Monday, November 28, 2011

Our little mosaic artist!

Our lovely friends, Mebbie and Alfonse, (who also treated us to a rather splendid vacation in North Carolina this summer) entrusted mom and I with the work of making a mosaic art piece out of their fireplace. Mebbie is a master crafter and her hubby, Alfonse, a true saint. We love them! As usual Grace Louise raided Mebbie's endless jewelry supply and tormented Mocha, their cat, while mom and I honed our artistic abilities. Can't wait till next time!

More Firsts

Year one is filled with many recorded firsts. Then, as our babies grow and life with a toddler gets busier and more engaging, there comes a tendency to overlook some of these special moments. Grace Louise is exploring the world around her with such enthusiasm, and I can't imagine not getting to witness these moments of growth and discovery! There are more to come (checking out books at the library, going to the movie theatre, playing in the arcade) but here are a few firsts I captured recently.

First Movie
Tangled. Such a cute movie, and it held her attention for longer than I thought! She watched 45 minutes of it one day (as seen here with a bowl of yummy yeasty popcorn) and the rest of it the next day. We sat on our respective ends of the couch with our bowls and blankets. What a big ole' girl!

First time picking oranges!
Uncle Dave, who is not our uncle at all, but rather a neighbor, has made fast friends with Grace Louise and lets us pick oranges any time we want! We are especially grateful for our free fruit, because my papa won't be keeping us in oranges anymore.
Earlier this summer, my family sold their groves... Papa getting too old for the tedious work required and no one to continue in the family business. Such a huge part of my childhood was playing and working in and amongst those trees, learning much more than I thought at the time. Oh, gosh. I think I might cry... moving on.

First Marshmallow Roasting
This was also at Uncle Dave's, along with his children and grandchildren. "The Grandkids" as Grace Louise appropriately calls them. It was actually a chilly night, so perfect for a fire, good company, and special memories.

(Why no fire? Because these pictures are from a reenactment, of course. Much too busy enjoying the moment to have remembered my camera!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Personal Yoga Journey

You have to understand something first. I grew up with three older brothers, rode horses and ATV’s daily, and worked like a man in the orange groves every summer and then every day after school from the time I was old enough to drive until I moved away for college. I was rough and tumble to say the least. I would have never been pegged as the yoga-type. (I was, however, voted most likely to be president in high school… for what that’s worth.)

My first experience with yoga, other than a home-exercise video, began in early 2008. I was just pregnant for the first time, giddy about the healthy and joyous pregnancy I anticipated, and looking forward to giving birth to my baby! My teacher was kind, generous, grounded, Jewish, of all things, and incredibly encouraging. She taught me about breath, correct postures, and most importantly, how to listen to my body. Never before had I been so aware of what was going on inside my own body. This invaluable awareness carried me through two naturally passed miscarriages, and ultimately through a natural, undirected, and very inward focused birthing experience with Grace Louise.

Let me clarify, my yoga experience has not taught me to trust my body as some kind of deity or supernatural power, but to trust in the God of the Universe, who created this body and to believe in all He intended it to do!

My yoga teaching career began with a friend and fellow expecting mama, our babies born just a month apart. She needed the exercise; I needed a student; a win win. I’m sure I was horrible. A year later, my opportunity grew to a group of five pregnant women. Again, they needed the exercise, I needed a class of students, preferably women I didn’t know so well (as incessant laughter has proven to be a hindrance in previous experiences); another win win. Our group grew a bit, and I had the best time with these women, watching their bellies grow and their bodies blossom into motherhood!

When I first voiced my thoughts about pursuing yoga teacher training, Jimmy notably had some reservations. We read an article together that sparked great conversation and a journey of prayer and seeking God on His desires for me in this. I began with reading the thoughts of others; many Christians have shared their views of yoga through blogging, the internet, etc. I found stories and opinions on both ends of the spectrum. Some believing that the practice of anything similar is altogether evil and others practicing in total liberty.

Reminded that everything is permissible, but not all things are beneficial, I continued seeking truth, reading scripture and simply asking God to give me wisdom and discernment.

In the end, I made a decision to pursue teacher training only under the assumption that I could find a training program that was a) affordable and b) did not include mantras and chanting or other New Age or Hindu saturated teachings. I didn’t think I would be training any time soon, because other than two Christian based yoga organizations, which lacked credibility, I had not yet seen anything that fit the above description.

In April of 2011, I finally pursued training through a YogaFit, fitness-minded yoga company I found while searching the internet. They offer Yoga Teacher training in levels, perfect for my financial situation and season of life. I’ve completed the first step, which fully certifies me to teach, but anticipate completing the entire RYT 1000 program.

I’ve recently started teaching my first regular yoga class, missing the mamas in a prenatal setting, but enjoying the challenge of something new. With several twists and turns, the process of finding the right environment for my current class was a journey all its own. I am right where God wants me for now, enjoying the support of many and offering something a bit different for our community.

Finally, my convictions regarding the practice of yoga as a Believer… These are thoughts I have pondered and wrestled with, now confident that God has helped me to see these matters through the lens of His truth and grace.

Simply changing the names of the physical postures to something more Biblical or “Christian”, does not in fact make the practice of yoga truly different. As Jesus pointed out, we can be as whitewashed tombs, presenting one thing on the outside and another on the inside. The matter is one of the heart. With that said, the precept of making choices so as to not cause another to stumble, prompts me to omit most of the Sanskrit language in my practice. I have also abandoned clearly ungodly ideas, language, and posture names that may be found in other traditional yoga practices.

God created my body and enables it to be healthy and flexible. He gave me breath and designed my body to coordinate beautifully with the inhale and exhale. God orchestrated the whole idea of rest. Heck, He took an entire day of rest and encourages us to do the same! Meditation, breath, exercise, rest— the idea of these components of yoga come from Him!

Rest, relaxation, and meditation in yoga does not have to leave you absent-minded or open to mind control. In fact, God tells us to be alert, continually renewing our minds, setting them on things above. We can think on those things that are pure, lovely, upright, just, and praise-worthy! We can self-inspect or to ask God to search and know our hearts. In other words, yoga can be a wholesome, personal spiritual experience.

I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my views. Making choices on issues that are not absolute truths is difficult. It requires that we step away from man’s teaching and ask for the Holy Spirit for wisdom and good judgment. So for those reading this, whether you practice yoga or not, I hope you are spurred on to be prayerful, intentional, and thoughtful about the passions in your life.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Veteran's Day Craft

My morning facebook check on Veteran's Day left me with inspiration to do something patriotic, fun, and crafty with Grace Louise.

This child, by the way, LOVES crafts! I all to often find her digging in the guest room dresser where I keep my craft supplies. "I wanna mate a tard, mommy! Mommy wanna mate a tard too?" I hear that a lot. So, yes, we make many cards in this house. We also finger paint, color, sculpt (play-doh), cut, glue... usually just random things, but I'm thinking I will start incorporating more themes in our activities.

Veteran's Day was a great place to start. We made a flag. I must say, I was swelling with American pride as I told Grace Louise about the flag and we began cutting and gluing the pieces. We practiced drawing stars, and when we were all done, said the Pledge of Allegiance. Okay, well, I said the Pledge, but she listened enthusiastically. I will teach it to her soon!

There is something about having kids that reawakens us to celebrating holidays, even the smaller ones. We want to see the traditions of our country continued through our children. And we in return remember and become more mindful. More thankful. I am certainly thankful for those who have served and are currently serving our great country!

Community Fall Festival

I enjoyed the luxury of (true) high speed internet this evening, and uploaded some pictures from the past few weeks...

Jimmy and I took Grace Louise down to our community tennis courts for the fall festival on Halloween night. They had all of the typical festival games- duck pond, beanbag toss, ring toss, hit the "thing" with the hammer to send the rubber chicken in the air... and Grace Louise enjoyed them all. We don't really celebrate Halloween, so we didn't have a costume, but her camo outfit was warm, cute, and appropriate for a little hunter girl :-)

We do so many fun things with Grace Louise and our extended family; it was nice to make memories with just the three of us :-)

Woot woot! Her candy loot for the night was a cherry sucker! And she couldn't have been happier!

Our Gator Girl!