Have you considered the possibility that you are wired by a creative God, to think and be creative?
This might sound strange and uncomfortable, if you would consider yourself as someone who doesn’t have a creative bone in their body. Are you someone who would say “I’m not creative at all”, “I can do a bit of this and that” or “Yes I am creative”?
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28
Where do you see a creative God?
I took this picture recently at a UC Grace workshop. The sky, the birds that evening as well as my friends movement to a worship song were so awe inspiring, it caused me to stop what I was doing and take a moment to take it all in.
Our heavenly father made all of this. From darkness he made the world come into being. You and I are made with the very same hands, in this very image. We have a creator God, who made the fish, the sea, the birds and the stunning sunset and so much more. He creates on mass, with an abundant quality, God doesn’t do things by halves. God is the greatest creativity guru of all time and paints a canvas with the sky and the sea and so much more.
How does that make us creative?
So if that’s true, perhaps he has wired you and I to possess something of this life-giving creativity ourselves.
Being fruitful and multiplying means ending up with more than you started with. Perhaps God may have blessed you with an ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or perhaps you are yet to discover the gifts God has given you. But I want to say to you today, He will have given you gifts to create something. Gifts that He wants you to enjoy and develop, and also share with others.
How can I respond to knowing we have a creative God?
Consider doing some or all of the follow to help respond and explore this:
What has God has blessed you with creatively? An ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or something else?
Write out the blessings that come to mind.
Display them around your home as a reminder and encouragement of what God has given you.
Ask God to reveal a new way to share and bless others with these gifts today.
This has been written my Emma as part of our Scripture Prompt series. Scripture Prompts are weekly emails that share some different and creative ways to engage and go deeper with scripture. To find out more get in touch here
Sometimes we can feel like we are stuck in a rut with the way we worship dance, sometimes feeling like we are always doing the same thing. God doesn’t think this, He loves all the movement you create. That being said, there is nothing wrong with choosing to explore and push the boundaries of our movement to deepen our conversation with God. Here are 5 simple ways that you can grow your worship dance choreography.
I love association when it comes to teaching. So rather than using boring words I’ve gone for imagery and something to visualise. The Bible and worship are full of imagery anyway so it makes sense to use it to understand and develop your worship dance choreography. So, let’s break these 5 tips down.
Painting your canvas
Painters often only have a 2D canvas to work with, but as dancers our canvas is 3D, 360 degrees, often we can forget this. The easiest way to explain this is, imagine there is a giant glass box, bigger than you and you are put within it. Your ‘performance’ space, or area to dance in, is not just in front of you. It in front, behind, to the side, up above and down below. It is everywhere. Not only are you aware that you have all this space as your canvas, but also any observers that see you will recognise a depth in your movement due to the different facings that you focus on.
Golf ball to beach ball
Size plays a massive influence on the movement that you create. Just like painting your canvas it impacts on the visual eye and the energy of the dance, as well as the story. Minute finger movements to large whole-body movements each tell a story. Think through some of the movements that you have done recently, have they all been the same size or have you varied your approach to a movement?
Sloth to leopard
Speed can be something that we are afraid of as dancers. However, it is something that creates an ebb and flow in our dance, drawing both yourself and observers into what is happening. What speed naturally dominates your movement? A consistent continuous one? Or do you find yourself picking your moments with which to be fast or slow? What your body demonstrates with speed engages the dancer and observer on the journey that you are on. Whether that’s taking the same movement and doing it at different speed, or have different movements at different speeds. Scripture poses a great opportunity use this worship dance choreography.
Cricket to fly
I am sure by now you can work out what cricket to fly might mean!! Both are creatures that move and travel about in different ways (and speeds). You’ve got the cricket that travels ground through jumping and clinging to things. Then you have the fly, who flies (!) about chopping and changing direction. Just like when you paint your canvas you change the focus and facing of your movement. Travelling and moving across your space is important. You create patterns and shapes with the movement across the floor and jumping, twirling, sliding, twisting, running and more provide a way to move across that space. Cricket to fly is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in worship dance choreography.
My last tip is about expressions, focus, quirks. The extra bits that help tell the story, express the song or reveal the meaning of God’s word. All these other bits are important in worship dance choreography to cement the journey, exploration and performance. Monkeys are great at showing up in different ways what’s needed, bringing in that extra little bit of flare.
Applying the use of these tips into worship dance choreography
Not sure how you can build out a sequence? Here are 5 applications from the worship dance choreography tips above –
Look at a piece of scripture (e.g. Psalm 36.5-7) identify different levels, changes and focuses within the verse. How can the things you’ve noticed help you to paint your canvas?
Looking at same scripture, identify the words that connect to size. How can they transpose to movement?
Take the movements you created for size and choreograph two variations of it and different speeds. What do you feel the speeds demonstrate?
In what ways can you lengthen and grow the movement sequence that you have at the moment? Go back to the scripture, what other things stand out for you? How can you add them into the sequence to show travel?
Finally, pause! Think about the worship dance choreography tips AND the scripture. What else can you add into your sequence to show what the scripture is saying. Think about the journey you are showing and the story you are creating from the scripture.
I’ve only skimmed the surface with how you can use these 5 worship dance choreography tips. If you want to know more check out the membership and mentoring options with UC Grace here.
One thing I am passionate about is passing on the joy of moving and dancing with flags and ribbons to children. However, I am keen that they understand scriptural references and know that they are choosing to pick up a vehicle that can be used to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share their heart. In this blog post you’ll find 5 top tips for teaching flags and ribbons as part of Children’s worship.
How does using dance and movement with children encourage them on their walk with God?
From a wide-angle perspective dance encourages growth of self-esteem, beliefs, accomplishments and other skills. It also releases children to live their life in a way that they want too and will be of value to them. However, if you zoom in, dance and movement provide a safe space for children to learn to channel their emotions and communicate to God when words maybe difficult. Additionally, it also provides opportunity for children to learn the Bible, resulting in the ability to put movement and actions to words, helping with memory verse remembrance and themes and topics in the Bible.
Please recognise that you will have your own unique way of teaching – because God made you that way! So, what I put forward are simply suggestions, they are things that I have learnt along the way and have found helpful when teaching children’s worship in particular.
Here are my top 5 tips for teaching flags and ribbons for children’s worship specifically:
1. Have clear intentions and boundaries
Boundaries – However
well you know the children you will need clear boundaries in place. These
include things like, the flag stays rolled whilst you’re teaching or talking. You
put your hand up and count back from 5 when you want the children to be still. They
sit down or put their flag down when you’re talking. You make it clear what
happens if they continually don’t listen. They understand their dance space and
where they can go when they move.
Intentions – This is about letting parents and children know what they are going to be doing during the session. Depending on the context of your workshop or class, this is important. Although it might seem obvious, you will need to say they will be worshipping, praying, reading the Bible and dancing for Jesus. If it’s not a ‘normal’ event i.e. church, Sunday school etc. But more like a youth club, holiday club, you may have some unchurched children there (awesome), we just need to still be respectful of their back ground.
2. The more help you have the better
No brainer with children! When ever you think you have enough you don’t! Regardless of how well behaved you think your children are, they will use a flag as a sword or poke someone on purpose. It’s new and exciting. So it’s best to accept it will happen rather than consider it won’t!
Due to this, extra hands are your best friend as they can help police what the children are doing with the resources. Helpers are also useful when you are teaching, they can dot them selves amongst the children. So, even if the children can’t see you, they can watch a helper (provided you’ve primed the helpers with what you are doing!). Should you split into group work, helpers can assist those groups and children that might be finding the task hard.
3. Restrict numbers for some children’s worship workshops
It sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But honestly, when you are teaching flags and ribbons you don’t want a packed hall. Not only will you have to fight above the noise to capture attention and teach safely. But the children won’t be able to enjoy the full effect of moving and dancing with a flag or ribbon if they don’t have the space within which to do it.
If you do have to do a big group, my suggestion would be to split the group in two when ever it comes to actively moving as a smaller group can access the space more effectively.
Therefore, when planning your numbers think in realistic terms about how many bodies you can get in your space to effectively delivery an excellent children’s worship workshop.
4. Demonstrate, teach, practise, repeat in chunks
Chunking is something that I will talk about in another
post. But essentially break down what ever you want to teach them into small
sections and then do this:
Demonstrate – the
children WATCH you do the movements
Teach – you TALK
through and DO the movements with them
Practise – you go
over what you have just done – with a partner or another helper
constantly go back and re do what you have just done.
All children learn differently, all children learn at different paces. Doing it as above, will allow children who learn differently to still be able to access what you are doing.
5. Pick one song and memory verse they know.
With children, less is more. Don’t over plan. Pick something simple, that will allow them to be TAUGHT something and then allow them to CREATE something. That’s primarily why children love to dance and move with flags and ribbons. There is a freedom they don’t get in other activities.
Children also love to realise that they know the answers already. So, whatever song or scripture you pick try to ensure that it’s already used as part of the children’s worship in the groups or at school. Familiarity encourages children to bloom and will help breed confidence. If you’re asking questions about topics or themes they may already know this will do just that.
Let me know how you get on with any children’s worship workshops.
There will be more hints and tips on teaching children and why we should invest in them. So, make sure you check back regularly.
If you’ve got a heart to teach children but don’t feel you have the skills and confidence to move with flags and ribbons yourself, why not get in touch about running a training day at your church. You can get in touch with me here.
Got a question about the Prayer dance trail? Then check out the questions below. If you still have questions then please do get in touch.
How long are the sessions?
Online sessions will last between 60 and 90 minutes, this will provide flexibility needed for discussions.
The in-person session will be 2 hours.
What happens if I miss an online session?
You can catch up afterwards as the recording will be uploaded into the learning portal.
What will we cover during the first online session?
This first session will be introducing the trail, what it looks like, how you will do it and laying the foundations of creating your own trail. We will begin to unpick how to pick a topic and what you need to think about relating to that topic during the course of the trail.
The trail will be challenging, so we will also talk about some of the challenges and excitement that it can bring.
I will share ways you can start movement and what can inspire you during your journey. Between the 1st and 2nd weeks you will encouraged to start creating some movement yourself as well as firm up the finre details about the trail that you are going to take.
What will we cover during the second online session?
This session gets exciting as we dive deep into what movement on the trail looks like. I will share a topic and how I have developed it – this will be available for everyone to use if they wish.
You will also find out ways that you can document your journey with the trail. Between the 2nd and 3rd session you will be encouraged to actually do the trail, and not just once! Always coming back to how God can impact you through this trail and your prayer dance journey.
What will we cover during the third online session?
The final session will offer a time to draw together how your prayer dance trail went and the impact that it has had on you.
Reflection, praise, worship and moving forward will al feature.
Are we supposed to be dancing outside during the online session?
Not at all! You will need access to notebook, bible, pen and workbook during the sessions. Of course if you want to do the session outside you are most welcome, but we won’t be moving for the whole session. Don’t get cold!
What do we do between each of the online sessions?
At the end of each online session Anna will explain what you will need to do between then and the next online session. You will be encouraged to complete that so you can maximise your experience and learning during the course.
If we want to listen to the session again will we be able to access it?
Yes of course. All online sessions will be recorded and uploaded into the learning portal for you to watch again at your own pace.
Will I need to record myself moving at all?
No. You will not be required to provide ‘evidence’ of your dance trail. But equally if you wish to record and share with us, you are most welcome.
If I wanted to record some of my movements and share them how would I do that?
Recording – The easiest way to do this is with two devices. For example, I use my tablet or computer to play the music I want to dance to and I use my phone to video my movement. I have a tripod to help me with recording but propping it up against something works just fine too!
Sharing – if you have the recording on your phone, you then have the ability to share into any whatsapp groups, upload to facebook/ social media or email. Most videos would be too large to attach to an email directly. So a file transfer service like www.wetransfer.com works well for this.
What is the learning portal?
The learning portal is an online space where everything is uploaded for you to access. It’s main address is https://community.ucgrace.co.uk/ . If you have previously brought the 40 day dance and movement devotional, you would have purchased it here. Just log in as normal. Can’t remember your password? Then request a reminder.
Hope this has helped. Don’t forget you can find all the other details and how to book here. Don’t forget there is also the blog post Creating Prayer Dance Trail that gives a more in depth idea of what is involved.
Have you ever been asked to do prayer movement? What have you thought about it? How did you respond? Sometimes hearing those two words together can raise an eyebrow, but the reality is everyone who prays already uses prayer movement. Let me take a few moments to explain what I mean by this.
How do you come to pray?
Often when we come to pray there is certain things we always do as we come before God. That might be closing our eyes, opening our Bible, bowing our head, going on our knees, opening our arms out, raising our hands and so much more. They are all things that people do for prayer to come into the presence of God. To draw closer to him and be ready, and they are all movements.
Just take a pause here and think about the last time that you prayed. Think about how you readied yourself. How you took yourself through that moment and how you drew closer to God. Write it all down or remember all the little things that you did. How you did it, what did you respond to the most, what is really important when you pray?
Everyone moves when they pray.
I watch people and they say I’m not a dancer and I’m not a mover and that’s fine I hear you, everyone is different. However, everyone moves when they pray and that’s really evident probably from the things that you have written down. Or through observations as you see others come to pray.
How often do you just pray without ANY change in the state of your body? Or put another way, how often do you talk without any expression? Not often hey! Even as I am writing this (or speaking into a microphone) I’m moving my hands and making facial expressions.
Very rarely can we come before God and pray (or worship!) in a bland way putting no expression, no motion, no movement in it. The reason is because God created us, he created us to live and move and have his being. To respond to him.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17.28
In many places in the Bible it talks about laying hands on people when they pray. Why? Because God moves! As we choose to use movement and prayer together, we are acknowledging that God will move. That the atmosphere will change.
‘At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.’ Luke 4.40
How can I be more conscious about my prayer movement?
As we come before God we use our whole body. Every single bit of us because it takes our focus, because we have an intention about what we are creating. We are creating a conversation, an open door, an opportunity for change.
I talk a lot about intention within dance and intention with prayer movement. At the end of the day if you don’t have any intention with what you were doing it’s not going to reflect your true heart.
Here are 3 things I want you to consider as you go onwards with your prayer movement:
1. What do your hands do when you pray?
2. How is your body when you pray?
3. Where is your focus?
As you become more aware of answers to these questions you can begin to think about what you are wanting to declare through your prayer and what that could look like with movement. For example, if you are praying about someone’s heart and mind. You can place your hands on your head and then hands on your heart. Alternating between them as you feel led whilst you pray.
In conclusion, can prayer movement be defined?
Yes! But how you define it, comes down to you and the impact it has on your life. For me, and UC Grace this is my definition…
Prayer movement is your body’s reaction to drawing closer to God. The external display of an internal feeling and preparation for a conversation. It’s nuances that only you and God know. Fleeting moments when you choose to acknowledge your connection and conversation with God. The reality of moving through life sometimes 100 miles an hour but still always doing the same thing when you choose to pray. To have that conversation and allow intention into the time of response with God.
Will you realise where movement fits into your prayer journey? Keen to explore it in a more informal way? Consider joining prayer dance bites that allows short, focused sessions looking at scripture, our reaction in movement and our prayer from it. You can find out more here.
The following blog posts are also good starting points –
During prayer dance bites last night we entered into a great conversation about whether we truly recognised that God lavishes his love on us. I just want to take a few moments today to share 3 insights that came out of our discussions. We looked particularly at the scripture reference 1 John 3.1:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
There is so much depth in this verse and so much that we can learn, apply and trust God with. In the whirlwind of life, how deep God loves us often gets lost. Take a moment and think about what the word Lavish could mean, and what it means to you.
God’s love is like an invasion.
How do you like to feel love? Or how do you show love to others? We have a generous God that continually pours out his love to sustain us. But God knows the way to love us that speaks to us the most. If you’ve not heard about the love languages, they are certainly worth looking up (see link at the end). The Love Languages identify the way that you receive love best, this can help you in your various relationships. God loves us in such a way that He doesn’t have to think about how to give us love, He knows. Often we have the decision about whether we choose to receive that love.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us.
Consider the image of an invasion happening, when a winning side arrive on the scene to complete the invasion, they consume the area they are aiming for. They take it over completely. That’s the love God has for us. A love that overwhelms, releases the floodgates and crashes into us. God loves us with such a depth it’s overpowering.
There is no argument, God loves us.
This sense of overpowerment causes us to pause and recognise that we are called children of God. Children have an innocence and need to know they are loved, to feel compassion. As God calls us his children, he makes a clear statement that brings no argument.
…that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
Think of it like this – God loves us, lavishes on us, because we are children of God. As children of God we need to receive that with an open heart that enables us to stand firm with all God has for us.
We need to brace for impact.
Is your heart really open to all that God has for you? Are you ready to receive it? Chris Tomlins song Impact has a line in it that says:
Brace for the impact
The first time I heard it I did a double take. Why do we need to brace? What are bracing for? As we talked during prayer dance bites it dawned on us all. That how much God loves us is an overwhelming, tidal wave surging, storm crashing impact. By that I mean if we truly receive the words of this verse. Recognising that God loves us lavishly as we are his children, love will invade us with such force that we need to brace for the impact because it will be all consuming.
How can we respond to this?
If you’re a mover and dancer you can explore how God loves us by dancing to the song Impact by Chris Tomlin. Think about these 3 words –
What can these look like in movement? How do these words make you feel when you think about the depth that God loves us?
This video highlights what was shared during our Prayer Dance Bite session as well as some further thoughts and movement from me.
You can find out about the Five Love Languages here.
Not sure what Prayer Dance Bites is but would like to know more? Head here. Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.
Creativity surrounds us, wherever we look, people, landscapes, businesses, things that go, plants, food, music and so much more each have an element of uniqueness about them. If, creativity is around us all the time, that must mean that it has some influence on how we live our day-to-day life. If God inhabits our day, one must assume that creativity is part of our day too. This week I want us to consider how creativity in worship is naturally part of what you do. How can creativity, worship and our conversation with God blend into our everyday?
What’s the deal with Creativity?
You just need to look around you and see with amazement the things that God has created. He takes great care with what he makes, being specific and knowing every detail, creativity in worship shines through everywhere.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, Genesis 1.14
This act of creation shared with us, means we see stunning clouds and sky by day and amazing stars at night. Each one deliberately put there. Part of Gods plan when He ‘created’.
The English word create stems from the Latin word creare which means to make, bring forth or produce. Everyday each of us will do those things – make, bring forth or produce.
Take a moment now and write down everything you have done with your day so far.
Creativity allows the possibility to explore something different. It challenges your perception about what you see and do, and how it could be done differently. It isn’t one size fits all. It’s the willingness to explore and acknowledge even the little things.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139.17-18.
The little things such as the grains of sand and ALL our thoughts were important when God created us. He took the time to lean into those small details. Think about the small details that occur day to day for you, do you recognise them and thank God for them?
Let’s look deeper at worship.
How do you worship? What is important to you when you worship? What does it involve? Spend a few moments noting down the answers to those questions.
I have always seen worship as part of my everyday routine, as I begin conversations with God, I am entering into a time of worship. An acknowledgment that what I am doing is for him. Often worship is only considered as singing, or time together on a Sunday morning. But it is much bigger than that. This verse in John sums it up well.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4.24 (emphasis mine)
In a nutshell according to this verse, entering into a conversation with God in any form is connecting with his spirit. Connecting with his spirit is part of creativity, resulting in creativity in worship. It’s like a perpetual cycle, one thing cannot happen without the other.
But how does creativity in worship go hand in hand?
As we draw to the end, I want to take some time to share and help you recognise that what you are doing already in your journey is using creativity in worship. You might also find some other things that you want to try.
Put a pause in.
Let’s look right back at Genesis again and remember that even through all that God was creating. He recognised the good bits, stood back to look at them and paused. This was a specific action that he put in at the end of every day. He chose to pause.
‘God saw all that He has made, and it was very good.’ Genesis 1.31
Perhaps for you, the biggest challenge in your creativity in worship might be putting in a pause, a full stop. To see what God has done or is doing. As you read on in Genesis God talks about how he chose to rest and bless that day.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2.2-3
For me this verse isn’t talking about ensuring there is a full day of rest in your week, although lets face it that would be lovely! It’s talking about how God made the active choice that to connect with his spirit and what he had done he needed to pause. And choose to bless what has been done.
Day to day putting in a pause (however big or small) and choosing to acknowledge God will enable you to draw closer to him. As you build confidence, your conversations, movements and actions during that moment of pause will become more intentional.
Write it down, draw it, move it out.
God made us all unique, that means how we choose to record our journey will be different.
You could write it down in prose, poem, song, story. Draw it in intricate detail, or any way you like. Or, move and dance what ever is stirring on your heart. That could be as simple as standing still, kneeling down or raising hands. It could also go deeper and involve a complete movement dance.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Psalm 29.2
In our worship give God glory. What that looks like for you will be different to your friend. For example, although I love to move, part of my worship is also creating this blog post. It’s cutting out material patterns, it’s eating food! They are all things that can remind me of God’s greatness and how He is part of my conversation daily.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12.1
As I remember those things I acknowledge what God is doing, I praise Him and thank Him and chat with him. This grows my creativity in worship.
Create delight in the mundane.
This is a favourite of mine. It’s about the intentional choice to involve God in those things that you have to get done day to day.
Yep, you’ve guessed it! The cooking, cleaning, packing, folding, washing, drying and more that can encapsulate the majority of life. The stuff that has to get done and often we don’t want to spend time doing. So why not bring God into the occasion?
Listen to a sermon or song as you iron, wash dishes, fold clothes etc.
Pray for someone every time you make yourself a drink – you have a list up on the wall.
Give God praise as the kettle is boiling. Remember that God wants his passion to bubble up inside us.
As you clean focus on the sin Jesus washed away, what do you need to say sorry for?
I could make a big list of things. This is all creative, it’s all worship. Action and intention creates a reaction.
As a starting point for you, why don’t you list, things that you know you have to do day to day down one side of the paper. Then on the other side of the paper write one way that you can interact with God through it.
This is your personal way to grow your creativity in worship! Let me know what you create!!
You are creative!!
A final note to finish with, is a reminder that you are creative. What ever it is that you do there will ALWAYS be creativity in it. God is all around us, so he’s all around your creativity and what you create. Cheering you on, giving you your best.
Whether that’s –
Writing blog posts, reports and documents.
Creating dance and movement
Playing with children
Building, drilling, or cutting something
Planting, growing and sowing things.
There is creativity within you. You can make the choice to include it in your conversations with God.
Toddle Tales is the re-telling of Bible Stories for children, particularly the under 5s. Although, since lockdown ages up to 10 years old have also been enjoying it! All stories are made up of narrative and songs. This helps reinforce the story and these songs are written to the tunes of nursery rhymes. Before lockdown I did live sessions which were very interactive. The children got a chance to join in with the songs with either dressing up, performing actions or holding puppets. Since lockdown I have ventured into producing videos. Which have been reaching lots of different ages groups and I know have been very useful for parents when they want their children to engage with something Biblical on a Sunday.
How important is the Christian faith with Toddle Tales?
The Christian faith is important to Toddle Tales, because that is what drove me to create it in the first place. It was when I was working for a company called Molly Moo Cow, going into nurseries and singing and telling stories. God gave me the idea to do this for Bible stories.
Using the skills that God has given me, I have created another way of telling the Bible to children, in a way that is accessible. It is early days for Toddle Tales, and I have no idea what the future holds…but that is what faith is, trusting without knowing what will happen.
Why is it so invested is it so invested in teaching Bible stories for children?
Toddle Tales is invested in children because as Whitney Houston put it “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way” (Yes, I love a bit of Whitney). But of course, before Whitney sung this, the Bible teaches us to
“Train them up, in the way they should go.” Proverbs 22.6
Toddle Tales is just another way of teaching the Bible to young children, in the hope to engage them from a young age and plant seeds in their heart.
Can you share 3 tips to encourage parents in their conversation or teaching with their children about God?
OK so I sometimes struggle with this one myself(!) What I do try to do is best described with three words – pray, dance, and joy!
Actively choose to pray with them before they go to bed. Currently its just me who leads prayers as my eldest son struggles a bit. We thank God for the day and ask for a good night’s sleep with no bad dreams and that we would have a good day tomorrow. I feel it’s important to identify the things we are thankful for as well as look ahead to what is to come. Often, it’s very short to keep their concentration. But it’s still demonstrating to them how we can have a conversation with God regularly.
We do a lot of dancing, so I put on worship music and let the words of the song permeate into their souls. Waymaker is a firm favourite at the moment, but often we will find a compilation on Spotify and see what comes up. Adding in songs that they want to as they go. I try to give them a sense that all music works with movement and talk about them having a dancing spirit and how God loves it when they dance!
Finding the joy!
My older son gets very cross and his personality gets him stuck in the “it’s not fair” thoughts and attitudes. So, I have recently tried a new tactic of singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart song” Yeah, you know the one I mean, it gets stuck in your head!! But I have found that cuts through his mood. He tries not to smile, but I can see it helps him to break free. He even started singing it the other day in CO-OP (really loudly haha). I suppose what I try to do is rather than drum into them about God. I bring God into our every day, through creative means, as we all know that children learn best through creativity.
Finally, Lauren, what is the thing you love most about Toddle Tales?
The thing I most love about Toddle Tales is creating the stories and performing them. Since lockdown I have also ventured into producing videos, which I have also loved doing and the feedback I have got from them, has also been worth it too.
So great to hear about Toddle Tales and some of Lauren’s heart. If you want to know more about Toddle tales you can follow them on Facebook here and check out some of their videos on YouTube here.
Movement encounters our emotions in whatever form it takes – dancing, singing, sport, cooking – are just a few. They all involve movement and all provide ways to keep sustaining us when it gets tough. God is there to give us more than enough, all the time. But do you recognise that God sustaining us, enables us to share his word better, to love our passion greater and to pause letting our hearts get better? That thing that helps to sustain you, is a passion, it stirs your heart.
Sharing a passion…
This month we’ve been chatting a bit about passion, what it means to us as individuals, and what it might mean for the plan God has for us. I shared this week during my talk, Passion in a Suitcase some of my journey and scriptures that have enabled me to keep going no matter what.
I speak about how passion isn’t necessarily a specific activity it’s something that stirs your heart, it’s something that causes you to want to do more of it. That could be to do with a physical activity, it could be an emotion, it could be your workspace, it could be where you live, or it could be something to do with your family. If it stirs your heart it’s a passion! What’s stirring your heart today?
Today I want to look back on a fabulous dance day in 2014 and draw your attention to a dance that we did called ‘Can’t Stop Singing’. The song itself speaks about how God is more than enough. That God sustaining us, is Gods whole heart. Regardless of circumstances, regardless of what we feel, God is more than enough.
I feel it demonstrates some of that hidden passion inside us. It drew on emotions to explore the words and individually encounter the grace that God gives us. We moved in groups and recognised that moving together and saying that the Lord is our Redeemer over everything can bring so much joy.
The day was titled ‘Sharing a Passion, Generating Creativity.’ It allowed opportunity for God to work amongst the participants and see each of them grow closer to God with their faith.
I led the day with Joe Littledyke from Soul Survivor Watford. Whilst we were planning we had a real sense that the day was all about joy and celebrating. Celebrating that God sustaining us, always has done, will be, and that he is always there.
Lights on… Lights off… Let’s worship
The venue that we had the privilege to move in for the dance day, was equipped with various lights on the ceiling to change the lighting atmosphere. Normally we all worship with the lights on. But sometimes to bring out our passion, we have to begin in darkness and grow into the light.
During some of our time dancing that day we experimented with different lights. Chasing, jumping, growing and retreating with them. As God spoke to us over the course of the day participants recognised that the lights helped to portray and feel a real sense that God was there.
As we built the dance to the song ‘Can’t stop singing’ we experimented further what the lights could do and the impact they could have alongside the words of the song and the movements that were created.
For many, the moments of darkness put them into a sense of suspense. Suspense at not knowing when they needed to burst out and declare their movement. But suspense that God has called them to step out of the darkness and into the light.
God sustaining us is More than Enough
God will always give us more than enough. That was the key theme throughout the song ‘Can’t stop singing’. It cheers us to keep singing, moving, and trusting that God will give more than enough, to sustain us through the season that we are in.
Think about your season at the moment. How is it going? Are you giving yourself a chance to step out of the darkness and into the light declaring that God is more than enough? What does it mean to you when you say ‘God you are more than enough’.
As I say them I release the things on my heart back to God. Knowing that he knows my heart and what I need. Psalm 347.4 says ‘God gives you the desires of your heart.’ He will always supply what we need and give us more than enough!
I pray that as you watch this video, you will have a sense of the joy and celebration that God sings over your life. May you realise that God is all you need right now to sustain you. That he will carry you through this season, enlarging your territory and strengthening your foundation.
What is the cornerstone of your faith? Is a really good blog post that encourages you to root yourself in some key scripture. This will enable us to see God sustaining us through seasons that are hard.
If you follow me on social media you will have seen me posting daily throughout advent, an advent prayer dance. As advent comes to an end I wanted to share my journey of where it’s taken me over the 24 days. Prayer dance initiates so many people’s conversations with God. I delighted having the opportunity to be intentional, persevere and draw closer to God during this season.
In a month when I knew life would be very busy, I knew I had to be intentional about my prayers and communication with God during this advent season, choosing to a advent prayer dance everyday was very special. Prayer dance is something very close to the heart of UC Grace and has been the soul of 2020 as we have kept people moving for Jesus.
This wasn’t just about being intentional with DANCING a prayer, but being intentional about WHAT I was going to pray about. Whilst God gives us the freedom to move how we wish. If there is no intention behind what we are doing then it can be hard to see Jesus at the centre.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.
My intention was to share some of what God was saying during this season, identifying daily different things I could pray for. Which, through sharing with you would encourage, grow and ignite you during this season.
A goal of mine at the beginning of 2020, was to be intentional about incorporating movement into my daily life. At the beginning of the year I didn’t know what that would look like, and I probably should have been more specific – considering goals are supposed to be specific!
But 2020 has brought a new dimension to my movement, as it’s got closer to the end of the year I was prompted to share this with you. The advent dances offer glimpses into how I have been feeling and things God has laid on my heart.
This year more than ever perseverance has been important. In family, personal, spiritual and work life. Much of what we knew was turned upside down over night with the pandemic. With the majority of stuff still nowhere near what it once was or will be.
Perseverance during #adventdance for me has been about still choosing to move when I was tired, sad, or fed up. Those times that I made the effort to move through the emotions drew me closer to God. At the end of the day we to make the choice –
To read about Jesus
Learn about how he lives
Ask him to help us in the tough times
Say thank you when we see him in the big stuff
To live Jesus
Demonstrating to others who He is through how we live
Praying continually regardless of circumstance
Seeking joy and thankfulness on a daily basis
Prayer dance often puts you out of your comfort zone, challenging where God is in certain aspects of your life and your attitude towards others. But, it enables you to persevere through all circumstances, and dance when words are not sufficient to talk to God.
The days when I pushed through with advent prayer and still danced, peace reigned!
Closeness to God through advent prayer dance
Often people say pictures speak 1000 words. There’s detail, emotion, depth, growth and so much more when you look at pictures. But look at movement and you see someone’s heart on display.
You identify what they are feeling at that very moment and there’s an invitation for you to come and take part in what they are experiencing. As I shared these advent dances I was sharing what my heart was going through that day. There were days which were hard, but worship brings such a delight. Instead of letting the day dictate my feelings, I stepped out and followed through with the choice (intention) I had made to still dance (persevere). Through this I drew into God’s presence and stood by his side as I moved.
Reaching the end of my advent prayer dances, I really wanted to share with people something that God was saying I should do over the Christmas season, and that’s smile! Yes, I have a husband deployed and I always knew that this Christmas would be a different one.
However, it’s now a different one for everyone in the country (little bit of comfort there). Despite many feeling like ‘Christmas is cancelled’. God says smile :-), I am here. Seek me, find me and draw close to me in the way that fits you.
We are all individual and how we choose to draw close to God during this time will be different. My journey is movement… what’s yours?