Life Story in 100 Words

I don’t remember Nebraska. Moved to Albuquerque when I was 3 and had my first ballet class. Grew up in the mountains, home schooled: art projects, animals, dirt, nature; but every afternoon we drove to the city to dance. Loved to dance. Moved to Boston at 17 to dance. stressed and danced. Columbia, South Carolina: first ballet job. major disappointment. Injuries and changes of plans. Worked through it: part time jobs, good friends, school. Didn’t want to stay. Columbia isn’t so bad after all. England. Spain. Italy. Columbia. No, not in South America. Plain old Columbia. Good ol’ South. It isn’t so bad.

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Cookies

I can’t take credit for these, but I can vouch for them being good. Inspired from Jugalbandi. I had to make a second batch to take to my friends because I ate the first one. They really hit the spot! Everything in here is good for you (ok, almost everything). I made these because I was craving iron and chocolate. Molasses is a good source of iron.  Chocolate is good for everything, I’m convinced. These cookies are great with a glass of soy or almond milk. mmm..

VEGAN GINGER-CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(Makes about 15 medium cookies.)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together in one bowl

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup each whole wheat flour and all purpose flour)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup raw cane sugar (I used powdered sugar b/c that’s all I had)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsps baking soda
1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2.5 tsps ground ginger
2-3tsp cocoa (or carob) powder

Mix in another bowl:

Tip: Pour the oil in the measuring cup first. Then the molasses will not stick to it.

1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup+ tablespoon unsulphured molasses
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 .5-2 tsps fresh ginger grated very fine

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Stir and add it to the dry mixture. Mix it with your fingertips and slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time until you can roll the dough into ball with your hands, 2-6 Tbs, depending on type of flour you use.  Add chocolate chips now or, stick two or three dark chocolate chips in each before baking because the dough will be slightly crumbly.

Place balls spread apart on cookie sheet and press them down with the bottom of a glass or the back of a fork before baking, 15 min each for two baking sheets.

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P.S. I’m not a vegan, and I even strayed from my vegetarian lifestyle lately, but I’m convinced that the worse thing we can do for our bodies is fill them full of white processed flour and sugar. Believe me, I’ve done my share of that, and it makes me feel sluggish. It’s not worth it.

I made these after our meeting for Kyra’s yoga studio, Hot Yoga Masala tonight.  Free classes all this week before Labor Day! I was talking with another of the volunteers/new instructors about vegan recipes. Our conversation re-inspired me to be more mindful of preparing my meals ahead of time each week so I’m not left faced with food I really don’t want to eat but that’s just easy to pick up while I’m on campus and working. I made a bowl of miso-vegetable broth-sprout soup and some more sesame tofu tonight too. No excuses for grabbing Beezer’s subs! My pocket can’t afford that every night anyway. You can start with these cookies as an initiation into a mindful eating practice. Just don’t eat too many cookies before you come to yoga!

Getting Perspective

…just a few more rambling thoughts on:

PERSPECTIVE in the WORKPLACE

This topic was brought up recently in a discussion between a friend and I about delegating tasks or being delegated to. I am more often the latter, and sometimes feel taken advantage of at my workplace. In Exodus 18 Moses was taking all the disputes of the people on himself to solve. Jethro’s advice to him was to delegate tasks to trustworthy men, and bring the disputes before the Lord.

 17Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.18You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. -Exodus 18:17-18

From that we began to discuss working for bosses and people who may delegate too much or take advantage of us. Even in those circumstances we can work and serve with joy. (Also wisdom to stand up for ourselves.) The point is, we have to look at the bigger picture and get perspective of the circumstances even if they seem overwhelming and stressful. As Christians, we should have a different perspective than our peers, he said. Also, the Lord delights to use us for His usefulness; Spurgeon says, ” It is not a pleasant experience, but I pray make it a profitable one to me.”  If God has laid us low, there are numerous things He is wanting to teach us there:

 “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” 1 Sam. 2:7

From personal experience, every time I remember that I have a different motivation for doing a job well than others, it makes a world of difference. It’s the same with “good works”. I have met and heard of so many charitable people who have accomplished great things to relieve suffering in third world countries or disaster areas, donate money, clean water, etc. Take the Peace Corps for example (I thought about joining after school), or the Rotary Club. It amazes me that people can do these “Christian” things for others when so many Christians would rather sit in their couch in their nice comfortable home, in their nice, boring lives. Not that everyone needs to become a missionary or that comfort and enjoying the fruits of our labors is wrong; but we are called to serve in our own communities. Some of the wealthiest people I know are the msot gracious and giving people I know. Perhaps some of us middle-class and students who are going to be privileged middle-class Americans one day need to check ourselves.

HOMELESSNESS and PERSPECTIVE

In my community I know I usually avoid homeless people like the plague. Columbia is a hot spot for them, and yes there is a lot of help for them, and many of them have drug problems that they don’t want to change, but for many they have been dealt a hard blow in life that pushed them that way. I have friends who serve in the homeless ministry in Columbia and know women from my church who like to take food to them on the street corners. Maybe it’s not safe. Maybe they are lying to me, maybe they never want to change – these things roll through my skeptical, judgmental heart when I see them. I usually won’t give them money, maybe food, and I usually will only stop to help women.

 

I’ve had experiences where I felt cheated before when I have reached out to help, and I hardened my heart again. A few months back here in Columbia I listened to one woman’s story and gave her food and tried to find places for her to stay, and she seemed very ungrateful. Then I saw her walking in the Rosewood neighborhoods when I was running one day and she was dressed like a normal person, and smiled a knowing, mischievous smile at me. I’m too judgmental but I hate con artists. After that I’ve been even more skeptical of homeless people, until last month when I was hanging out with my friend Ashley in downtown Albuquerque. A homeless woman with one leg approached Ashley and I asking for money to get back to Indiana. I almost wanted to tell her no, I didn’t have any cash, which was true, but Ashley insisted on giving her what spare change she had, and asking the woman if we could pray for her. She was really open to that. As Lisa (her name) told us her story and we held her hands and prayed for her, her whole countenance changed. She seemed like a different person to me. I saw how human she was, and how similar we really were, both sisters on this earth, only I was more fortunate. And we had so much to give – not just money, but Jesus. We bought her lunch and sat and listened to her. At first she wanted to get her food and go, but because we were willing to listen and treat her like a respectable person, she sat with us. By time she finished she was laughing and making jokes. She told us about her kids (who were our age). She had been in a bad marriage in Albuquerque which put her on the street, and was addicted to drugs too, although she told us she’d been in rehab and clean for 6 months, and was trying to get money to go back to Indiana to stay with one of her sons. She said she had “believed in God” before and that this was a sign from God that He still cared for her. It was moving, but I still held a splinter of skepticism that wondered if she made up the whole story up. Ashley said it didn’t matter. She did what God told her to and the rest was between the woman and God. I was really impressed by my friends’ boldness to share the gospel with everyone she comes in contact with. God is changing my heart to see that it doesn’t always matter if we feel like we might get taken advantage of, so long as we’re doing His work.

 

That was a long spiel, but one of the reasons why I chose to try to help this girl who called me randomly last night needing a place to stay. I don’t know her story and my friend who gave me her number doesn’t know her well either, but from what it sounds like she’s in a bad place right now and desperately needs a place to stay till Tuesday. I can’t help her all week because my roommate and I will be gone, but I can offer her a place tonight. I also remember what it was like to not have a car, and feel reliant on other people for rides anywhere outside of my biking range, so I offered to pick her up tonight. It’s such a small thing really, and so many people in Columbia have helped me selflessly; any number of those people would have done that for me. What really pales it in comparison is what Jesus did for us. Although this girl is just like you and me, maybe this is the beginning of opportunities I asked the Lord to give me to serve after that incident with Lisa. I asked him that, and I know he will do it! I think I have missed opportunities before, but now I am ready to trust that He will send me things to do to serve people that is within my means and safe. Part of maturity and learning to serve as a Christian is listening to the Lord for discernment and when He wants us to help someone.

Psalm 147b

Friday I had the pleasure of watching eight Performers girls dance my choreography to the Sons of Korah’s Psalm 147b. It felt so normal being back in the studio at Alwin’s – although it’s been years since I danced in that same studio as one of them. In 2009 I watched the 25th anniversary production of Christmas Joy, which was my sister’s last year in the production. It has been seven years since I was a Performer and trained at Alwin School of the Dance. That makes me feel so old! It makes me wonder what I have accomplished in those seven years?! I am not doing what I planned to be when I left to train with Boston Ballet seven years ago. But looking back I cannot regret the way life led me. I wouldn’t have matured in ways I have and learned the things I did if I did not have the experiences I did. It took me this long to heed God’s call on my life to use my gifts to give Him glory.  Watching them perform the piece was a good reminder that it’s not about me. It’s not about them, either, not even the girls I chose for solo work. It’s all about the Lord.

He has been so merciful and faithful to chase after me and draw me to Him. He has given my dancing back to me when I wanted to run away from it because of painful experiences. He has been so good. I must repeat these things over and over to remind myself this is why I create dance – in gratitude and amazement of God’s goodness and majesty. His faithfulness and immeasurable beauty I see in the consistencies and magnificence of nature, in the sunset, in the stars at night, in the high mountain peaks covered with snow and the massive ocean foaming and whipping with waves, in the human form in graceful dance or powerful movement. I agree with the Psalmist who attempts to proclaim the Lord’s magnificence and our insufficient, futile efforts to impress him. The God of the universe! What do we have to offer him?!

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:10-11)

I was reading one of Joshua Harris’ books recently that I found on the shelf at home, and he was talking about God’s gift of freedom from past sexual sin, or sin of any sort, really, by getting perspective of the cross. It’s relevant to Psalm 147 when trying to understand what it meant to Jesus Christ to die for us, and why he deserves out praise. The Lord over the universe, the part of the Trinity that helped God the Father to design creation and people in his own image, (Colossians 1:17) came not only to live a perfect life among sinners, but to die a sinner’s death as a perfect, blameless man, experiencing all the weight of the sins of all the peoples of the world while in agony on the cross, and being rejected not only by those he loved and was dying for, but by his own father in heaven. That baffles me – to have such great love to lay down your life for people who revile you, while your all-powerful father hides his face from you. Left alone in the world to bear the sins of the world.

“He feels dirty. Human wickedness has starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of the Father’s eye turns brown with rot. His father!

He must face his father like this!

From heaven the father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.” (When Boy Meets Girl. Harris, J. p. 177)

The story doesn’t end there though. Christ conquered death: he died and was buried, rose on the third day and ascended into heaven,  to the glory of his Father in heaven. The Father was well-pleased with his Son’s sacrifice, and considers his son’s sacrifice rather than our sins. He is in heaven sitting at the right hand of God the Father ruling over the earth. At the throne of his heavenly father he makes intercession for us. (Isaiah 53:12) That is cause to praise him!

Psalm 147b talks about the God’s might and power as reasons we should extol him; it says the Lord delights in those who fear his name. (vs. 11) Our hope is in his steadfast love – that has saved us. We cannot gain his favor or approval – it is already paid for, done and approved. The Psalmist urges Zion to “extol the Lord” and praise God Jerusalem.”(vs. 12) He goes on to talk about how he strengthens the fortress (gates) of the city, and blesses your children within you (vs. 13) He grants us peace and “satisfies us with the finest of wheat.”(vs. 14) His Word commands the universe. He speaks his word and the ice melts. He keeps all his promises.

Christ boldly endured the cross. We can boldly praise him. That is why I felt the need to express boldness and confidence in the movement for this Psalm, not  interpretive dance. While Latin dances are typically associated with being macho or flirtatious, I think adding a little of the flamenco style movement accentuated the piece because of its boldness and power. The music also had Latin/Spanish guitar influence, and I let the music inspire the movement. I seldom pull movement out of thin air – the music becomes the blood in my veins that create the dance. For so long I stifled it because I wanted to pursue my dream, not God’s dream for me. I will not let regret and frustration rule me. I look forward to the ways God is shaping and changing me. In His goodness He is showing me that I please Him with my gift even when it is not me performing. I am doubly blessed, to transfer this gift to so many wonderful young girls and multiply the praises to God in their worshipful bodies and hearts.

Thank you to Wendy Miner and the Performers for allowing me this opportunity. I am looking forward to our next creation!

Scroll to 9:35 for the last run-through of the dance.

Looking forward to working with the girls again to clean it up and see it performed in its finished product next spring!

P.S. They’ll be wearing all black or a dark shade flamenco-type skirts for the performance.