Be Thou My Vision…

A “mantra” for the new year. Also one of my favorite hymns.

This evening I got in that mood again – the ooey, gooey, too much in-my-head-writing mood that I used to know more frequently when I spent my spare time writing blog posts and short stories. (That I would be humiliated by if anyone found them.) Now I waste time on social media  stalking “friends” who are far away, reposting dance videos and art to make me look cultured, some recipes, but mostly watching cat and dog videos… inspiring for certain.

When I got the crazy idea I should spend my quiet new year’s eve reflecting, being sentimental, writing about my past year and making plans for the new year, I asked the Lord, not in any coherent words, but more a subconscious kind of asking – what should be my focus for the new year? As soon as the thought crossed my mind other thoughts crossed too, and before I knew it I was pouring myself another glass of wine, washing the dishes, petting the cat… when I noticed I was humming and then singing a hymn. “High King of Heaven, my victory won…” I love it when the Lord does this. It seems to be one of the ways he captivates and retrieves my wandering mind…
What does Be Thou My Vision have to do with my new year? He guided me to the book 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymns. I was amazed to discover that this hymn came from an ancient Irish prayer, written in the eighth century 400 years after Saint Patrick evangelized the Druids in Ireland, and translated in 1905 by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, a scholar in Dublin. It was set to tune by Eleanor Hull of Manchester, England. One of our most timeless hymns, it resonates with my constant pleading the Lord for vision – for my life, for my art, for the last two and a half years my thesis concert. (Another thing he’s teaching me is to pray with an attitude of thanksgiving and faith that he has already given or done what I ask, rather than pleading for it.) I feel distracted and unclear a lot of the time, the complexities and anxieties in my own thoughts ousting clarity. I know only he gives me purpose and vision, and I constantly have to remind myself to submit my will and my vision to his. I’m learning, due the wise words of Madeline L’Engle, that I am not the master of my own life nor art, but a servant of the Master Creator’s  masterpiece – I serve his work that he has an immaculate vision for it that will not fail. I can trust that, no matter how long it takes and no matter if I ever see the completed masterwork this side of life, he will accomplish it and it will be good.
The more I submit to his will the more I see the vision for the masterpiece more clearly. The fog and fear and anxiety strips away. There is still a lot of work to be done, and I learn every day some new way I fail and have to start again. But knowing I serve his masterpiece takes a lot of stress off myself and I can focus again on the task.

Before I get too carried away, let’s take a look at some of my past new year’s goals with fresh eyes and clear vision. How can Be Thou My Vision infuse some of these with clarity and steam for goals this year?

To be honest, I often cringe when I look at my past goals. I have thirty of these written on my blog, “30 before 30”, which I have not looked at in a number of years. If my blog were a journal it would have cobwebs on it by this point. I went through a couple years ago and deleted the majority of the foolish ones. They are so telling where my heart and priorities have lain. Many of them are good things too:

#1 Backpack Europe before I turn 25 (because Euro rail is cheaper). Hmm I guess I’ll have to postpone this one, until I get a real job and can afford the full post-25 adult price.
#2 Get a “real job” and save money. I think I should have thrown that one out long ago. How about get a job that has a contract for more than 6 months and/or benefits?
#4 Pay off my student loans. hmm well, I started once before grad school. I will have to start again soon, with that real job…
#8 Get married and start having kids. Before 30, mind you! Isn’t it funny how 30 seems to get younger the closer I get to it?
#12 Get a Master’s degree in something useful. I’m pretty sure I made this one because my undergrad wasn’t very useful. Well, too bad my Master’s isn’t considered “useful” either. At least I didn’t go into more debt.
#15 Put a down payment on a house. Well, still have a year a half to scramble into that one…if I can ever get a job and decide where I’m living!
#18 Get my Pilates certification. Woohoo! made one!
#26 See the Grand Canyon. Totally doable. But if I still haven’t done it in the past 28 years when I grew up in one state over and visit my parents at least once a year, this is going to take some initiative.
Alright. This list is about a lot of different action goals. I’ve added quite a few other goals each year, usually to do with training, diet and health, spiritual devotion and prayer, and usually something about using my time better… the last one will definitely reoccur this year. But these are still actions, and when I make action goals I frequently disappoint. When I ponder Be Thou My Vision, it has to do with the attitude of the heart.
Setting the attitude of my heart on things that are lasting, an eternal mindset, strips away the fog, fear, anxiety. This is also something the Lord has been revealing to me about Beauty through my thesis concert. What makes someone truly beautiful? A heart that belongs to the Lord. He is Truth and Perfection, the ultimate revelation of Beauty. The first verse of the hymn reads, “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” A heart that is submitted to and longs for the Lord – that heart’s vision will be clear because it is illuminated by his radiant presence. Being in his presence is the best feeling in the world. His presence pierces the darkness and brings tears of joy to heal the sadness and pain. Lord knows there is a lot pain and hardship I endured this year. He never left me. His presence was a comfort to me, but also something I too quickly left or discounted. Practicing the Presence, as 17th century Brother Lawrence did – is a difficult task for anyone living on planet earth with unending distractions and needs.  Yet that is the best way I know how to submit the attitude of my heart to Him. Willfully choose to set my thoughts on him and surrender to his Spirit, his vision, his beauty. Thank God for the grace he offers through his Son Jesus Christ for all the times I fall out of practice. Let this year be a year of practicing the Presence and, not in any task-oriented, legalistic sort of way, a joyous constant surrendering of my heart to eternal Beauty.
Photo on 5-8-15 at 7.28 AM #2

Beauty in Unexpected Places

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One of our maintenance staff stopped me in the hall today. I usually pass by them, saying hello and sometimes stopping to chat with one of the older ladies I’m friends with, Evelyn. It’s easy to learn their names because they’re embroidered on their blue janitorial shirts… I kind of have an unfair advantage and didn’t realize they might not all know my name, although we see each other everyday after 4:30pm. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise when he asked, a bit hesitantly: “What’s your name, miss? … If I may ask?” I told him, and glanced at his jacket as I asked his. I admit I didn’t really know this man’s name, although I’d heard it before – I usually recognized him as the man with one lame arm, that I sometimes feel pity for when I see him dutifully sweeping some corner under our five-floor spiral staircase, or pushing that massive waxing machine with his one good arm – and he always does it so cheerfully. “Woodrow. “Wood or Woody,” he confirmed. I felt the corners of my mouth turn up – just a little, not too much. He continued, “I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I appreciate that you’re always smilin’ and that you’re always kind,” he said thoughtfully, then paused, “that’ll take you far in life.” I stood directly opposite him in the hall by the water fountain, he holding a broom in his good hand, me with my leg brace and carrying my black laptop bag. I put my back against the call board in case anyone needed to pass by. “Thanks,” I muttered, then something else about being fortunate to still be doing what I love… I really wasn’t been feeling it today. Honestly, I thought to myself, I don’t know how I’m going to get a job next year. I’m tired of barely being able to pay my bills and if I don’t stop injuring the only instrument I have that my entire vocation depends on, I don’t know what I’ll do… It’s the first time in 28 years I haven’t had some naive, ambitious answer for the ugly reality of ‘how are you going to be able to sustain living and dancing’?
“How much longer do you have?” Woody asked. “This is my last year in the MFA program,” I said, relaxing a bit and setting down my bag. I liked this old man. I could see his big, gold tooth through his smile clearly for the first time, perhaps because I stopped for long enough and actually have him my full gaze, there in the dingy light. He seemed as excited for me as I should have been as he asked about my future. Again I had no definite answer, but told him about how I’ll probably teach in a university like this one day because that’s the most stable job I can expect to get with my degree. I wondered what dreams this old man had at one time. Does he still have dreams? Ambitions? What struggles has he fought to keep going through life with his deformity? “Well, I know you have a bright future ahead,” he told me. “Soon you’ll be up there looking down on the rest,” he said, waving his hand in the direction of our state-of-the-art theatre one floor above us. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” I said with a chuckle. He sighed and motioned it was time for him to go. “Well, keep that smile. I know I-we really appreciate it,” he said, motioning to mean the rest of the maintenance staff. “Your attitude, your kindness – they’ll get you far. I know you have a bright future ahead. I can see it!” His eyes lit up as he said it; he picked up his broom and waved goodbye as he headed off. I was glad too, as I picked up my bag, because I had started to tear up and I knew it was beginning to show. “Thanks Woodrow, I appreciate it!” I said as I picked up my bag and turned the corner to walk as fast as my bum leg would allow As soon as I stepped into the sun outside I burst into tears. My heart was so heavy, and touched – yet I didn’t quite understand what had happened back there. I sobbed as I walked toward the red brick parking garage in the humid Florida sun.
Kindness hasn’t gotten me far in this cut-throat, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps life, I thought to myself, and it certainly has done nothing for my professional career. In fact I often feel overlooked and under-appreciated. Why do I keep trying to do this? I ask myself. The psychological income I receive certainly doesn’t pay my health insurance and surgery and physical therapy costs… I always thank choice and fortune for shining down on me. This man who offered me rare appreciation… Why not do it for him? For the millions of other people who don’t have the choice to pursue their art? I why am I still here dancing if it isn’t to make a shared human experience and to illuminate Beauty to color this harsh world… Perhaps the old man has a point.

New Year-ish 2013

Here’s to a rather late start to a new year – 2013 is going to be a year of expectancy for me and Matt. I am reminded that I don’t march to the same beat as everyone else, and my life certainly does not follow the same pattern as everyone else. Neither does his. We are each different from the “norm” for different reasons, that is, if the “norm” is living the American dream. We are both poor performing artists who want to be making music or dancing rather than working mundane jobs, and our lives for different reasons have taken the long away around getting to those things that people are supposed to be doing in their late twenties, getting a boring job and making boring money, living a cushy life, getting married, having kids.  The only thing I can count on is that the Lord brought us together for a reason and He has good plans for each of us, to fulfill the dreams and desires He gave us.

I began to get sad tonight about how my life isn’t following the “American Dream” like so many of my friends’ lives are, until I was reminded that the American Dream is not really what I want anyway.  I want the dreams the Lord has for me.  In 2013, I am content to know that the Lord is leading me, and that the trajectory of my life will look and always has looked different from most of those around me.

In Psalm 37:4 there is a promise: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act.”

I am beginning to see evidence that my dreams are being revealed and He is indeed giving me the desires of my heart. He is so good! He can always be trusted. I am looking forward to the things He has prepared for this year. I have given my heart, my dreams, my desires to Him. He is my all and He is worthy of trust. What lies ahead that I cannot see I entrust to Him…

I entrust to the Lord what happens in the next 3 years as I enter graduate school. My relationships, finances, talent and gifts I also entrust to Him. I trust Him to work out the details of my M and my relationship and to provide the necessary funds for living expenses when I move to Florida. Thank you Lord for opening the doors so far, and thank you for the peace you have given me about this new step. As easy as it is for me to be impatient with things like relationships, I trust your timing. I’ve seen You give my dancing back to me and I am beginning to see how You are keeping Your promise to use my talents; You raised me from despondency and self pity. You have given me joy.

Let me shine my light in the darkness. Give me favor with my employers, coworkers, fellow students, and those I come in contact with.

D-day

I am confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ (Phil 1:6).

Looking over my archives, I am tempted to wipe the record of personal things I’ve written in the past couple years -in case future employers come searching for my deepest, darkest secrets I’ve spilled in a weak and lonely moment. ha! But then again, it is nice to go back and see ways I’ve changed – the delightful adventures as well as the hardships I’ve endured, and the silly ideas I’ve promoted.  I recall when I started the blog, it was in an attempt to “stop journaling so much and wasting paper”.  I also wanted to  adapt to writing in the digital age. Well, I don’t see it that way so much any more. In fact, I’ve managed to “waste” a lot more paper in journals in the last couple years than I did before.That’s because there are many things that may need to remain in a journal, and many things that are better preserved there. long-winded extrapolations for certain.

I would love to transform my blog, but for now, there is one life change I must mention.

July 31 was my personal D-day. For me it came as a result of realizing I needed and wanted to be free from certain strongholds and sin patterns in my life that could not be changed with my striving. Through a process with deliverance ministers and licensed counselors, I experienced freedom that only the Lord gives. It was right for me because I was desperate, for direction and permanent change in my life; I wanted it, sought it out, desired it.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (Matt 7:8).

The Lord gave me so much joy and freedom yesterday as I was driving home, singing to him and praising him and praying with more ease than I’ve ever had. Today I asked him to sustain that for me, because cares and temptations began to creep up again. I now know I can renounce them, in Jesus’ name, because he’s my deliverer.  Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Many other verses came to mind, and I am reminded I must daily eat of the Word if I want to have it hid inside me. He has given me great desire and joy in spending time reading his Word. I want more, all the time.  I want to soak in his presence. His peace is fulfilling Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).

My revelation is tied up with all those experiences, yet in addition to delivering me and healing me and giving me joy and peace and rest, he assured me that he will bring about his plan for me, and give me the desires of my heart. The word that was given to me yesterday confirms that he has not forgotten me, what he has given me, and that he will be faithful to bring about that which has been prophesied and promised. His Word does not return void. After so much hurt, disappointment, rejection and confusion, he has cleared those away and confirmed me. Not only that, but told me in specific ways what I will accomplish using the gifts he’s given me in the years to come. For so long I’ve struggled to believe that He will use my dancing for something great, or that I will be able to continue dancing at all. It has been a long, hard struggle, and I expect there is a lot of work ahead, but I am thankful I have confidence now to persevere. I couldn’t be more pleased or excited!  I have been fighting for motivation and perseverance – fighting doubt, failure, injuries, heavy burdens – and it has been hard. But he lifted those burdens for me and gave me his light yoke in return. He has filled me up with his Spirit and assured me that my labor is not in vain.  Talk about motivation! It’s not as much of a struggle anymore to get to the studio every day. It’s wonderful. I can’t do anything but praise him when I think of it!

If anything has increased because of this, it is my faith. Yet I must work it out still. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).  Like how the work in the studio must go on… it is a joyous toil. It gives new meaning to the verse: Faith is the Assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

I can truly say that my delight is in the Lord, not in the things of this world, not in the things of man, not in success or money or career, or even in my heart’s desire. The Lord has given me my life, my dancing and my hope. For this I praise him.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to him, trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:4-5)

Weddings, Tree Sap and Transitions

My sister’s wedding ended with a drizzling out of: hype, excitement, energy, and relatives. After the last of our relatives left Monday, I fell asleep at 5pm and slept until 9am the next day with only a few hours awake watching movies in the middle of the night with my mom.

Now that that’s all done and she’s safely secured in Texas, I can continue on with my life: a threatening ogre of decisions about my next steps. What should be a most exciting time in my life, where I have a multitude of possibilities open, is overwhelming. Sometimes it seems a viable option to retreat back into the couch at my parents’ house in the mountains and do nothing but enjoy the peace and quiet. But that can only last for so long. While I seek peace and quiet time during this transition, my heart seeks for action, adventure, and new perspective. My hikes in the forest have proved a valuable time for contemplation and prayer, and I intend to hanker in on that even more so this week. I have a lot of decisions to bring before the Lord, concerning jobs, relationships, where to look for jobs and whether to move or stay where I am.

Sunday I went for a walk and prayed my heart out to the Lord. I wanted him to speak audibly to me, to show me a sign, something. I slowed down to enjoy the scenery and smells of this familiar path. All he showed me was what I had been missing by rushing along this trail, rushing from one thing to the next. I may think I’m on a mission to get something accomplished, but I am impatient, and often miss sign posts and beautiful moments along the way.  Even in my prayer life, I just talk and ask, and don’t wait for a response. I was telling the Lord about this, and this, and this, and what should I do about this, and how about this…but I wasn’t giving him time to respond. I didn’t stop long enough to listen.

I recognized this today in the clear globules  of fresh sap clinging to a pine branch that hung across my path. Rather than duck under it quickly as I normally do, I stopped to examine it. Look what you nearly missed, the Lord told me. Look at the beauty in my design, how simple the droplets of sap are, yet how complex. All of my creation is complex, majestic, and grand, yet I have time for it. I have time to look after each drop of sap from a tree. I would like to show you much, much more if you take the time. I want you to talk to you, to walk with you, to show you things and guide you. I desire to have conversations with you. Let’s work on having meaningful conversations before deciding all of these pressing things. We’ll get there, I promise.  It struck me that the Lord just wants me to slow down so He can talk to me.   He wants to have conversations with me. He wants to hear about everything that I care about, worry about.  Someone once told me the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; he will not force himself into your life if you don’t want him or don’t give him any of your time.

I am so glad God caught my attention today. This truth applies to my relationships with those I love as well. We have to invest time and conversation in any relationship that we want to be intimate or more than casually acquainted with a person.

The rest of this week I’ll be hiking at a slower pace, sitting and resting and listening once in awhile – to give the the Lord time to respond in my conversations with Him. In fact, perhaps I should do more listening than talking.

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.