Love Letter

By Brooke

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The Lord wrote me a love letter. I needed one. In a bad way. In a way that I have never needed one before. This is what He said.

Brookie,

You dont have to defend yourself. You can cry out to me. You can ask me to defend your cause and to redeem you; to preserve your life according to My promise and I will answer. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend and a cord of three strands will never be broken. You are not alone. I am with you. Those whom I love are with you. They are with you because they love me and, in loving me, I have given them over to loving you. Rest, daughter. They have you. I have you.

 Remember how I taught you to make up your mind beforehand to not defend yourself? How I taught you in the ways of My ways to avoid ancient ruins? Remember, I am doing a new thing. Remember that you are who I say you are. You are a light dweller, and though you travel through the valley of death, you will not find a home there.

Hear Me. I will fight for you, you need only to be still. I alone will show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know. Seek Me. I have eyes for you. When I see you, I see Me. Seek Me and find more of yourself. Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Listen to Me. This is what I say “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go” You cry out “Heal me Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise”, I hear you.

I will shut the mouth of the lion. I will quench the murmurs of deceit and slander that come against you. If I am for you, who can stand against you? Walk with me, Light Bearer. You became an imitator of Me, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. So cast all of your anxiety on Me because I care for you. Rest in Me. Come to Me, daughter who is weary and burdened and I will give you rest. This is how you will know that you belong to the truth and that you can set your heart at rest in My presence.

Know My love. Rely in Me. Abide and Me. I see you and adore what I see.

 Daddy

Comparison – It’s Not About The “We”

By Brooke

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My best friend, Alisa, wrote a blog last week that gave voice to the thing God is most recently working out in me. And since God is a God of relationship, it seems He is working it out in those closest to me at the very same time. If you haven’t read her blog, read it HERE first and then come on back to me.

So I suppose I should start with a praise offering before I go into my pile of crap with you. That way the stench of what needs sacrificing doesn’t overwhelm the fact that my offering is ultimately a fragrance welcomed by God, no matter how old and infected it may be.

I praise God for relationship. I praise God for intimacy. I praise God for the full length mirrors He has given me as gifts and tools for lifelong self-reflection who bear the names Jarrett, Jory, Jace and Brynn. I praise God for best friends who not only bring to light things one on one, but broadcast it to the blogging world in order that hiding from accountability is not an option. I praise God for light. I praise God for freedom.

I am also on the verge of praising for the things that hold me back in certain places. I say on the verge, because embracing my deficiencies are never moments I charge excitedly. I mean I will do it, because God has made me obedient, but I don’t like it.

And so IT is (this week at least), comparison.

Comparison has been a companion of mine for my entire life. If we are honest, its in all of us. It bears names like education, money, intellect, beauty, weight, status, and success just to name a few. We are born into a society and bred by that society to compare. It’s so rooted in us that we don’t even know we are doing it. Not only are we being done (or undone) by it, we are perpetuating it.

Webster’s dictionary defines comparison as the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. Do you get that? Comparison is the thing we do externally as a manifestation of what we are doing internally.

There is nothing like relationships that matter to us to draw out in us this deep seated root of comparison. We are drawn to those who reflect the truest nature of our inmost selves. For the most part we really appreciate them for who they are – until we realize that those people are a reflection of what we really like most about ourselves. Then we are faced with the question “is there enough of that to go around?”. Thats why marriage gets hard. Thats why friendships (real ones) get hard, because God uses them to wake us up to deeper places in us.

Annndddd so it is with Alisa. Alisa is a leader of the finest degree. She is fearless and brilliant. Articulate and generous. Stunning and strong. Everything I want to be when I grow up. Alisa has all the things I ask God to make me in ministry. What a perfect place for the creeper called comparison to take root.

God says in Galatians 6:4-5 in the Message “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” It sounds easy. It’s not. I am not allowed to add to the Bible, but if I was, I would add “God helping you” to Galatians 6:4-5, because Lord knows He needs to.

It first began when I started to see Alisa step into the fullness of who God has created her to be, specifically in her teaching of the Word and her leadership in ministry. I say it began there because it was a quick landslide. I found myself jealous of the restoration work God was doing in her marriage. The very marriage I had been petitioning for in prayer (without ceasing) for the last four years. Gross. What the hell? What is that? I clearly see my crazy but why do I know better yet can’t do better? I need a Savior, stat.

See, I need people to like me. I need people to want me to be around and I need people to think I am great in order to feel worth. Ok, that’s not pretty to write. It’s not pretty to admit (to myself, let alone all of you) and it’s not pretty that it’s true.

My comparison trap is I want to be the best at whatever I do and if I perceive anyone else as better, I have a problem. My problem is not against flesh and blood, but is one of spirit. I am not assaulted by Alisa and her beautiful being, I am assaulted by a lie of the enemy that says “if Alisa is good at this, there is no room for you to be good at it too.” It’s a scarcity mentality. It’s a lie that says there is not enough to go around. Without the Spirit of the Lord plumbing the depth of my being, I would assume Alisa is the problem. I would make Alisa, what my sister Stephanie calls, a “we” problem. My issue of comparison who happens to be wearing the name “Alisa” is not a “we” problem, its a “me” problem. Its a spiritual problem that the Lord is wanting to heal in me.

And here is the truth. For a while Alisa and I kept it at bay. We would confess to each other right away when our feelings of jealousy would pop up in order that we have fellowship with one another in the light. We know what the Word says and we were doing it…but God often has something more. God had for each of us something more than the “we”. “We” were good. “We” were honest and still the “we” felt unsettled. We know now that God was interested in the “me” in both of us. We needed individual explorations of the heart. I went on my “me” journey and realized that our “we” lacking was a reflection of my “me” needs.

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Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” As a lover of the great Lover, my joy is found in the person and anchor of Jesus Christ. To compare myself with others is to intentionally look Christ in the face and say “you are not enough”. What you have for me and all that your Word promises, is not enough. It’s to say that the temporal fix from believing that I am “better than her” or “it’s all her  fault” is more secure than the act of Christ on the cross.

In closing, can I ask you an honest question? Do you have a “we” situation that is troubling you today? Could your “we” problem simply be the lowest hanging fruit, per se? The fruit most easily picked on. Or off. The ones that could easily be discarded as hopeless and in need of disposal? Or could there be something more than the “we” ? Could the Lord be calling you to the “me”?

The remedy of “we” is found in the remedy of “me”. By definition, comparison is the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. In Christ we are anchored to Him. He defines us and in Him there is no room for lack, scarcity, or comparison.

And there it is, friends. In the words of my sister and bestie por vida…

Boom.

vivid

Selah

By Brooke

*I’m so excited to have Tasha contribute here today. Tasha is a much loved Holy Yoga Instructor and writes mainly at Breathing In Him. Check her out!

April can go now. We’ve had enough time together. As much as I try to live in the present, I’m ready to move on. It’s been a month. My bad barely scratches the surface of what God has called some of my loved ones to walk through. My 27 year old cousin elected to have a double mastectomy. She carries the BRCA gene. The broken heart and shattered dreams of a friend who miscarried…a friend who has lost all hope in her marriage, friends with children in the hospital….anxiety & depression showing up unwanted and so unexpected…and then there was Boston. And list goes on…ruins all around.

And so Thursday when I got the dreaded call back after a routine mammogram, I hit the wall. They tell me they just need another image because there was movement on one image (whatever that means!?!?). “So no need to worry, but can you come now because the radiologist needs to be there”. I can read between the lines..
Selah
It’s word used 74 times in the Bible –71 times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk and it means to stop, pause, and listen. Another interpretation claims that selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word salah which means “to hang”, and by implication to measure or weigh.
I drive straight to the imaging center and I check in and wait. And wait some more.
And Pray. A lot. And I go to do what all good 21st century Jesus freaks do, I grab my iPhone – my instant connection to all things Jesus. In 2 seconds I can have my online Bible and hundreds of people praying for me. But no bars. No signal. No prayers. No Word.
Selah
And so one more image turns into needing an ultrasound and as I lay there waiting scared, the word comes. Selah. He was saying “Selah, Tasha”. Pause, stop, listen, hang on to ME. Hang on to who I AM and whose YOU ARE. Soak in the measure and the weight of who I am; the weight of my power and the measure of deep concern and love I have for you. I am enough regardless of what may come today. I’m always enough. Everlasting to everlasting. Selah.
And when the radiologist came in to tell me everything was fine – just some cysts that I need not worry about – you would think I would jump for joy. Instead, I burst into tears. Poor guy.
But I had just experienced one of the most intimate moments ever with The One who calls me His beloved. Totally overwhelmed by love.
I praise Him for my results. And I praise Him for no bars. Technolgy is good. No, its great, and prayer so much more. But in that moment He knew exactly what I did and didn’t need. And I praise Him because, left unto myself, I would have missed spending sweet selah time in the presence of my Holy God.
 

God’s Initiating Love

By Stephanie

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Holy Yoga Retreat #16 is in the bag. I think it was #16. I lose
count. Not because I don’t care or that they get in any way less
significant, but because I tend to follow closely the things I can
take credit for…and there are very few things that are Holy Yoga
retreats that I can take credit for. Very few.

It was Holy. Set apart for the express intent of meeting and engaging the Lord.

It was yoga. Meditation, Breath and Movement. All with the hope of meeting Him.

And He came. In full measure.

The first night, we committed to doing the week “alone together.” We
offered our time to the Lord as individuals who happened to be on the
same journey for a week.  We committed to showing up every day to
every session, whether we felt closest in or furthest out. We
committed believing that the Word and His Spirit were our anchor for
the week. That we would place them above any emotion. Any revelation.
Any disappointment. Any fear and All deliverance.

And He came. In full measure.

Somewhere along the way, I am not sure where, but I was overcome. I
suppose it was because He came. Yes, that’s it. He came. He always
does. Not in some creepy way as though He was sneaking up on me. But
in presence. The kind of presence that when He  comes you can not help
but be drawn by Him. By His love. By His patience. By His grace.

Holy Yoga is the vehicle that He has chosen for such a time as this to
minister to my heart. So I get it. I get what each and every one of
those who are with me this week experienced. I get it. Even 7 years
in, I get it. He is always new. It’s the Gospel way. The old becomes
new when He comes.

In full measure.

God loves with an initiating love. A love that never quits. A love
that says I don’t love you because you make me happy, but because I
choose to love you. I choose. You. It’s what the bible calls an
a’havah kind of love. A love that says “I see all of your crazy. All
of your nasty. All of your falling gravely short. AND I STILL CHOOSE
YOU.”

We don’t love like that. Ok, I DONT LOVE LIKE THAT.  I realized this
week that while I don’t love like that NOR do I know how to…the Lord
loves me like that and today Him loving me without any action in
return in enough. I can’t give if I have never received. So today I
receive. Things unmerited. Love I am unworthy of. Patience that
propels me into not more of myself, but more who i was created to be.

I learned this week about who I was created to be. Whose image I have
been fashioned out of. I learned about brokenness. I learned about
redemption. I learned about recovery. I learned that I (and you) are
wholly and dearly loved.

He came. In full measure.

God never holds back. His fullness, at least to the capacity in which
we are able to receive, is always available to us. Always. All ways. I
suppose its just a matter of perception. Or obedience. Perhaps they
are one and the same.

On the other side of #16, I say a simple thing. Thank you. Thank you
Lord for showing up. Thank you for taking all the credit. Thank you
for letting us all off the hook and for the ability to travel lightly.

He said in the beginning of the week “It is for freedom I have set you
free. Stand firm then and be careful not to take on another yoke of
slavery.” Fellow #16’s, we live a gospel life. One where we are always
before Him. Always in process. Firm and secure and conscious of the
yokes that threaten to bind.

And we petition. We ask. We plead. We pray…

Come. In full measure.

He will never disappoint for He can never disown Himself. He will hold
both sides of the covenant. He will when we can’t. He will simple
because it’s His will.

I will never forget this week. I may forget the number, but I will
never forget a name, or a face, because together we fought for
freedom.

And won.

Holy Yoga Instructor Training Retreat

By Stephanie

Last week was a full week of Holy Yoga Instructor Training Retreat. These retreats are ridiculously beautiful. Anyone who has participated can tell you that it is a life changing experience.

The really awesome thing is that Brooke has moved into teaching the Bible Study portion of retreats. She’s called to this, people. Brooke is a student of the Word. She is always reading, always being moved and shaped by what God speaks to her. Even yesterday, her little Brynn said, “NO ONE loves Jesus more than my mom.” Sweet girl. Don’t you love her little gentle heart being shaped by her mama’s love for Jesus?

Brooke loves Jesus in a way that radiates from her. She is always, always loving people in a way that goes far beyond my own understanding. She offers a space of grace while simultaneously leaning into deep truth.

I remember Brooke telling me once that, in the height of her pre-Jesus success, one of her students excitedly told Brooke that she had found Jesus. Brooke responded with, “Don’t limit yourself to one book.” Brooke tells that story with such appreciation for what Jesus has done for her. She is a TEACHER of that one book now. She lives and breathes it’s depth and healing mercy.

Thank God for the Book. Thank God for the people who live it.

Keep hanging out here – the recordings from Bible Study at this past retreat will be available soon.

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Holy Yoga Heart Opener Challenge!

By Stephanie

Good morning, friends! It’s the first day of April and, appropriately, the day after Easter. Holy Yoga is doing something NEW and fun this month. Starting TODAY we are implementing a month long challenge. We really want to get into the heart space. Our desire is that, by the end of the month, you will have encountered some amazing community, a deep opening in your physical heart space and an immense growth in your spiritual heart space.

Follow along with us on Facebook to see how you can participate. There will be a fun giveaway at the end of the month and there will be tons of encouragement and challenges along the way. Just to light your fire, here’s our first video for the challenge. It’s really an invitation. Dive in, friends!

While you’re here, feel free to grab a challenge button from the right sidebar to place on your blog/website. It’s a great way to spread the word and let us know you’re in the challenge!

This challenge is for EVERYONE. Invite your neighbor, your teacher, your church family, your yoga studio, your grandma. All are welcome. We’re so excited you’re along for the ride!

 

Community Link Up

By Stephanie

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Hello friends! This is the FIRST ever weekly link up! I want to highlight people who are worth following/reading/knowing.

You are invited to browse through these remarkable sites and meet some new people. Here’s who I’ve been scoping out this week:

1. Artist: Nina Landis. She just released a new album of spontaneous worship. It’s amazing. Right now you can download the entire album on a donation basis. Don’t miss out!

2. Holy Yoga blog: Breathing In Him. These women who teach in Southern California are AWESOME. They’ve been collaborating on their new blog, and you can also check out their website if you’re in the area.

3. Blogger: Going Home to Roost. Bonnie is a Holy Yoga Instructor and a super fabulous blogger. Go follow her. She’s definitely worth knowing and loving.

4. Online shop: She Does Justice. Megan is a huge part of the Holy Yoga Family and her shop is RIDICULOUS. You won’t click away without purchasing something. She’s that great. Plus, her mission is to help others who are fighting for justice and love.

Go exploring, friends! Make some new friends and link up your favorite blogs/websites here!

Vulnerability

By Stephanie

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Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14 NIV

 The Lord has had me for some time now standing on a wall. Not behind a wall, or next to a wall, but directly on top of a wall – completely exposed. Walls historically  and practically are a built to defend. Their sole purpose to protect.

So what am I doing on this wall and why am I here? When can I leave? And if I cant leave, then what can I do to at least camouflage myself if I am going to be here a while?

What happens when the only option is to stay on the wall. When turning back and taking on old habits or patterns is not an option. I’ve come too far. Plus, God is not behind me. I mean, He was there when I was there…but now I am here and I know He only draws forward.

But what if the path is not clear beyond the wall? What if to go forward or to go back have the same potential problems…alone-ness, uncertainty, and worst of all… vulnerability.

The definition of vulnerability  is capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: difficult to defend.

My tendency in spaces like this is to take cover. Use old my habits to numb, to avoid, and to match externally what I feel internally. But on the wall, I cant go back and the path ahead is not clear, so my only option is to stay put. To remain here, positioned in a place of the heart where I am able to hear, feel, see. Its in this space of the heart that my King often speaks the kind of Truth that separates bone from marrow. It’s the place I see soberly the role I have played in believing what Tim Keller says:

 “The problem with us is we blame problems on things besides sin and identify salvation on things besides God.”

 I realize here on the wall, that whatever I am trying to defend…whatever I am  trying to justify… whatever I have used or abused in order not to “be”… that the Lord is drawing that out of me. Here. On the wall. Completely vulnerable. And its a space that while I don’t want to be here, I can’t image avoiding any longer if it means I will have to do it in my old ways.

I am reminded that I am not defend myself. That is the Lords doing. In Luke 21:14 on the heels of letting the disciples know that this life IS NOT EASY, that really bad stuff is going to happen.  Jesus says “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.”

Never does God say to defend Him. He says worship me. Jesus says follow me. The Holy Spirit says listen to me. Defense and deliverance are God’s alone.

So I wait. On the wall.  Exposed and Vulnerable.

Yet tenderly and mercifully covered. Confident in what I hope for and have not yet seen.

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