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Monday, January 13, 2014

Notes From the Studio :: A dancers' lesson on life (soul-stirring inspiration from Lisha Epperson)

 I don't let just anyone pour out their words here; Lisha isn't just anyone. We met as (in)couragers and while we're only 12 miles apart as the crows fly, in real life, or as we say in(RL), we've never met...all in God's perfect time. In the meantime we share words and souls online and over the phone. She's extraordinary, and I'm blessed that she penned words just for us here. Drink deep, and learn a dancer's lesson on life.  
photosJudy Tyrus for Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dancers work incredibly hard.  Training is demanding and you don't/won't get better unless you put the work in. It's hard...repetitive and sometimes seemingly unproductive. It's mental and emotional. Pushing yourself to the limit, at some point, you'll run into your personal glass ceiling in the form of physical limitations. Physical limitations, as every dancer knows, are real.
The battle to overcome nature teaches dancers the beauty of persistence. Nature has the last word in the world of dance and dancers learn quickly to stay two steps ahead. Dancers learn resourcefulness. We learn quickly to compensate, find another way around or disguise flaws. We interject - with answers and solutions at the ready. When nature presents a challenge we give it our best shot. These lessons translate well in real life and make dancers excellent problem solvers....creative and critical thinkers.
Dancers shouldn't be the only ones who benefit from lessons learned in the ballet studio.
Years ago I was a student at a conservatory in New York. Positioned to my left, as we faced the barre in a beginner pointe class, was the perfect ballerina. She had a lovely ballet body... long strong spine and legs, a pretty little head perched atop a graceful neck - and those feet....this girl had the feet. Her name was Heidi. Having never worn pointe shoes, we were all on the same level. Intermediate students leaping forward to the pinnacle of ballet training for girls...pointe work.
As I sat on the floor preparing for class I remember seeing her foot slip into the shoe.  Like some sort of glass slipper from a modern day Cinderella story, the shoe appeared to mold itself to her foot.  I have a clear image of her standing effortlessly on pointe as most of the other girls...including me, lined up on the road to resourcefulness. We began the process of discovering how to dance in pointe shoes when she was born knowing. We only hoped to figure this thing out. 
In that moment I thought "Life isn't fair." But experience taught me we each come to the table with gifts. Our job is to discover and utilize those gifts to the best of our ability. Use the gifts to shape the lives we dream of. Still, you may have to work. 
photo~Judy Tyrus for Dance Theatre of Harlem
Praise God I had a sensitive and resourceful teacher. She pulled me aside and shared her secret tips and tricks. Pointe work was a struggle but I mastered it.
Years later, I reflect on my ballet training and see how my path to parenthood was a lot like pointe work. It didn't come easy. I put the shoes on, having trained properly and having done everything I could to prepare for the task, but physical limitations would hamper my efforts.
Determination is beautiful and there's no substitute for active faith but this time around my doing did nothing. Grace was my resource. That's the thing about God... His supply is limitless and whatever you need, for any situation...He's got it. This time around it was about the work of rest. My would-be children were waiting on the other side. I had to find another way around the mountain of motherhood. God showed me quiet reliance on him would keep my tank filled. Provide a pool of reserves from which I could spiritually pull to stay afloat when it got hard.
The persistent pursuit of his presence opened my eyes when I needed to see and whispered direction when I didn't know where to go. He would show me the other way. Connection with the resources of The Source helped me stay the course long enough to experience my destiny.
Stay in the game because there is always another way around.
I didn't get the feet. When I asked God for help, He pointed to drive and vision. He graced with both. He pushed me forward to see the faith I'd been given and convinced me of the significance and possibility of God-sized dreams.
Confronted with a road block, I never shied from the work - in whatever form it presented itself. My gifts were perseverance and flexibility.
And you have them too. 
Be persistent. Stay flexible when things don't look exactly the way you want them to. Don't give up. Be open...pliable. Work hard and pray harder. I claimed my place at the barre and wiggled into a spot on stage because I didn't quit.  In the end, resourcefulness is the real life application of all I learned in the studio combined with the contemplative peace found only in grace. 
Relentless pursuit and prayer brought opportunities. Who doesn't love a hard worker and I was rewarded. I performed onstage with a world famous ballet company and toured with smaller regional ones in the US. I became a mother...many times over and in every way possible.
Life is about challenges. The difficulties we face today seed future stories of victory. God uses it all...the painful and faith shattering....the challenging experiences birth in us qualities it takes to win. Press into the work, knowing a blessing lies ahead.
Friend, He works everything together for good. Really. Every. Thing. 
What's your pointework? Can you look back and see how he used a difficult situation to shape and prepare you for future battles? What are your gifts?
Lisha Epperson writes the stories of her life on the couch , in the car or at the kitchen table. Scratching out bits and pieces of joy and lessons learned while homeschooling 4 children she affectionately calls the Lovelies.....usually with a cold cup of coffee nearby.  It isn’t easy to carve out a modern Christian lifestyle in NYC but that’s what she’s doing.   Lisha is passionate about marriage, motherhood, nutrition and her Christian faith. She makes room for her journey through infertility and adoption and shares a warrior song about this experience as an encouragement to women at www.seespeakhearmama.com. In other travels Lisha was a ballet dancer and clothing designer. She is currently in the process of launching Epperson Design Studio featuring stationery, crafts and clothing created by her children. 

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