Dancing at Candlemas

Last night I had the privilege of being invited to be part of the Candlemas service at St Micahel’s, Aldershot, it was such a lovely evening, I left buzzing and I want to share some of what God spoke to me during the service.

I had been asked if I could find some dancers who could respond as the felt led to a piece of live piano music based on Psalm 121: I Life my eyes up, to the Mountain. The lovely Helen Warren joined me as a second dancer, and our prayer before we danced was that we would reflect some of Jesus’ heart, that people would be drawn in with a desire to explore God more through our movement.

Recently I recognised that I spend a lot of time teaching and delivering, and not so much time dancing for myself. Last night gave me the opportunity to come before God and thank him that I have the ability to move, but also reinforced that for UC Grace to grow, and share Gods heart, I need to make sure I am giving God mine, and that in turn requires time set aside for me to dance, and be lost in his love through movement.

As the service progressed, Alwyn, the Vicar asked if we would dance again later in the service. By this point me and Helen felt we had ‘warmed up’, laid the foundations of showing Jesus through movement. So, as Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice played, our hearts were stirred more by the spirit and we loved sharing more of that through dance and movement.

Much of the journey I have been on over the past week has encompassed the desire to draw back to the centre of what and why I do what I do with UC Grace. There were several things that God drew my attention to last night, it made me chuckle as the theme seemed to be everywhere I went at the moment.

In my previous post I mentioned about the interaction between creativity and the heart, and that my desire when I started had always been that it was about the hearts impacted not the numbers. You can read more about it here. It is this theme of people’s hearts and prayer that keep cropping up.

This prayer below reminded me that God places me where I need to be and with who I need to be, and I need to be willing to serve Him in what ever way that looks like.

It’s really hard in reality isn’t it to keep that sense of doing what God wants and following his will. This chorus of ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ (brilliant song, you can listen to here), sums it up very well.

I will hold your people in my heart. The people that God puts in front of me at events, in conversations and through dancing. Each one is important.

We did manage to video some of what we did last night. Not everything is in full view. But it will give you a flavour from our first dance.

What special services have you danced in? Let me know.

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Why is creativity so important?

The word creativity has been on my mind a lot recently, it’s taken me right back to why I started UC Grace, and how Living Colour dance workshops came about. I’ve been reading through previous notes and realising that at times it’s important to go back to your roots.

The ultimate reason I began UC Grace in 2010 was a passion to share with others the impact that dance and movement can have with our faith, and how it can be instrumental in encouraging others in their walk, bringing others to faith, and teaching Gods word. I wanted to acknowledge that God has given us a creative spirit, to explore, move and grow with. To put ourselves outside the box.

But as with so many things in life, distractions arise and before you know it, where you think you were, you no longer are.

Creativity takes courage. Henri Matisse

A dear friend gave me a card with the saying ‘Creativity takes Courage’. Initially I read it and put it to one side. Until last week, when I was drawn back to it, and the need to understand the implications of what that phrase means to me and to UC Grace.

Creativity has been a fundamental part of how UC Grace has developed, it’s integral to how we deliver our workshops, training and dance weekends and is actively encouraged amongst participants to help them draw closer to God.

However, I’ve felt challenged, that this fundamental root, the thing that shines through our work and sets it apart from others, has wilted. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve delivered all events with the same amount of gusto and passion, but had a feeling like something was missing, but not knowing what.

As this year has got underway, the Holy Spirit has whispered in me more, and I’ve realised its creativity that’s missing. Or more specifically how I share the connection of dance and movement and our faith, by offering a creative channel within which to do it.

Let me share for a moment what I mean by creativity with dance and movement and our faith!

An aspect that we look at a lot, is our journey, how we’ve got there, and where we might be going to. At one particular Living Colour session I asked participants to take a piece of paper and think about the journey that they had been on over the last week, and if they drew it, what would it look like? I then asked them at what points on that journey did they know that God was with them, and to mark it on the paper. From there their task was to transpose that picture into movement working individually initially, but then as a group. You can read more about how they did it, by reading the workshop plan here. But for now, look at the video below to see how they went from a picture to movement.

So why does it take courage? It takes courage, because for a lot of people creativity is something they don’t experience in their day to day. It’s something that doesn’t have a written step by step process, or tick boxes. It’s something that draws us to discover something new about ourselves, by stepping out the box.

The process is as important as the result is, both of which you might not have control over. Creativity takes courage, as it challenges your perceptions, your routine and your mindset. At UC Grace, that discovery happens in a safe environment, where whatever the result is, we support you as best as we can. Most importantly though, you join in as much or as little as you want.

It’s never been about the numbers that come to events. It’s about the hearts. I believe that if you join us at our events, God has put you there for a reason, and I value that. The connection between creativity and people’s hearts is so important.

So, the soul of our Living Colour dance mornings, our soak evenings, dance days and dance weekends is…

Over the next month or so, I am looking forward to continuing to weave this strand, across the whole of UC Grace, some of what is on our website currently is not where UC Grace is now. As God moves each of us on in our journey, God also moves UC Grace, and I’m looking forward to delving into putting creativity right back at our heart, as well as revisiting our values and vision.

We started with that phrase in 2010, let’s head back their in 2019 and see where it takes us.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences, if you have danced and moved with UC Grace. But also, those that haven’t, how do you use creativity? What does it mean to you?

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Flags and Banners – what does the Bible say?

Throughout history flags and ribbons have been used in many significant ways – declaration and proclamation, worship, battle and celebration. Flags have become increasingly popular in churches to demonstrate freedom of expression and encourage other people to experience and try out dance and moving with their faith.

Flags and banners themselves have no power. The significance is in Scripture and what they symbolize, God ‘inhabits the praises of His people’ and brings the kingdom in when we choose to take them up in faith.

However, I feel strongly, that flags and banners should not be picked up lightly. There is a lot more power in them, than people realise. They are vehicle to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share your heart. Be aware of this, as you choose to move with them.

Let’s try and understand them a bit more…

What are banners used for? Historically in the Bible there were 4 different levels of relationship to flags and banners –

  1. They were a people and a people belonged to God – there was Israel’s banner of God being with them. They housed the Ark of the Covenant, with them morning and evening. It was a symbol of God saying I am with you, just like we have the Holy Spirit.
  2. Demonstration of military and fighting force – each tribe had one rallying point for the fighting men of the tribes. They could look to the horizon and know the banner they need to get back to.
  3. Tribal unit identity – 3 on each side NESW, so they knew exactly where they belonged – their identity.
  4. Family clan units – based on the location of other banners, families always knew where to camp. The banners acted as reference points, therefore giving individuals purpose and vision.

What can banners do?

  1. Tell people who you represent, but like a signal pole always high on a hill.
  2. Signal of intent about what is to come – Jeremiah 51.12
  3. Indicate past victories they’d come through – different ribbons are attached to their pole under their banner depending on the battle won. Psalm 20.5 and 7
  4. Indication of Gods presence – Moses and Aaron’s staff are banners that have been lifted and a response occurred. Exodus – 25
  5. Put enemies to flight. Isaiah 31.9

This is very quick overview of the use of flags and banners, but hopefully offers you an insight into what the Bible says, and areas to think about when you choose to dance with flags.

I like to remember it as a visual demonstration of a spiritual truth. Just like moving normally, you never know the impact moving with flags and banners can have on you and others who may witness it. The colour you use can create just as much impact.

If you’d like to know more about ways that you adapt choreography to use flags here. There are also some tips on using ribbons in worship here.

Finally, want to come try using resources during your worship? Then join us on Saturday 9th February where you can try out ways of moving with flags, ribbons and material. No prior experience necessary, more info is here!

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Get into your flow and let momentum keep you going!

    

So last Friday I headed up to London to join day 2 of Janet Murray’s Content Live, I’m so pleased I managed to set aside the time to go. So many insights and good conversations, I’m going to do a round up and share whether I managed to reach the goals I set out  in my pre-event blog.

Encourage

So I walked into a room full of people! But I did have the lovely Emma from Wordbee provide me with some moral support. I’d connected with Emma before the event, both sharing that we were nervous arriving on our own. Meeting initially outside Old Street tube station we had a short walk to the venue, so were able to have a quick share about who we were and why we were heading to Content Live.

All the sessions were pretty outstanding; with Osmaan giving a great low down on our Entrepreneurial superpower and encouraging us that it’s all about getting into our flow, once you find the momentum that will keep you going, and make life easier!

Amanda Webb from Spiderworking told us not to listen to the content gremlin (love that picture), and be ready to slay the things that get in the way.

Whilst Janet got us planning! And yes, I got content for the first quarter of 2019 outlined, now to pad it out and pop it in a spreadsheet (more on that below!)

Grow

Throughout the day I had a great chance to chat with some lovely creatives, all looking for a different angle on how they could build and share their content more effectively. Two people that I had some interesting conversations with included Ramat and Rosie. Ramat primarily deals with helping customers generate the right business strategy via Ramat Tejani Marketing. However she introduced me to this fabulous new concept that she’s just launched called The Inspiration box. A place where you can draw inspiration from, have your curiosity ignited and be reminded of endless possibilities.

Whilst Rosie, runs Mind, Body and Baby, which helps women to enjoy pregnancy and parenthood through hypnobirthing and therapy. It was great to be able to brainstorm some ideas with the lovely Alice (from Alice Sheridan Art), about how she could engage her big email list to respond to a call to action, as well as develop her online courses that she’s written further.

Release

Yay to automation! This is where the Mechanic in me got very excited. Let me just explain what I mean by Mechanic – this is my entrepreneurial super power. In essence Mechanics are good at finding ways to improve systems, making things simpler, perfecting projects and pay attention to detail. So when Andrew and Pete stepped up and started talking Spreadsheets – colour coded at that – there was a little inner squeal! Essentially in planning content you need to create 3 things, a publishing schedule, content task sheet and production schedule. In other words, I’ve got to put some new systems in place, so I’ll be looking forward to working out the best way for this to happen.

It was a great day, and I’m looking forward to continuing to get #2019sorted!

Thanks Janet for organising such an awesome day.

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Content Live – Refuel and Reignite

At the end of the week I am heading up to London to Janet Murray’s Content Live, where I hope to learn how to create a year long content plan for my business.

When you run your own business it’s crucial for everyone to take some time out so you can work on your business rather than in it – easier said than done I know! Therefore, I’m really looking at Friday as a chance to refuel and reignite. Refuel the think tank and perspective of the content I share with you and, reignite lost creative processes about how I could do that.

I love what I share with you on the blog, the website, emails and social media. But I want to make sure I am delivering engaging, relevant content, that encourages, grows and releases, just like the tag line of UC Grace.

With that in mind, it made sense to explore what I’d like to get out of Content Live using our tagline.

Encourage

To be encouraged that I can walk into a room full of people I don’t know, make connections and find other ways to deliver content in a engaging way.

Grow

To grow in understanding of my Entrepreneurial Superpower and how I can use that fully within UC Grace and with sharing content with you all.

To have a couple of really good conversations with other delegates and speakers.

Release

Confident that I have the first part of my content planned for 2019, and that I do have the ability to put in place what I have identified.

I’ll check back in after the event and let you know how it went! #2019sorted

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to our blog at UC Grace!

This will be a new place where we hope to inspire you with our passion, teaching and dancing. We hope to use this blog as a platform to communicate with you the things that stir our heart, help us to teach and how God speaks to us about using dance and movement in our every day life.

“Everyday people are the movers and shakers. They are the ones who bear testimony to the great events.”

As you may know, our heart is to encourage, grow and release all who come in contact with UC Grace, whether that is through dance, prayer or just connecting with us through conversation. Whatever journey you are on, we aspire to enable you to go deeper on your journey with God, grow closer to the word and be confident to share and pass on your experience on to others.

Catch you soon! 🙂

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