Thursday, December 31, 2015

Checking in on these goals

It's New Year's Eve and for the second year in a row, that means I'm flying back to Seattle tonight. 

For fun, let's check in with those goals I set last year: 


1. Change your mind reading plan, writing a haiku for each book, alternating between Old and New Testament (Genesis, Matthew, Exodus, Mark, etc.) [this will probably take more than a year. I have no idea] 

I've stuck with this one! I am more than halfway done, currently in Ecclesiastes. My haiku are going great and it's been such a rich journey that I can't wait to continue! 

2. Watch t.v./movie only one day per week, and no more than two consecutive episodes 

Ok. I did really awesome with this for several months. And then. Roommates. I don't know - we just like hanging out and the tv is on and it's hard ok? So You Think You Can Dance had a new season.  And Elizabeth got me onto Parks and Rec and if it hadn't all gone to hell before that, it was definitely game over by then. 

3. Go out for a treat/meal/coffee 1-2 times per week MAX (excluding Bible study @Zoka). 

Some weeks were better than others, but I was definitely at least more aware. 

4. January with no refined sugar, February with no sugar (besides fruit) 

100% success. 

All in all, not too shabby. 

I really only have one goal for 2016, and I wrote about it yesterday: one full day completely off every month. It's worth a shot, right? 

This year was really all over the map and although it had a lot of ugly and hard, I can't say I would change it. I really believe in the God who works everything for the good of those who love Him, the God who has made everything beautiful in its time, and the God who is making all things new. The lines really have fallen for me in pleasant places. 

The biggest change this year is my yoga practice, and how it replaced my obsessive cycling/trx/circuit training/running habit. When I look back at the first half of the year, I barely recognize myself. It's almost scary to look at her. I had roommates and dear friends and mentors begging me to slow down. There are flash memories in my head where I knew I was slowly killing myself but I couldn't make myself stop. I am so thankful to everyone who never gave up on me. 

Last night I wrote in my journal, 

"I am so thankful for how my year is ending compared to how it began. Yoga really has been such an enormous catalyst for God's grace and healing" 

I also wrote down some words for the year 


 God used the physical practice of yoga to help me feel redemption all the way in my bones. 

"Moving into this space of embracing our bodies, of living as if they matter, of choosing to feel the anxiety of listening to our emotions, needs and desires as they come to us in physical form requires risk. It's a kind of sacrifice to step into this place, and act of trust that God may, indeed, be interested not in controlling us, but in redeeming us - all of us"
 Tara Owens, Embracing the Body 

And now, my song of the year, that so beautifully expresses my gratitude towards the God of grace

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

6 days slow

When I first went to the chiropractor and did an initial consultation, he told me he thought I was in the 98th percentile of most active people he knew. It's not hard, really, when you teach gymnastics for your job. And you like to bike to work. And often walk to yoga. And oh yeah the yoga happens two or three or even four times a day. Days off might occasionally mean watching Netflix or drinking pots of tea at your favorite haunt between yoga classes but often they mean hiking or subbing or teaching a workshop just for fun. 

Before this break, I hadn't taken a true day off, with no physical activity, since...July? That sounds right. 

With three days off in the last two weeks, it's practically like I've stopped. 

I knew it was coming. I mentally prepared for it, just in case I got anxious when it actually happened. This might sound a little crazy to you, but for me, it was important. I knew I wouldn't be practicing the day I traveled to New York, Christmas Day, or Wednesday in Waukesha (today). I didn't want to be surprised or frustrated or caught off guard. 

New York was such a crazy trip - with tons of walking ( at least one day with over 30,000 steps, according to my phone!) and a 90 minute bikram class every morning. 

And I felt good. I took class in the morning, showered, had green juice and met Tina at the apartment. We had bagels from the place around the corner and made a plan for the day. I slept well in the tiny dark apartment and it was nice. 

Then I went to Wisconsin, where my mom had bought me a pass to try a number of different studios. Of the 30 classes, I'm going to end up using 5. I've slept in. I've taken a nap every day. I've laughed with my sister and cooked dinner with each of my parents. I've watched movies and silly game shows and Jeopardy (which is a game show, but not silly). I've read Ecclesiastes and books on my kindle and explored my old journals and just sat around. I've taken one or less yoga class a day and done just a few restorative poses at home, aside from the attempt to teach my sister Sun Salutations A and B. 

I think what has surprised me is how great it's been. I even made myself ignore work as much as possible - although I was tempted today to ask how practice has been going. Tomorrow night will come soon enough, though, and then I will be in Seattle and I can be on again. This is the longest I've been slow in...I really don't know. Maybe since college? I'm not sure. 

Regardless, days off kind of freak me out a little. They feel lazy and I don't like lazy for more than a few hours. I always end up baking something. Or doing a big project. Or walking 10 miles just because. But not this week. I have rested, in the fullest sense of the word. 

And nothing bad happened. I'm not anxious or bouncing off walls. I don't feel tight or bad or like I did something wrong. 


Maybe there's the faintest whisper of a should or a rebuke but it's so quiet I can barely hear it. 

Because I think I really needed this. I needed it desperately and I refused to give it to myself in my regular life. So I was given a pause. 

A pause, not a pattern. Because this can't be my real life. Because I'm about to go into meet season and I'm teaching workshops two days after I get back and classes will be taught and competitions will be happening. And I love my yoga practice and the studio and the instructors and the community and I miss it and am looking forward to being back. 

There was a moment maybe last night where I thought that I would establish one day completely off every week. But for me, I know that's not realistic. It literally can't happen some weekends during meet season if my teams compete on both Saturday and Sunday. And truth be told, I love my Sunday morning yoga and then a cup of tea and church. And I love walking to class on Saturday morning and coming back in the evening. But maybe I could commit to once a month. Maybe that's what I can take from this. 

Deep roots 

Strong ties 

Slow art

15 in 15

I've been able to read and learn from a number of really wonderful books this year. Here are the 15 that made the biggest mark on me this year 

1. Embracing the Body by Tara Owens. If I could only pick one book for the year, this would be it. It's about the redemption of our physical bodies, the absence of shame, and how the physical meets the spiritual. It met me when I was just learning to appreciate my body again and I am so grateful for Tara's message. If you want a copy of this one, message me and I will get one out to you! 

2. It's Not What You Think by Jefferspn Bethke. This is a beautiful book designed to take you past your assumptions and fears about God and into deep fellowship with the Savior of your soul. 

3. A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. This is an encouragement to understand your gifts and how to use them. Everyone is an artist; what is your art? 

4. Real Sex by Lauren Winner. I've read a lot of books about marriage and sex and purity, but this one truly shines. Lauren have me words to talk about why I'm a virgin and why it's really not about sex at all. I think this book is valuable for the church as we seek to build a robust theology of singleness, and also for individuals looking to add depth to their personal convictions. 

5. For the Love - Jen Hatmaker. A collection of essays ranging from hilarious to tender to serious, For the Love is no disappointment. I think everything Jen writes is pure gold, and this is no exception. I disagree with Jen on the matter of leggings as pants, but everything else is spot on.  Every time I hear garbage theology, anything related to health and wealth, I think of Jen and the single mother in Haiti. Because if your theology isn't true for the poor single mother in Haiti, it isn't true at all. 

6. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I picked up this young adult novel from a free little library. I loved it. Times a million. "Pain demands to be felt". See the movie if you hate reading, but both are worth your time. 

7. Coming Clean by Seth Haines. Haines using this book to document his journey towards sobriety. Although I don't know what it's like to have an alcohol or drug problem, I found myself really relating to his story. Sobriety doesn't have to just be about alcohol - it's about living fully awake to reality. 

8. Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime by Les Leventhal. Leventhal lived a wild life until he found yoga and it turned his world upside down. I'm including the book on this list because it has one of my favorite quotes of the entire year -

"The experience you're having inside your  body right now - do you want that? Are you grateful for that? So you've got tight hamstrings; can you be grateful that you have hamstrings at all? Grateful you have legs? Grateful that you even have legs?...When you see people around the room taking challenging variations, can you look at that person and think, thank you? Thank you for expressing yourself. Thank you for showing me something beautiful". 

9. Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. This book was released the same day as For the Love. I really enjoy Emily's style, which is why she has two books on my list this year. Simply Tuesday encourages us to embrace the ordinary without trying to make it into something it's not. 

10. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Here's another breath of fresh air for all who need one, and in this day and age, who doesn't need one. If you read Simply Tuesday and crave more, Shauna will have you covered. 

11. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller. I found this book when it felt like a hundred things were falling apart. It helped me personally and it helped me love and encourage others better. God has never left you; light always shines in the darkness. 

12. Hollow by Jena Morrow. A tale of eating disorder recovery that's actually helpful. Jena's story is so encouraging no matter what stage you're at with ED. 

13. Hellbent by Benjamin Lorr. This is a fascinating account of bikram yoga. I read it as I was just getting into my practice, and it gave me just enough curiousity to try a bikram class for myself. It's a fun read for anyone with any type of practice though. 

14. Then Sings my Soul by Robert Morgan. This is a collection of hymns with their back stories. I love learning what brought people to pen beautiful songs of worship that have stood the test of time. 

15. Luke. I've been reading through each book of the Bible 20 times in a row. I'm currently in Ecclesiastes. But Luke was my favorite of the year. I loved the detail given to Jesus' birth and ministry. I was so drawn into the presence of God in this book and can't recommend careful reading of this gospel enough. 

Here's to a new year and new books! Recommendations always welcome (especially for quality novels. Fiction is hard for me). 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sorry I quit

Y'all. Picture taking every day is hard. I don't have any excuses or profound reasoning, I just fell off the wagon and have no real interest in getting back on. I will have my yearly books list coming out soon and maybe some other thoughts for you. 

I went to New York. It was amazing. 

And I've been having the best trip home probably ever. 

Thumbs up. 

Sea tac stretching 
Grand central station 
Rockefeller center 

Wicked on Broadway - maybe the star of the whole trip 
Unmatched talent 
Dancing in a blizzard 
My sister doing hand to big toe pose. Kind of. 
Us after uptown abs 
My street! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When you love teaching, but it hurts

First off, I will say that I have never been happier with my job and lifestyle choices than I am right now. It is a joy to work with all different kinds of kids - frustrating at times, yes, and challenging for sure - but I sincerely love what I do and feel the weight of the honor and the privilege that it is every day.

But sometimes, it makes my heart hurt.

It took me almost an hour to leave the gym tonight. I was trying to decompress from a really unsettling evening. One of the girls came into practice looking absolutely exhausted. She said she was really tired and she did not look at all like herself. I asked her if she was ok and she hemmed and hawed about it; we were staring at the first 15 minutes of a 3 hour practice so I asked if she'd rather go home. She said she'd wait until break and see how she was then. I kept checking in with her and told her it was totally fine if she wanted to go home. Finally, she looked really stressed and anxious and said, "Coach Kate, the reason why I don't want to go home is because I'm going to Hawaii for a whole week and I can't miss anymore gymnastics than that".

You guys.

I pulled her aside and I got down on my knees and I gave her a hug. I could barely hold back the beginnings of tears as I told her that I know how hard she works and that she already knows the routines and is strong and a great gymnast, and that if she is sick or that tired, she can take a rest and still be totally fine. She looked so relieved. Her mom came to watch practice for awhile, and I asked if she wanted to go talk to her. She did, and came back a few minutes later telling me that she'd decided she wanted to go home. I gave her another hug and told her I thought she made the right decision.

There's a lot going on in my head and heart right now. One is that yes, as her coach and an adult, I have the power to force her to go home. However, if she's not contagious or puking or unsafe, I don't really want to make that choice for her. I am really big on autonomy in coaching - I want kids to feel like their gymnastics truly belongs them. If I make that call for her, she isn't in charge of herself. Another is that I would not have listened to me 15 years ago. I love setting an expectation for excellence but I also need there to be healthy boundaries and times of rest. And finally, I think what's bugging me most, is what happened when I talked to some of my coworkers about it. They just said, "well it's good how much she wants to be here".

That hurts. Like no one sees anything wrong with a nine year old who's afraid to go on vacation with her family and take one day off sick?!

And I get it. Believe me. I am not the poster child for a healthy relationship with exercise or rest or achievement. But I have been learning. Constantly. I am not the same person I was as a gymnast through high school or as a college athlete or even earlier this year. And I just have to wonder, where's our line? How do we encourage kids to work hard and be disciplined and expect greatness from themselves while letting them be kids and teaching them healthy habits of play and rest?

Gymnasts are so hard. I don't have the answers. Right now, I'm going to live these questions. I'm going to do the best that I can and pray my heart out. I think that's all I can ask for.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's been awhile...

I swear I've been doing so many handstands. And holding them for so long. And making shapes and pressing in and out. But. The pictures. Bless. 

Here's a cool arm balance instead 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fireplace handstand


I've probably told everyone in the blogosphere about my love for the word Ebenezer at least a dozen times. It's in one of my favorite classic hymns, and is seen in the Bible in 1 Samuel 7:12 

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the Lord has helped us". 

The same way that stone was a monument to what God has done, so is my Bible. Lately I've been opening my Bible to read it and instead of digging right in, I hold it and I feel still, held, loved and known. God has met me literally thousands of times in this book. The pages are worn, ripped and falling out. There are verses I can barely read because they've been circled, underlined and starred in three or four different colored pens, and then been spilled with water, tears and tea. There are notes from sermons and haikus and comments and cross references and the names of people I love so much. 

I know the Bible brings up a lot of different things for a lot of different people. To some it's a book of rules, to others it's another mark to which they'll never measure up. To some it's the source of the justifications for how they've been abused, excluded or hurt, to others it's just a book, and to others it's another thing they should be doing. Dear friend, I don't know your story. I don't know what your history is with this book. 

But I know mine.

I know the power of this written word in my life. I know that the Lord has made Himself known to me through these words. I know that it breathes life to my soul and allows me to drink deeply from the fountain of living water. I honestly can't remember a time when I thought, "I should really read my Bible more". It's never felt like that to me. The "read the Bible in a year plans" baffle me. A year? How about a month? I don't do rules like that (generally. I am doing the change your mind plan right now. But if I want to read something else, I do. I can read John's gospel if I want even though I'm knee deep in Psalms). I trust that the Holy Spirit is alive and working and drawing me closer into the arms of my dear Savior. 

Sometimes I'm in sin and conviction cuts deep (seriously. try reading Romans and holding onto your sin. I dare you), but I know what God has for me on the other side is so much better and He is faithful to show it to me. Sometimes I am scared, lost, confused, angry, sad, lonely or weary and I have no idea how it's possible that Jesus is the ruling and reigning King over this mess right now. Sometimes the hurt is so deep that it's all I can do to read one verse or passage over and over again. And that is totally fine. Do you really think God cares how many times you read the Bible in your life (and this is coming from someone who reads the Bible several times through a year)? Do you think you'll get a prize for reading 10 chapters every day when you get to Heaven? God doesn't want your reading plans and text notes and the Greek verbs you've parsed. He wants YOU. He wants you so badly that He wrote you 66 beautiful letters to invite you into an intimate relationship with Him. That's a God I am so thankful I get to know. That's why I read my Bible: because I can. I have been gifted the privilege of knowing the Lord of the Universe. I want to read the written word every day until I die and see the Living Word face to face and start to see History (His-story) from the redeemed, resurrected and restored side of things. Then, I will know Him fully, but until that day, I'm going to press in and meet Him as often as I can. 

So, tonight, I'm sitting by the fire. I read the Psalms all the way through for the tenth time tonight. And then I just sat there and savored God's presence, because there is truly nothing more beautiful than the One who has created me to know, enjoy and glorify Him my whole life long. 

Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 116:7 

Until now, the Lord has helped me. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Relaxed approach

I've decided not to be a legalist about the handstand a day. If it happens, it happebs; if not, whatever. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

When the only way out is through

Last night I had my first really terrible yoga practice. I have never felt like that during a class before. I wasn't tired, or tight - physically I was totally fine, but I had so much negativity coming up. I didn't enjoy it at all. I felt I was almost going to cry and laid down early. It's hard for me to even describe...grumpy, dejected, just yucky and not good. I started recited Psalm 23 at the end just to keep my mind still and focused on the greatness and goodness of God.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want 
He makes me lie down in green pastures 
He leads me beside still waters; 
He restores my soul. 

When I'm like this, my reaction is to back away. It's to hide, to shrink. But sometimes the answer is actually to lean in instead of push away. I was in bed all cuddled up, staring at my spare guitar (aka roommate Jordan's that she never plays). I know from Scripture and from experience that God honors obedience. Worshiping when I don't want to, when it hurts like hell and makes no sense to sing, glorifies God. It says that I acknowledge Him as greater than my feelings. My fickle heart is prone to wander but I know that it is restless until it finds rest in Jesus. And so in these moments, when I least feel like it, I crawl out of my hole and I start singing

Blessed be the name of the Lord 
Blessed by Your name 
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name 

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say 
It is well, it is well with my soul 

Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him 
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er 
Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more 

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness! 
Morning by morning new mercies I see 
All I have needed Thy hand has provided 
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me 

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall 
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all

What heights of love, what depths of peace 
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease 
My comforter, my all in all, 
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. St. Augustine, Confessions 

Lean into the ugly. Whisper thanks to transfigure it to beauty. Give thanks for all things at all times, because He is all good. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts 

Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

From Bound to Beloved

I finished my twentieth read of the book of Philemon. I really enjoyed this book, more than I anticipated. I finally see what so many others around me have talked about before. It's a short book, it's really only a chapter, but there's something so beautiful going on.

Paul is writing to Philemon, who had a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus ran away and became a Christian, taught and mentored by Paul. Paul then writes this letter to Philemon and sends it with Onesimus, asking him to consider him a slave no more, and welcome him as a brother.

My haiku is

Slaves become brothers
The bound are called beloved
By the work of Christ

There's something so powerful about this tangible example of freedom in Christ. I challenge you to read this book a few times and see for yourself.

Rebels become heirs
Slaves become sons
Enemies become friends
Not My People become My People

This is the power of the gospel.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works down by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by hisgrace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7 

no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother - especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Philemon 1:16 

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:13-19 

And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, You are my people, and he shall say, You are my God. Hosea 2:23 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Aw poop

I'm already done for the night... And I forgot my handstand. 

Here's a sleeping yogi instead 

The Kingdom is Yours and the Power is Yours and the Glory Forever, Amen

This morning I was praying for a friend of mine, for life - abundant life - for salvation, for joy. As I closed my journal, I listened to As it is in Heaven by Matt Maher. It's essentially an interpretation of the Lord's prayer set to music

I was thinking about the repeated stanza

For the kingdom is Yours 
And the power is Yours 
And the glory forever

Everything belongs to the Lord. The world, but today I was mostly focused on the people. Every heart is His to harden or soften. Every breath comes from His hand. He formed every body.  It all belongs to Him. I think that's why Jesus taught us to pray as He did.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-13. 

In the ESV there is a note that says, "some manuscripts add, For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever, Amen" That's the way I learned it, but I'm not sure which translations include it. With or without it, there's still a recognition present: we pray for God's kingdom and for His will. We acknowledge our need for Him to provide for our needs and for Him to sustain us and lead us forward.

 I want to make the Lord's prayer more of my prayer life again.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Real clothes

Look! I'm wearing a skirt. It's hard to a handstand in this skirt. It's rather fitted, you see. 

I had dinner with an old college teammate in town briefly and he said he's trying to learn how to handstand :) He also said it seems like I'm doing my life right for me right now. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hiking and yoga and handstands oh my

I went on a winter weather hike in search of snow with Josh. We were not disappointed. 

Then I got back in time to take a yoga class and the hot room felt so good after being out in the rain and snow all day. 

And then I came home and did my handstand for Elizabeth. I almost quit a few days ago but for now I think I can stick it out

Thursday, November 12, 2015

2nd stand. Split style

Also this bra is so pretty 

And I don't like lights apparently 

No butts about it

I totally forgot last night. I fell asleep after 2 poses at nap yoga and then talked to the instructor afterwards. So this morning here's a handstand and I'll try to hit you up later too. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Embracing the Body by Tara Owens

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book. If you have a body, you need it. I'm actually in the process of figuring out how to order it in bulk so I can give it away (just my luck, it's the publisher with which I have a 40% lifetime discount!), so hang tight because there could be a copy coming your way. Owens speaks to people who have chronic pain, who have been physically or sexually abused, who have body image issues, who fear intimacy, who are afraid to rest. It is a book for everyone. I am going to try to restrain myself from sharing too many quotes because I also have a story about how I applied what I learned from the book.

the body is so powerful, and at its best so very good, that it forms and shapes our views of ourselves, others and God. Our bodies are an integral part of ourselves and tell us what we most deeply believe - even when our minds and hearts are feeling otherwise 

The grace of it all is the same grace that God offers when I'm in my most self-destructive wounded places - the very weakness we feel in our image of ourselves is the place God will meet us most deeply. The way toward a healthy body image isn't by ignoring our desire to be thin or muscular or shapely, but by stepping in closer to them. Every time we think 'fat' when passing by a mirror is an opportunity to notice and attend to our own sense of loneliness and inadequacy, a place that God's love and presence can meet us if we'll open the door. 

When we've trained ourselves to mistrust the desires of our bodies, we've cut ourselves off from some deeply important sources of information about how we're doing - our emotions are primarily, physiological, after all - an we're able to access the reality of what's going on inside our souls. 

Being at home in your own skin means that you're willing to develop a sensitivity to an awareness of the messages of your own body. 

Awareness of our senses helps us to delight in the glory of the world around us and to consciously respond to our place in that world, our place in relationship to God. 

to be physically present, no matter our emotion or spiritual state is to insist on the power of the incarnation to heal us and make us whole 

 And now a story. In the book, Tara talks about how you can use consensual, appropriate physical touch as a means of communicating and transmitting redemptive healing. I am NOT instinctively a toucher, but I decided to be more aware of how my body might relate to other bodies. Last night, my competitive team was working really hard on their beam routine, and I could see one of the girls just totally losing it. She looked defeated. At one point, when we were starting over for maybe the 20th time, she said she wanted a nap. I told her we had to keep moving forward, but that if it would make her feel better, I could give her a hug. Her whole face lit up and we hugged and I told the group that if they were ever feeling discouraged or frustrated or just needed a minute they could get a hug. The whole group just softened, and then they came back refreshed and even stronger. It was seriously beautiful.

Put this one on your must-read list asap.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I've always been flexible. I can't remember not being able to do the splits and my shoulders pop out of socket just because. But my back has never actually been *that* flexible. Now, I realize gymnasts have crazy standards when it comes to who is flexible and who is not, and that the least flexible of competitive gymnasts is probably more flexible that 98% of everyone else. I've never been able to do a seal stretch and touch my toes to my head, and yes, the children have harassed me about this. 

But guess what happened today? 

My toes said hello to my head! Woohoo. 

Which means, one day, they'll do it in a handstand. Until then, 

As family we go

Today was a heavy morning at church. You know when you walk in somewhere and can just tell something is off? Yeah that was it. Unplanned family style service. Stripped down set up. Quiet. Pastor and family now where to be seen (or heard! There are 4 kids in their mix). 

Well. Our community pastor announced that last night, our pastor's youngest son, 18 month old Thaddeus, was given a preliminary diagnosis of leukemia. I wish I knew how to capture what happened in the room when we heard, together. I know that my friend and I had tears in our eyes as we processed, and that when we all prayed, we held hands. I know that Pastor Joe answered the question he read in our minds "what can we do?"  because we were so ready to do whatever he would tell us. We are richly provided for in that we have a Seattle children's cancer wing nurse in our body and that we have learned a theology of service by experience. Everyone in our church has served and been served in times of deep need. 

It's a really hard thing, and there are a lot more questions than answers right now. But I am so sure that we're going to approach this as a family, because that's who we are in Jesus. 

Here's a message I sent my friend Tina about it - 

This is the quote I wrote down from our elder who preached today "When life sucks, as it often does, we're here for each other". He was amazing because he literally had no notice and his family had also been through a lot lately...he stood up there and talked about Romans 12 and said "I know for a fact that I don't need to tell this church to serve more - please don't hear that - this is an encouragement for what you are already doing. I've heard the stories and have been loved by this church more than you even know or understand. Someone coming over and saying hey can I help you organize your kitchen or just watching people's kids for a few hours or a few days" and then he started crying and he goes "wow this is the most embarrassing thing I've done in the occasional times I've preached but I'm so glad I get to be embarrassing with all of you" 

As family we go 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

First, Last, New

First time as a meet director. Sometimes when people asked me "hey, you're in charge, right?" I was really tempted to say no 

Last star league meet. How crazy is that? 

New shirt 

It's Seahawks colors but still looks really cool. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


We played around with trying to hit and hold tuck handstands today with a new instructor I really like. I've actually never really hung out in this shape before and I can dig it. I held this one for a long time too! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yet another poopy picture

Ugh. Blame Josh, my acro yoga partner in crime. He wore me out doing crazy things and now I'm tired and handstands in our kitchen. Whatever man. 


I've been reading amazing books lately 

The Precious Things of God - Octavius Winslow 

It's Not What You Think - Jefferson Bethhke 

Coming Clean - Seth Haines 

All of these books. My heart. And Titus right now is totally slaying me. Specifically 3:3-7. Rebels become heirs. Think about it. 

And my 6am Bible study. When I first started church (s)hopping, and I found Anchor, it was almost love at first hymn. But when I found out there was a group of people who dedicated themselves to waking up at 6am every Thursday to study the Bible, I was sold. These are my people in the fullest sense of the term. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Can I even handle this

6 months of daily handstands is a lot. A girl can only handle so many 10:30pm kitchen inversions... To be continued 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Jeans and a sweater

I don't remember the last time I wore jeans. But if I'm going to wear jeans, you'd better believe they're going to be from the gap. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Windy afternoons

I watched gymnastics all morning (including the crazy 4-way tie for first on the bars) and took yoga and went grocery shopping at noontime. Then I made a batch of pumpkin chili and some cornbread muffins. And now I'm binge watching Netflix and waiting for trick or treaters. 

Dear Pastor John (Everything)

This summer, John Piper answered a reader/listener question about yoga and the Christian life. I was appalled at not only his judgmental and ignorant response, but also those of his followers. I was offended at being told that I was pursuing minimal holiness by practicing yoga, and wanted desperately to sit down with him and tell him my story. I spent this whole month intentionally tracking my yoga practice and my Christian faith, and I have written Pastor John a letter. It is a direct response to his Ask Pastor John Podcast "Is Yoga Sinful?"

I thought it would be appropriate to share the letter as my last write 31 days post this year. I am so grateful to have been able to share my heart, my practice, and my faith over this month, and I hope you enjoy the letter.

Dear Pastor John,

First off, I would like to thank you for your dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for your preaching, writing, speaking, and online ministry. You have been behind the production of invaluable resources for the modern church and have helped countless individuals, churches, and ministries grow in their faith and Christian maturity.

That being said, in an “Ask Pastor John” podcast this summer, you answered a question as to whether or not yoga is sinful. As a nearly life long Christian who has been practicing yoga daily for just about ten months now, I was offended by the under-researched and judgmental response you gave. You, by your own admission, know little about yoga and have done little research, and based on the podcast, I can only assume you have never actually done yoga, much less dedicated yourself to a consistent practice. On the other hand, I wrestled with the issue for several years before finally taking a class in January of this year. I continued to study the Bible and seek the Lord in prayer before landing where I am today: Yoga is extraordinary beneficial to my pursuit of knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ my Savior.

I would like to answer the questions you provided as they relate to my practice of yoga and my faith in the God of the Bible. In your podcast, you challenged Christians not to ask, “What is wrong with it?, but rather:

“Will it make me more Christ like?” Compassionate. Self-Sacrificing. Others-centered. Loving. Peaceful. Forgiving. Dependent on God the Father. When I think of what it means to be like Jesus, these are just a few of the things that come to mind. I take a yoga class every day, if not more. I quiet my busy mind down, and I move my body into the poses most people think of when they think of yoga.  Sitting, stretching, moving and breathing, helps me ground myself down. Often, I set an intention, or as you put it in your podcast, a “mantra”. It is almost always a verse or an attribute of God. Sometimes it is one of the words or phrases I listed above, or a reflection thereof. Christian meditation is a respected spiritual discipline; why can’t it be a moving meditation? Why can’t I do Humble Warrior and remember the One who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)? Why is it a minimalist pursuit of holiness for me to rest in child’s pose and feel my stress and anxiety melt away, as Christ taught in Luke 12? And why is it so wrong for me to find comfort in deep hip openers and lean into the God who “leads me beside still waters” and “restores my soul” (Psalm 23). I finish class in savasana, corpse pose, the final resting posture and remember the God who rested, following the command, “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:19).

“Will it make me more devoted to Jesus?” The short answer is of course, yes. Yoga makes me so thankful for my salvation, for my life, for every breath. It shows me who I am, and when I see who I am, poor and needy, I see the tremendous gift I have in Jesus that much more clearly. Paul preached in Athens, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25). I fully believe that when a Christian knows what he has received in the gospel, he is empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve the God who saved him with a beautiful, profound zeal. I often leave class singing the hymn, “My Jesus I Love Thee”, because my practice helps me to love Jesus more today than I did the day before.

“Will I be more powerful and full of the Holy Spirit?” To be honest, I am not entirely clear as to what this question means. If you are in Christ, you have full and unfettered access to God by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you. I don’t understand how it can be any more or any less than that. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus (John 15:26), and anything that guides me into the presence of God is evidence, to me, of His work in my heart. And yes, yoga does that for me.

“Will I be more effective in prayer because of it?” Sometimes, when it is time for class, I am tired and I’m not sure I feel like practicing that day. But I have never regretted going to my mat. I always come away feel more alive, more full, and more grateful. This has encouraged my prayer life in ways I never expected. Although I love prayer, believe in its power, and practice it regularly, I am human. It is not always my first response, and is not always what I feel like doing in the moment. But I know for a fact that God honors obedience. He delights to hear from us. And I have found that my prayer life is strengthened as I pursue the Lord with a clear heart and sound mind, something I gain from yoga.

“Will it make me more bold in witness or weaken me?” I believe it is now appropriate to say that I live in Seattle. Seattle is one of the most unchurched cities in North America. The pastor of my local church once listed a number of statistics that help demonstrate how Seattle is not unlike Nineveh as he preached what it means to bring the gospel to the city. My church has encouraged and empowered me to meet my city with deep love, compassion, and the glory of the gospel. In order to love my city, I have to actually be part of it. In order to be a witness for Jesus, I have to go where Christ is not known. Why can’t that be a yoga studio? My pastor often says that each of us have people in our lives that we can witness to that he can’t reach. Jesus met me when I was not at all worthy of Him. There are millions of ways to bring that gift to others, and one of them might just be through the community that forms at a yoga studio, where people watch each other struggle and rejoice and learn new things every day.

“Will it help me be spiritually discerning of the ways of Satan in the world and will it help me lay up treasures in heaven?” Anything that shows you who God is will also show you who God is not. By seeing Jesus clearly, you also see Satan clearly. My next response will delve into more detail as to how yoga helps reveal God to me, but suffice it for now to say that a biblical worldview is honed with practice. There are times when an instructor might say something that directly conflicts with Scripture. But the more I meet the Jesus who loved the world, the forces organized against Him, that He died to redeem them, the more I want to live in this world, pointing to Him. I immerse myself in the joys of memorizing the Word of God and I am able to meditate on them as I move and breath and live the beautiful life I have in Jesus, free forever from the prince of this world.

“Will it help me find joy in God and all that he is for me in Jesus?” I have tears in my eyes as I read this question; because I know how precious my Jesus is to me, and how that preciousness has only been strengthened through my practice of yoga. I recently completed an online blog challenge called Write 31 Days, where writers make the commitment to write on a topic of their choice for 31 days. I wrote on how I pursue God in my practice of yoga. The following is an excerpt from that series, demonstrating how God chose to heal me of my eating disorder once and for all by meeting me on a yoga mat.

“For whatever reason, as I sat in my fourth class of the day, I remembered back to a few months ago, when I realized that when I was in class, on my mat, all my eating disorder thoughts just stopped. I was finally able to be still and meditate on God's faithfulness, His truth, His trustworthiness, His grace, His light, His greatness, His satisfaction. That's the whole reason I started taking class more than once a day - because Jesus met me on my mat, and it was there He chose to loose my chains and set this captive free. It's now been just over two months since I've had an ED thought or behavior. I am finally starting to believe that I can be free of him FOREVER. And that's the most precious thing in the world to me, to know that when the Son of man sets me free, I am free indeed (John 8:38). And although I pray that ED and I are done for good, I also pray that I never forget what it was like to be enslaved. Because remembering my deep captivity reminds me of the even greater Savior who rescued me.”

If you have not had an eating disorder, you simply do not know what it is like. You don’t have time to love your neighbor when you are working out five or six times a day on an apple and a dozen cups of coffee. Your prayer life is not strong when all you can hear are the lies of the enemy, deep, dark and relentless. When you spend hours in any given day deliberating how many bites of a cupcake you might be able to take and how long you will have to run to make up for it or how hard it might be to throw it up, you don’t have a lot of time to follow John Owen’s advice to “Think greatly of the greatness of God” (The Glory of Christ). God used yoga to show me Himself as the Creator of my body, the sustainer of my life, the fullness of my joy, the light of my world, the bread and water to my hungry and thirsty soul, and has shown me that I was made for more than disordered eating and compulsive exercise. I was made in His image, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. I am forever His, and nothing can separate me from His love in Christ Jesus.

I have seen yoga only enhance my pursuit of personal holiness and add vibrancy, depth and maturity to my relationship with Jesus. I have always held my practice with open hands, grateful for the gift that it is, and constantly checking myself to see if it is something that is distracting me from authentic, biblical spirituality and needs to be surrendered. Today, I praise Jesus for His rescue of my soul, and for drawing me deeper into His presence through the practice of yoga. I understand that yoga may not be for every Christian, but for me, it is as much of a spiritual practice as singing worship songs on my guitar or writing my reflections on my daily Bible reading. It shows me beautiful things about my Jesus and myself and helps me lean on Him and grow in my faith every day. I have no idea how any of this demonstrates a minimalist approach to holiness, and I hope that this letter broadens your perspective as to how the Lord can work in the life of the believer.

Grace to you,
Kate Finman

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bad jokes

My roommate Jordan got fired from our workplace. So I went as her for Halloweeen...depending on who asked, I just said I was a runner 

Too soon? 

Life, Breath, Breath

10/29 7:45pm power w/Josh

Life. Tonight, encouraged by Thang's help in dancer/candy cane, and Whitney's bikram class today, I put more trust in my body and my postures. I let myself look back more, kick a little harder, move a little closer. In crescent moon, I cactused my arms and actually let my head drop back. I saw the back wall and then my back foot. It felt insane, and a little disorienting. But I breathe into it and realized how freeing it can be to let life happen around me as I hold still. In that bend, I wasn't worried about where I was going or what might be coming next; I just trusted that right now held all I needed to be. Beloved, did you know that right now, God loves you? Did you know that He is bringing a good work to completion in you? (Philippians 1:6). Did you know that He has had all your days written from the foundations of the earth? (Psalm 139:16). What then do you have left to worry about? What is there to fear? Jesus upholds the entire universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Will He not also uphold your very life? 

10/30 6am power w/ Josh 

Breath. Focusing on breath really does make a difference in my practice. I would feel myself wandering, but when I remembered "breath", I came right back. Breath and life are so linked - without breath there would be no life. We can manipulate our breath but if we stopped altogether, we couldn't live. Breath is also one of God's first, most intimate connections to mankind; He breathed Adam out of the dust. At our very core, we are made from the breath of God. And through the Bible, His very word, He continues to breathe life into us every day we live in Him. 

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 
Ezekiel 37:5-6 

10/30 noon series 48 w/Whitney at District 

Breath. I'll say it again: my mind is blown by what happens through bikram postures and sequencing. I'm exploring new movements in my body and constantly being surprised by myself and those around me. In bikram, there are two really weird breathing exercises but beyond that there's no focus on the breath. It's so different from vinyasa in that way. But as I said above, if you don't breathe, you don't have life. So as I sat in the hot room, in uncomfortable  places, I breathed into the space and remembered the Giver of that breath. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ready for bed head

Sometimes you shower and your hair is all wet and you're ready for bed and you remember you haven't don't a handstand yet. I was really tempted to take it in just my underwear and topless because putting on appropriate attire seemed too hard but since I'm sharing them online I figured I could put an ounce of clothing on. You're welcome. 

Concentration, Lay It Down, Life

10/28 7:45pm power w/Thang

Concentration. There was a moment in class today when we took a pause, and Thang commented on the strength of the toom's concentration. I hadn't even realized it, but I really hadn't been thinking of anything besides what we were doing. That type of flow doesn't often happen for me, not for any extended time, but it's welcome. There are so many things that want our attention. What will we give them to? 

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25 

10/28 9pm yin w/Devyn 

Lay it down. Now yin is a lot of laying down anyway, but tonight I probably spent a third of the class in savasana - belly down or on my back. I skipped poses and changed others. I honestly just wanted to lay down, so I did. This is the invitation we always have in Christ 

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone O Lord make me to dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 

10/2910am Bikram 60 w/Whitney at District 

Life. For these last days of the challenge, each day will have an intention directly from the series. Today is life. Today was my first more traditional Bikram class - with the full dialogue and whatnot. It surprised me how hard it was. Backbends with your head back are weird and uncomfortable. Actually that pretty much describes all of bikram for me at this point. It almost goes without saying that our lives are not always comfortable, expected, or what we would plan for ourselves. Sometimes it's all we can really do to struggle, to breathe, to fight for and find joy in the Lord. 

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16:1-11 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Come, Towards

10/28 6am power w/ Teddy

Come. I was super tired today. I was also really feeling last night's adult gym - so many presses. But Teddy's class always makes me feel so good on Wednesday mornings. Every posture, every movement became a a little easier and more natural as class went on. I felt like a returning to myself, to wholeness, to freedom. Jesus invites each one of us to come and find all this - our whole self in Him.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 

Come everyone who thirsts, come to the waters and he who has no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 

10/28 noon power w/Elvis

Towards. I spent my morning before work reading Jefferson Bethke's It's Not What You Think.  It really breathed life inside my soul. It's such a beautiful book. It talks about how all of human history is moving toward redemption - we're going forward to future grace, but it's all really a return to created order, the way the world is supposed to be. Jesus is always coming toward us and leading us to where He's already been .

God is forever taking one more step toward us, and every time he reveals himself, it's in a less guarded way. He wants to make himself known, and to do that he makes himself vulnerable. The other gods seem high and mighty and untouchable. They leave us to move first, to initiate, to appease them. But his God, Jesus, says, 'No. I'll go first. I'll lean in. I'll risk being hurt. I'll come down to you.'"

The Lord is stepping toward us, and constantly inviting us to come back toward Him. Moving forward isn't scary because it's a return to who we were always meant to be

All of creation God spoke into existence but with us it says we were formed. God got particular and creative with us human creatures. He rolled up his sleeves when he made us and declared us to be imago dei. Image of God. He did not call us broken, sinner or failure. Which means our primal identity (the one most at the depths of who we are - in our very bones) is one given by the Creator himself. We are his" 

This is what I brought to my mat today: A moving forward and a stepping back. A remembering of the Jesus who is always moving toward me, and that we are in a world always running toward redemption.

Ninja turtle

Borrowed Jordan's ninja turtle costume because she's in Tibet and left it behind for some reason 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In its time, Listen, He who grows

10/26 7:45pm power w/Elvis

In its time. Elvis again shared, and it was even more beautiful knowing it was coming. There are quite a few people there, and savasana was interrupted by clapping and cheers. The community was so strong, the timing right - that kind of thing doesn't happen at 6am. God has made everything beautful in its time. What's good now was made for now.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

10/26 9pm yin w/Devyn

Listen. I may have used listen before, but I'm using it again. I've also mentioned that doing my own thing in class freaks me out a little - I like following directions! I also have a tendency to overthink when I'm told to get creative. But tonight, I just started listening to what I was feeling in my body. And it said wonderful things.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's wom. I praise you, for I am fearfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14 

10/27 6am power w/Morgan J

God who grows. This verse always reminds me that even as I practice, as I pursue the righteousness of God and ministry and personal holiness, it is the Lord who makes everything happen.

neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:7 

I know I'm prone to want credit, control and some sort of prize or recognition. BUt what do I have that wasn't given by God? And what can I do that isn't by His hand?