laughter is also good for the brain. It releases endorphins that allow for better learning, harder work, greater memory, reduced stress, etc. When I had particularly hard rehearsals to give, or lessons to teach, I would start class with jokes. Or, incorporate more humor all the way thru.

Today it’s not my students, but my coworkers that needed a little amusement. On a particularly tough week at the office, I thought it an opportune time to rename everyone. I subtly changed the office signage to reflect characters from TV, Hollywood, the music industry, sports professionals, historical heros, etc. They loved it. One of them said, “I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun at work.” I also dressed the part of my character. I’m playing Abby from NCIS. They will never look at me quite the same after seeing me with black hair, nails, and a spiky dog collar. But the small sacrifice of my professional image accomplishes a much greater goal. Laughter connects us. And we made one small step towards a happier work environment today.

“They may love me or they may hate me, but they’ll never forget me”

Practice makes Permanent

What does courage come from? How do we know if we have it or not?

There is a common misconception that practice makes perfect. I love to dispel this myth in my students. “If you practice this step wrong 101 times, it’ll still be wrong. Practice makes permanent” You have to repeat the exercise in the correct way to build strength and muscle memory. Thus making your movement permanent. Will you be perfect? Perfection is elusive. But faithful consistency is attainable. And often more useful then brief spurts of temporary perfection. I would rather have a consistently solid double pirouette, then an occasional perfect quadruple.

It’s the same with steps of the soul. Learning wisdom, patience, and courage comes with small, repeated actions; day in and day out, creating muscle memory for the heart. Engaging in the tedious exercises the Teacher gives us in such a way to create habits. Then, when push comes to shove, you’re out there on stage and prep for your turn, you can count on your training. Taking off with proper placement, beveling the foot, engaging your hamstrings, spotting your head in the exact split second needed to accomplish your pirouette. Courage becomes habit.

I know some people in my life who make, day in and day out, constant choices of courage and bravery. Respecting and serving those in authority even though they don’t always agree with them. Swallowing the offenses made against them with forgiveness. Not at all sure of the outcome, they stay engaged and striving anyway.

I respect the difficulty in this. I admire the spiritual muscles they have developed. But I know it’s only come from a lot of hard work. I’m sure they will encounter, as we all do, major moments onstage in life where the pressure is on and they play for all the chips on the table. Will they have the courage they need?  Will be they be brave? Regardless, I make the case they are incredible because of their already displayed consistency in habitual courage.

The Power of a Song

I’m listening to Celine Dion,

“Take me, back into the arms I love”

and remembering a day in rehearsal. A beautiful student of mine had just recently awakened to the knowledge that there is a God who loves her. Coming from a home that was dark and hard, she had heard God say,

“I’m the one who’ll stay, when they walk away”

“Take that leap on count 2, and the develope goes right into the position on your knees.” “Watch your turnout here, and don’t break the wrists for this.” I was creating a ballet to Celine Dion music. Each song specifically chosen and created for a special student. My gift to them, for the rest of their lives.

“Just believe in me, I will make you see, all the things that your heart needs to know”

They tell me still, “I can’t listen to Celine without thinking of you, Ms. Amy, and what you did for all of us.” For this song, Jacquie’s song, I told her “This is what God is saying to you,

“I’m the one who wants to love you more, Don’t you see I can give you, everything you need.”

Mixed between tears and sweat that day, I prayed for her, “May this song and these words haunt you for the rest of your life. May you always know the Lover of your soul’s quiet voice calling to you.” I’m praying the same for her today. Somewhere, Jacquie will be walking thru a mall and hear this song and remember…

“I’ll be….”

“Your head turns in anticipation down the diagonal,” I tell her, “Could He really be there? Imagine Jesus standing in the corner as you move this next chorus down the floor.”

“…waiting for you. Here inside my heart. I’m the One who wants to love you more”

Look up, Green eyes… you can run but you can’t hide. He longs for you, He delights in you, He loves you still…. more than you’ll ever know.

“Whatever it takes, I’ll find a way”

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