26 August 2007

I hope you dance.

Dancing seems to be the theme lately. On Tuesday night at 7:30pm, I mustered up every ounce of courage I had and tried something completely new: modern dance at the School of Contemporary Ballet Dallas. 1 1/2 hours later, I left the studio with bruised knees and a huge smile on my face. With how ridiculously happy I was, you would think I had discovered I was a modern dance prodigy, but oh no...I had spent the evening completely out of my element, attempting échappés and throwing myself on the floor in carefully choreographed wild abandon.

And I loved it.

When I first arrived at the studio that night, I waited outside Studio C in my halter top and yoga pants wondering what the heck I was about to do. A child's class was just ending and out came a troop of little girls in pink tights and black leotards with their hair in buns. I noticed a sign posted on a bulletin board with the "standard rules" of the studio, and my eyes went straight to Rule #4: "You must wear deodorant." I giggled to myself. If that was to stop people from stinking up the studio, they were in for a rude awakening. Not even the best pit armor could stop this smelly girl.

A few moments later, our small muscular teacher, Kate, ushered us into the studio, and we began stretching. So far, so good. You're an intermediate yoga practitioner, I reminded myself. There was a day when you didn't know how to do a single yoga position. You can do this! I assured myself that no one knew I was a first-timer, but I couldn't hold it in and blurted it out to the twenty-something Asian girl stretching next to me. "Oh, you'll be fine," she said with a wave of her hand. "Especially since you can do yoga." Other students trickled in until there were about 7 of us, a mix of those in our twenties and a few older teenage girls. I looked around the studio anxiously and excitedly. There were ballet barres lining the walls. People were wearing legwarmers...pulled over their heels. I wasn't sure if those were functional or just a fashionable flashback to 1985.

I secured my spot in the back corner, and we began warm-ups which were all centered around the standard ballet positions. Problem numero uno: I had no clue how to do the standard ballet positions. So I kept my eyes fixated on Kate and the girl in front of me, summoning every graceful bone in my body. But when the next challenge came, I was on my own: we were given a real, bona fide 8-count modern dance routine. We were no longer stationary - we were making our way across the entire studio floor. There were spins. There were jazz hands. And then we had to do it in front of everyone, in groups of two.

I had no choice, so I threw myself out there and tried with all my might. Of course I missed half the steps each time and my bare feet squeaked on the floor when I attempted the spins. But I did it! I did it! And it was fun!

As I smiled giddily (when you've made that much of a fool of yourself, what else can you do?), my sweet Asian friend continued to encourage me: “You’re doing great! Seriously, I can’t believe you’ve never done this before!” She was probably just being nice, but still, this was a breakthrough for me! I looked like an idiot, and I didn't care! Because I was putting myself out there. I had decided I wanted to learn to dance, and I was doing it!

Fast-forward to Friday night. I had the opportunity to attend the Women of Faith conference here in Dallas, and the theme was "Amazing Freedom." I was still on an emotional high from my dance class earlier that week and was feeling empowered. Not only did I finally get to hear Nichole Nordeman, whose songs have been themes to many moments in my life, but the main speaker of the evening was Patsy Clairmont, a 60-something fireball with spiked hair wearing a red leather blazer and designer jeans. She was hilarious! As she animatedly danced and swayed across the stage, no one could believe she had once suffered from agoraphobia. She said the theme of her talk was "I Hope You Dance".

I sat on the edge of my seat.

Patsy told us about how hear fears had crippled her for so much of her adult life. She used to be scared to even leave the house - so fearful of all the "what if's". The turning point came when her friends dragged her across the world for the first time, to Israel. You see, Patsy had a long list of "I don't do"'s, and on this trip to Israel, she soon realized she was going to have to start doing them if she was really going to keep living. For starters, she "didn't do" trips out of the house, much less halfway across the world. She "didn't do" planes, but she was on a series of overseas flights. She "didn't do" heights, but she had to take a cable car (which she described as a Tic Tac box hanging from a piece of floss) to the top of the cliffs at Masada.

Once she got to the top, she was so scared she was literally frozen in place and couldn't take a single step. There was an amazing vista awaiting her, but her fear prevented her from moving forward. In that moment, she realized something important about God. For so long, she had asked God to heal her agoraphobia. She wouldn't dare to attempt anything scary until God fixed her first. But what God wanted her to do was first take the daring step, and then He would give her the freedom she so desired. He was asking her to dance, and she had to take the first step. At the top of Masada, she literally prayed herself through each baby step to the edge of the mountain. When she passed through the arch, she saw that God had gotten out His watercolors and painted the entire sky overlooking the Dead Sea. It was breathtaking.

I got tears in my eyes, partly out of regret for all the things I've missed because of my "I don't do" list and partly out of joy for my dancing attempt earlier in the week. I decided now I was no longer going to sit it out - I was going to dance.

So on Saturday morning, I went back to the dance studio for more. This time I tried ballet! It was even more difficult...probably the hardest thing I ever tried to do! Every muscle in my body is sore after two dance classes in one week and I have an even greater respect for the art form of dance.

Something in me has changed. I'm learning courage. I'm learning to be comfortable being me. I'm learning to be a little daring, in fashion as much as emotion. I’m not completely sure if the legwarmers are functional or fashionable....but I'll take a pair in every color. Stripes and polka dots too.

16 August 2007

A New Name. (Captivating Chapters 4 & 5)

"Over the years we come to see that the only thing more tragic than the things that have happened to us is what we have done with them." (p. 74)

Many of us have embraced them, self-protected, accepted a twisted view of ourselves, and made awful "vows" to never do this or that again. As a result, we are living shamefully as "victims" rather than freely and dearly loved.

Chapters 4 & 5 really spoke to me. I had an insight while having lunch with my friend Lori the other day. I realized that in my efforts the last few years to give up the control issues in my life, I have somehow also given up control of the things I'm supposed to have control over. In my desire to stop clinging tightly to my life and taking charge of every situation,...I have instead become desolate and unable to take control when I'm being empowered to do so.

Don't you think God has empowered us with the wisdom and discernment to take action when need be? How do we do this in a healthy way? For me that means taking initiative. As my friend Amy says so often, "live intentionally." Often, my "cop out" is that it just isn't in my personality to naturally function this way. I'm often very passive...

"Much of what we call our 'personalities' is actually the mosaic of our choices for self-protection plus our plan to get something out of the love we were created for." (p. 75)


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

Double ouch.

It's such a fine line, using that power. Isn't it? It's the difference between saying, "I'm going to make my own way and I don't need God or anyone else" (even if we don't say this out loud, oftentimes this is how we operate) or "I'm going to do what God has empowered me to do." Which one I choose changes everything!

So what can I do? I can take care of myself with the resources I'm given. Maybe I can't stop stretch marks, but I can control what I put in my mouth. I can get up early to exercise. To journal. To not only soak up, but to contribute to life.

What the Enemy wants to do is to whisper lies that sound so much like truths at that moment. As the authors discuss in chapter 5, it's a full-on assault on us as women. Not that men aren't assaulted too, but I feel that women often struggle in a different way. And we're not being attacked because we have no worth...we are being attacked because we are a threat! (p. 85) Let that one soak in for a sec.

As for the Bailey household, we've become increasingly aware of how we really are fighting a battle everyday. Before bedtime, we've started praying fervently for a spirit of peace and goodness to cover our home, praying against the Enemy and any evil that can and will try to enter here. I think it's so important. Especially when we are actively working on our relationships with Christ...we are susceptible to attack in the worst way.

The great news is that we have everything we need to fight it! Fighting is something else that doesn't come naturally to me...another thing I have to remind myself that I need to do, in the right way. The bottom line is that The Enemy fears our restoration. And he will do everything he can to attack that. But God is much more powerful, hallelujah.

"For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,

Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

And her salvation as a lamp that burns.

The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,

And all kings your glory.
You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name...

You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,

Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate
But you shall be called Hephzibah ["My Delight Is In Her"], and your land Beulah ["Married"];

For the Lord delights in you."

(Isaiah 62:1-4)

So, I am praying for my "new name." I am ready to move from "Desolate" to a name that characterizes peace, trust, and great confidence in who I am in Christ.

Chapter 1 thoughts.

Chapters 2 & 3 thoughts.

All excerpts from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge.

15 August 2007

What if...

"What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?"

Hmm. Let that one sink in.

More to come from Captivating soon...(ch 4 & 5).

All excerpts from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge.

08 August 2007

Quirky me....

Well, Shawna tagged me so here we go again :)

The Rules:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their 8 things) and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Shouldn't be hard thinking up some more habits/facts/confessions! Hmm...

1. Growing up, I used to sit on my brother's bed while he was away at college (he's almost 10 years older) and study his 1986 high school yearbook for hours, from cover to cover. Talk about odd. I mean, I would literally just sit there and look at their photos and read all the seniors' paragraphs, complete with song lyrics by The Clash and Billy Idol, longing for a feathery hairdo like Rosalinda Russo.

2. I change which side of the bed I sleep on at a moment's notice. My husband never knows where he's going to be sleeping from night to night - will it be by the wall or on the side by the bathroom? I also have this tendency to sleep in the middle of the bed - OK when you're single, not so much when you're married. Steven usually ends up hanging off the side of the bed by the wall and asks me if I need him to grab anything from the closet while he's over there :)

3. I cooked beets for the first time in my life tonight.

4. I subconsciously start to draw kites all over the paper when I'm in a situation where I really want to escape but can't. I realized this recently...and now I recall drawing tons of kites all over the napkins on various airplane flights, church bulletins, and staff meeting minutes. When I'm happy with my surroundings and listening intently, I usually draw flowers.

5. I always brush my teeth the second I wake up, before I eat anything. Steven thinks it's so weird! He doesn't understand why I would clean my teeth and then immediately get them dirty at breakfast - why not brush after breakfast? But I simply cannot eat until I get that overnight taste out of my mouth. Sick.

6. I really want to go to Central or South America. And our friends who just got married are in Costa Rica right now. Ouch.

7. I have injured my back so many times! The first time was when I was about 8 and doing the can-can on the plywood floor while my parents were renovating the kitchen. I did a kick, my foot slipped, and I totally knocked the wind out of myself. All I remember is my dad running over saying, "What the h***!?!" and then me saying breathlessly, "Daddyyyyyyy....." The second time was when I was sledding in a golf course with my friend Jason and we went airborne and then under a parked car. I'm sure there were other times in between, but most recently was falling down the carpeted stairs that led to the garage in our old apartment while carrying a box of Christmas decorations. I was on the phone with my mom and trying to carry a huge box at the same time, and the phone went flying. I honestly thought I wouldn't walk after that one. And I had to get on a plane to India a week later. I've got 3 words for you: Icy Hot Pads.

8. I have a new obsession with Audrey Hepburn movies.

NOW I'M TAGGING: Suz, Michelle, Tara Leigh, Victoria, Amy, and Lori! And you better do it!

Note about my last list of quirks: I would like to proudly announce that after 10 years, I no longer have to heat my eyelash curler with a blowdryer!! Yes, it's true - since I invested in the Shu Uemura eyelash curler, there is no longer a risk of singing my lashes each and every morning! That's a worthy investment if you ask me!

06 August 2007

When the Heart Waits...

My dear friend Lori so kindly gave me a wonderful book as a gift: When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. Could this book any more clearly speak to exactly where I am right now?

"Overhead a thickening of clouds wreathed everything in grayness. It was February, when the earth of South Carolina seemed mired in the dregs of winter. I had been walking for miles; I don't know how many. I could feel neither my toes inside my shoes nor the wind on my face. I could feel nothing at all but an intense aching in my soul.

For some months I had been lost in a baffling crisis of spirit. Back in the autumn I had awakened to a growing darkness and cacophony, as if something in the depths were crying out. A whole chorus of voices. Orphaned voices. They seemed to speak for all the unlived parts of me, and they came with a force and dazzle that I couldn't contain. They seemed to explode the boundaries of my existence. I know now that they were the clamor of a new self struggling to be born." (p. 3)

Yes, that's the first page of the book. Page 3 and I've already underlined the whole thing. I read this in bed last night and whimpered a little and then looked over at Steven to see if he'd heard me. Sound asleep, he was. And I - I was actually excited. Grasping the edges of this worn paperback tightly, I felt a little excitement growing inside that there is something great to come. As it says on page 10, "It feels to us like a collapsing of all that is, but it's a holy quaking."

I'm so ready for it. Bring it on, Sue, bring it on.

NOTE: Yes, we're still doing Captivating, but don't be surprised if you hear more from me about this book!

03 August 2007

New "One Another" frame...

I wanted to be selfish and keep this one because I really like the colors, but I let it go :). Hopefully it will make the newly married couple very happy!