Fear of the Unknown

These verses are packed with so much stuff, recently I heard Cathy Madavan speak about the fear of the unknown in relation to these set of verses. Several things she spoke of really resonated with how life can be for so many of us.

What are you like when you are in a physical waiting room, such as at the doctors surgery or hospital, or outside an interview room? We often find ourselves pacing, twiddling our thumbs, taking lots of deep breaths and other things to keep ourselves distracted whilst waiting for the answer, some news or the next step.

Moments in our life will seem like God has put us in a waiting room, but what are we doing in that waiting room?

Are you wishing for answers, thinking of what you could do, where you could go, what you could be? Does it get you anywhere? Why do you not progress forward?

Lauren and Helen waiting.

Cathy spoke about, how, when we are in those times of waiting, we can be fearful of what is to come, fearful of the outcome and how God may answer the situation. Fearful of the unknown. To work through this, we need to be able to live with God in the present season, and not wish for seasons to come. After a waiting season always comes a fruitful season.

Our ability to work through this fear lies in how our patience is and whether we need to grow in the spiritual discipline of patience.

My husband often tells me that I have good patience, which is true when it comes to the children, dealing with lots of people and events. But when it comes to waiting for an answer or a step forward from God, my patience for that isn’t quite as well tuned! I most definitely pace, get grumpy and question the decisions that I have taken so far.

The spiritual discipline of patience is about being active in your patience. YOU decide what to do with your feelings. You can make the choice to keep emotions such as anger away from you, it doesn’t need to come near you. God has the big picture, in our waiting to see that, we need to accept that there will be waiting, that God has given us enough to last through that waiting.

Persistence in the patience and waiting is really important in our desire to focus on living with God in the present season. Look at those that have done it well, Esther, Paul, Abraham, Daniel, David, Mary and Martha and many more.

Think about when you are in that waiting place. Do you worship God or do you worship your circumstances?

I hope this has provided some thoughts about how you can deal with those periods of waiting. We can so easily slip into the mindset of grumbling in our waiting. Lets switch up our mindset and seek to serve, worship and LIVE during those waiting times.

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Golden Whirlwind

Does your movement change things?

God encourages us in those moments we need it most, even if we haven’t recognised that we need it. Whilst I was away at Rivercamp, there were several things that struck me.

The first being we all dance and move with the same heart. The second that a whirlwind is created as each of us moves in someway.

Let me share some more.

Part of my journey with UC Grace has been overcoming people’s perceptions of what I do and my heart behind it, as well believing and trusting that I was good enough to do it, and there was a need for it. It hasn’t been easy, at the Going Deeper weekend in July I shared some of this. That in the beginning of UC Grace I judged my ‘success’ on the number of people that came to my events and if I didn’t have many, I wasn’t good enough and doing it right.

Yet I knew the foremost reason that I was doing UC Grace was because it was about the hearts of those that came. The hearts that God needed to work with, take on a journey and grow. That’s what my heart needed to do, in order to recognise the gift God had grown inside me. A passion to share, motivate and grow others in movement and dance with Gods word as central.

During my time at Rivercamp I noticed a group of people that always congregated near a space at the side at the front, and claimed the space so to speak, and as the meeting got underway I realised they were movers and dancers of varying degrees of ability. As I began to watch them, a wrestle began in my spirit. A wrestle to watch, receive and bless what I was seeing, but at the same time resentment, longing, and feeling put out and it was unfair! Lots of emotions that had crept up and I didn’t know where to go with. Except I did, but only because of the journey I had been through with UC Grace.

Let me unpack this.

When I am in an environment where my emotions seem to be getting the better of me, or, better put, the Devil is trying to windle his way in. I check myself. I take a pause, a visible breath. The negativity that I was experiencing was pulling up my insecurities, ones that I had defeated. But there, in that present moment, in a new situation they were trying to come to the surface again. I just kept saying to myself, ‘they have a heart to move too,’ ‘they are worshipping God their way.’

In those moments in the worship, where I was desperate just to be lost in it and dance myself, I had to deal with this before I moved forward. I had to deal with the elephant! So, I began a conversation with God, asking what I have got to learn here, what did I need to deal with, recognise, bless, repent. Tough going!

As I relaxed into his presence, he encouraged me that it wasn’t about me being ‘left out’ or ‘not included’, it was about opening up opportunities for others to experience God.

The essence of UC Grace….

As UC Grace has grown, part of my battle has been addressing how UC Grace is seen, or what it is. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve acknowledged that it is a business. I say this here because it is through that acknowledgment that God presented me with opportunities for UC Grace to grow and develop.

Over the few days after that initial encounter in the tent at Rivercamp, I thought about it more, the impact of my reaction to what I had felt, and asked God to reveal more about it.

I had the most amazing picture.

This is the reason for this post, but I wanted you to understand a few things before I shared it. Every dancer and movers journey is different. You will experience some negativity at some point on your journey about dancing and moving, the key is how you deal with it when you are presented with it.

My heart is to release and equip others with their faith through dance and movement. Jesus will always be the number one person I go to for decisions, reasons and conversations, and that includes business ones. UC Grace is a business, it’s a business God has blessed with growth over a very big journey, the picture God gave me, not only encouraged me in my journey with UC Grace, but the journey of Christian dance organisations, businesses, and individuals. Whether they are moving now, will be movers, or will simply just experience the soaking of the Holy Spirit through someone moving around them.

So the picture…

During one of the last worship times at Rivercamp, the tent had come to a very hushed quiet, what I began to see were small whirlwinds over the tops of groups of people. As these whirlwinds began to move around the place, gold started to be threaded through them.

All the whirlwinds then converged into one. Into a tornado. A tornado of GLORY, filled with gold. As it moved it changed the atmosphere, transforming those it moved over. The more it moved the more different colours came into it. The more it moved it was clear that it was the interaction of what was inside the tornado that was causing the shift in the atmosphere.

As the image faded away, it was an ah ha moment. A moment where I recognised why God had to reiterate to me before about how precious each person’s movement was, and how each individuals movements when converged with others creates something far more powerful than we can ever fathom. It creates a movement in the heavens that transforms those around it.

This is something that I knew, but sometimes you can loose sight of it, when you’re tired and been giving out lots.

There is however more.

My friend told me about a picture an artist had in a tent, that I needed to go and look at. This is it… what do you see?

Painting by Helen Yousaf https://www.helen-yousaf-art.com/
Painting by Helen Yousaf https://www.helen-yousaf-art.com/

Two things were brought to my attention. The whirlwind effect of colours spiralling with the reaction to the environment around it. But also, how it fits in with the UC Grace logo. The lady that painted this is Helen Yousaf a prophetic artist and an amazing worship leader.

I was just astounded (again) at how God brings everything together. Are you a dancer? Are you ready to change the atmosphere that you move in? Are you ready to take your whirlwind where God tells you? Get in touch as I would love to hear from you.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

August Moving: Arms

Having strength in your arms is important, it helps improve your posture which means your back is strong, resistance training your arms has shown that it reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries or at least reduce their severity. But proper form is important.

  • Strong muscles will enhance your workout. Once you start concentrating on your upper body, other exercises will seem easier.
  • Working your arms can help protect your bones. Every year your bones loose more strength, but the good news is, the more you work them, the more you help to maintain healthy bones and build density.
  • Working your arms, gives you that feel good factor, the satisfaction that you’ve worked something hard and will reap the rewards. It will help your exercise mindset going forward.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your arm strength.

  1. Forearm pulse: Connect your forearms together from your elbow all the way up to your fingertips, palms together. Push the forms arms together to create tension. Pulse your arms up and down, maintaining contact with no gaps and pressure. Do this for 30 seconds/ pulses. Ensure your shoulders stay down and your core is still scooped in.
  2. Press ups: You probably thought you might get away with out these, but no such luck. A few things to remember about press ups. The further your feet are away the harder it, which means the lower your arms/ centre of gravity the harder it is too. So bear this in mind when you choose the level you want to do the press ups at. Place your hands just wider than your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and tummy scooped. Make sure your body is in a straight line, so your bottom is tucked in. inhale on the way down. Exhale on the way up. Aim for 10 reps.
August Moving: Arms

August Moving: Quads

The quadriceps are one of your power house muscles in your body (alongside your core), that really need to be strong and stable. The muscle groups in your legs work together to ensure that your balance and stability are in the right place when your body needs it, as well ensuring your knee flexes and extends as needed.

  • Having strong quads will aid the stability needed for the knee joints, which can inherently be unstable and depend on ligaments and muscles to protect them from injury.
  • The inner thigh muscles also provide internal rotation, which counterbalances the external rotation from your outer thighs and glutes.
  • Like any major muscle groups they require care and maintenance, stretching in particular is important as no stretching can lead to a shortened thigh muscle which in turn means your knee won’t be able to flex effectively.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your quad strength.

  1. Squats – super easy to integrate into your day when you’re brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, cooking tea and more! You need to have you feet hip or shoulder width apart and a straight back. Remember to scoop in your core and engage it. You want to bend your knees, ensuring your knees stay behind your toes, and your chest stays higher than your hips. You have the choice to do normal squats down and up, or add in a pulse at the bottom before you come up. Aim for 15 reps.
  2. Standing leg raises: Standing up tall with your tummy scooped in. Raise your leg up in front of you so it is slightly bent and then lower back down, let your big toe tap the ground but nothing else and lift leg back up. If you need to hold onto something to keep your balance, rest your hand lightly on a chair. The lifting of the leg must come from the thigh not the knee. Aim for 15 reps on each leg.

August Moving: Core

Our core can be something that we obsess about, what it looks like, how strong it is and the exercises that we do. During my time as a dance teacher and Buggyfit trainer I have seen many different exercises to work the core.

  • My conclusion, simpler is the better and conventional is not always best. What I mean by this is that sit ups and burpees are not the answer, they don’t target our inner core.
  • Our core is a complicated part of our body, and many different things impact it. What we forget is that our body is made up of many different layers. Conventional exercises focus on building strength in the upper layers, whilst inner core work goes deep down.
  • Training these muscles is essential for stability, joint control through motion and ensuring all those inner muscle work together to propel you forward in the best way.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your core strength.

  1. Box scoop: Kneeling on all fours ensure your knees are directly below your hips and your wrists are below your shoulders, have your back in neutral alignment. Relax your tummy, it’s really important that you really let it all go! Otherwise the exercise won’t work effectively. Inhale and let your tummy fill with air, as you exhale slowly scoop your in and up. You want to begin from the top of your pubic bone and finish at your belly button. Your aim is to create a C scoop as you draw your tummy in. Take 4 counts to exhale and 4 counts to inhale. You need to have control through both directions. 5 reps. This can also be done standing up, but by doing it on your hands and knees, you work against gravity more, so your muscles work harder!
  2. Candlestick Dipper: This will work your transverse abdominus and your obliques. Kneel on the ground, with one leg out to the side. Ensure your back in straight and your hip is stacked above your knee for the one you’re kneeling on. For the one out to side, keep the toe facing forward and the heel to the back. Option A is to raise your arms out to the side at shoulder height, maintaining a straight line with your body tilt to the side away from the foot that it out. Touch the floor with your fingertips. The further away you touch the harder it is. Option B join your fingertips together above your head. Maintain contact with your fingers as you lean to the side and then bring yourself back up. It’s important to keep yourself aligned for both these options and don’t allow your bum to out backwards and you reach forward with you arms. For those who have a weak core or less than 5 months postpartum, only do option A!
August Moving: Core

August Moving

Summer months is always a time when we naturally pick up the pace and move more, whether that’s through day trips out or just because the weather is nicer, we are outside more. I’m someone who needs to go outside and move everyday whatever the weather. But the reality of moving in a specific way apart from day to day tasks can be daunting, we might all think about it lots, but the actual doing of it, can take some extra focus.

Throughout August I want to offer some real quick ways to integrate movement into your everyday that will allow a daily habit to be created. I’ll also provide some extra info about why we might want to support or exercise that part of the body.

Week one: Ankle | 5th August

Why start with the ankles? Ankles are one of our main joins that take the stress and strain of our whole body as we go about our day. They help keep us stable, work our core and pivot with changes of direction and motion as needed. Here’s some other key facts to remember about ankles –

  • A major function is proprioception, when neutral transmitters in and around the joint respond to signals from the brain that enable you to identify where the ankle is and how well balanced you are on it.
  • Improving the flexibility of your ankle will significantly help with your strength, squat and reduce injury.
  • The ankle is a hinge joint and works on one plane of motion – dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. Plantarflexion is the movement downwards – pointing your toes like a ballet dancer. Dorsiflexion is the movement up, when your toes go towards the sky whilst your heel is on the ground.
  • Strong dorsiflexion means the front of the shin can move forward during a movement, which helps with crucial body alignment and application of force.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your ankle strength.

  1. Flexion and extension of ankle: sitting on the floor extend your legs out in front of you, alternately flex your foot to the ceiling and then point it down to the ground. Push to the point that you feel a stretch. Aim for 10 reps flexing, 10 reps extending. This can also be done on a chair/sofa. What ever you choose, ensure you’re sat up straight and your shoulders are down.
  2. Heel raises: ensure you are standing up straight, place your feet hip width apart and take a slight bend. This is the position that you will hold during the exercise. Keep your knees and rest of body still, lift up your as far as you can, pushing the top of your foot forward. Lower back down. Do 10 reps. This can also be done on a step, by dropping heels below the top of the step and then raising them up.
August Moving: Ankles

Why use an Essential Oil Diffuser?

At doTERRA we recommend using essential oils aromatically, topically, or internally depending on the properties in each individual oil. Nearly every oil and blend, with the exception of HD Clear® and Immortelle, can be diffused. Diffusing an oil helps us take advantage of its most noticeable characteristic—it’s scent. By learning more about how much of a role smell plays in our lives, the impact of essential oils can be understood on a deeper level.

Petal Diffuser

The Power of Scent

Our sense of smell is one of our most powerful senses, and you have probably noticed in your own experience that some scents are more positively associated in our minds than others. Your body contains over 1,000 receptors for smell—more receptors than for any other sense. Dr. David K. Hill D.C., Founding Executive points out that even though our noses are not as acute as a bloodhound’s, “you can still detect thousands of varieties of odors in infinitesimal quantities.”

By putting essential oils directly into the air we breathe, we can influence the feeling of our environment, and, more powerfully, our own emotions. We know that citrus oils, for example, are uplifting and energizing to your mood, while scents like Lavender or doTERRA Balance® are calming and grounding.

Other Uses and Benefits

While smell is a great tool, there are other reasons that diffusing essential oils can be beneficial to you:

  1. It can purify the air in your home.
     
  2. Some oils can help maintain feelings of clear breathing and open airways. 
     
  3. To minimize the effects of seasonal threats. 
     
  4. Only a small amount of oil needs to be used if you’re using it in an ultrasonic diffuser. This means you can use one bottle of essential oil many times before you’ll need to purchase more.

How to Diffuse

The best way to diffuse is either nebulizing (cold air) or ultrasonic (water) diffusion. Heating oils to diffuse them can alter their delicate chemistry. Most of the diffusers doTERRA offers are ultrasonic diffusers, meaning that they use water to disperse the oil into the air.

To diffuse in an ultrasonic diffuser, put cool tap water to the fill line and add at least two drops or more to the water. Then, choose the time setting you desire and let it run. Diffusing in a nebulizing diffuser is waterless: take the cap and orifice off of your bottle of essential oil and attach it to the diffuser and choose your settings for time and amount at a time.

The combinations of essential oils you can diffuse are endless. And, like each of you, they are as unique as you would like them to be. 

The above information was disseminated amongst Wellness Advocates for BOGO week July 2019.

Using a diffuser during UC Grace events

If you have been to one of our events recently, you will have noticed that we have been using diffusers. Much like the reasons above they offer a great reason to uplift and set apart the mood of the room. At our latest event Going Deeper 2019, many participants commented how lovely it was to have something diffusing during the sessions, helping concentration, tiredness and energy.


Dance Worship Weekend – what’s the big fuss?

As I’ve been gathering notes for this year’s dance weekend, I started to think about what it was that made people come on a weekend in the first place. Plus, I think it’s always good to remember where our roots are and why we do what we do! In the 9 years I have been running UC Grace, different groups, workshops, training and performances opportunities have evolved, some not even in my planning, but God has placed them in the pathway of UC Grace. At every event I marvel at how God brings it together, who he brings and the impact that the event creates in others. Let me take you on a very short journey of how the dance weekends came about and their impact upon myself and others.

How did it begin?

It began in 2013, when I first started to have discussions with other dancers about whether they’d either value a day retreat or a weekend away, and what it was that they’d see that time away being. Many of the participants at this point had been dancing with me from the beginning and I had watched them grow and develop and were eager for more. However, we all recognised that the odd 90-minute workshop just didn’t cut and we wanted something more! Going back over some of the responses from an initial survey I sent out, it is awesome to see how God has worked in it all.

Defining a weekend away

With just a handful of resources I took the plunge and stepped out to run my first dance weekend. I didn’t know the true amount of work it would take, the people it would bring or that it was just the beginning of many!

My heart was to provide a space that would enable people to grow in their dance worship movement skills, their relationship with God and build relationships and fellowship with others.

So how did it develop?

For that first weekend in 2014, my heart was hopeful that I would get to 15 participants, that didn’t happen. I could have let that disappoint rule how I went forward with my planning. However, God has spoken quite clearly since I began UC Grace that it is about the hearts of those that come to UC Grace events, not about the numbers.

That first year, I was blown away by how God moved, I changed the whole of my Sunday plan on the Sunday morning as I followed Gods lead. We took dancing out of our room and into the centre to bless others in the building, we crowned ourselves with Gods crown, and broke down walls that didn’t need to be there.

Treasure and Truth feedback
Feedback from Treasure and Truth 2014 dance weekend

We did this by standing on God’s word and letting scripture and God’s voice lead the sessions. Since then, that’s how the weekends have developed, God always goes first, even if I’ve spent a long time putting the plan together, because, His plan is the ultimate plan.

Since that first weekend, I always look with delight at the next weekend that will happen, at who God will bring to come and move and dance and grow, to explore what he lays on my heart and how I can help change people’s perspectives on themselves, their movement and their journey with God as my lead.

What’s the soul of the weekend?

This picture below, sums up the soul of the weekends perfectly.

Hugging embrace.
Dance Worship weekend 2018

They say pictures say 1000 words, they demonstrate what can not be said, that is so true. As you look on the outside looking in at this picture. You see a hug, a warm embrace between a group of friends. But what they don’t show you is the journey each of these ladies have been on over the weekend. It doesn’t show the struggles they’ve had to step out in, in their faith, it doesn’t show when times were really tough, it doesn’t show what God has said to them or how they have been taken on a journey.

This picture was taken at the last session of our 2018 dance weekend. We had just had a time of praying and dancing (so important that we do both of those things together), only the ladies in the picture really know what was going on in their journey at that point.

But for me it shows a freeze frame of friendship, support, love, prayer, journey and acceptance that they are letting God lead their journey.

WOW!!

What next?

UC Grace dance weekends have turned into a key fixture in our calendar, something for everyone to look forward to. When I ran my first one in 2014, I didn’t think people would be interested in a yearly weekend, and I began to arrange them bi-annually. It gave me time to develop other ideas and continue to grow other areas of UC Grace.

However, God has been gracious and given me opportunities to grow connections, build friendships and have the privilege to journey with others. I felt UC Grace was at a point where it now needed to offer those dancers and participants who had journeyed with it for nearly 10 years, another opportunity that would take them deeper on a more personal level. That’s where the Going Deeper weekend has come from. So my hope, over the coming years is to have a dance weekend every year, but the essence of the weekend will alternate each year.

Going Deeper will provide a smaller more intimate group to develop their dance worship skills and personal faith journey. Creative dance weekends will allow a larger number to gather in fellowship, experience dancing and learning from others, explore the use of arts and creativity alongside prayer and movement, and be a place to build friendships and generate a network that draws people across the country together.

Have you joined us on one?

Going Deeper 2019 is now fully booked, however we have just released the dates for our 2020 Creative dance weekend – 17th to 19th January. Why not join us, as we celebrate 10 years of UC Grace! Booking will open towards the end of June 2019, if you want to be one of the first to hear about when booking opens and grab the super early bird price click here.

Teaching Children Dance and Movement Round Up

Teaching children dance and movement exercise one.

What a fantastic day we had learning from each other. The day was split up into 3/4 sections, in each section there was a talk and discussion, an exercise in pairs to put into action what was discussed and then a time of delivery – so practising what they had just planned. Everyone had such different ideas, it was great to spark off each other and encourage those that felt a little shy.

Section 1 – warm up and ice breakers

This is a really important part of the workshop which I chatted about in the blog post 6 Essentials when planning a dance worship workshop. The challenge here was introducing a theme and working out how to devise a warm up based around a theme. The topic of water came up as a common one, but some participants soon realised that they weren’t sure which bit of water to focus on.

Water is a good example of a topic that has so much possibility for a workshop. It’s a key feature in the Bible, creation and our journey of faith. Ideas for inclusion in a warm up included –

  • Ice – freeze/ still movements leading to melting and then adding travelling motion in.
  • River – how the water flows in and around rocks, some of the children being rocks and others being the water that passed around them.
  • Waves – the crashing sound, being tall and small. Rolling on the ground and stretching wide. Spinning a partner out and then having them roll back in along their partners arm.

All the above areas of water can be expanded and padded out loads after the initial warm up. Remember the warm up is an opportunity to have fun, get everyone moving and introduce a small part of the theme.

SAMSUNG CSC

Section 2 – Planning an under 5s workshop. We looked at Psalm 18.28-33 for this section.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”

The sets of verses above provide some awesome imagery with which to design workshops and themes. We used this passage as a starting point thinking about a workshop for under 5s. Just a few things that came out of our initial discussion was:

  • Standing on a rock – strength
  • Light
  • Battle – warfare
  • Refuge
  • Like a travelling song
  • Perfection
  • Scaling a wall

Participants worked in pairs and looked at one section of the workshop plan (Read more about the 6 essentials when planning a dance worship workshop here) putting together an outline of movements, before then teaching it to the rest of the group.

Section 3 – Choreographing a dance for 5 – 11 year olds

How many of you have the song ‘My Lighthouse’ in your church? There are several different actions that have been put to the words of this song – your church might already use some. So, I thought it offered an opportunity for participants to choreograph something that they could use within a workshop or group of children.

Working in groups we looked at the different verses and put together some movement. You can check out what we did below.


We begun the day by looking at why we want to invest in children, what the Bible says and the reasons that brought the participants to the dance day. As we finished the day we spoke about how we can encourage a conversation of prayer during the workshops by having some creative prayer exercises. That by demonstrating how to dance and make it a conversation with God, you can encourage each child to have ownership of their journey of faith and conversation with God.

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