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Freedom Dance

This biblical account not only speaks to God’s faithfulness but also His ability to creatively think outside of the box.

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Freedom.

For me, it can be expressed through the rhythmic count of four numbers: 5-6-7-8.

Learning to point my short stubby toes in precise downward position began when I was a child. Some of my fondest memories include intertwining my long blonde hair with white ribbon and placing pink leotards on my young frame. Walking into the practice room with its chipped white walls was nothing short of inspirational.

As beats of music began to play, I carefully recalled counts in my mind. The feel of the cold hardwood on my feet was only temporary as I watched my awkward figure in the full length mirror begin to move. With each circular turn, my mouth quickly changed from its flat standard position to a contagious smile and that soon finished at a joyful expression.

Growing up in a home environment that consisted of many forms of abuse and all of its consequences, learning to move and leap freely proved to be more than a dancing skill. It was also a coping mechanism — a defense of sorts — against the chaotic world around me. Leotards and ballet shoes were my shields used to combat the trials I was forced to face.

Little did I know at the time, God was the strategist behind this method. In fact, there seems to be a biblical theme of using artistic expression — such as dance or praise — as a means of warfare.

In Joshua 6: 2, the Lord appears to Joshua and reveals His plan to conquer Jericho. It went against all of the Israelites former understanding and knowledge of warfare. They would have to let go of their man-made weapons and human strategies. Their uniforms would consist of trumpets and ram horns.

Freedom from their enemies required trust, patience, and perseverance.

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5)

When reading this scripture, my imagination journeys back to the men on that day. Much like learning to point my toes in downward position, artistic expression as a means of warfare would be a skill they didn’t necessarily feel equipped to master.

As they daily prepared to march around the city, emotions must have ranged the spectrum from trepidation to assurance. Can we really believe Joshua heard from God? Will victory be ours?

Think about it. Not only were they not using accustomed weapons but they also had to march six days before they gave the loud shout. Regardless of their feelings, they chose to trust. In verse 20, we learn that they persevered and God gave them freedom from their enemies: “When the trumpets sounded, and the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.”

I can imagine the emotional shift as they witnessed the wall collapse. Fear must have been replaced with astonished looks and disbelieving expressions. Despite the odds of this situation, they were victorious! If they had focused on their enemies and the danger around them, doubt would have prevented them from their promised land. Instead, they chose to daily wake up, march around the city, and bravely face their enemies.

This biblical account not only speaks to God’s faithfulness but also His ability to creatively think outside of the box.

While serving in the inner city, I came upon warriors of a different kind. These warriors were young tween and teen girls whose enemies resembled drug abuse, physical/verbal abuse, and neglect. As I got to know these girls and assess their needs, I thought back not only to this biblical theme but to how God equipped me with dancing skills to help combat the trials in my young life. How would I make an impact in their lives?

The decision was easy. I would offer free dance classes for the girls.

As they bravely entered the practice room each day, warfare was taking place. Uncertainty and insecurity tried to overpower them. Because of this, we started each class with prayer and encouragement. Moving from prayer to stretching exercises, I could sense their walls of hostility collapsing as they let go of their defenses. Despite the fact that coordination was not a strong point for most of them, they diligently practiced new moves and crossed enemy lines.

During this time, I heard about a local competition taking place. The battle ground: a stage.

When I told the girls about the opportunity, they were fearful and reluctant. I reminded them of all they had accomplished and they decided to participate.

Months of preparation went by and there were many hard practices, emotional breakdowns, and hours of one-on-one encouragement. They were unaware of the abilities of their “enemies,” but felt the odds were surely against them. After all, these were girls from the inner city whose expertise was in street smarts not dance.

Competition day arrived. To show our unity, we were very specific in choosing our uniforms. We picked out red shirts representing power, black pants, and white shoes. Final preparations took place as the girls excitedly walked into the practice room. I sat with each of them and intertwined white ribbon in their hair just as I had done as a young dancer myself. The girls beamed as they took one final look at themselves in the full length mirror.

We arrived at the competition. Packed with spectators, there was not an empty seat in the room. Several individuals and teams flawlessly performed. Ready or not, the girls exchanged reassuring glances as their team name was heard over the loud microphone. Much like the warriors in the story of Jericho, the girls began to march in single file line onto the stage. They gave a loud shout of encouragement to one another in unison. The music was cued and the famous four count was heard.

5-6-7-8.

The coldness of this world was temporarily fading away as they freely leaped and danced around the room. With each circular turn, their mouths quickly changed from flat standard position to a contagious smile that soon finished at a joyful expression.

After the performance, the judges deliberated. The girls held each other’s hands and said one final prayer. The serious-faced judges walked into the room with their results. Nerves were at an all time high as third place was called. Not us.

Anticipation was building as second place was called. Not us. Emotions ranged the spectrum from trepidation to assurance as they waited to hear the results. Whose name are they going to call? Could victory be ours?

The judges announced first place. As their team name was called, the girls jumped and squealed with excitement. Their facial expressions moved from fearful to astonished looks of disbelief. The girls who were often divided embraced each other so tightly that the love was felt by all. The few parents that attended thanked me for the difference they had seen in their daughter’s lives.

This competition was only preparation for the real battle they would be facing everyday. Their enemies: drug abuse, physical/verbal abuse, neglect, and all of its consequences.

Just as the warriors in the story of Jericho, God’s strategy required the girls to put down their accustomed weapons. This type of warfare would have to be fought with trust, patience, and perseverance. Despite the odds of the situation and the fear that was ever looming, they chose to trust. And for that reason, on this day, freedom for them, as it often is for me, was expressed through the rhythmic count of four numbers: 5-6-7-8.

[This article first appeared here at Ungrind on July 26, 2009. We’re republishing it because … well, we just love it that much. We hope you enjoy it too.]

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Karin Hume is a Mississippi girl healing from the wounds of life while hoping to inspire others to do the same. She lives with her visionary husband Brian, aspiring journalist, teenage son Tayler, and rockstar toddler Chase. When she isn't chauffeuring or potty training, she enjoys having coffee dates with friends, creating recipes out of whole foods, running, cycling, and Yoga. Writing is not only her passion but an outlet God has used to transform her life. She blogs at allpointswhole.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Freedom Dance

by Karin Hume time to read: 6 min
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