“A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water. “What are you doing, son?” the man asks. “You see how many starfish there are? You’ll never make a difference.” The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. “It sure made a difference to that one,” he said.”

Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Asteya

Do not steal your success by telling yourself you aren’t good enough.

Do not steal from others by only thinking about yourself.

Do not steal from the earth by supporting misuse of it.

Do not steal from God by not giving him credit where it is due.

Do not steal from your future by dwelling on the past.

Do not steal precious time by forgetting to be in the moment.

Asteya: Non-stealing

Each month I’ve been studying a different yama sutra in yoga. Think of a yama as ethics or a good rule for living by. A sutra can be thought of as a rule. (If you’re not a yoga person, that is ok! Just a little context for you.)

The yama asteya is translated to mean ‘non-stealing.’ Now of course we all know that the literal idea of stealing is a bad one. You don’t go to a person’s house and just take what you want, or go to a store and steal a shirt. Here we are talking about something less literal. Non-stealing is an important concept to apply to yourself and to the people around you.

Let’s think of an example.

You’re catching up with a friend at church, or a coworker at lunch and they are telling you about something that happened to them. If you jump in and say “oh yeah that happened to me once” and begin to tell your experience, you have just stolen them of their time to express what they are going through or what they may be feeling. The idea of ‘one upping’ another is a form of non-stealing. Your life and experiences don’t out weigh someone else’s just because they are yours.

Here’s an example of stealing from yourself.

You’re in a yoga class (or working out, reading, praying or hanging out with friends….whatever you do that is relaxing) and all you can think about is planning for the next thing. You’re going through your grocery list, you’re thinking about the trip you’re taking next month and the present you need to buy for that wedding. You are robbing yourself of living in the moment. It makes me think of the quote:

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon

And how right that is! Take a minute and view your surroundings, notice the things you see, the smells, the feeling you have there; enjoy each moment.

Based on the book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele I’ve been pondering questions about asteya such as:

  • How do I steal other people’s time?
  • Am I being a forklift for others and lifting them up (instead of only comparing their experiences to my own?
  • How am I stealing from the earth? Am I treating it like I own it, or just as though I live here? Can one actually own the earth?
  • Where am I giving back without expecting anything in return? Where am I taking without giving back?

This concept hit me in a new way this past week. My husband and I have been taking Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and working on our finances. In this final week we talked about how, as christians, the money we have is not ours. Sure we work hard and are entrusted with it, but it is our duty to give generously and be stewards of this money. This struck me as another form of asteya. We can’t hold on too tightly to money or material possessions, because in the end they aren’t ours and they aren’t going to make our lives better.

I love when two parts of my life overlap. We must live life with open hands and hearts, not taking, but giving!

What thing in your life do you have a death grip on? Is it something you can let go that might open yourself up for something even better? Are you living in the moment or stealing from yourself precious moments you may never get back?

Ponder on this and see how you can practice asteya in your life.

~Shelby

Fierce hearted Woman

I’ve been sick this weekend and ended up sleeping through church. As I’m sipping my morning coffee I was scrolling through some devotionals to help me kickstart my Sunday. I came across one called ‘You Are a Fierce hearted Woman.’ I silently acknowledged how right they were- I AM a fierce hearted Woman! So I clicked. (Proverbs 31 Ministries get me every time!)

This article, though short, reminded me of a few important things. The author, Holley Gerth, says how for a time she didn’t realize that broken people have sharp edges. She mentions that yes, following Jesus is an adventure, but it’s also more like going into battle.

It was helpful to think about this adventure as battle. Not in a pessimistic way, but as a reminder that you will experience victory, but also pain.

Holley uses the word disillusioned. I realized I resonated with this word just in the past week. I was telling my husband Marshall that I was feeling beaten down. We’ve been responsible as a newly married couple, following God’s word and waiting (always waiting) for his next step. (Especially experiencing this as Marshall applies for new jobs). And yet, it just seems harder than ever. Who knew waiting for God’s cue could feel like such a heart ache?

But I’m a fierce hearted woman.

Holley encourages us to fight on. That yes, things may be harder than you expected, but we are to be COURAGEOUS.

“Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD” 

(Psalm 31:24)

So for today, I’m grateful I missed church and scrolled upon this message. I’m grateful I have time to keep pushing and working.

It wouldn’t be an adventure without a few bumps along the way.

~Shelby

Ahimsa: Nonviolence

I’m a yoga teacher on the weekends. As part of my goals for this year, I wanted to take time to think through some basic principals of yoga, as well as take some workshops for continued education. In yoga training, I was introduced to the yoga sutras, yamas and niyamas. No, you don’t need to know what those things are to reap the benefits! Basically, they are guidelines for living a meaningful life. Who doesn’t want that?

This month, I’ve been focusing on something called Ahimsa. Ahimsa is respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others. Obviously we don’t want to go out and punch the next person that frustrates us (I’d be in trouble if that was allowed). The idea of nonviolence is to treat yourself, and others with respect. It is to understand that when you say harsh words, or are inconsiderate, you are not only hurting the person you’re speaking to, but also hurting yourself by hardening your heart.

Ahimsa means something different to everyone. To me, it means thinking kind thoughts about people around me, assuming the best, loving the unlovable, recycling and loving the earth God gave us, leaving a place better than you found it, spreading kindness and goodness, not speaking poorly behind someone’s back, being open to new adventures, and for me it even means not eating meat.

Do I actually do those things on a regular basis? Probably not. It is something I work towards and try to be very conscious of. Each week, I focused on new questions surrounding ahimsa from the book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. The book has challenged me to mull over questions throughout the week. I did this every week for the month of January. Some of the questions include:

  • Practice courage by doing something you normally wouldn’t do. How does your relationship change with others when you courageously step into unknown territories?
  • Guard your balance. Think of the things you need and be ok with them. Do you base your decisions on what you need or what you THINK you need?
  • Are you a fixer? Do you run interference on other people’s lives? Discern the difference between help and support. Are you avoiding something in your own life by involving yourself in others?
  • Pretend you are complete. Don’t criticize or change. Do you need to offer yourself more grace or kindness?

Each of these questions were a good mental exercise in being kind/fair to myself as well as others. Sometimes my introverted-ness means I’m not courageous in stepping out to help others. Many times, I’m not kind to myself and often criticize the things I do. Those bad habits can be mentally taxing, soI enjoyed spending my last week of January loving the person I am. Now to make that a daily habit!

Learning something new can be wonderful. Next month I’ll be studying a different yama on my own time. If any of these questions were helpful try assigning them to your mental free time. How can you be more loving? Maybe it’s thinking kind things and sending warm vibes in the office, maybe it is taking a day of rest for yourself and family. Whatever it is, give it a try! The root of non-violence (ahimsa) is love after all.

Courage

Have you ever thought about the word courage? This word has repeatedly forced it’s way into my path since 2019 has started. My phone background has a quote that says

Let this be the year you go after courage.

I’ve been hearing it in bible verses and in songs. I’ve been reading in my yoga book about ahimsa, and the courage to be kind to yourself; the courage to say no or the courage to be kind to all can be easier said than done. Quotes from one of my favorite movies (#disney4life) says

Have courage and be kind.

But what does it mean to HAVE courage. As I began thinking about it, the times I can reflect back on ‘having’ courage were times I felt the least courageous. Courage often comes at times when you feel low, insecure, or afraid. So for me, I don’t always remember the courageousness of my actions, but the fear that caused them in the first place.

That’s a mindset I know I’d like to change.

Having (taking/using/being of) courage is an action. When you’re fearful, you have a choice to slink away or a choice to be courageous. Saying what you’re really thinking is courageous. Standing up for yourself is courageous. Asking for help is courageous. Being a light for others is courageous.

In the midst of my husband job searching, both in our state and out, I find myself being courageous by waiting. I’m a doer; waiting for God’s plan is incredibly hard. I also find myself showing courage as I take time to work on my weaknesses and value my own strengths. Using this idea of ‘having’ courage is something I’m mulling over in my head. Courage will never be something you wish you didn’t have.

As I was scrolling through Pinterest last week I came across a quote that says

You can have courage, or comfort, but you cannot have both.

I think about how hard many of us work to be comfortable. To me, being comfortable always meant not worrying about paying bills or letting money be a source of anxiety. Being in a place where I’m comfortable, I see myself longing for more; surely there is more good to be done, more adventures to be had. Finding courage in our comfortable places is how we grow. It’s something we must work for. If courage was something that came naturally, we wouldn’t need to choose to do it.

We should all be choosing courage!

As I continue this week, mulling over how to find courage in the comfort, I’m curious to see what can happen. How can I be courageous at school? How can I push my friendships by being courageous? How can I influence my students?

How will you be courageous?

2019, it’s time for a change. It’s time for courage.

 

Related imageImage result for have courage and be kind cinderellaImage result for verse courage

Magic

I love magic. **All people that know me rolls their eyes** My favorite books are Harry Potter and The Land of Stories, my favorite show is Once Upon a Time, and growing up I had recurring dreams about my twin brother and I saving the world… with magic (obviously!)

To me, magic is something that fills you with awe. It’s the unexplainable and beautiful things when we are often surrounded by quite the opposite.

I watched an episode of Charmed yesterday, a show about 3 sisters that find out they are witches, that sparked something in me. Not only was I grateful that watching Netflix all afternoon proved to be useful, but I also found myself thinking about the lesson it taught.

In this episode, the Halliwell sisters use their magic to teach a man, who’s dog keeps doing doing its ‘business’ on their driveway, a lesson. The premise of this show is that they are not supposed to use their powers for personal gain or for punishing the guilty; only to protect the innocent. The episode takes them forward in time to see the consequences of this one instance where they used their powers in the wrong way. In their futures they were wealthy (but lonely), had a child (but divorced), and one sentenced to death for killing a man that hurt someone she loved (punishing the guilty).

So I thought, “What would it be like if I saw my future?” Will I be successful at the expense of my health (I have an ‘over doing it’ problem)? Will I have skimmed through many wonderful experiences and only remember how anxious I was about everything being perfect? Or worse yet, will I be still searching for the person I want to be because I’m afraid to commit to the role God has laid out?

The lesson for me was two-fold.

1. Everything we do now matters. Everything you say, every way you react, every time you apologize (or don’t), every time you listen to the ways of the world and fall into temptation of worrying, money, shopping, busyness, rudeness, or being inhospitable, matters. Planting one seed of sin can grow very quickly. That’s not to say apologizing or asking God for forgiveness can’t wipe the slate clean, because it can. But when your pride and self righteousness gets in the way there is no room for growth, only for that sin to spread.

2. We can’t figure this out on our own. Today in church we read about James chapter 1. We talked about how your faith must not waver; you won’t have all the answers, but believe and true FAITH that you are making the choices God has laid in front of you helps you keep moving forward. You can ask God for help in your unbelief, but you cannot expect to live as the world wants you to and also be on God’s path. The road might be rocky, but James 1 explains steadfastness and strength comes from our trials. We will have things that are hard and seem wrong, but a lesson is being learned in everything we do.

Magic is defined as something influencing events by using mysterious forces. God is a mysterious force. To many people, the peace and understanding you have in God is mysterious and strange. When you’re at peace knowing the adventure you’re on doesn’t have a visible destination and yet you trust and wake up grateful for each new day, people will want a part of that. You are the magic in someone’s life. You can show others that there is a more peaceful and promising way to live.

I want to be magic.

I may not have sparks coming from my finger tips, or have the ability to move things with the wave of my wand (yet), but I do find something magical in finding strength in my abilities, confidence that I am an adventurous path, and faith that I have a guide along the way.

We all have the magic within to believe in the unseen, to love the unlovable and to change lives.

~Shelby

2nd Corinthians and…Harry Potter?

Over the past two weeks it’s finally begun to feel like summer. Un-shockingly to everyone, but myself, I have managed to make every waking moment of my tech-teacher summer break full of one to-do or another. (It is continually on my list of goals to stop saying yes so often…pray for me).

Since summer has begun I decided that, along with 1st and 2nd Corinthians, it was time to start rereading Harry Potter. I’m up to my eyeballs in all my favorite Harry Potter quotes, reveling in the victoriousness of Harry’s ultimate weapon- LOVE.

I finished preparing for our Wine Women and the Word bible study today. As I was looking through the beginning of 2nd Corinthians I tried to pull the main points that can make this week’s study as applicable as possible. What knowledge we don’t put to use is just wasted information (spoken like a true Ravenclaw, am I right?)

Second Corinthians was written about a year after the first letter to Corinth church. In this letter, Paul praises those that have repented and urges the few remaining members in obstinance to follow their lead. He is giving them one last chance before he returns to rebuke those that still reject his faithful message about Jesus Christ.

*[SPOILER ALERT]*

In the last book of the Harry Potter seriesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we find some similar messages. In order to bring down the dark Lord Voldemort Harry approaches him prepared to willingly give up his life. This willingness and love for others (among other things) help him overcome the curse that was supposed to lead to his death.

In the final chapters, Harry and Voldemort prepare to duel. Harry gives him one final chance to show some remorse, to be in touch with his humanity, and yet Voldemort’s greed and wickedness cloud his judgment and he is vanquished.

In the end love wins. It is the light that darkness can never overpower. Light and love is something darkness and sin will never understand. There is always a time to turn things around. No one is too far gone. Whether you’re a rebel from the corinthian church or a crazy wizard, there is #Always an option to choose the light.

And if that isn’t enough HP for you, I have a parting gift. Perhaps my favorite verse from this week’s She Reads Truth study is this:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

Just as Harry was The Chosen One, called to snuff out darkness, so are we, chosen by God to put on kindness, humility, meekness, patience and most of all LOVE. Love snuffs out darkness. It took Harry until the end to understand what Dumbledore meant when he said he had a type of magic that was unbeatable. So often we forget that simply loving is a powerful tool. Love is fierce. It’s caring for a family member when they are ill….it’s talking to a friend that has been acting poorly and encouraging them…it’s sticking with what you believe….it’s what God has called us to do to every person that we meet.

How fun is it to know that we all have the ability to use that magical force? I’m looking forward to making more nerdy connections to HP as we are finishing up 2nd Corinthians.

Go out today friends and use your magic! Let’s work together to defeat the darkness.

~Shelby

 

Seeking the Good of Others

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.

2 Timothy 2:19

This week the Wine Women & the Word bible study read week 2 of the She Reads Truth study. It continues to impress me how blunt and straight forward Paul is. I know it’s true in my own life that sometimes the most obvious things can in fact not be that obvious at all. Or worse, we know the truth and choose to believe it doesn’t apply to us.

I’m enjoying imagining myself as a student of Paul’s. I’ve considered greatly what it means to imitate Christ and to have Godly wisdom guide my decisions and actions. He gives good instruction on keeping my marriage healthy by fully dedicating myself to it. His advice on living well, so as not to lead my fellow friends and family astray, is important.

The way we speak (or don’t speak), the way we act (or react), the things we dedicate our time to (or waste our time doing), the kindness (or hostility) towards others…all these actions speak volumes.

I encourage you to go through your week and think about what kind of example you set. I know we can all be a beacon of light, servant hearted and loving to all because everyone we meet is worth receiving that.

 



1 Corinthians Chapters 6-10

(spark notes edition)

  • Settle lawsuits among Christians and before the righteous
    • 1 Corinthians 6:12 Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. (The Message)
  • Live in Peace
    • Words to the married and unmarried. Finding peace together so you may work it out in the hard times. Pleasing each other in your marriage, working on all things together.
    • What to do when it doesn’t work out.
  • Don’t cause your brother or sister to fall
    • Living in a way pleasing to God and being a good example for young believers.
    • 2 Timothy 2:15-18 Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul. (The Message)
  • Imitate Christ
    • 1 corinthians 11:1-2 It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ. (The Message)

 

 

SRT-Corinthians-Shareimage-Day12.jpg

Love Thy Neighbor

I came across this shirt today and thought it summed up the idea of true LOVE for others (picture below). How often have we heard ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’ or ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The concept seems simple right? First, you must love and respect yourself. You must be kind in your thoughts, gentle to your shortcomings and give yourself grace on the hardest days. Sometimes it’s hard to do that, but when it comes to loving ourselves the concept is much easier. We strive to feed ourselves, fulfill our basic needs, necessities and fulfill general duties to our families and friends.

Even at the most surface level, this concept should be easily applied to anyone else you come across. Being kind, respectful, providing help if you can, giving grace when people mess up should be our default…and yet it is so easy to judge and be hateful. This is where many people get it wrong. We were not put on this earth to judge. We all make mistakes, sin and fail. We are called to live a life of love. To serve others the way Christ did. How many stories are there in the bible that has Jesus talking to tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners? Do you see him segregating himself from those he deems unworthy? No. So why do we?

To the clerk at the grocery store, the homeless person you pass on the way to work, the hateful family member, other professions, beliefs, nations, religions, nationalities, prostitutes, sinners and tax collectors….we owe love. We teach by loving and caring.

Something Marshall, my husband, and I often talk about is that respecting someone’s point of view, listening to their thoughts and validating their thought process does not mean you have to agree with it. You can kindly listen and not agree. You can respect and have different views. You can love without jeopardizing your own beliefs. Why is this so hard to grasp?

So remember today:
Love thy foreign, homeless, prostitute, imprisoned, disabled, gay, straight, transgender, enemy, blue collar, white collar, old, young, black, white, lonely, jewish, muslim, christian, atheist, male, female, racist, addicted, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, different from you __________ NEIGHBOR.

Love+Shirt+Main

What identifier do you need to fill in the blank so you remember this? Go out today and LOVE. Be kind, be strong and be loving to everyone you meet. Maybe pray a little too.

~Shelby

 

Images property of https://cyny.org/all/loveshirt. Also- go buy this shirt.