Posted by: rhenderson8110 | April 23, 2015

The Momma God Made Me To Be

So I’m almost 7 months into this Momma role and I’m learning so much. I’ve learned how to rock a baby to sleep, maneuver a sleeping baby out of a car seat, and I’ve tackled cloth diapering! I’ve learned to never lay the baby down before burping her, lest, she wake up in 10 minutes in a rather grizzly mood. I’ve learned how to make baby food and rice cereal at home. And from across the room I can predict when some unsuspecting person is about to get spit up on by my beautiful daughter. It’s all so new but I am just now starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of this.

I think a big part of my adjustment to motherhood has been figuring out what kind of Momma I am. There are those Moms who sleep train from day one (and typically enjoy great sleep thereafter!). There are the baby food makers or the yogurt makers. There are the no pacifier Mommas. Some teach sign language to their babies. And there are the super fit ones who prioritize exercising and don’t look like they’ve ever had a baby, much less 6 months ago! And there I was, still fumbling with the car seat (I will never understand how to put the base in- I swear it’s unlearnable.) and napping at all hours of the day. For me, it was so overwhelming to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Not for lack of options but for too many options! At first I felt bad if I ‘gave in’ and let Olivia nap with me or brought her back into bed with me when I was too tired to drag myself back to her room. And I felt bad for using disposables when I had perfectly good cloth diapers there. And I felt bad that she went to bed when I did at 10:00pm in those early months. And I felt not just bad but inadequate and uneasy- like I could be ‘found out’ at any moment for being the clueless, unproductive, inconsistent Mom that I was.

And then somehow these past 6 1/2 months have come and gone. I’ve gotten so much more comfortable in my skin. I’m starting to sink into this new role and with the time has come confidence! Confession- I let Olivia use a pacifier; I’d let her use 4 if it would help her (and us) get a few hours of sleep! That is not a hill I am choosing to die on. Also, Hi I’m Rachel and I am not a yogurt maker. When Olivia eats yogurt it will be store bought. Gasp! In addition, even though Olivia sleeps in her room mostly now, I love bringing her in at around 5 in the morning to snuggle the rest of the morning out. I don’t care if that could confuse her or if others think I’m going to suffocate her- it works for us, for now. And really that’s all that matters. As Mommas we have to figure out what works for us, for now… and then do it. Without the guilt. Without the worry of not being good enough. Because here’s the thing- God gave Olivia to us and He made me her Momma. He trusted me with her. If He trusts me then I should trust me! (And you should trust you!)

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So that’s what I’m learning these days- to figure out what God is calling this Momma to do. I’m also sorting through what He is not calling me to and deciding to let those things go. I am a child of God. I am a Momma. I am not Superwoman! I’m starting to figure out that busyness is not productivity if it isn’t what God is asking of me. There are going to be things I am good at and things I am terrible at (read- training Olivia to be on a regular schedule for anything). And that really is okay! I choose to spend my time doing the things God is calling me to and most importantly, snuggling and loving the cheeks off of my beautiful daughter!

There is such a peace when you let go of what you ‘should’ be doing and simply ask God what He wants you to be doing. I bet it’s ‘less’ than you thought. I bet you (like me) put way more on your shoulders than God is actually asking of you. So, ask Him! Let Him move your heart towards those things that are most important. And then savor it; soak in being right there, doing only what God gifted you to do. Nothing more and nothing less.

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | December 17, 2014

A Mother’s Love

Okay so it’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t even remember my password to get into my blog to write today… but truly I have been busy. Busy with my life’s greatest and most challenging work! The birth of our daughter Olivia Juliette has brought the most complex, wonderful, and surprising emotions and experiences. Today, as I dip my feet back into the blogging waters, I wanted to explore just one. This is the one that is on my heart today. This is the one I believe my Father has been slowly and methodically trying to emblazon on my heart and into my habits.

How do I love someone who is constantly in need? How can I love someone who is ever requiring me to give of my self, my time and my energy? Literally at times it is her or me; her needs are met OR mine are. How do I choose to love when that choice frequently requires another sacrifice on my part? The struggle is real. Vividly real at 3:30AM in a dark bedroom when I’m slumped over on my pillow nursing Olivia again (or is it still?) while my husband sleeps peacefully beside us. Vibrantly real at 2 in the afternoon as I drag myself away from a pile of dishes to pick her up for the fourth time in 45 minutes to gently bounce her back to sleep. Shockingly real when I finally get her to sleep, jump in the shower and then power wash/shampoo/condition in less than 5 minutes because she inevitably wakes up grumpy and starving (or so it would seem) the minute I step foot inside the shower. It’s real. And it’s hard.

So I’m learning about what true love looks like in real life. I came across this definition of biblical love from Voddie Baucham (a great expert on biblical family teaching) a while ago. I wrote it in my bible next to the love chapter. But I need it posted just about everywhere in our house right about now. Biblical love: An act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that leads to action on behalf of it’s object. When I pictured our sweet daughter I thought it would all come pretty naturally. I mean I knew (and rightly so) that she would be beautiful and that I would be over the moon enamored with her. That’s still true. What I didn’t know is how much of a mother’s love is an act of the will. I don’t always feel like loving her or doing what is best for her. It’s a deliberate choice; I will myself to get up and feed her at night. I will myself to change another diaper. I will myself to sing to her and greet her with a smile in the morning even when I didn’t sleep all night. A perfect picture of this agape love is Christ in the garden of Gethsemane just before He was crucified for all of us. He is sweating drops of blood and praying to God the Father, ‘Not My will but Yours be done Father.’ Christ didn’t feel like dying for us; it was an act of the will. And it led to action on behalf of His beloved. At first I felt like a bad mother when I wasn’t bubbling over with warm and fuzzy feelings for my daughter when she needed something else from me. But you know what- it’s okay not to feel love towards each other all the time. It’s often an act of the will first… and then I’ve found that the emotions follow.

So here I am in the midst of a great and vast learning experience. The past 2 1/2 months have felt like one big, deep, straining stretch. I can literally feel myself being stretched thin. I can feel my selfishness being squeezed out of me. I can feel new patience budding inside of me- like a seed bursts it’s way through rich soil. And just like a physical stretch it hurts at first but once you commit to it, sink into it and stay for a while it feels so satisfying and cleansing. And when I find myself being stretched I have found that just like I do when I exercise- it’s best to take a few deep breaths, slow down and sink myself into it. Be right there in the stretch- not wishing it away, not jumping out of it when it gets uncomfortable, not frustrated because of my lack of flexibility. Just be in it- right there and breathe. And the promising part? I’m already growing from it. I can tell because when I start to get upset or frustrated or list all the reasons I need sleep I catch myself. And I will myself to pick her up, close my eyes, rock her gently and pray. I pray for patience. I pray for self control. And I pray for a little more grace to help me get through just one more act of love. And boy is there a reward! Wow do I love Olivia. I mean in ways and on levels I never knew existed! And the awesome thing is that when she does nap for 2 long hours at a time I find myself peering into her swing wishing she would wake up so I can see those beautiful glittery eyes. I can’t wait to enjoy that gummy smile that lights up her whole face and inevitably washes over mine. What an awesome privilege and honor it is to be a mother. We are all called to learn how to love each other. What a blessing it is to be able to learn it from being a Momma!

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Posted by: rhenderson8110 | July 29, 2014

Living & Learning

Wow, so it has been a while since I have posted! So much is happening in our little corner of the world! We’ve been enjoying a mild and sunny summer, packing our things for our big move in about a week, taking on weekly birthing classes and preparing for a family wedding and a beach vacation. Oh yeah and I’m still growing this little (but not so little anymore) baby girl inside! So it has been wonderful and full. And exhausting. And overwhelming. So I’m trying to learn to take it one step at a time so we can try to enjoy each of them… and honestly so that I don’t panic. 🙂 

I think that is something I need to take with me through this next phase of life. There will always be a million things to do and it will probably often feel like there is just not enough ‘me’ to get it all done. And that’s okay. I haven’t gotten everything on my neatly manufactured lists done and guess what? The important things got done and the rest didn’t. And we all survived and are even learning to let go of some of that perfectionist in us which is probably for the best anyways. So, the apartment is a maze of boxes- half labeled and taped, half open with random things thrown inside.Oh, and I packed all the dishes except a few plates and bowls… which made me feel like I was really on top of things until I realized that means we have to wash them everyday so we have clean ones to use for the next meal. Awesome- another job I’ve created for us. 😉 So, in the end, we’re living and we’re learning together. And that’s really the point anyways, isn’t it?

I’m in my third trimester now- only a few months until we get to meet our darling little girl! I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful and vibrant pregnancy. However I feel like third trimester has come into my life with authority! I can definitely feel the aches and pains of pregnancy. I asked Alex to sit down next to me for a minute last night so I could vent to him. ‘I didn’t sleep at all last night, my ribs hurt, I’m exhausted but have restless legs so I can’t fall asleep, I’m starving and I have this weird taste in my mouth all the time.’ And he said the perfect thing- he reminded me of how extraordinarily wonderful I have felt the whole rest of my pregnancy and that rough days like that one were completely normal and that it was okay to feel kind of ‘blah.’ He gave me permission to feel off and I’m so grateful for that as it is rarely something we grant ourselves. That’s another thing I’m learning- not every phase is wonderful but it is part of the experience. And I can’t help but wonder if my minor discomforts now aren’t helping to prepare me for the next phase. God is so good that way; always getting us ready for what is ahead. So I’m trying to focus my attitude; instead of being irritable and frustrated that I tossed and turned, took a shower at 1AM, tossed and turned again and didn’t sleep… I prayed this morning to be thankful for the preparation for what’s surely ahead. And it was a beautiful reminder of how much I need God’s help each morning to get through whatever the day may bring. And that’s always a good thing to be reminded of.

Here’s me at 26 weeks (a  couple weeks ago now) heading to our birthing class 🙂

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Oh, and despite me deceptively holding an apple in this picture the reality is that in our moving/packing/shortage of dishes phase we have eaten out a lot. :/ Not ideal and sometimes I feel bad that I’m introducing our daughter to such imperfect food. And then I remember that that’s life- imperfect and thrown together sometimes. And I figure, hey why not start out being honest with her. 😉

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | June 25, 2014

The Man Behind the Bump

I wanted to write about someone who often gets left out of all the pregnancy gushing and baby shopping sprees. Actually, now that I think of it that someone gets left out a lot. Between showing off my new ring (that he bought), planning the wedding (that he is equally part of) and feeling my baby bump (that he helped create) somehow we forget about him. The man. You know- the other half of the equation. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget about the husband. After all he is simply doing what he is supposed to do- working hard to provide for the family day after day. 

But guess what- pregnancy is a brand new and sometimes difficult phase for him too. It isn’t just about me losing sleep and aching all over. If you’re married to a good man he has lost sleep too… because now he is taking care of two instead of one. His responsibility has already increased and I think you’d be surprised how acutely aware he is of that fact. If he is a purposeful man he is already charting out in his mind how he is going to have to change and grow to provide for a new family member. Another little person to take under his strong and steady wing. Except he probably doesn’t feel strong and steady; he probably feels timid, a little left-handed and maybe even fearful. Especially given what has been pumped into his brain by media today: that he, as almost all husbands are portrayed, is completely inept at doing anything and should just shrink down, pretend the responsibility doesn’t exist and grab the remote. But if you married a good man, like I was blessed with, he knows he can’t do that. He doesn’t want to do that. He desperately wants to step up to the challenge and deliver. 

So, instead of rushing past the dad-to-be to ask mom-to-be how she is doing… maybe take a moment and ask him. Men are so critically important to our culture, our society and our homes. Let’s remember that together. Let’s build future fathers up and remind them that God is equipping them to do the work ahead. Yes fatherhood is a great and vast calling- but it’s also extremely doable with God’s help and a little pep talk now and then. 

Men often do the dirty work of life. And a lot of what they do is not as apparent as my cute, very-noticeable baby bump. So, if you’re married take a second and thank him for all that he does for you. If you know a dad-to-be remind him that he is going to do great. If you’re expecting, like me, tell your man about just how confident you are in him. Let him know that you are absolutely sure that he is going to succeed… and that those times when he doesn’t are okay too. You’ll always be right there by his side, thanking him, praising him and encouraging him to try again.

So, thank you baby. For taking care of the two of us even before you have met one of us. I know you work hard and I know you always will. What a blessing that is. I can’t wait for our little girl to meet you and enter the world knowing she has a Dad who desperately loves her and will be her covering. Just like you’ve done for me these past almost 4 years. If a Husband ever ‘deserved’ to become a Dad- it’s you. ❤

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Posted by: rhenderson8110 | June 4, 2014

When Someone Lives Inside You

It’s June and summer is in full swing here! It seems like everything is bursting with life and joy and newness. Lately I’ve been feeling the same way- bubbling over with gratitude, experiencing new things and growing a brand new little life inside. I’ve been feeling the baby move for about 2 1/2 weeks now and Alex has even gotten to feel HER move! That’s right, we found out last week we’re having a beautiful little girl! I can’t imagine being more excited that we’re going to have a daughter in our arms by the time the snow falls. It’s all so exciting and fresh and new.

Now that I’ve felt the baby move sometimes I just sit quietly and try to feel her. I’ve noticed that I don’t feel her as much during the busy-ness of the day… it’s usually at night, when I’m lying in bed thinking through the day. And then I feel a kick or a nudge or a tap. And it’s so obvious again to me that there is indeed someone abiding in me. Honestly it’s easy to forget sometimes… you know, I’m just busy doing what I do and I forget about the biggest Blessing in my life. And it got me to thinking about something I’ve heard a million times but never really understood. Someone else is living within me- Christ. His spirit abides in me. A family member asked me what I loved most about being pregnant and I told her it was just knowing that I’m never alone- it makes me feel abundant and humbled and filled. But the truth is that I wasn’t alone even before I got pregnant. God has given me His spirit and that spirit is in me wherever I go. 

Which is wonderful and encouraging… and sobering. I am more sensitive about what I eat and listen to now because I know it will be the first things our daughter tastes and hears. I should remember also that Christ experiences all I do as well. When my dad dropped me off before school he used to say, ‘Take Him with you!’ The truth is that we all take Him with us- every day, every where and every time. I am also more particular about the environments I put myself in now because I am carrying another life. I can’t avoid all toxins but I do notice now when I’m standing behind a car’s exhaust pipe in the parking lot. I do take extra notice when there’s a smoker in front of me in line. I take care to avoid even the smallest dangers. And it hit me- shouldn’t I have the same mindset towards spiritually dangerous things since Christ is living in me as well? I need to make it easy for His spirit to abide and grow in me too. Therefore shouldn’t I avoid spiritually dangerous environments? As opposed to riding the line and focusing on the fact that it’s ‘not that bad,’ shouldn’t I guard my ears from hearing anything remotely toxic? I guess my point is that this Pentecost season my goal is to truly appreciate the gift that God has given me- His spirit. Part of appreciating it is guarding it- in a maternal, protective, loving and at times fierce way. God’s spirit is special and powerful and continues to make me grow. Come to think of it those are the same qualities I look forward to seeing unfold in our daughter too.

The last thing I wanted to leave you with was this: It is when I slow down that I feel our daughter move within me; I think sometimes it takes a willingness to create and embrace still moments to feel God’s spirit in our lives as well. I believe there is much value to be found in slowing down, closing your eyes and asking God to reveal Himself or His plan for your life. Don’t we all want to feel God move in our lives? He probably does all the time- just like our daughter does. We just miss it in the hurriedness of our lives. So my advice is don’t miss it. Don’t forget about the biggest miracle in your life- having God’s spirit living and growing inside you. Take the time to slow down and commune with Him. My bet is that you will come away feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and thankful for the reminder that you’re not alone. Just like I do when I feel her move. ❤

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,

Psalm 139: 7-10, 13-15

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Posted by: rhenderson8110 | May 14, 2014

Preparing to LOVE being pregnant

It’s hard to believe I’m already almost 17 weeks along! In some ways the first 10 weeks took forever to go by before we got to see our little Blessing on an ultrasound… and then in other ways I feel like it has flown by. I wanted to share with you part of why I think it has sped past me like a whirlwind. I wasn’t sick. Or throwing up. Or about to die like I had mentally prepared myself for. The first thing I’ll say is that every person and every pregnancy is unique. But I wanted to share with you some things I did to try to prepare my body to conceive and carry this sweet baby. I can’t say that the natural preparations have caused my enjoyable pregnancy- but I am confident enough in them that I will continue to do them between future pregnancies as well! I can honestly say that apart from typical pregnancy-related fatigue, I have LOVED being pregnant! It’s hard to love a season of life when you feel awful… so maybe some of these can help you enjoy this phase of life more too!

1. Fertility Cleanse. There are about a million reasons why a cleanse would be a good practice for all of us- trying to conceive or not. With all the additives, toxins, junk food and chemicals we ingest it’s amazing we still function! With relation to fertility though- it is important for both women and men to cleanse their livers and their reproductive organs. Specifically if you have taken any form of hormonal birth control prior to trying to conceive. (I didn’t but still found the cleanse extremely helpful!)This is the one I did and this is the one Alex did. They are not intense, you still eat regularly and I didn’t feel awful during the cleanse either. I did however, feel about 10x healthier, clearer and just plain better after I did this cleanse. My cycles became more regular and easier in general. Everything needs a good cleaning once in a while- that includes our bodies! I intend to do a cleanse before each future child as well because I believe in it so much.

2. Move it! I have always been a pretty regular gym goer but I had read so many articles that linked activity to fertility that I knew I wanted to step it up. This doesn’t have to be a huge change from your current lifestyle. My goal was simply to go do something every day of the work-week. It’s not a huge task but it does get your blood pumping and your heart going. Make a small, doable goal for yourself and you’ll be happy you did! I had the normal 1st trimester fatigue and I am so glad I was in the habit of regular activity of some sort. There were certainly days I did nothing during those first 3 months but I was so used to doing something that I did get up and get moving much more than I would have if I didn’t have a habit in place!

3. Drink up! Well, water I mean. This one has changed my life- prior to making this change I was not a naturally thirsty person. I could probably go all day without drinking anything! I knew that hydration was SO important so I bought myself a nice, big, glass water bottle and dedicated myself to drinking 3 per day. (66 oz total) I can’t even tell you what a difference this made in my energy level. I literally felt like a new person! It really is SO simple too… do it, you won’t regret it! Oh and so far, even into my 2nd trimester I haven’t had those rumored pregnancy headaches. I’m hoping the two are correlated!

4. Rejuvenate your body. I did many things that I considered ‘extra’ with relation to our health in the months before we conceived. I know all of these are not possible and/or a good fit for everyone. But pick one- and commit yourself to it. The things I did were daily smoothies with all kinds of healthy stuff added in, juicing, big, wonderful, daily salads and cutting out caffeine and alcohol. Now’s the time to pamper your insides and rejuvenate your body. You’ll be so glad you did that before you were pregnant because chances are you won’t have the energy for a little while to do it afterwards. I thought that because I was healthy pre-pregnancy that I would have a picturesque post-conception diet… and I now know how ridiculous that is! Even though I wasn’t throwing up, I was extremely fatigued and the last thing I was thinking about was juicing or making smoothies. I even gave in and enjoyed a few cheeseburgers from Wendy’s! It isn’t perfect but it is real. So, the more you can do before you get pregnant- the better it is for you and baby!

I hope those were as helpful to you as they have been for me and baby H! And here’s my 16 week picture (wow 4 months already!?) too 🙂 

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PS- we find out if baby H is a boy or a girl a week from tomorrow! Any guesses from you?? Gender reveal to come ❤

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | April 23, 2014

Our Littlest, BIGGEST Blessing <3

In case you hadn’t heard…
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We are expecting a little Henderson in October! We are just SO thrilled and feel extremely blessed!! And by the way, I blame this on why I haven’t posted in about a month… :/ I promise to be better now that we’re in the 2nd trimester!

So I’ll keep you posted here but so far I really can’t complain. I was nauseous on and off and reeeeally tired but that’s it! If i could order them up I’d have all future pregnancies be like this one so far! I feel great and am just overflowing with joy! I feel so humbled that God has entrusted part of His creation to us- what an honor. I think that has been the overwhelming feeling so far throughout my pregnancy- awe. I’m in awe of God and His design for life. I can’t really explain what it felt like to see our little miracle somersaulting around inside my tiny little belly on that ultrasound. Unbelievably awe-inspiring. What a great God we serve!

I’d love to leave it at that but I have to be honest- the other overwhelming feeling I’ve battled is fear. Fear of losing our small child that we already love so much…and then I try to remember that God is truly in control. There is really not much I can do other than eating healthy and being active… which at first is frustrating- the most important thing in my life is almost completely out of my control! But guess Who is in control? My all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator. And it struck me, ‘Why would I want to be in control when He is?’ But, alas, it is still hard to let go… it’s amazing how much you can love someone you haven’t even met. So, I’m working on that- letting go and letting God. I love that catchy phrase in theory but I’m finding the practice to be much more difficult! What I’ve decided though, is that I want to completely surrender my heart and will to Him. And I’m gradually making my peace with the fact that that includes the tiny child He gave to us. If I want to surrender my life I have to learn to surrender my child’s too. So, if you’re the praying type I could use your prayers to truly trust Him and His plan.

I’ll leave you with my 13.5 week picture for now 🙂 I’ll take one every few weeks now!

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“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. ” – Psa. 139:13

 

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | March 16, 2014

Long Suffering: Building a Relationship With God Through it All

Recently I was asked to speak at a Women’s Weekend in Cincinnati on the fruit of the Spirit, long suffering. Unfortunately I was too ill to present but a friend stepped in a presented parts of my speech. I thought I’d share the complete version below. My task was to give a personal example and then elaborate. Hope you enjoy it!

It’s tough to give a personal example of long suffering when you’re only 25 and haven’t had a ‘long’ time to ‘suffer.’ However, trials often seem never-ending when you’re in them and enduring a phase that is not pleasant allows anyone to feel like they’re suffering for a long time. So, I wanted to share with you the experience of suffering through a job that is not a good fit. Specifically I wanted to talk about my husband’s experience with that and how it I’ve seen him exhibit the fruit of long suffering through it.

Alex was blessed with the opportunity to work for his company about 2 years ago. He was hired in at an entry level position and was quickly promoted up the chain within 3 months to a much more demanding and high-pressure job. Which we thought was great… until it wasn’t. The new job was a sales role and if you know anything about sales- you’re either made for it or you’re not. Well, it turns out Alex just wasn’t designed to do that role and it led to 1 ½ years of ‘suffering.’ To us, it definitely seemed like ‘long-suffering.’ He would go through cycles of doubt and depression to be followed by a momentary hope and belief that he could do it. And then it would start all over again. The answer was never clear about what to do- he felt strongly that God had given him the role to provide so he strongly disliked the notion of quitting as he had never quit anything in his life. But, his physical, spiritual and emotional lives were all taking a bit hit. So we prayed and fasted and counseled. And we talked it through about a million times. And it went on like this for a year and a half. Boy was it draining. But, through it all I saw him do a couple things that I wanted to specifically share with you today.

  1. He sought God diligently- even when he didn’t ‘feel’ close to Him, even when he didn’t know what to say, even when he felt lost and forsaken. I think this is a key to exhibiting the fruit of long suffering- we have to be willing to suffer for a long time and maintain our relationship with God. We have to take Him with us or it will never work. So, he forced himself to bible study and he forced himself to fast and he forced himself to pray.  It was a powerful way for me to learn that long suffering is rarely about ‘feeling’ close to God but is about obeying Him and drawing near to Him anyways. There is an image that comes to mind when I think of that season of long suffering- it’s the image I woke up to many times- that of Alex on his knees in our bedroom seeking God in the middle of the night. I won’t forget that- like an illustration on a page it emblazoned in me what long suffering looks like. I believe this is the foundation of being able to show the fruit of long suffering- we’ve got to take Him with us. If we do so we will be able to relate with what David said in Psalm 119:71- It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
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  2. He also showed me to value the periods of waiting. I’m coming to see that those periods of waiting that we find ourselves in are designed to be times of seeking. Intense seeking- of God and of His will. I believe that we cannot master long suffering until we learn to value the notion of waiting. Right? Because long suffering implies that we are suffering for a long time- waiting on God to help, heal or remove us from a situation. I’ve been reading this book called Deeper Places by Matthew Jacoby- the lead singer/songwriter of Sons of Korah a group that put the Psalms to music. His book challenges us to use the Psalms as a roadmap of how to deepen our relationship with God through all seasons of life. I wanted to share this quote with you from the book: “What the Psalms highlight is the fact that there is significant value in the process of waiting itself before any response from God is considered.” (p.95) Do we believe that? Or are we scrambling to remove ourselves from uncomfortable situations?
  3. He was honest with God about what he was going through. I believe it is true that we cannot truly reconcile with God until we reconcile with our reality. Many times in our Christian walks we come to a point where there is a tension between all God promises to us and what our lives really look like. Right? These are crucial junctures of decision. It is at these points that we decide if we are going to face the reality of where we are, open up to God and walk through it with Him. Or if we are going to ignore the problem, act like we’re okay and attempt to bolster ourselves on our own apart from God. Or worse- abandon Him altogether believing He has forsaken us. This decision is intimately tied to whether or not we are able to show the fruit of long suffering. Sometimes life is really hard. Sometimes it’s painful and confusing and exhausting- and we must admit that to ourselves and to God. Remember what it says there in Hebrews 4:16– Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Sometimes we glaze over that- but I believe Christianity is about being honest with God not just about the blessings but also about the disappointments, heartbreaks and blunders. You see, I believe in order to show long suffering- in able to get through it in a godly way- we must be honest with Him about how we feel. Another quote from Deeper Places,
     “Relationships are built on communication, and communication is possible only when feelings are freely expressed, heard and validated. This is what we see in the psalms. The psalms are deeply relational expressions of how people felt; and they were directed to a person, the person of God.” (P. 94)
     If we try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and take on our sufferings alone we will fail. We must recognize our poverty without God; we must recognize that we need Him to guide us through times when we suffer for a long time. We show the fruit of long suffering not by muscling our way through- but by letting go of the notion that we can do so, getting down on our knees and pouring our hearts out in honesty and real-ness before our Creator. Then we get up, and thank Him for taking us each step of the way. That is long suffering.

In conclusion, I believe our ability to show long suffering is ultimately tied to one thing: relationship. More specifically, the depth of our relationship with our Father in heaven and Jesus Christ. And the more I think about it I believe this is one area that we as women can be shining examples to others. I mean isn’t that typically our forte- building and nurturing relationships? Let’s use those natural God given traits to build and nurture our relationship with God so that we can courageously and graciously exhibit the fruit of long suffering.

Again, buy this book!

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | February 7, 2014

Christian Yoga? It’s A Stretch… Part 3

Okay, fine but what is the real harm to Christians of practicing yoga anyways? How can we know if God even cares?

After studying into this I have found that yoga is somewhat of a ‘gateway’ into more and more occult belief. But don’t take it from me. One of the early pioneers of Hatha Yoga, Richard Hittleman, stated, “that as yoga students practiced the physical positions, they would eventually be ready to investigate the spiritual component which is “the entire essence of the subject”’ (Yoga Journal, May/June 1993, p. 68).  In this final blog on this topic I’d like to go through 4 basic biblical truths that solidify the need for Christians to avoid practicing yoga.

1.You shall have no other gods before Me.
Yoga is a Hindu form of spiritual worship. Take a look; it’s there in the definition. Hinduism has over 300 gods and the different postures are posed to worship them. We are to be a people that do not worship in any way any other god. (Exodus 20:1-5) The Bible states repeatedly that there is One God (Isa 44:6-8, 45:5, 18, 21-22) Equally as prevalent in scripture is the condemnation of idolatry. “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you.” Deut. 6:14 (Psa 96:4-5, 115:4-8) Typically in places where yoga is practiced you will find yourself surrounded by Buddha’s and a plethora of other Hindu and/or Christian deities. This is also not an environment a Christian should seek out.

I also want to point out the fact that the ‘god’ mentioned in yoga is not the same God that we worship… though many would have you believe they are one in the same. A basic tenant of Christianity is that there is one true God and no other. He is not the Universe or a collection of spirits and there is no god inside each of us. It is different entirely to believe that upon baptism God places a portion of his spirit in us. We are not gods. Rather we are fighting a corrupt human nature (Romans 8:7) inside us and attempting to submit it to God the Father and Jesus Christ with the help of the holy spirit. This can also be confused with God’s plan for us. We are called to be part of the God-family when Christ returns. However, we are not gods now and even when we are in the Kingdom of God the Father & Jesus Christ will have authority over us. We will be doing their will not doing whatever we’d like. We will not be sovereign. Hence the biblical teaching is quite different from that of Eastern religion/yoga.

2.Understanding Syncretism
4“Religious syncretism is probably the most dangerous thing we can involve ourselves in because we can rationalize its purpose.” It has been brought up to me that many themes in yoga are similar to themes in Christianity and are therefore congruent. i.e. the need to reconcile (commune) with God, biblical meditation, ‘be still and know that I am God’… etc. I am not denying that they are somewhat similar. In fact that is why I felt the need to write about it. What I am saying is that the scripture specifically tells us to ‘test the spirits.’(1John4:4) In the Garden of Eden there were 2 trees: the tree of good & evil and the tree of life. The ‘bad’ tree still has some good mixed in. I believe yoga falls into this category- there is some good mixed into a largely occultic practice.
We cannot take a Hindu practice designed to worship false gods, paste Christianity in front and call it godly. There is a relationship between yoga and religion. The problem is that it does not fit Christianity.

3.He Cares How You Worship Him
In John 4:24 it says that we are to ‘worship God in spirit and in truth.’ So, what is truth? ‘Sanctify them by your truth; Your Word is truth.’(John 17:17) So truth is what is in God’s Word- and nowhere else. And guess what? God has a TON to say about how He wants to be worshiped in His Word. It is a mistake to believe that we can worship God in any way that we choose. Let’s look at a few biblical examples to prove this:2

  • Exodus 20:2-6: The second commandment forbids not only worshiping anything other than the true God, but also worshiping God in a way he has not commanded, such as making an image.
  • Leviticus 10:1-3: Nadab and Abihu offered “strange fire” to God and he killed them. Why? For worshiping him in a way he had not prescribed.
  • 1 Samuel 15:22: God rejected Saul’s sacrifice because God had not authorized him to offer it.
  • Matthew 15:1-14: Jesus charged the Pharisees with ignoring and attacking God’s law because they added to it. He then described their actions as false, unacceptable worship.
  • John 4:20-26: In his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus asserted that worship must be according to God’s revelation.
  • So you see, God does care how we worship Him. It should be our goal not to worship in the way that is most pleasing to us but rather in a way that glorifies and pleases God. I believe it is safe to say that yoga, a Hindu means to worship false gods, is not pleasing to the God of the bible.

    4.Guard Your Mind
    3”Yoga is one of the basic means of reaching this altered state of consciousness. And the altered state is the doorway to the occult. Sir John Eccles, Nobel Prize Winner for his research on the brain, said the brain is ‘a machine that a ghost can operate.’ In a normal state of consciousness one’s own spirit ticks off the neurons in his brain and operates his body. We are spirits connected with a body. But in an altered state, reached under drugs, Yoga, hypnosis, visualization, this passive but alert state, the connection between the spirit and the brain, is loosened. That allows another spirit to interpose itself, to begin to tick off the neurons in the brain, and create an entire universe of illusion. You’ve then opened yourself up to the spiritual realm which God forbids for us to enter. It’s called sorcery. Those encouraged to use meditation, yoga, visualization, chakra energizing, Spirit guides could certainly take advantage of these open areas.”
    Do not be deceived. As I begin to wrap up I just want to say that I think Christians are sometimes accused of being fear-mongers- always afraid of what is ‘out there,’ trying to seduce them away from God. While I am not trying to scare anyone I do see much biblical precedence for guarding our minds and hearts from evil forces. (Pro.4:23, Pro. 7:25) We are commanded to be vigilant and alert and to defend ourselves. To do so is not something to be ashamed of. “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord… as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.” (Deut. 18:9-13) Christianity calls its followers not to fearfulness but rather to courage- even if what they stand by is not popular or appreciated. So I would encourage you to cling to God’s Word for guidance and stand proudly upon what God calls us to do. Don’t feel bad for guarding your mind; it is what God is calling you to do!

    2 Tim. 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.In other words, God’s Word fully equips us to do everything that He asks of us. There are many biblical, God-ordained ways to worship Him, commune with Him and find peace. As Christians we are equipped! We do not need to borrow from Eastern religion what the God of the Bible has already provided in abundance.

    Also, just so that you know I am going to do a study on what biblical mediation is and I will report back at a later date! Thanks for sticking with me through all 3 parts and I hope you gained as much out of it as I did!

    Sources:

    1. Yoga and the Body of Christ by Dave Hunt

    2. http://www.9marks.org/answers/true-or-false-god-only-cares-we-worship-him-not-how-we-worship-him

    3. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/yoga.htm

    4. http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/yoga-and-christianity.html

Posted by: rhenderson8110 | February 3, 2014

Christian Yoga? It’s a Stretch… Part 2

Yeah, but I do it for the health benefits- not any of that spiritual stuff…

Okay so it’s time to dive back into this ‘hot topic!’ I have received many responses and I appreciate your participation and input! I want to remind readers that my objective is not to stop everyone from doing yoga. My purpose is to make Christians aware of the origins and intentions of yoga and warn them from taking part in something that is not supported by scripture. Further, I hope to offer a helpful alternative for Christians who recognize the health benefits of stretching as well as the spiritual dangers of yoga.

To begin I will say that I do not believe that stretching and taking deep breaths is in any way harmful. No one is trying to deny that stretching increases blood flow and breathing in oxygen is healthful. There are many stretches that can be done having nothing to do with yoga and that are extremely beneficial. I will share some resources to find these exercises at the end of this blog.

So, can yoga be purely physical?

First of all, let’s remember that yoga was not designed for physical benefits. “4Swami Vishnudevananda, well known authority of Yoga, in his book “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga” explains the purpose of Yoga, “It is the duty of each developed man to train his body to the highest degree of perfection so that it may be used to pursue spiritual purposesthe aim of all yoga practice is to achieve truth wherein the individual soul identifies itself with the supreme soul of God.”’ I will discuss that the ‘God’ referred to in this quote and Eastern religion is not the same biblical God that we worship in Part 3. However for now, please note that the purpose of yoga is indeed spiritual.

Having laid that foundation I’d like to explore the most popular form of yoga in the West- Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is often touted as being purely physical and thus, many participate believing there are no spiritual ramifications. Again, let’s pull from the same article referenced above: 4”The words Ha and tha represent the energy which is on each side of the spinal column. Hatha yoga suppresses the flow of energies through these passages, forcing the kundalini (“serpent power”) to rise from the base of the spine through the psychic energy channel in the sushumn (the spine), up through each of the chakras (energy points in the body).” At this point I would like to note that I am not making the claim that yoga doesn’t work. I’m certain it does- and that is because it was specifically designed to channel certain energies within the body. The point once again is that none of this sounds purely physical- in fact it sounds extremely spiritual.

Christian Yoga

So, what about ‘asanas’; is there something innately wrong with the positions performed in yoga? 4Swami Sivenanda Radha, a well-known yoga teacher, has said in a book on Hatha Yoga, “Asanas are a devotional practice…each asana creates a certain state of mind…to bring the seeker into closer contact with the Higher Self” (Quote from http://cana.userworld.com/cana_yoga.html ). I think it is important for Christians to understand that the asanas are not arbitrarily chosen positions that offer a good stretch. They were chosen to channel energy and are designed with an extremely spiritual end in mind. Take this excerpt into account as well, “4The yoga positions are designed to reach the state of Samadhi, or a state of union with self as God. Hatha yoga in its postures bring the subtle body into a specific alignment with the physical which will alter the consciousness of the participant. In other words one is practicing one of the essential elements of Hinduism when doing their Hatha Yoga exercises; whether they are aware of it or not.” It seems to me that even Hatha yoga- supposedly only physical- is inextricably tied to the ideals of Eastern religion and metaphysics.

Dr. Alexander PhD a professor of world religions at Biola University says,
1Many Westerners who practice yoga today are unaware that the physical positions assumed in yoga symbolize a spiritual act: worshiping one of the many Hindu gods. To a Hindu, yoga is the outward physical expression of a deep spiritual belief. You cannot separate one from the other.”
C.G. Jung is a pioneer of the Eastern religious movement bringing yoga to the West. I will end this point with his own quote.
Yoga practice is unthinkable, and would be ineffectual without the ideas on which it is based. It works the physical and spiritual into one another in an extraordinarily complete way. “- C.G Jung, “Yoga and the West”, in Psychology and the East, R.F.C Hull (Princeton University Press) Pg.81

In summary to the question, ‘Can a Christian practice yoga solely for the physical benefits?’- the conclusion of the research I’ve done answers with a firm ‘no.’ I believe the positions specifically designed for yoga are rooted in Eastern religion and should be performed by those who believe in the whole of Eastern ideologies. Now, if your back is tight and you’re stretching in your living room to relieve your pain that is entirely separate, of course. So please don’t read into this what I don’t intend. If stretching is beneficial for you- go for it! I’m just asking you to be sure you aren’t putting yourself in an ungodly environment- often fit with idols and the greeting of ‘Namaste.’ (literally meaning “the God within me greets the God within you.”). Again I’d like to reinforce that I am not expressing ill will towards anyone who does yoga or practices Eastern religion. I simply disagree. And I don’t want Christians to fall prey to this Eastern religious practice due to a lack of understanding on its’ origins and implications.

So, what other alternatives are available to Christians who wish to gain the health benefits of deep stretching and breathing? Actually, a ton! From what I understand pilates may be a great alternative. Granted, I did my research on yoga and not extensively on pilates. But it seems as though pilates integrates many of the physical disciplines without the spiritual origin or overtone. Keep your eyes open though as it would be easy to sneak some yogic principles in.
If you were participating in yoga as a way to worship God I would recommend 2 organizations listed below devoted to providing a purely Christian alternative to yoga. Aside from these 2 programs I believe we can slow down, stretch, breathe deeply, meditate on God’s Word and find peace in Him as He asks of us in scripture. This is what I personally choose to do. I guess my point is that Jesus Christ did not need or use yoga to commune with God or relieve stress- and He had more than any of us can imagine! We do not need it either and there are many effective alternatives that are not based in Eastern religion.

Here is a bit of information on those two organizations I mentioned before.
Wholyfit- http://www.wholyfit.com/ 2 “WHOLYFIT IS NOT Christian Yoga and is not associated with Yoga culture, philosophies, religions, or practices, regardless of whether or not they are represented as Christian. We are committed to RADICAL purity for Christ and separateness from yoga,” the website proclaims.
PraiseMoves-http://praisemoves.com/
Both programs incorporate Bible verses and prayer into the exercises, and certain postures and poses performed.
* My caveat is that I have not purchased these programs as I am more of a go to the gym and stretch type of woman. I do not endorse everything as I have not purchased them myself- though I do agree with the ideology that I have come across from them.

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I address: What is the real harm to Christians anyways? How can we be sure it even matters to God?

Sources:

  1. http://praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga/
  2. http://www.christianpost.com/news/is-there-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga-58971/
  3. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/juneweb-only/123-22.0.html?start=2
  4. http://www.letusreason.org/NAM1.htm
  5. Yoga and the Body of Christ by Dave Hunt
  6. http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/terms/namaste
    7. http://www.pure-yoga.com/en/hongkong/articles/index.php?article_id=227&folder_id=9

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