Yoga

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I got to do yoga today. Fabulous. I used to go weekly and practice yoga at the LA Arboretum. After my teacher moved away, the new teachers just didn’t hold the same appeal. Now I pop in every so often at Foothill Gym in Monrovia. I love Betsy’s yoga classes. Perfect pace for me. The thing that stood out to me today was Betsy giving us permission to do or be however we needed to be. If both arms above your head hurt, put your arms behind your back or on your waist or just lift one arm. If you get tired in Down Dog, go into Child’s pose. At one point she said, even if you know you can’t do any of the poses, come to class anyway. Just lay on your mat and soak in the community of women here.

When is the last time you truly felt welcome as is? No matter your mood or ability, be here. I actually had tears in my eyes when Betsy said that. I felt welcomed and loved and accepted just as I was. It has been months since I last practiced yoga and reverted to child’s pose a few times today. It was OK. We all need places to just be whatever and however.

My goal is to be that for others. Do they feel they can let their hair down with me? Do my friends come towards me or away from me when they are in crisis? When life is messy, I want to be welcoming. Who are your safe people? What are your safe places? Are you a safe place for others?

I have many safe friends in my life. I am truly blessed. I know I can be that for others too. I am grateful. I hope I can extend the same graciousness to strangers or acquaintances. So many people lack that safe place. Like Cheers’ theme song “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. And their always glad you came.” Be that for others today. If you need it, find your place where you are welcomed as is. It feels wonderful.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

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Les Mis

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To love another person is to see the face of God.

One of the last phrases sung in the musical Les Miserables. Arcadia High School just gave an incredible performance of this show last weekend. I honestly expected to cringe a lot since the vocals in this production are challenging. However, I savored every note and soaked in the powerful message of the show. I cried on several scenes. This high school provides amazing theater. The costumes were incredible (especially since my daughter is head costumer). I expect to see a few of these kids on Broadway one day too.

If you haven’t seen the show, Pantages Theater has a run of it in May or you can watch the movie version of it with Hugh Jackman. Either way, you will capture the theme of this show – Grace!

(Spoiler alert) My favorite scene is near the beginning of the show. The priest gives Jean Valjean his silver candlesticks and tells him to give his life to God and begin a new life. I cry nearly every time. It’s the ultimate undeserved gift – aka grace. This priest trusts Jean Valjean to be a man of God and use this gift to make a difference in the world for God. And that he does.

Someone at the performance commented that this is a show about forgiveness. I disagree. Forgiveness is saying “I release you and myself from carrying the weight of ‘you wronged me’ anymore. I don’t condone what you did but I am not going to dwell on it any longer.” Grace is an undeserved gift. Is forgiveness a form of grace? Yes. However, grace is much bigger than forgiveness.

Grace allows someone to stay in relationship with you while they change and grow. Grace extends kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve an ounce of it. Grace is praying for your enemies. Grace is Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive us our debt that we could never pay. It’s sacrifice. It makes no sense. It’s humbling.

Les Miserables’ other main male role is Javert. He is the epitome of legalism. He’s a Pharisee. He can’t handle the grace Jean Valjean lives his life by. He is driven to death because of grace. He couldn’t understand how someone could be good when they deserved to be punished for their crimes. Both men loved God. However, Javert never learned to accept God’s grace. He knew the God of the Old Testament – black and white. The grace and fulfillment of the Old Testament is found in Jesus and the hope of the new covenant in the New Testament.

Where are you today? Living in grace or stuck in “he/she deserves it?” Be a Jean Valjean and spread grace wherever you are planted.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

Flutterbys

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I love when little kids call butterflies – flutterbys. I love butterflies. I am in heaven right now as we are in a butterfly migration where I live. About 1 billion Painted Ladies (a species of butterfly) are flying from Mexico to Oregon. They are passing through many areas in Southern California. It’s beautiful. It’s also stunning to see. I can’t be outside without counting at least 30 butterflies. I was walking the dog yesterday and every few steps 3 or 4 passed by.

I was curious on this phenomenon so I did a bit of research. Because of the rains, the plants stayed green and gave the butterflies a home and food source so more lived this year. Also, an adult butterfly typically only lives a couple of weeks. Their flight north is typically made up of multiple generations, with a butterfly going a certain distance, then laying eggs. Its brood will hatch and continue north.

Wow! The butterflies don’t even make it all the way to their destination. The next, or next-next, generation does it for them. It reminded me of the plight of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. They didn’t make it to the promised land. The next generation did. Once the original generation died out, God allowed the next generation to enter. This wasn’t due to a short life span but instead because of their sin. They were a grumbling people who kept turning to idols and complaining about their circumstances. He got fed up and the consequence was that the current generation wouldn’t see the promised land.

The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 

~ Numbers 14:20-23 NIV

However, the kids get to live in the promised land. They get the fruit of the long journey in the wilderness. Same is true for the butterflies. The journey may have been started by the grandma butterfly but the great grand-daughter is the one who lands in Oregon. Isn’t that our hope too? The next generation gets it even better than us. We have it pretty good but we want even better for our kids and grandkids. This happened for the Israelites. This happens for the butterflies. How can we make it happen for our kids?

It isn’t from us being perfect. It is from staying true to the right path – God.  The butterflies stay on a path from Mexico to Oregon. At some point, grandma butterfly lays some eggs and lives out her life in that spot. The babies emerge from the cocoon and journey onward. That momma butterfly lays some eggs and lives out her life in that location. Those babies make it onto Oregon.

Stay on the path. Keep seeking Him. Make a better future for your children and grandchildren. Celebrate them picking up the baton and continuing the journey. And while you are journeying, make sure to look around and enjoy the butterflies flying by.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Do what is helpful

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I had the pleasure of see Beth Moore live in Long Beach two weekends ago. She is an amazing Bible teacher. She not only passes on wisdom but encouragement to fulfill who God designed for you to be. This weekend was no exception.

Her theme was Compel. My biggest takeaway was to always be helpful when you teach or come alongside someone. Rather than just give knowledge, provide instruction that is helpful, useful, practical. She shared a story of how she would listen to sermons teach how we are to be. Gentle in spirit. Kind to others. Forgiving. She said inside she was screaming “HOW?”  How do we do those things? It’s one thing to know what we need to be and goals for our growth but how we get there? That is the helpful part. Share your journey. Provide insight into steps to obtain these goals. Offer suggestions on verses to meditate on. Whatever will help your listener know how.

Being helpful when you come alongside someone who is hurting is important too. Spouting well-meaning verses to encourage just isn’t want someone would find helpful during their season of grief. A clean bathroom or kitchen may be the better solution. A meal. Sitting together and crying, or talking, or doing nothing may be helpful. Practical is often the best path to encouragement. A hug is best accompanied by a helpful gesture.

What can you do this week to be helpful? How can you encourage someone not just with words but with a practical gesture? Take some time to ponder this, then go do it.

Dream Big! Pray Big!