When you wish you hadn’t said “Yes”

Have you ever agreed to dance and wished you hadn’t?

Have you ever contemplated backing out of a ministry assignment the night before?

Do you ever question your call to dance in the middle of an assignment?

I do these things more often than I would like to admit. : Last Saturday evening, the night before I was to dance at my own church for Pentecost, I seriously contemplated backing out. In this post, I share what kept me from doing that and what I learned about the choreography process that may help you as well. I also (spoiler alert) include a video of the dance I did end up sharing. Continue reading “When you wish you hadn’t said “Yes””

When You are Juggling Choreography Assignments

What do you do when you are asked to choreograph but feel your plate is already full?

Is it okay to reuse choreography from a dance?

How do you take a solo dance and turn it into a group dance?

This year, while I have been far more silent on my blog than I would like, I’ve had the joy of being very active in choreographing and dancing, in teaching live classes,  leading an online study group, and choreographing for another church.

If I someone had presented me with all the assignments at once and asked me if I could take them on this year, I likely would have declined a couple of them.

However, with each opportunity that came my way, I felt the inner “yes” and went ahead, and for each assignment, I have been given what I need to complete it. More than that, I have experienced a synergy between the assignments that has been a joy and a delight.

So, I want to share my stories with you so and give you some tips that will enable you to, under the Lord’s leading, complete more than you think is possible. I also hope it will help you see how the Lord is constantly at work, weaving together the details of our lives into His larger tapestry.

I’ve been teaching a beginner modern dance class to teens this year. I absolutely love it. I was scared to teach it, because previously, I had not taught a technique class. I’d taught expressive movement and worship and left the technique to others. (By the way, Lynn Hayden’s Modern Dance I and Modern Dance II DVDs have been an indispensable tool in improving my own technique and also developing a structure for my class.)

The Lord really gave me the dance we ended up sharing at our winter performance with very little extra effort on my part. The choreography process was unlike all my other choreography processes. I had several assignments for my Dancing for Him Level 3 school that involved choreographing two counts of eight of music. I had fun teaching these to my students. Then I simply strung them together, and it became this dance. I didn’t even initially choreograph it for this song. I choreographed the counts and they ended up fitting really nicely with this song.

I look at the dance and marvel that He made it so easy, and I think the dance was beautiful and thoroughly worshipful. Girls with no previous dance experience and those with many  years of experience loved dancing it. Their parents were deeply blessed, as was our community and the nursing home where we shared it.

But for our spring offering, I had nothing for the first half of the semester. We played with one song, but I simply did not have a leading. Until Palm Sunday.

On Palm Sunday, I ministered a solo dance to our congregation and a sister congregation. The choreography process was actually arduous for me, filled with uncertainty and struggle. I had to keep going back to the Lord and asking, “Am I supposed to do this? What do I do next?” But in the end, He gave me a dance that ministered. When I finished it, I knew that I had my dance for my modern dance students. I could see how this solo could be bigger, more moving, and more powerful with a group. So, we are working that our right now. I look forward to sharing it with you.  Here is the solo.

For now, though, I want to share a few tips on turning a solo into a group dance:

For the introduction: Use floor patterns of movement. Where the solo dancer may just dance down the aisles, see the group coming in from different corners and moving in a circle.

For the body: Use cannon in movement. Where the solo dancer might walk for eight counts, have one dancer begin the sequence, and a couple more dancers enter every two counts.

At key moments in the dance: Don’t underestimate the power of unison movement. When your movements are simple, having everyone do the same thing at once for a sequence is very powerful.

For expressive movements: Try group shapes instead of gesturing a movement individually. Consider how the dancers as a group can embody that movement. (There is a part in the dance above when I go back to gesture to the cross. In the group dance, two dancers will form a cross with their bodies. The others will dance facing that cross.)

Turning a solo dance into a group dance is a delightful challenge. Where the dancer may be able to execute more complex choreography herself, the group together, each doing simple movements, create a sequence that is even more visually interesting.

A fantastic resource to give you more ideas is Lynn Hayden’s Creative Worship DVD. You will go away with so many ideas you’ll be looking for a dance to choreograph.

I have so much more to share on this topic, how I used the chorus of the dance I choreographed for one church in my kids praise dance class, how I’ve used so much that  I learned from leading a prophetic veils study group in both my modern dance and kids praise dance classes, and how the Lord really does know how our assignments fit together.

But I’m going to close this long article here. I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments:

Can you share an example where the synergy between your assignments allowed you to participate in more than you would have thought possible?

Do you re-use choreography? If so, how do you make sure you are still bringing something fresh from the Lord?

 

 

 

Do You Let Yourself Be the Student?

Ministry leaders and dance teachers, when was the last time you let yourself be the student?

How often do you take the place of the student?

How often do you have to learn someone else’s choreography?

Team members, do you ever feel like you can’t keep up, don’t learn fast enough?

Do you ever fear disappointing your teacher/leader?

Something so valuable happens when we step into a role we don’t normally have. In this post, I share an experience from this past week when I experienced this role reversal, how it affected me, and how such a role reversal can help us be better teachers, leaders and students, if we’ll let it. Continue reading “Do You Let Yourself Be the Student?”

Living God’s Dreams – Ministry Activation

Are you awaiting the fulfillment of dreams that God has given you?

Have you faced setbacks that cause you to question whether the dream will be fulfilled?

Are you or others with whom you serve weary of waiting for a dream to be fulfilled?

Do you ever get frustrated by the dreamers in your life?

If so, you’ll find this message from Wesley Scott Amos’ book, The Transforming Journey encouraging and perhaps even convicting in a way that leads to renewal.

I’ve created a video explaining a ministry activation you can do with your team or congregation, renewing hope for the fulfillment of the dreams God has given and releasing power and encouragement for the journey. Continue reading “Living God’s Dreams – Ministry Activation”

Why I’m taking a Sabbatical

fear-of-laying-it-downI had a great conversation with my friend Marlita Hill several weeks back. The first thing I said to her, when I saw her that day was, “I’m feeling thwarted.”

On that sunny Thursday morning, I had left the house with grand plans: I would drop my boys off at the co-op where they take classes (I teach there on other days, but Thursday is my day off). After that, I would relish a couple of hours in reflection and post to my blog before meeting Marlita for coffee.

Instead, Continue reading “Why I’m taking a Sabbatical”

Are you capable?

dancers confidence quoteDo you see yourself as capable?

How confident are you that you can complete the tasks you believe God has given you?

What do you tell yourself about yourself?

As worship dancers, our confidence is so often under attack. We often question our sense of call and whether we are worthy of the assignments we feel called to.

God cares very much about how we see ourselves. What He wants from us and for us is often different and always better than what we believe or deserve.

In this post, I’m going to share about a phrase from the bible that challenged me to change the way I think and speak about myself. I’ve got a gift for you in the post as well. Continue reading “Are you capable?”

Watch this Dance of Revelation

dancing with power
Scroll down to watch this dance of revelation.

This week at our house church, a new friend shared with me the story of his falling out with God, with Christianity.

My friend serves in law enforcement. He encounters people in crisis on a daily basis. He often encounters people suffering under mental illness. It was in response to their suffering that my friend had his falling out with God.

You see, when he came into contact with these suffering people, my friend would pray for them, but he said he never saw any hope for them. And so, his faith, which had been integral to his life, became simply something he participates in for the sake of his family, and because it was part of his upbringing and culture. But, for him, it has no bearing on his day-to-day life.

I felt the weight of his story and have been praying for this friend. He entered situations for work where people were suffering greatly and the God he knew seemed irrelevant and powerless to help.

Is Christianity irrelevant and powerful? Is Christ? People want to know. I recently heard these words of an atheist, “If God is all powerful, He cannot be all loving. If He is all loving, He must not be all powerful, because there is too much suffering in the world for there to be a God who is both all powerful and all loving”

In Psalm 62:11 and 12, the Psalmist writes:

One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”

Psalm This God is the One who stepped into history and suffered with us. He suffered for us, that the power of sin and death might be broken.

The God of scripture, the Father of Jesus, is both able and willing to intervene. But sometimes He is hidden from people’s view – by the darkness in the world, by our limited faith, even by theologies that do not recognize that His power is available today.

I’ve been praying for this friend this week. This is my prayer for him, adapted from Ephesians 1:18, emphasis mine:

I pray that He would give him a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, that the eyes of his heart may be enlightened so that he may know the hope to which He has called him, the riches of His inheritance, and the very great power for us who believe.

hope riches power of GodThe LORD wants us to know His hope, riches, and power. The dictionary defines know as to “be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information” and “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.”

People need to observe and encounter the Lord at work in order to know Him. As dancers we can help them both observe and encounter this God. We can be a living picture of His character and nature.  Of course, this needs to go beyond the sanctuary and dance floor and out into our lives and theirs, for them to truly know Him. Nonetheless we have the chance to paint a living picture and to usher in the presence of this God as we worship through movement.

I shared a dance this past weekend that reveals the character and deeds of this strong and loving God we know. The words to this song, written by a friend of mine, Douglas C. Eltzroth,  speaks about the authority, gentleness, and nearness of this God we know.

I praying it reveals some of who He is that you may know Him better.

Please take a moment to share in the comments if the words of this song spoke to you. Or, share how you have experienced the power and the love of this God yourself.

Exalt His Name Unto the Nations Praise Dance from Amy Tang on Vimeo.

 

Align Yourself with God’s Purpose for your Dance in 2016

marlita hill teleseminar

Position your dance ministry for greater impact in 2016.

Join me as I host Marlita Hill, author of the revelatory book, Dancers Assume the Position.

Ministry comes through your dance and provides something specific to God, the individuals watching you, the church you serve in, and the body of Christ at-large. However, ministry does not happen through dance just because you are dancing. In this four-part teleseminar,  Marlita Hill will share from her book, Dancers! Assume the Position, to help you:

– Construct a clear picture of the your ministry as a dancer

– Identify the mindset necessary for effective ministry

– Collaborate with God in the various areas of your ministry, including songs choices, choreography, and ministry opportunities

– Clearly trace what the dancer contributes to God, the individual, the congregation, and the body of Christ

– Draw a clear distinction between the activity of dance and ministering through dance, so that God can minister through you, unhindered, and in the fullness of His power.

Fortify your assignment for 2016 with the support and encouragement of a seasoned teacher and fellow dancers.

Join us for this first complementary class or register for the full 4-part series.

When:
Saturdays: January 30, February 6, 13, 20 7:30 – 9:00 AM PST, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM EST

Where:

On your phone or computer (just dial or link in)

register free teleseminar
Click to register for the first class for free

Do You Recognize the Voice Speaking to You?

gospel through artsI received a fun surprise in my inbox last week. A friend recommended that I be featured as the artist of the month with Make and Believe Productions, whose mission is to use the arts to share the gospel and to do it with excellence.

There was a part of me that wanted to reply, “Actually, I’m not really an artist. I’m kind of a lay dancer, and I don’t know if my work is excellent enough for those who read your posts” and go on to explain my lack of credentials.

But that would have been an insult to my friend who recommended me and to the Lord who has given me the measure of gifting He has and Who is allowing me to use it. It would be an insult to the amazing teachers who have invested in me over the past five years, allowing me to grow as a dancer and minister and gain credentials for teaching. (Thank you, Jocelyn Richard and Lynn Hayden) So, I simply thanked her for including me, sent in my bio, and said a quick prayer of thanks for the open door.

There is a familiar voice I hear so often in my head that I mistake it for my own voice. Sometimes I interpret it as humility, an accurate assessment of my weaknesses. Other times I interpret it as my own insecurities. But the truth is, it’s not my voice at all. It’s the voice of the Enemy. He disguises his voice as my own in order to keep me holding back, burying my talents instead of investing them. Can you relate?

I remember a time when I was teaching middle school, over 15 years ago, when I lamented to my dear friend and fellow teacher that I was struggling. I was feeling inadequate and even jealous of her (she was a dynamic, creative, and confident teacher). I described to her all the ways I felt I wasn’t measuring up. I patted myself on the back for being “honest,” but she would have none of it.

She said to me, “Amy, sometimes Satan overplays his hand. This is as spiritual attack. You are in ministry in the church and at this school, and he is trying to divert you from what you are called to do. You need to pray through putting on the weapons of your warfare every morning,” and she articulated this prayer based on Ephesians 6 for me that I have prayed over and over since then:

Lord, I place the belt of truth around my waist. Let everything I say and think be your truth.  I put on the breast plate of righteousness. May I trust in your righteousness today and may I walk in righteousness, so that my heart is protected. Let my feet be shod with the gospel of peace. May I bring your peace everywhere I walk today. I raise the shield of faith. Let me have more faith today than I had yesterday. I put on the helmet of salvation. May all my thoughts be taken captive to the salvation of Jesus. May your word be a sword in my hand that I use to set people free. I will pray in the Spirit today for your people, that the gospel will go out.

I experienced immediate relief from the spiritual attack and the “insecurity” no longer seemed valid.

We each are vulnerable to spiritual attack in different ways. Sometimes the enemy uses our pride, a physical weakness, or our tendency to overschedule our time. There are a multitude of ways we may be vulnerable. But the result is that we are immobilized. It’s the enemy’s strategy to seek to steal, kill and destroy, and he’s out to hinder what God wants to do in our lives. However, if we can recognize the voice as his and/or recognize the hit as a spiritual attack, then we can stand firm in the Lord and resist.

If you are feeling plagued by self doubt, or overwhelmed by discouragement, or just pestered by mishaps, to pray through the prayer from Ephesians 6. Say it out loud and gesture as you put on each piece of armor. Better yet, don’t wait for the attack. Make it a habit to put on your armor daily. Then you will be prepared to move forward, not burying your talents, but putting them to use, whenever He gives you an open door.

Join the discussion and respond in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Can you relate?

How to you recognize spiritual attack and fight back, in the Lord?

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your life. Also, thank you for celebrating this joy with me. I’m grateful to be featured on Make and Believe Productions and look forward to any doors the Lord opens through it.

 

How are you doing with the holiday busyness?

christmas dance peaceHow are you doing with the holiday busyness?

My sister texted me this question early this week and it has been repeating over and over in my soul since then.

When I read it, I thought, “Actually, I’m doing great. I actually haven’t really felt the rush of the season yet.” I felt a little smug, like maybe I’m above getting harried by all the trappings of Christmas.

Then, I started wondering, Am I sitting on a time bomb? Am I not feeling stressed because I’m just procrastinating on all I need to do? Am I honestly at peace, or am I just in denial?

All that introspection took a drastic turn within 36 hours Continue reading “How are you doing with the holiday busyness?”