a challenge for women everywhere

“What if we approached other women with love instead of fear? What if we approached other women with freedom instead of comparison?” – Trillia Newbell

I went to a conference this weekend with my college ministry, Campus Outreach. One of the talks that impacted me the most was the women’s seminar. Trillia Newbell spoke on friendships among women, 4 ways they’re hindered, and 3 ways to fight for them.

What if our interactions with other women reflected delight, freedom, and enjoyment instead of judgement, fear, and timidity?

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. — Mark 12: 28-34

And I applaud you if you’re one of the few who don’t fit into the broad statement I’m about to make, but most of us as women struggle with loving each other.

It’s easy to love our best friends, it’s easy to love kind people, it’s easy to love people who agree with us, people who laugh at our jokes.

And I know this might be hard to swallow, but I don’t think Jesus wants our love to stop there.

Jesus wants us to love all our sisters.

Even the ones who hate us. Even the ones who lie about us. Even the ones who like our boyfriends. Even the ones who leave us out. Even the ones we don’t want to call sisters.

Because if we take an honest look at ourselves, we’re no better.

We all need abundant grace. Every single day.

As a culture, we’ve trivialized love. It’s not fake niceness. It’s not a like on a post.

It’s radical. It’s praying for the girl who cheated with the guy you thought you loved. It’s asking God to bless the girl who told everyone lies about you. It’s forgiving the girl who hurt you because God forgives you every time you breathe in rebellion.

True love is not that we love. But that He loved us.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” – 1 John 4:10

And we are transformed by this. We don’t have to hate each other anymore.

We’re free from that.

God set us free from the slavery of hatred to be free. Not to run back to slavery once more.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

We need Jesus for this.

We need Jesus to love each other.

So let’s beg Jesus together. Let’s beg Him that we would forgive the ones who hurt us. That we would ask for forgiveness from those we hurt. Let’s love our sisters more than ourselves. Let’s love our sisters more than we desire a guy. Let’s love our sisters more than we crave the approval of others. Let’s love our sisters more than the illusion of control that gossiping offers.

Let’s love our sisters because Jesus loves us.

 

with love,

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find a friend who

for mags:

find an Ephesians 3:17 type of friend.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

find a friendship rooted in love, genuine love, sincere love, the love of Christ. The only genuine love.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:10-11

find a friend who helps you rest in the love of Jesus.

find a friend who remembers her love is human, thus her love is flawed, as is yours, but Jesus’ love is overflowing and enough for the both of you.

find a friend who listens. find a friend who hears you. find a friend who comforts you. find a friend who challenges you.

find a friend that loves you even after you fight.

find a friend that knows your harmony is grounded in something much deeper than earthly matters.

find a friend who cries with you.

find a friend that helps you stand again.

find a friend who will walk with you until you both make it Home.

find a friend who is rooted in love.

find a rooted friend.

find a sister.

 

photo: In His Name Co

Leaving people better than you found them

An interview with the ballet teacher who left me better than she found me, who’s full of the best type of beauty, the kind that overflows from a loving heart that changed dance back into a joyful passion for me. I’m so thankful to have been your student, Mrs. Regina.
How did your dance career get started?

-There were a few ballet company directors in the audience of my final performance my senior year of high school at Virginia School of the Arts. Ballet Austin’s Director offered me a corps de ballet contract backstage that same night! I was elated since Texas was my home state.

What are obstacles you faced in the beginning of your career?

-My technique was still lacking in many ways and that wasn’t apparent to me until I was immersed in a professional company. In the professional world you don’t get quite as much attention as  teachers give when you’re a student. I had to start to figure things out on my own which later helped me as a teacher. 

How did you decide to open up your own studio?

-There was a sense of obligation to pass on all that my teachers had poured into me to the next generation. I love children and sharing my passion for ballet with them. After many years teaching for other schools I realized the only way to give my students what I felt they needed was to open my own ballet school. I resisted it for years, but one day I felt an absolute assurance that I was supposed to open my own school. It has been unbelievably rewarding and I can’t imagine my life any other way. 

What is it like balancing a family with your work field?

-When I had children it was almost unheard of for ballerinas to continue their dance career after becoming moms. The support system I had from my wonderful husband and family made it possible to do both. I believe that it made me a better artist and dancer because of all my life experience. There were times when my level of exhaustion was incalculable but in the end every ounce of it was worth it. Parenthood and my ballet career have both been gratifying beyond belief. 

What are transitions that you went through in your career as a professional dancer?

-The most notable transition to me was after being promoted to principal dancer I had to partner extensively and didn’t have much partnering experience in the past. There were a couple partners in the beginning that made it tough on me and left me feeling defeated. As I gained more experience, I realized how a partnership should be and found out how rewarding it can be. A great partner can make the rehearsal process enjoyable and a performance riveting. 

What are the differences in a career of teaching/managing versus performing?

-Ballet training prepared me for both sides of my professional life. It gave me an understanding of drive, perseverance, time management, and organization. All of these attributes are pivotal in my job as studio owner. I feel a huge responsibility for the children I teach and the families that trust me with training their children. My performing career requires these same attributes but I am responsible mostly for myself only. I know what I need to do to be professional in the workplace and to make a performance successful. In both careers I push to be better each day. 

You have done a wonderful job of mentoring your students as well as training them, I have experienced this. Why do you feel a personal relationship is important in training a dancer?

-My students are people before they are dancers. I feel like ballet is training is really “life” training. The more they understand your commitment to them and your desire to make them better dancers, the better they can receive correction and put it to use. They need to gain strength and flexibility both mentally and physically. It is such a joy to me to see my students succeed inside and outside the studio like you have done and are continuing to do!

How do you encourage your dancers as well as challenge them?
-Finding the balance between pushing enough to get a student out of their comfort zone yet not pushing so much that they feel helpless is difficult. Every student is different and even some days are different than others.  Figuring out what motivates each student is important. I always want them to leave the studio feeling encouraged rather than defeated.


What is the best part about performing?

-A performance can sometimes be nerve wracking. After working so hard and hoping that everything goes as planned there are always things that make my perfectionist side cringe. The best part is experiencing this unexplainable thing from the audience. A connection that isn’t found any other way.  My goal is to move people in a way only live performance can. My soul seems a bit exposed and I can get lost in a performance. When I come out the other side it is almost like I was in another realm. I feel like you can see a person’s heart when they dance and my desire is that Christ shines through me.

 

photo: Ashley Cocannon

you are not your grades

Grace after grace after grace.

That’s all I know what to say when people ask me about school.

I’ve been given so much grace.

Every day that I go to an honors class, I look around. I listen. And I can’t help but hear the voice: “What are you doing here, Jessie?”

“You don’t belong here, Jessie.”

“They’re gonna find out you’re not as smart as them, Jessie.”

“You’re not good enough, Jessie.”

But I’m 3 years in now, I’ve had a lot of talks with my honors advisors. It always ends in them telling me I need to raise my GPA. It often ends in insecurity; it often ends in a standard they set that I didn’t meet, again.

I’ve learned through this season called college, that I am separated from my grades; I’m separated from my transcript; I’m separated from my degree.

My college minister told me something that’s stuck with me since I was a freshman, a freshman who came to know Jesus right before she came to college, a freshman who didn’t fully grasp the gravity of an identity rooted in Jesus instead of herself. He told me this when I was crying as a freshman, crying because after endless tutors, endless hours, and endless nights of hard work, my GPA wasn’t high enough to stay in the honors college. All my friends had A’s, and I was desperately trying to make a D in 2 classes my peers were breezing through.

“You’re not a student first.”

And I want you to know that too. Whoever is reading this, whether you have a 4.0, are trying to get into college, or feel like a failure every time you get a test back.

You’re not a student first.

God put me in Honors so I could minister to girls in the honors college, so I could point them back to the Man I was pointed to when I was 17.
And if he takes me out of Honors, I’ll be okay.

Because I’m not a student first.

I’m a rescued sinner first. I’m a child of God first. I’m an adopted daughter first. I’m a new creation first.

And if I stay in Honors until I graduate, but don’t get a medal at graduation because my GPA still isn’t high enough, I’ll be okay.

Because I’m not a student first.

And neither are you.

You are purchased, brand new, and completely covered in grace.

And yes, A’s and B’s, honor rolls, medals, proud parents, pats on the backs, those are good things,

But grace, peace, adoption, newness, redemption, new life, fullness of joy.

These things.

They are eternal.

And they are better.

2 Corinthians 4:18English Standard Version (ESV)

18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

You’re Not a Student First – Desiring God

with love,

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if i had my very own home

If I had my very own home, book shelves would fill the walls.

With words to share, and lessons to learn, novels stacking up tall.

There would be food to give away where there was need and coffee to keep people warm,

And the house would be open to any needy soul who chose to walk through the open door.

Flowers would fill the tables, letting their scents float through the air,

For every person who needed a seat, there would be an extra chair.

No one would ask you the password when you knocked on the door,

It would be a place for all to be welcomed and loved, that’s what my home would be for.

He is fearless for me

“It’s okay to be afraid sometimes. It means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”

I hate being scared. I hate that I get scared over nothing. I have jewelry with the word fearless on it to try to help me be brave, but I hate that I struggle with it so much. There’s so many days when I wish I wasn’t introverted, when I wish I was bolder, when I wish I put more security in the lasting foundation of Christ instead of the trembling in the midst of life’s instability.

But I’m learning this season that it’s okay to be scared.

That often this fear that follows me around is what ends up pushing me back in the direction of my Savior.

My Savior who offers endless stability, who hands me more than enough security.

I stand on His rock. All else shakes, all else trembles the same way I do when I’m fearful.

But He is firm. He is strong. He can hold me up. He will sustain me when this earth fails.

And I’m learning to trust Him in the valleys. I’m learning to hold His hand in the scary places instead of fumbling around by myself trying to feel the way out.

Because He is the light in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome Him and His goodness.

I pray that trust will become my first instinct.

That He will steady my heart with His steadfast love.

That He will fix my eyes on His love and abundant life above, rather than the temporary, transient things of this world that will soon be gone.

But I’m learning it’s okay to be a little scared because a lot of things in this world are scary. But I’m learning they’re not bigger than Jesus. They’re no where near as powerful.

I’m learning that Jesus does the bravery/courage/fearless thing for me.

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june kay

I’m missing her today more than most.

I looked in her old worn out Bible today to see what she was learned in her beautiful servant-hearted life when she was reading the verses I read today.

She wrote 3 little words.

Die to yourself.

That’s something I’m trying to learn to do right now.

And if anyone did that, it was my Grandmama June.

A life of servitude, a life of selflessness, a life of love.

And part of me gets angry, bitter tears well at my eyes when I remember the day she stopped remembering who I was. Bitter tears sting my eyes when I remember the day she went back Home to her Savior. It felt like I lost her twice because of Alzheimer’s.

“It’s bittersweet, you see, you’re not here, but I can feel you.” – Zac Brown Band

But there’s something about her not remembering that was redemptive. She didn’t remember me. She didn’t remember herself, her deeds or failures. She only remembered the name Jesus most of the time. All she ever wanted was to go back Home to Him.

I think about the reconciliation mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Once my grandmother met Jesus in this life, her life became all about Him. She loved because she was loved. She taught, she let herself be taught. She adopted because she was adopted into God’s family. She served because she had been saved.

And nothing can take that away. Not Alzheimer’s. Not Satan. Not death. Nothing.

June Kay. She was a servant who loved people. And today, I really miss her, I miss her and her life of love.