Saturday, April 30, 2016

12 Bible Verses to Remember for the Perseverant

Things have been real low key around here at the Ballet Magnificat Studios. The recital for the trainees and for the school of the arts students is in two weeks and everybody is looking forward to the summer break that will follow. Tour season for the company has come to a close, and for the next couple of weeks we will just be taking things easy. We are kept busy here at the studio with ballet classes and rehearsing. Soon we will begin preparations for our big summer dance camp that will be held in July. Our summer dance camp is one of the biggest highlights of the year. We company members are given the delightful opportunity of working first-hand, teaching dance classes and bible studies, mentoring, and worshiping with a myriad of young eager Christian ballet students that join us from all around the world. I can't wait to tell you more about it as the time draws nearer. Prior to July, much time is required for planning, organizing, and preparing for the camp, which is the phase that we are about to enter into. 

Tour season is the best, and I love the summer dance camp itself as well, but the lull of time between the two, at the studio before the dance camp starts- taking ballet classes, rehearsing, and all the preparing can be a challenging stretch if you ask me. It is a period of time loaded with responsibilities and things that need to get done, such as planning the ballet classes and bible study lesson plans for the students. Often times some of the staff's dance camp administrative tasks spills onto our plates as well.

As a professional dancer, every day we take class and we rehearse, even if we don't necessarily have a show coming up. Except for the fact that I am now getting paid which I sometimes forget, my life from when I was a student four years ago until now, has not changed very much. But the profession of a performing artist is very distinct from most other professions. We do not have a degree to qualify us for our work, but instead, we have to constantly be maintaining and perfecting our craft. The discipline of keeping our bodies in shape by taking our daily dance classes and the remembering of choreography by reviewing and rehearsing, are essential ingredients in producing quality results and meeting the high standard of excellency in the arts that exists today. I suppose it is somewhat similar to the life of those professional basketball players I saw playing earlier in the year, who have to keep their skills sharp by frequently executing their drills and practicing their shots.

 I love my job and I know that is a privilege, but Sometimes I question, how does it ever make sense that I am getting paid to be spending all this time in the studio, doing the same thing I've been doing since I was young; our service is when we are on stage performing?! But similar to basketball players who invest much time in practicing on the court prior to entering the big stadiums, I remind myself that there is a TON of behind-the-scenes and off-the-stage work done by dancers that no one ever sees, that goes into putting on a high-quality production that is worth paying for. 

I don't work hard every day solely for the paycheck, or the accolades, but I cherish that when on tour, my job makes opportunity for great people interaction and ministry. But honestly, In this season being back at home, with the dance camp looming and so much I need to get done outside the studio, the last thing I want to be doing is working hard taking ballet class. With no performance, touring, or gratifying experience in sight, it is hard to remember the reason why we are spending so much monotonous time doing what we do in the studio...though I know it is what is needed in the end.

 Can you relate?


Usually during the touring season with so many 'days off' due to road time and traveling, when we take ballet class it is more so for the purpose of staying in shape. When we are back at home for a long stretch of time like now, we can actually make more progress in improving our technique and perfecting our craft. But it is during these times that I feel like a student again. It is a weird sensation, not bad, it's just that ballet is HARD. My mom always reminds me that you are never to old to learn and discover new things and when it comes to mastering ballet, the sky's the limit! You can never be too turned out, too flexible, too graceful or too strong. Ballet takes hard work, drive, dedication, determination, discipline, perseverance, patience, hope, humility, as many other things in life do. By and large, one can attempt to cultivate these things in ones own strength, but in this blog entry I would like to disclose to you that there is NO WAY I could have amounted to the dancer that I am today with out my faith, without my God helping me along in those things. 




Satan is too crafty in trying to discourage us, trip us up, kill, steal, and destroy us. 
The following Scriptures are some of my most favorite truths, promises, and admonitions from the bible that I like to hold on to and memorize in strenuous times. They pertain to the battle we sometimes have in our mind and spirit and the unseen struggle that sometimes occurs in our thought life. Whether or not you are a ballerina like me, I am sure there is something below for you to take away so check it out!

For Equipping


  • Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
  • Philippians 4:8 "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
  • 2 Timothy 2:3-4 "Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer." 
  • Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled."
  • 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
  •  

For Encouragement


  • Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." 
  • Genesis 1:27 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;"
  • Hebrews 10:19-23 "Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."



For Humility


  • Psalm 84:10 "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
  •  Luke 18:16-17 (AMP) “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God with faith and humility like a child will not enter it at all.”
  • Matthew 3:8 "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

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Thanks for reading!
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
Let me know you stopped by and leave a comment below!
^_^


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wet Feet


 "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Jesus)
~John 10:10

WET FEET

by Leona Choy 

How can I say
I have experienced The Ocean
when only my feet are wet?

Sand between my toes
I slosh about
in the shallows.
Have I no regret
that I haven't tasted yet
the midstream ecstasy
with its current pull
and deep euphoria?

Shallow is safe?
Deep is dangerous?
Oh! The false premise
of humdrum humanity!

I could miss
The Great Everything
by bartering it
for little nothings
safe sedatives
that chain me
to the shore
eroding, consuming
my days, my years
risk free, yes
but with a phony guarantee
while I am lulled
into insensitivity
with my feet only
ankle deep
in The Fathomless Ocean
of Life.



*As Seen at http://leonachoy.blogspot.com/2014/05/more-than-shallows.html

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Child-like Faith

TESTIMONY TUESDAY!

“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

~ Luke 8:39

Presenting with excitement, I introduce to you Testimony Tuesdays!!! A testimony by definition is: a formal written or spoken statement, a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. The Bible commands us in numerous places to bring praise, glory, and honor to our God by proclaiming, declaring, and telling about His marvelous works to others. That is the purpose and heart behind this installment for my Tuesday posts. Each Tuesday (more or less), a testimony will be shared here involving the recounting of salvation, redemption, overcoming, and/or healing just to name a few; A story that brings glory to our God and in which we might be encouraged, spurred on, and challenged with at the same time.The stories that will be shared will either be of my own personal experiences, excerpts from books, testimonies I find via youtube or other media sources, as well as YOURS! I would love to know and give you the opportunity to share here with us a testimony of your own, of whatever fashion that involves the Lord doing a transforming work in your life. Just email me your testimony and I will see what I can do about posting it on a future Tuesday! You may choose to have your name be known or anonymous. I look forward to hearing from you!


...And his word says in Matthew 18:3 to "Become like children..."


"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." ~Psalm 126:3

Happy Tuesday!


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Monday, April 18, 2016

The Life Unplugged


Though I just love updating my blog so much, if you have noticed my lack of doing so recently, it is because I have decided to take a healthy step away and unplug from technology completely (to the best of my ability, being in the 21st century) for a couple of days. My short little sabbatical away from updating my blog was quite refreshing and resulted in new found vigor and creativity. So what does the life unplugged look like? Below are just a couple of tips on how to detach yourself from all your screens, how to disengage yourself from being addicted to the constant media blasts that technology bombards you with, and from the constant status updating and checking that it demands. I also included a synopsis of all what I have been up to during my leave of absence, and of what my life unplugged entailed over the past couple days.

One . 

Turn off notifications. The first thing I set out to do was to go into all my smartphone apps and turn off all the push notifications that constantly cry out for my attention; buzzing, and beeping, and red little notifications, messages that take over the home screen of my phone! They only tie myself down with the feeling of obligation to check every single one, all at the same time, in that very instant they pop up, somehow convincing me that they take more priority over the real life tasks that are actually more important! Even though I may turn off my phone, turning off the push notifications just makes it one step, all the more unappealing and complicated to getting sucked into wasting my time on social media. 

Two. 

Sign out of accounts to help resist temptation. In this day and age, we are compelled to constantly be learning, checking, snooping, stalking...And it almost seems unnatural if you don't have your nose in your phone constantly learning, checking, snooping, and stalking, like everybody else. Again, to sign out of your accounts just makes the compulsion of checking one step, all the more complicated and unappealing. We are usually too lazy to sign out, but once you are already signed out, you may find that you are too lazy to sign in! Maybe.

Three.

Airplane mode. Besides when I am in flight, I usually do put my phone in airplane mode after 9 o'clock PM. I find it helps me, rather it forces me to disconnect, and in pursuit of the life unplugged, that is what we want!

Four .

Out of sight, out of mind. Preparing your environment to be technology free is the key to creating an offline oasis. Put some distance between you and your technology. Make them hard to get too. Stow them away, out of sight, hide them. Do you have the self-control to leave them alone, or will you have to entrust them over to a confidant?

Five.

No phones or iPads in bed. It might not be a bad idea for you to implement this rule. I know I am not the only one with the bad habit of falling asleep with my phone.


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My experience living the life unplugged :



My morning quiets time with the Lord were sweet. They are always sweet, but it was a change not to be constantly interrupted by text or emails which fight to avert my attention away from praying or reading, and onto thinking or stressing about the day to come with all its tasks. With the abandoning of my phone, I experienced good, uninterrupted quiet time. I was less distracted and more able to be filled up properly, better preparing me to face the day. Not to mention, that the uninterrupted time seemed to be endless. The pressure that usually comes with striving to have an adequate amount of quiet time with the Lord subsided due to less distraction, and an increased focus and productivity were produced because of it. 


I was better able to appreciate the beauty and creativity around me. God has provided for us a most beautiful planet filled with his marvelous works and creations. Now there is not much to explore around Jackson MS and I am not even one to really go out on any nature adventures, but for those who are like me, I have discovered that there is plenty to marvel at right in my own backyard, walking around the neighborhood, and all around town. I would consider 'people watching' (something I love to do) as something that would fall under this category. God did create people; as unique, beautiful and creative as they come. 

SO many more observations about this world and this life can be made if we would just look up from our screens and turn our gaze upon the things around us! I enjoyed observing nature on my evening walks around my neighborhood, sitting in my rocking chair on the front porch, and doing other things outside, away from my phone and computer that I know can't handle the outdoor grit or sunlight.


I was better able to appreciate the creativity within me. God is the creator of all things, the creator of you and the creator of me! Since we have been made in His image, I believe that he has instilled in each of us the ability to create too; that it be only natural that we would find satisfaction in being creative/inventive. What do you think? I suppose this might look different for everyone because everyone is different, but for me, my creativity takes the form of crafting and writing and cooking, things I love! I had so much more time to do all these things living the life unplugged.

Some new water-colored greeting cards I've been working on

I got to read!  Finally, I got to dust off and open up that book I've been dying to get my nose in. I am reading 'The Pilgrims Progress' by John Bunyan. I started it months ago and now I am making it a priority to finish. Heaven knows that I have an exhaustive amount of books on my "to-read" list, a list I so desire to conquer.

Image Source


...And I got to do other things I love like garden! I will be honest with you. I did use my smartphone camera to take all of these pics, if you have been wondering. ^_^



I had time to spend time with other people. And IN PERSON! This is by far, the best benefit of living the life unplugged. There is nothing like taking time out to spend with a good friend or group of friends! In a generation where the default is socializing and breeding shallow relationships online or over texts, I am reminded that there is nothing better, nothing compared to the genuine, sincere, deep, authentic relationships that can be formed and developed only by being in the true presence of one another.

Hanging out with good friends over dinner

I think everybody needs to take time, now and again to unplug and disconnect from all of the technology of our day, the technology that zaps our attention spans and steals our time. Aside from all the discovering one can do on the world wide web, there is a whole world more beautiful, more vibrant, and more full of life than you will ever find contained in the pixels of our screens, and it is just waiting to be discovered. We just have to turn off our devices, get up and get out. To my fellow Pinterest pinners, I have discovered that things get a WHOLE lot more interesting when you stop 'just pinning' and actually start trying what you pin! Then you will really have something to blog about...whether or not your results are of success or not. ^_^

I found myself feeling much more invigorated and recharged after taking a break from the all the technology. For me, technology has now been exposed as complicating my life more than simplifying it. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
Let me know you stopped by and leave a comment below!
^_^



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Monday, April 11, 2016

Coming home from Kansas City

Today we are making our way back home, an eleven and a half hour drive day towards Jackson MS, from a weekend in Kansas City where we spent our time performing and teaching a master class.

Work . 

Our sponsors were a Ballet Company known as Dramatic Truth Dance Theater. It was special to be brought in by this particular company because apparently their artistic director and ours, have been long-time companions over 30 years, and surprisingly this weekend was the first time ever that we've partnered together! On Friday, one of our dancers taught a ballet master class at the Dramatic Truth facilities and on Sunday we both, Dramatic Truth and Ballet Magnificat put on a show together at the Bell Center of MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. Dramatic Truth opened up the night presenting 'Passionate Pursuit' and then we did our ballet called 'Strategem' which is inspired by a book written by C.S. Lewis called The Screwtape Letters.

Our performance that evening was monumental, not only because we got to work with Dramatic Truth but also because it would be the last performance done on tour by our long-time, well-loved company member, John Vandervelde. He has been dancing with Ballet Magnificat for several decades and now is being called away elsewhere, by God unto something new. He has been such a friend, role model, and teacher to us all. He is a staple to our ministry, an overseer, and holder of numerous responsibilities. His resignation with Ballet Magnificat will be made official come the fall and we will all be sad to see him go; His absence will be felt, but as one of my peers has said, 'This could be the best thing that has ever happened to this ministry.' Though change is sometimes sad and hard, it is also good and promotes growth.

John and I after a show

Play .

Prior to this past weekend, and being that it was my first time ever to be in Kansas City, I knew nothing about it. I was very confused that Kansas City was not in Kansas, but we had fantastic, hospitable, accommodating, hosts who taught us all the random facts we needed to know about Kansas City like how it is the largest city in Missouri or that the official nickname of it is the City of Fountains with over 200 fountains in the city which supposedly makes it the second with most fountains in the world, just aside from Rome! They also told us of the best places to go sightseeing.

We had a day off on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day, chilly ( I did not pack the right kind of clothes for the Missouri climate! but I made due ) and a few of my friends and I decided to visit one of the places that our hosts mentioned called The Country Club Plaza. The Plaza is a beautiful, outdoor, 15 block, shopping mall with tons of stores, restaurants, and fountains! The air deliciously smelled of BBQ there. I thought the architecture was so beautiful! The orange shingled upon the roofs everywhere gave it a Tuscan feel, but the ornateness and colors of the archways and tiles made me think Moroccan. I had a blast exploring The Plaza and shopping with my friends. I've been on a mission to find a new purse; One that is big and durable and tough enough to handle the rigors of my tour life. Unfortunately, I did not find the perfect one for me that day. What stores do you recommend for finding a good purse at a good price?


The Country Club Plaza, Kansas City Missouri
We also made it a priority to stop at Trader Joe's, which seems to be a Ballet Magnificat Dancer's favorite, though unfortunately we do not have one in Jackson, MS. All of us stocked up on our favorite goodies to take home with us!



I discovered Kansas City to be an altogether charming place! Great memories and friends were made there and they will be forever cherished.


This run-out to Kansas City, Missouri was actually our last stop for the season. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Kansas City, finishing with it seems kind of anti-climatic in comparison to the previous years finishing the season touring in other foreign nations. But that is okay. Things are winding down and for the next couple of months we will be laying low at our home base in Jackson, MS preparing for our big 4-week summer dance intensive(SDI) workshop held in July.

SDI is always a highlight of our year! It attracts hundreds of students from all around the world and we delight in teaching them dance classes and bible studies, mentoring them, and worshiping with them. We sometimes say our summer program is a Christians dance camp, but not only just for Christians! It is so exciting to witness how the Lord moves among the hearts of all the students, and ours! If you would be so interested to stick around, I will be sure to keep you up to date with all the details and exciting happenings leading up to our summer workshop and then on into it. Also, now that my company is spending quite sometime slowed down, settled, and at home, you can expect to see some more posts about my recreational ongoings. Yipee! One of the pros to the "off season" of touring is that now that I am home, I can return to my own cooking, and sewing, and crafting and creating! It is so nice to be reunited again with all of my supplies here at the homestead! Creativity coming soon to a blog entry near YOU! ^_^

Today I will leave you with a song I discovered by Sandi Patti, that I have just fallen in love with, as being a performer, but perhaps you might find appreciation for it too?!



  Lyrics to
THE STAGE IS BARE  -by Sandi Patti

the stage is bare
The crowds are gone
The love we shared still lingers on
We sang and played and we laughed and cried
And in our fumbling way we tried
To say what only hearts can know
And all too soon we had to go
But now here in this darkened room
Just empty seats there's just me and you

It was so easy to call you Lord
When a thousand voices sang your praise
But there's no one to hear me now
So hear me now, be near me now

The stage is bare
The crowds are gone
Lord now the time I need your song
To give me joy and certainty
When no one else is watching me
I need you more than words can say
Tomorrow's such a daily day
And so I need to feel you then
Holding my hand
Please hold me then
I need you, Lord


Blessings dear friends,
Thank you for reading!
comment, follow, subscribe, and don't be shy! 

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to Bounce Back from a Week That Has You Beat

My, it has been a busy Spring so far! Ballet Magnificat Alpha has had quite a packed season of touring, and I have not yet been able to accomplish any spring cleaning! Heaven knows my home and desktop can use a good cleaning. Now that I am back home from tour, you could guess what I'm going to be doing, The 10 Must-Do Tasks for Getting Your Life Back in Order.

The life touring with Ballet Magnificat, full of travel and adventure is undeniably exciting and it would be fallacious of me to go without mentioning to you how much I undoubtedly love it, but there are times when the nomadic lifestyle can seem quite taxing. When the time comes to pack up the bags, say goodbye to parochial Jackson and all the small town responsibilities I have there, It's wonderful! But all the while we are on the road traveling to different places, meeting all sorts of people, pouring out and sharing about Jesus, exerting ourselves very much physically, and not always getting enough sleep, I think it is only natural that we'd be a little tired by the end.

After returning home we are usually granted a couple of days off to recover and get our home lives back in order. These are the days in which those small-town responsibilities like paying bills, my local part time housekeeping job, and my own home maintenance are again attended to. But I also make it a priority during these days to make time for REST. A couple of days well rested is essential and can do so much in preparing and setting me up for better weeks coming.



The following list is comprised of activities (in no particular order) that one can do to promote rest, both physically and mentally. When approaching the different ideas, take into consideration whether you are an introvert or extrovert as certain activities may produce varying results of rest depending on what you are. You can bet I will be making time to do a couple of the suggested activities for introverts! ^_^



#1 Get in the word, read your bible, pray and spend time with Jesus.


#2 Journal. Empty your thoughts onto paper.


#3 Do something you love to do!

...Read a good book, paint, cook, go somewhere, ride your bike, go for a walk, crochet, shop, drink tea, or coffee, light a candle, listen to music, watch Netflix, color with crayons, take a nap (Insert your preferred hobby of choice here) 


#4 Take a long hot bath, Pamper yourself. Manicure and Pedi?


#5 Be social. or maybe not.


#6 Whether you are introverted or extroverted I think everyone can benefit, having their souls refreshed by talking over the phone with a good old friend, or close family member. 

#7 Eat Well.


#8 Go to be early!


#9 Try avoiding technology and live The Life Unplugged.


#10 Cultivate Thankfulness and Be grateful.



Happy  Relaxing!  



Thanks for reading friends,
What activities do you like to do for rest and unwinding?
comment, follow, subscribe, and don't be shy! 

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