Why Yoga?

Yoga matters to me, especially right now, not because it is something better than the other somethings. It is not the hobby to put all hobbies out of business. It is not the one true religion.

Yoga matters to me because it is what I have right now. In days past, I had Jesus. I had the words of Jesus, my sweet tattered Bible, and the Christian community (a tad unreliably but nonetheless,) surrounding me. Those days were imperfect but that study, the weekly and daily rituals (praying before meals, attending a service weekly, eventually spending hours in prayer and meditation), blessed me, and kept me from spinning my wheels in the mud of meaningless suffering. Now (praise ye the gods!), amidst hard financial and emotional times, I have the practice and study of Yoga.

I didn’t realize how much it has come to mean to me, and how much this ancient study/practice has blessed me until I was at a workshop in a neighboring town (holla at ya, Conway) yesterday, and heard a teacher talking about why she sticks to the more pure forms of yoga (the closer to Krishnamacharya–the better! was her angle). The impact it has on the mind. The connection to the Divine as the motivation behind it. The beautiful (albeit fundamentalist ;)) chants before and after each two-hour-long practice.

I realized as she spoke that if I did not have yoga right now, my little hands would feel awful empty. The presence of something on my palms–be it yoga or religion, study, or exercise–actually helps me open up to receive and release. Yoga, like the words of Jesus, draws out the Divine in me. These ancient prescriptions conjure up spells of light, love, and hope, and without spells, my days would be much darker. I shudder to think where I would have been without the words of Jesus nurturing my soul. This year, I have been to some dark places, and it is yoga that is helping me emerge.

At a Vinyasa (movement with the breath) class today, my Yoga teacher, Sherri, guided us through breath retention and some hella-difficult classes. After a brief savasana (corpse/resting pose), we engaged with her in listening to a song with repetitive lyrics in Sanksrit (holy language of ancient India/the yogis/inis). Singing along, I felt movement rise from my hips to my head and, in spirit as in body, I was at church again. Moving with the beautiful sound, we were alive together, plugged into source like blue Omaticaya Avatars seated, entranced, around Home Tree. Tears soaked my face as the words resonated with a magically unidentifiable part of my being:

Oh, my beloved
Kindness of the heart
Breath of life
I bow to you

And I’m coming home

Ong namo guru dev namo

Divine teacher
Beloved friend
I bow to you
Again and again

Lotus sitting on the water 
Beyond time and space 
This is your way 
This is your grace

Ong namo guru dev namo

Guru dev, guru dev namo

This is your way
This is your way
This is your way

(Bryan Kearney / Snatam Kaur / Thomas Barkawitz)

 

That is why yoga, for now. I am grateful for the teachers, preachers, and friends who create space that is safe and holy enough for the scared and lost parts of us to come home. Spaces that are big enough for tough emotions, and small enough for Love to fill, are resting places on the journey.

Praise be to Ganesh, remover of obstacles, praise be to Lord Shiva, inspiration of many asanas (yogic postures), praise be to Buddha, for being the Awakened One, and always, ever always, praise be to Jesus, for loving me first.

I’m coming home.

 

Grace & Peace,

 

Lydia Nomad Bush

will I go?

Visiting the Wycliffe (Bible Translators) headquarters in Dallas last week, I guess I asked for it. The Holy Spirit came knocking (per my own bold request) on Sunday night, solidifying all I’ve known to be true since 8th grade….I’m destined to follow God’s call overseas, and following that call is not going to be easy. There is a reason not all languages have translations of the Gospel. Living overseas is hard. Trusting God (rather than your own ability to pull up them bootstraps!) to provide your daily bread is not comfortable. Living oceans away from your family….daunting at best. Let’s not even mention the powers of darkness at work.
Life is full of heartache (wherever you live) and following Jesus takes immense courage.

Another follower said, “Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.” Jesus refused, “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.”
~Matthew 8:21-22, MSG

So there I stood, in the highest building at the International Linguistics Center, as they sang:

Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine*

How can I give it all up? I can’t escape the thought. I’m standing on the brink of the rest of my life and all my weak heart can cry is: I love my life! I love Little Rock! I want to stay.
Yet, I know what staying would mean. Happiness laced with hollowness. Wondering. A curiosity that would never leave me be, that would make me restless everyday of my life. The knowledge, achy like a stomach cramp, that I had not said “yes” to the Lord of my life. How can I slam the door in his face? How can I sing the songs….

Surrender?

do you people know what that means? I thought, as everyone sang happily around me. It means no more truck rides with inner-city kids and hot Cheeto fingerprints, no more Halloweens spent driving from one side of my beloved city to the other; no more drop-in visits to friends who have known me since before adolescence, friends who rode the high school roller coaster with me; no more knowing the ins & outs of one place, one people.
No more weekends at mom & dad’s.
Will I get to see my sisters…even once a year?
God, I love my life.
It is a gift.
Is it an idol?

You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis mine

Do I love my life more than I love the God who gave me life? If I truly believe that all good things come from God why would I run away from him instead of towards him?

He has given me time, talent, & the treasure of my heart & free will. He won’t force himself on me, but he allures me towards the adventure my soul longs to play its irreplaceable role in.
And all I can do is shake in my little gray Skechers:

Surrender.

Truly, it is the only option. I don’t have to be smart enough. I don’t have to be healthy. I just have to be willing. I just have to trust him. It is hard to sing the words:

It will be my joy to say
Your will
Your way*
(Chris Tomlin, Lay Me Down)

…so I will whisper them, tears flowing from the depths of my shattered heart.

I surrender. I will go; I will go if You go with me.

And He said to him [Moses], “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”~Exodus 33:14, ESV

He is enough. Who else has a bottle full of the tears I’ve shed since birth? Who else loves me enough to make me whole? No small part of my heart is isolated; He cares for every inch of my eternal soul.

Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16, CEV

Dare to follow him, and join the deluge of people who have taken the plunge into the ocean of his grace;
His grace for you.

LYDIA2

Judy Griffith (pictured in blue) spent her life translating the Bible for people groups in Papau New Guinea. What will your legacy be?

https://www.wycliffe.org/

DecaGratitude

There are days when I just need a minute to breathe. These are usually the days when a list of thanks is in order. Emotional fatigue is a sure sign of discontentment. It is too much for one girl to desire what the world says she should have AND the Lord’s will for her days. I am that girl and I cannot do it. I either have to stop and re calibrate, or I will wander exhausted for weeks, months, years.

My history instructor firmly declared last January that human beings are good at 2 things: complaining, and reproducing. Now I can’t say much about the latter, but as for the former, I am human through and through. This is me offering an Ann-Voskamp answer to my own trouble.

1) Nutella covered fingers, dancing to worship music alone in my room with You.

2) Legs that kick strong through water, bubbles that come up from my nose.

3) Hair that does somersaults on blustery days.

4) Neon Steeple Radio (Spotify), words that remind me of the only One who is promised to be present at my dying breath.

5) Scripture: I am hungry, thirsty, deranged in pursuit of Truth. I want to gobble it, consuming even the long organized lists of Leviticus and Numbers. Thank you Jesus for this flawless piece of yourself.

6) Laughs shared with co-workers, hymns to sing when medicine will not let me rest.

7) White tangerine flesh cracking as I bite from pit.

8) Parents bent over to create fronds like shields, halting fiery darts hurled my way.

9) Tears locked behind my eyes, denying death her bounty.

10) Friends who text to tell me I am loved, turning grief tears into sunshine drops.

My Jesus has won.(( Shout it! ))The battle against my other list (the one not worth sharing: it contains the things I cannot do, the gifts I do not have) is already finished. Why should I carry the burdens of warfare already fought for me?

Rejoice; He came back alive!

I am terrified to receive the blessings my God has for me. After the manner of a solemn Muslim addressing Allah, I pray eyes wide, palms open. I flutter like a dry fall leaf.

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.~Psalm 138:3

I go to soak in His Word for though I cannot always see His footprints or hear His voice,

I will always remain in His love.

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.~Psalm 77:19

Unforced Grace

You, Lord, are enthroned forever.

In my little life, You have already done so much.
You raised me up in Your word via loving parents.
You ignited that knowledge of the Scriptures by Your Holy Spirit.
You took me to Jamaica to break my heart for the nations.
You led me to a Native American Reservation in Washington state to set me face to face with the choice of who I will worship. In a fierce competition between me and You, You won.
Blessed be Your name.
You broke my body and wholly took control, though I fought it tooth and nail.
You shattered my pride and claimed my heart for Your own.
You led me to Mexico to discover grace and peace.
You drew me to North Little Rock to glimpse Your heart for the marginalized.
You allowed tragedy to strike as close to my heart as possible outside of my nuclear family.
I don’t know Your plan but I can see Your hand
Moving, shaping, preparing, making.

Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly~George MacDonald

When I take a moment to reflect on the road I am walking,
I quickly become overwhelmed by what an eloquently written story my life is.
This God–His way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30)

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.~Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

What the Tornado Took

He bolstered me for a trial of which there was no foreshadowing.
God was so near. In the blue lights, His Spirit took hold and spoke through me, when my shock was great.
Those are moments that I ask for the strength and memory to hold in my head and heart as pillars of faith in a living God.
Selfishness, frustration, and lack of faith bares its ugly teeth,
All while I seek to enter the pain again and again, to be rid of it.
It hurts now to laugh as family and friends seek to cheer me up;
Their support is invaluable.
May Jesus’ people be mobilized to support those with no (loving or living) family.
I had forgotten how physical the pain of a broken heart is.
There is a a heavy rawness in my chest
That wells to the forefront of my emotions when I see the wreckage, see the swathe of destruction.
My mind takes me to the place where the curtain was torn in two;
How much worse was Christ’s pain?
I could have washed my friend’s feet many times over with the tears that I have shed for her.
Let me live in such a way as to be washing the feet of those I love
(everyone)
Daily by my actions and sincerity of heart.

He takes our transgressions away, as far as the East is to the West.
He loves us to the sky and back.
(Psalm 103)

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning
more than the watchmen for the morning.~Psalm 130:3-6

Wildsmolder

There is a taste of what is coming in the diet of my week.

A foreshadowing lurks between
the moments when I am admiring how high the women hold their heads and eyebrows
and the moments spent wondering why hot funjuns for breakfast?

The small sacrifice of spare moments and 10% has turned into a portion of my earnings and the precious commodity of the American Sunday Afternoon. I wish I could be with my family. I wish on a grey day that I could be in PJs watching Drake & Josh with my sister. Where is the pleasure in exiting my parent’s warm house to traverse a dreary, thirsty city?
Could he ask of me any smaller task? Is there anything so precious that requires less effort?
That which I lay on the altar now is like a goat compared to Isaac under his father Abraham’s blade. (Genesis 22)
I give up hours;
He has called me to give up a lifetime.

My thoughts are cast forward to when my call will be demonstrated:
I’ll move overseas,
I’ll follow God farther than I’ve followed before.
Farther than Yakama, Washington
Much farther than Jamaica
Or Mexico.

I’ll say goodbye to home and heartland until my visa is due to expire.
I will doubt and question my decision and He will remain faithful
Amidst a myriad of scenarios beyond my most wild imaginings.

I can no more imagine the barrier of a sea between my family and I
Than I can fathom the barrier of a language between my heart and my neighbor’s.

My faith is small.
It’s a rock balancing on the tip of a formation lost in the desert. In the sun and wind it is strong and balanced. But the slightest rain, a little drizzle, and the rock falls down down, breaking into pieces of red slate.
That’s me.

Perched happily (precariously) atop my savings, my network, my job, my school,
Until the rain comes. The slightest trickle:
A hydroplaning incident (including my reaction to said incident) that may cost me my dream vehicle, a portion of my college savings, and a precious relationship.
How many of those things matter?
I would venture to say only the third.
Which of those things do I have control over?
In this scenario, only the third.
Sin is the destroyer. Not rain on the road or a swerving semi-truck, or insurance fraud or an unjust system. Sin makes the things that matter topple. My sin causes real issues. Yelling because my trust is gone. Crying because I am tired of trying (we call that a pity party). These are the problems.

Money is secondary.
Higher education is tertiary at best.
The Father’s love is primary. The Father’s glory is on level with his love.

My faith is smaller than a mustard seed, and not nearly as powerful.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the hearts of the contrite.”~Isaiah 57:15-16

Glory Bound and Growing

Right now is the best moment, the blessed moment.
*corny, but I kind of like it*
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine here, in a place called “Dark Hollow.” In mid-America? Yep.
I swing on a swing-set with my two best friends (both under the age of 11). I love knowing that if not for me, they would not be at the park. And if they did not love me (even when I’m late and my truck is so messy there is barely room for them!), I would not have these sweet relationships. (Who would I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe too?!) They show me Jesus every week. The body of Christ is interconnected in a dazzling way. Praise to the Lamb!

Men sit on the park benches, dirty, next to their glitzy new cars. The skin on my legs that is exposed tingles unpleasantly as I walk by, not because of anything they have done or said, but because society has branded the word “rapist” on their foreheads. My preliminary judgment rests not on the content of their character but on their location and the way they wear their clothes. What if we look past their brands, Martin Luther King Jr. style, and invite them in to the Kingdom to worship beside us? What could people do if they were empowered by a friend who has everything (the Gospel) to offer?

I close my eyes. No guilt in life, no fear in death.

I know I’m spending my life in the right place. I am selling myself for the cause of righteousness, investing in a market with eternal dividends. Her smile, set off by the gap between her over-sized front teeth reminds me that darkness cannot hold back the light. Even when it seems we have the time and resources to undo only a fraction of the evil that exists, we know that there is hope. No soul is beyond redemption. Maybe if we take them gently by the hands, if we bid every other broken person come and worship Jesus with us, the lightness can push away the darkness. The church will grow, because we will grow. We’ll dance and sing and eagerly await the happy day when the Jesus who bids us be children comes to redeem this unimaginative world.

Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society,~Jacques Elliot

I ask the good Lord to cure me of my dry skin and my disobedience.

Let my actions speak loud enough to drown out my faulty words.

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.~Isaiah 30:19b-21

Day 17

Here in the U.S. spiritual laziness can seem inevitable. This is because we don’t need God. We have food, jobs, clothes, medicine, and our lives are so well supplied that God becomes more of a side dish than an entree. If He does not take the liberty of interrupting our lives-whether through health issues, financial troubles, or our own sin traps-most of us do not see the need to rely on Him fully. Left to our own devices we think we’re good.
A more wrong conclusion has never been reached.
We have to seek hard the God of our salvation while we live on this big, distracting planet. Otherwise we neglect the only Good there is. He offers Himself to us every moment. You want to know Him? Ask.
I did not know it when I started but this is why I am on a “fast.”If I settle into my default routine I forget about God. It’s ridiculous beyond ridiculous how ungrateful I can be.
Wow.
He saves me from eternal death, puts life and joy in me, and I have to forfeit the use of my green plastic credit card just to remember to thank Him. I’ve got an extremely long way to go.

Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is great.~2 Samuel 24:14b

Seek Him. He’s setting me straight through a slow process.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.~2 Corinthians 10:3-4 <<<That's why it is so hard. We can't see the enemy, we can't see God. But He is there, and there are no better offers than this:

Trust in the Lord and do good….Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him & He will act.~Psalm 37

Day 9: Imagine

You are hungry but there is not a dime left to your name. You have 21 days to pay rent but you don’t have a job. There is no money anywhere. All the wrong choices have been made. All the bad luck has run its course.
Hold up, rewind. You are hungry. What do you do when you’re hungry? Go to the fridge. What do you do when there is nothing in the fridge you want to eat? Go to the pantry. Nothing good there? Restaurants, vending machines, take your pick. Pay with ease, and be done with it.
You’re hungry but there is no fridge. You’re hungry but there are only cockroaches in your pantry. If there isn’t food then there certainly is no money and therefore no restaurants. So you’re hungry, you stay that way.
Imagine the child you brought in to the world staring at you with big, hungry eyes.
And there is no food.

Imagine feeling 100% paralyzed by your bad choices. Imagine that there is no one to help.

You received without paying, now give without being paid.~Jesus, Matthew 10:10

Now imagine being the one to help. Imagine trying to reach out to the working class poor. Imagine yourself stepping out in the knowledge that but for God’s mercy you too would be trapped.

This month I have spent $0.50 on ice water at school (can’t we agree that this is a necessity when it is 99 degrees outside?!) and not a penny more. Just the thought of all the people out there who have reached the end of their rope and truly have nowhere to go…overwhelms me. There is poor, and there is spiritually poor. Hundreds, thousands of people are both. How blessed am I to have everything! I, a spiritual beggar, have richness that all Heaven cannot contain. I, a selfish sinner, have never known hunger. It is hard to even thinking about sinking our hands in with people who are in debt, but the debt I owe to Jesus is more real than any amount of dollars and cents. That’s real, crazy love.

Forgive my apathy, Lord. I spend more time delighting in my material wealth than in my spiritual blessedness.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.~Romans 7:22-23

I’m going to end with a prayer excerpt from my journal dated 8/27/13:

I rejoice in You, Lord God, for who You are and for the blessings that you pepper my life with in the form of unique and special people.
I’m thankful for the travelers whose paths You have led across mine here in Little Rock &; North Little Rock. I thank You for bringing the world to me here.
Thank You for feeding me today.
I desire You now more than ever. Good day or bad day…You are all my hope and peace. All the joy that I feel, I know it is from Your Spirit connection within me.
Sweet God, creative God. The God of fulfillment and earthly poverty that leads to Heavenly joy. The God of unexpected mini road trips to Roland, dirt, and Diet Coke.
He blesses me and I rejoice!
When these blessings are withheld, I am going to be happy.

Whoever has the Son of life has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.~1 John 5:12

It’s All God’s Anyway

Pardon the abrupt transition from airy hypothetical posts filled with wordy generalizations to, well, me.

Three days ago I started a “fast” from buying (I know that to fast traditionally means to abstain from food. Use your imaginations, people.)
Thanks to my ingeniously frugal mother I’m not a huge spender, (OK, so I pack my lunch everyday, never order anything but water, and make it a point to avoid weekend movies because of the price) but I am a rabid control freak. I want to be in control of….it all. A few days ago I noticed a thoughtlessly consumerist tendency in myself: when I get to what I see as a comfortable place financially I start to spend. I spend on me and I buy other people stuff and then I spend more on me. Not huge amounts of money, but the green is flowing faster than it was two weeks ago when I was tight-wadded due to worry. I hate that my spending (giving included) fluctuates depending on how I feel I’m doing financially.

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves…It is God who clothes the wild grass….~Matthew 6:28 and 30a

So I’m not going to spend. Extreme, you say?

Abject poverty is extreme. Not being ABLE to buy things to meet ones’ basic needs is extreme.
My aim with this silly little fast is not to save money; it’s about not having control. The time I would have spent in line, I will spend in prayer. The movies, book sales, dinners or sports games I would have attended will be replaced by conversation and by solitude. I’ll have to get creative. I’ll have to go without the luxuries I usually bestow upon myself with the swipe of a card. And next time I roll up to a couple of ladies sitting outside of the Salvation Army on 2nd street it will just be me. No brownies and baby shoes. I won’t be a giver or benefactor, I’ll just be a face, and hopefully, soon, a friend.

There it is then, written down. I won’t be buying anything but gas this month (not even Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s new and undoubtedly wonderful CD!) My food is well provided for-gosh, I’m not that crazy. But right down to chewing gum and loose-leaf paper, I hand my control of the money that passes through my fingers to God. Sayonara receipts and restaurants.

Distractions minimized, I hope for two things: clarity towards my own wrong perceptions of money, and a better understanding of how to close the gap between the well-meaning rich and the hungry poor.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him? ~Martin Luther King Jr.