Do you need a soaking of the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes we just need to stop. Breathe. Pause. Say, ‘God I need you right now’, ‘please send more of your spirit’, ‘wrap your arms around me’.

Our new Soak events are designed to provide just that. An opportunity in the month to enter into Gods presence.

Although we all try daily to walk with Jesus beside us, there are always moments where life takes us down a different path, and we get to the end of a day, week, month and realise, those moments that we struggled through, were exactly the moments when God wanted to step into the breach for us.

My heart for the Soak events is a time to actively make the decision to draw deeper with Jesus and dwell in his presence. In 2 Timothy it talks about the need to nourish and support our faith, and it’s the Holy Spirit within us that can help us do that.

soak night scripture 2 Timothy 1.14

We can’t give out, if we are running ourselves on empty, taking the time to fill us up should be a priority.

What will happen at Soak events?

We’ll spend a short time welcoming each other and doing a warm up movement activity together. As well as reading through some scriptures to focus on during the session.

This will lead into an initial time of free worship, after which there will then be a creative reflection exercise for people to part take in if they wish, leading back into free worship.

There will be the opportunity to take part in some prayer movement if people wish, this will be led and guided by the event leader, depending on peoples strengths.

The rest of the evening we’ll see where the Holy Spirit takes us!

You can see our current dates for Soak Nights here.

Do I need to have had dance experience?

Absolutely not! Part of dancing and moving in your faith is the recognition that movements are tiny and big, so whatever you do, a foot tap, or hand raise, is still a movement.

Want to know more and be kept up to date with other events at UC Grace? Head here to sign up.

Why use dance and movement through Lent?

Last week, as I sat and looked through the coming events with UC Grace and where they sat in the wider calendar, I suddenly realised that Lent was just a week away. It got me thinking about how Lent is approached in the wider world, and how much emphasis people place on it.

Many people strive to give up things, or try to focus on something specific, but how many actually use those 40 days to draw closer to God, to deepen their relationship with him, learn something new about themselves and God? Probably not as many as we’d think.

Then my thinking all got a bit radical, and I thought, why don’t we dance through Lent??

Lent is set aside as a time of reflection, prayer, and preparation. What better way to prepare ourselves than to move the bodies God has given us in surrender when words don’t suffice.

In him we live and move and have our being… Acts 17.28

This is one of my favourite verses, the essence of dance summed up in 10 words! Tim Hughes song, God of Justice emphasises it very well too, with the phrase ‘move us into action, we must go.’ God moves us into action, fills our hearts and initiates our movements.

So, the idea has grown, to 6 week resource, to encourage us all to step out in some form of movement each day. My heart is that those who are both inexperienced and experienced can access it, with different options for people to dip into depending on their time and circumstance.

The Layout

Each day there is a bible reference and a themed word assigned to it, the word is there to help you prompt other feelings as you do the study.

Over the course of the 6 weeks we are going to look at 4 areas, the Psalms – 2 weeks, Armour of God – 1 week, God’s Truths -2 weeks, and of course the Easter story.

How will it work?

Each Wednesday the next weeks study will come out. When completing the study, there are two levels. If you’re short on time, concentrate on the first 3 questions, these can be done in 10-15 minutes. If you’ve got more time and want to go deeper, do the next set of 3 questions which will also take 10-15 minutes. So, if you decide to do both it can be around a 30 minute movement time!

How much movement will I do?

That is really up to you, the studies are designed so that you can put as much action into them as you want, or if you just want to isolate a single word and do a single action you can do that too.

Do I need to have danced or moved before?

No, this study can provide a great way to introduce you to movement. There is no right or wrong way to move, if you are putting Jesus at the centre of your movement. My encouragement would be to start simple, by thinking of movements connected to words in the literal sense.

What if I don’t understand what to do?

Drop me a message! Ask in the Facebook group! There is a UC Grace worship chatter group where the main ‘talk’ of the series will be happening. This is so other platforms aren’t constantly bombarded with what’s going on.

This sounds awesome! How do I sign up?

Already on my email list? Drop me a message here which says ‘count me in’.

Not on my email list? Then head here …. and I can make sure you get all the information you need.

Christian Dance – 3 things that influence my dance ministry teaching

I love teaching and I love being able to intertwine faith and dance together. This is because I see them as one, a continuous cycle, so one can’t function without the other. Therefore it makes sense to teach them both! However, there are 3 key things that influence my dance ministry teaching and I’m looking forward to sharing what they are here and how they are a springboard to UC Grace.

1 – My faith journey impacts my dance ministry teaching

Our faith helps us display who God has made us to be. It helps us realise and accept the qualities and purpose God has written on our lives.

In my dance ministry teaching, my passion is to help these things to develop – passion to teach that God has written our purpose in our lives already. Purpose to identify how you can use the experiences you have in your life to encourage you in your walk. Freedom to give you space to grow and release who you are.

In other words, it is my desire to share my faith that propels me forward with my dance ministry teaching. The enjoyment I get from learning more about God’s word and demonstrating that through dance and movement. Leads me to build and share into dance ministry from a strong foundation.

Quote - Our hearts follow Jesus. Jesus fills our hearts. Our hearts initiate our movements. By Anna Gilderson.

2 – Childhood memories helped grow my dance ministry teaching

Memories pay such a key part in building our foundation for how we live the rest of our life. Here are just two stories that helped to lay the foundation of where I have come from with dance and teaching.

  1. The first story is about when I began dancing. Something stirred in me, even from a young age, I loved it. From an early age I was given the opportunity to take part in solo’s and duets at competitions. There is one memory that sticks with me. I was performing at a competition and have lots on fun, until I managed to forget my dance!!! It left me with such a feeling of embarrassment, upset, and shame. It made me shrink back from performances.
  2. Who has felt that tug of the Holy Spirit, the nudge that you should do something, or that total abandonment feeling that the Holy Spirit is there right with you? Who has had that through movement? What an experience! The first time this happened, my eyes were opened to how I could share my heart with God and be lost in the process. There was no pressure to do things a certain way, or wonder about whether I was doing it right. It was just purely sinking into God in that moment to grow closer to him through dance and movement.

The impact…

These two very simple stories, are what started my journey to where I am now and influenced me moving forward.

Amazingly, as a result of the stall in performance as young girl it means that when I perform now, I have to make the choice to lean on God throughout the whole dance.

Making the effort to breath is the most important thing! Although breathing seems such a simple thing, it enabled to remain grounded throughout the dance and choose to put my focus on God. There have been many times since then, that I have struggled with performances, and I know during those times it was because I wasn’t leaning on God and trying to do it by myself.

Recognising the nudge from the Holy Spirit has made me more aware of my journey and conversation with God. That important thing, of both talking and then allowing time to listen back. Realising that the reasons you move, may be different to what others may see in your movement. Where you have the chance to be blessed and bless others. To look for the GRACE in that moment and seize that conversation with God.

3 – Making training a priority for my dance ministry teaching

I mentioned at the beginning about how I see faith and dance intertwined as one thing. Think of it like this –

As you grow in dance, you grow in God.

As you grow in God, you expand you dance.

This quote is brilliant as it demonstrates how our relationship can go round in a continual circle. By investing in one of the things (faith), it influences the impact that the other (dance) can have.

Most importantly it offers the chance for continual growth. Part of recognising the space for that continual growth is immersing myself in God’s word. Allowing space for the scripture and it’s application into my heart and how I can apply it.

For dancing, it’s taking the opportunity to learn and be grounded in dance technique, that has been essential in the development of my dance skills. Part of learning those skills and technique involved going back to university as this offered the best place for me to grow in teaching styles and and understanding of creative process.

Creative process within dance teaching ministry is extremely important as it’s where we really let the Holy Spirit fly. Choosing grow in your faith and dance will have no impact if you don’t let Holy Spirit work alongside you.

Dancing together at a dance ministry teaching workshop.
Living Colour February 2018

What does this mean for me?

In your personal dance ministry teaching you need to understand how the past, present and future can impact it. Here are some simple things for you to think through and how they could affect your teaching journey as you go forward.

  1. Your past experiences influence the passion that drives you. What speaks to you most, what stories do you remember the most? How does your faith connect you to your dance and movement journey?
  2. Your present situation will help you define the purpose that you stand for with your teaching. Do you feel adequately equipped to step out into dance ministry teaching? Are there things that you need to learn more of?
  3. The future offers you a chance to bring freedom to many through dance and movement. However, in order for this to happen, you need an open channel of communication with God, a continuous conversation allows both parties to listen and respond.

What’s your story? What got you to where you are, at the moment?

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.

Keep up to date with the latest with UC Grace, by joining our mailing list here.

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?

Romans 8 – Death was arrested | Life through the spirit

So here is a simple workshop plan. Sometimes my plans are written out in detail, others are not as I know that there needed to be a lot of space to let God move and see where the session was going to take us. So below is an example of a ‘light’ plan. When I delivered this session, it was one of my busiest for a while, so it was lovely to see how each person developed their individual movement style.

Let me know how you get on!

Pray – always begin with prayer, welcome God into the space you are in.

Read all of Romans 8 – what are your initial thoughts?

Focus on the following areas for discussion –

  • Verses 1 – 4
  • Verse 14 – children of God
  • Verses 37 to the end.

Creative Task – Life through the spirit

What has you week looked like? Where has the spirit been in it?

Take a piece of paper and draw or sketch your journey. Think about peaks and troughs and how you travelled from one space to another.

Get Moving

Individually – identify ways that you can put movements together to demonstrate your journey.

Share with others if you comfortable.

With Others – Link your journeys together. Do this by first all doing your own journey at the same time. Then identify points at which your journey can intersect with someone else’s. Finally, how different does the journey look if you add some one in?

You should 3 variations now. Your own with others, your own that intersects with others and finally your own with someone else in the journey at some point too.

Share with others your finished dance. Use it as a time of blessing, both to give, but also to receive.

Worship Flags – 4 Good Things to Know about Worship Flags in the Bible.

Psalm 20.4-5 scripture.

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. Today I want to share 4 good things to know about worship flags in the Bible.

Know this before you start

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…

How are worship flags used in the Bible?

Historically in the Bible there were 4 different ways worship flags and banners were used. Let’s look at an overview.

  1. Israel’s banner of God being with them demonstrated how they were a people who belonged to God. 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. Each tribe had one rallying point for the fighting men of the tribes. This brought together a demonstration of military and fighting force. They could look to the horizon and know the banner they needed to get back to.
  3. The next level was tribal unit identity. There were 3 tribes on each side NESW, so they knew exactly where they belonged – their identity.
  4. Finally there were family clan units – these were 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
Jeremiah 51.12 scripture

Remember this going forward about worship flags in the Bible.

This is very quick overview of the use of worship flags in the Bible. But hopefully offers you a small 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 head here. There are also some tips on using ribbons in worship here.

Finally, want to come try using resources during your worship? Then get in touch with me here to chat about me coming to your church, where you can try out ways of moving with flags, ribbons and material. No prior experience necessary!

You can also head to Shop where there is a selection of flags, ribbons and streamers that you purchase to get you going.

Want to keep up with UC Grace journey? We’d love to keep you in the loop. Head here to get your name down!

Using flags and banners in worship.
Pinterest. Dancers in blue dresses with orange flags.

Dancing with Ribbons

Ribbons are another way to bring colour and movement into dancing. Not only do they raise the eye level upwards, but the colour and the way the ribbon moves speak to different people in so many ways.

There’re short ones, fat ones, thin ones, long ones, multilayer ones, it’s only your imagination that can limit the type of ribbon you can make and use. But just like with flags, there are a few things that you should always remember when choosing to move with a ribbon.

It’s all about the wrist! The ebb and flow of the ribbon is created via the flex, rotation and flick of the wrist. It’s always best to hold the ribbon wand at the end to allow greatest movement and extension during your dancing. Much like with the flag, the ribbon is an extension of your arm, but unlike a flag, it moves, wraps, knots and twists a lot more easily. Clear precise movements of the wrist and body (!) help to maintain the ribbon in a place of hover and shape in the air.

The length is important! As mentioned above, you can have ribbons in whatever length you want. However, I would say there are some exceptions. Children can operate a ribbon best under 2m, and I’d recommend 1m or even shorter (on a curtain ring) for children aged 2 – 5 years. Children will naturally want to move with a ribbon, instinctively they are drawn to it. But, their spatial awareness, movements and concentration can cause the ribbon to get wrapped up, knotted, hit someone and sometimes used a weapon or toy.

For adults starting out I’d recommend starting at around 1.25m or 3m, no longer. You need to build up the strength and movement technique with your wrist before moving onto something longer. Some dancers move with up to 6m of ribbon, but the understanding and movement capabilities of the dancer is much greater.

Dancing with a ribbon you can sometimes get stuck using the same sort of movements, but you have your whole body too. Unlike the flag, this lovely piece of ribbon really can mimic your movements in the shape it creates and the way that it moves.

The video below demonstrates how ribbons can be seen up high, but also how their movements flow and sit well with how the rest of the body naturally moves. The dancers in this dance were from all different backgrounds, some with no dance experience, some with lots. In this instance the ribbons allowed everyone to be on the same level, take part and move together.

2011 Joyful Joyful performance

So, they can be an excellent tool at drawing those who could be nervous, interested but not tried it, or have different abilities, together to move and dance as one.

Do you use ribbons already? How did you find getting started with them, getting the movements from the wrist right and using your whole body with them?

If you’re interested in trying out moving with some ribbons you can head here, where you can find some different colours and lengths to get you going. There are one’s available on curtain rings too, for the little ones. Pop back and let me know how you get on.

Worship ribbons and streamers

Dancing with a Holy Roar

“In Him we Live and Move and have our Being.” Acts 17.28

God has given us our amazing bodies to move and dance with in whatever way we can. The other day I came across Chris Tomlins new song ‘HOLY ROAR‘, it took my breath away. It spoke right into my core, about why I move and dance, and the strength, passion and integrity with which I do it. It prompted an opportunity to share at our latest Living Colour workshop how we could explore Dancing with a Holy Roar.

But what does Holy Roar actually mean? It’s best to start by looking at how the dictionary defines each word.

Lets start with Holy – dedicated or consecrated to God, sacred. Which sounds a great way to describe this special word. Participants at the workshop also came up with the following –

  • Special/ quietness – an awe
  • Pure, sacred. Set apart and hard to translate
  • Jesus dying on the cross. What he did for us

In essence, Holy, is something that is indescribable, beyond words, definitely set apart and something special.

Whilst Roar is defined as – a full deep, prolonged cry uttered by a lion or wild animal. That’s pretty intense isn’t it?! Other words came up in discussion such as –

  • Power
  • Roaring like a lion
  • Strong
  • Loud
  • Aggressive/ emotive

How can we link these two words together? If I now asked you what you think Holy Roar means as one thing what would you say?

  • Cry for justice from a place of deep grief or righteous anger
  • From the belly – it uses your whole being
  • Confrontation with all your strength but you’re 100% up for it
  • Freedom

Living Colour October 2018

What do you think it means to have a Holy Roar in dance ministry and life? Massive questions hey! But have a think, how could you move and dance with Holy Roar as your foundation?

My favourite line from the responses above has to be the picture of ‘from the belly’, because actually that’s what it’s all about. When we worship, when we cry out to God, when we battle and declare he is victorious. We are putting our whole heart into it. We’re choosing to be strong, clear, and direct with our movement and what we want to declare.

Think of it like your belt of truth. The belt is something that holds things in place, stabilises your core and carries things. If you have a weak core, your ability to move efficiently will be diminished. The core of moving and dancing comes from knowing the truth in the Bible. I love the imagery of tightening the belt the more you know. It’s like you’re choosing to take a stand point and are notching in ready for the fight!

So when you choose to move and dance. Think about the stand point you are taking, and how you can use a Holy Roar in your movement.

What different ways do you pray?

What different ways do you pray?

Weaving prayer into our everyday life can sometimes be a challenge can’t it? I love exploring ways to use movement and prayer together, go deeper with God and journey with others.

Amazing Grace Course July 2018

We’ve developed a fantastic resource to enable you to start moving at a pace that you are comfortable with, pausing where needed. It’s completely FREE and you can access it here. We’d love to know how you get on, so please do let us know.

When I connect prayer and movement I find it easier to associate with specific areas. In the FREE download – 5 Ways to use Prayer and Movement together,  I identify the following areas –

  • Walking
  • Knees
  • Thanking
  • Declaring
  • Revealing

Each area providing an avenue to explore movement in a different way. It can be really daunting choosing to step out and pray using movement. But the thing that God delights most, is not only that you try, but that nothing is EVER WRONG. Any way you choose to move for him, there is a party. PLUS if someone sees you doing prayer movement, you never know the impact that that will have on them.

So go on, go for it and try stepping out! Grab the it here.