Last October, I felt led to take a sabbatical from my blog and email community for a season. That decision came after a soul searching conversation with my friend Marlita Hill, who has a way of helping draw out from me my heart concerns as well as hopes. You can read more about that conversation here.
Now, I’m standing at the other end of that sabbatical and it’s time to share the gifts that came out of that time with the hope that it will encourage you.
First of all, it was simply lovely to have that bit of extra space in my life, more time for family and a bit more soul space. We traveled to Arizona to see my parents, my 105 year old grandma, my aunt and uncle, and my sister and her children, and then we entertained 9 people in our home from my husband’s side of the family for a week in our home. It was so fun to just be present with my family.
In addition, I received a handful of ministry invitations, a few that seemed to come out of the blue, requests to choreograph and teach, some from people I had never (or hardly) met. To me, this was such confirmation of what Marlita had said, when we talked about my fear of setting any of my dance commitments aside for a time. Here’s what she said:
If he calls us to lay them down for a season, it’s because He has a reason, and His reasons include our welfare and factor in the desires of our heart. Sometimes He asks us to lay something down so that we can hear what His purposes really are for that thing and so that we can come back to do that later with greater clarity or preparedness.
So, I’d love to share about a few of these invitations with you so that you can celebrate the open doors He’s allowed and, as you feel led, pray for me as I prepare for and engage in them:
In November, I received an email from a church about an hour from me, asking if I would choreograph a dance for their team that would be part of their Christmas musical. What was so cool to me about this was that this was a group that exactly fit the type of people I feel called to. The dancers and leaders have huge hearts for worship, extensive experience using sign language in worship, and the desire to broaden their choreography. I worked with a combination of youth and children. I felt like the assignment was hand picked for me. They had simply found me from my website. After choreographing a dance at Christmas for them, I am choreographing two dances for their Easter outreach service. This has been a great partnership, which is also in line with my desire to gather a liturgical dance team in my area.
In December, I received an invitation to teach at a women’s retreat also about an hour from here. This was from a woman I had met at a Dancing for Him conference. Again, the Lord is giving me opportunities to connect with dancers in this area and pass on what He’s been teaching me.
Also in December, I was given the opportunity to dance in worship at the very first worship service of the church my husband and I are planting here in Pasadena. It was such a joy for me to use the dance to sow into this church. It was especially beautiful and meaningful to me because my husband asked me to dance in street clothes, not full garb, and to keep it very simple, using gestures, rather than dancing in full. (That tiny red front part of the stage in the picture below was the entire space I was given for the dance.) It took me back to my very early days of dancing in church, even before I had any formal training. I danced not as a performer, but simply as another worshiper using movement to better bring the heart of a song to life. Most of the people attending either haven’t seen dance in church or haven’t liked what they have seen. God really used it to touch them. One friend said, “I loved it. It drew me into worship. It was like I was seeing through you to the Lord.” Another pastor present expressed how much it touched him, and he invited me to one day dance at the church he pastors, another church that is wary of liturgical dance.
In early January, I received an email from a pastor in Maryland who has been reading my blog and emails over the past year. She invited me to come and train their dance team. Before accepting the invitation, I asked her what her vision for the event was and what drew her to my ministry. This was her response:
We have a dance ministry in our church, but we need to be trained in the purpose, vision and movements for the Lord based on the scriptures. Our dancers have experience but not that much. We have girls from 6 and up and also young ladies.
When we spoke, she told me she had been praying and fasting and asking the Lord to lead her as she sought training for her team. She was crying when she shared with me her desire to see them truly grow in having a heart of worship and ministry.
Again, I sensed that the assignment was hand picked for me to pass on just what God has put on my heart and trained me for.
These are just a few of the doors that opened over the past few months. I’m saving others to share in a future post. This one is already so long!
But I want to close by thanking you for your prayer and encouragement during my sabbatical.
I also want to encourage you, if you are feeling torn or overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks you have committed yourself to. Know that, if you lay something down, even for only a season, you may receive it back in a more mature form.
Lastly, I’d appreciate ongoing prayer for these new ministry assignments, each of which stretches me. Pray that I don’t approach them out of my own strength and ideas but that I would learn to better listen the the Spirit and follow His lead.
I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments a time when you stepped back from a beloved activity and found that when you returned to it, you experienced greater clarity or purpose.
Or, share what is on your heart right now in terms of ministry and how you are maintaining time to stay connected to Jesus as you approach it.
Thanks so much for allowing me to be part of your life.