Chapter 3: The Bigger Bear

trust

I shared this graphic in the August 2015 newsletter on the heels of teaching my last regularly scheduled studio class.  It takes great effort to put words around what felt like the end of me.  I confess that I loved it {yoga} too much.  Things such as yoga can become an idol and our identity if we allow it to be.

And I had.

I described it then as a “season of pruning”, but inside…I was terrified there would not be another season that included teaching yoga.  I put on a pretty face {as all good girls do} and I carried on with the weekend events, but all the while, I was convinced it was over for me.

And I was angry.

I understood pruning was part of the sanctification process, and to become like Him, we must be tempered.  “But enough already, Lord!” I cried.  By the end of 2015, I described myself as a stump!   Isaiah 11 depicts our Savior in this beautiful metaphor: “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.”  Visions of new growth or a “bigger bear” never entered.  I boldly told the Lord, “If you have a bigger bear, then you will have to knock me down with it, blow my mind, wet my fleece, or write on the wall!”

You get it.

Friends…settle in, follow along, and {be} prepared to see just how amazing our Great Father is!  He has gone {beyond} anything I ever imagined (Ephesians 3:20), and it is important that I share His story in entirety.

God has used many stories to minister clarity to my heart since last July.  The Word of God is relevant today, and if we seek Him through the stories, He will give guidance for our decisions today.  I no longer see them as text to read, but truly the living breathing Word for today – relevant to our everyday life.

And so, as I made the decision to leave the yoga classroom last July, I was reading the book of Ruth.  Last fall landed me smack in Ruth 1:20-21: “Don’t call me Naomi (or Keleah).  Call me Bitter.  The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow.”  And then in Ruth 2:6, “She went into the field and worked steadily from morning ’til now…”  I went to work, and I found favor.  I worked the fields of Moore Elementary with some of the most amazing, godly people I have ever known.  They loved and accepted me as we served the children side-by-side daily.  Their favor made my Chapter 2 a place that was as comfortable as pruning could be.

I love how God does that.

For the next nine months, I was stuck in Chapter 2.  I shook my fist at God when I did pray and asked “Where’s my Chapter 3?”  I decided Ruth had a better story than mine.  No bigger bear, no kinsman redeemer…and one had better {NOT} say to me how teaching yoga and sharing His message through movement was “my calling”.  Because if you know me, you know my response included a nostril flair and an untamed tongue!  I did not believe there was a Chapter 3 for me, and I did not want to hear it!

True to form, I used my mess to be the message for the November Fall Retreat.  I opened with “The Valley of Dry Bones” from Ezekiel 37:11: “Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there is nothing left for us.”  The gift of pruning was in the 13th verse, “When {not if} I open your graves and bring you up from them, I will put my Spirit in you and you will live…”  But {be} encouraged.  The valley was not the end of the message, because He is a grave-opening, bone-digging-up kind of Jesus.”

‘Did I even believe my own teaching?’

I closed the retreat with 1 Kings 17:1-7 “The Brook Dried Up”.  “Sometime later, the brook dried up…”  Below is the closing reading from the entire weekend:

“If you are here and you have been resting by a dried up brook or walking through the valley of dried up bones, God says to you He is not punishing you, but rather He is preparing you for greater things (Jeremiah 29:11).  God was teaching Elijah, and perhaps, teaching us.  I brought you by the brook to teach you to depend on Me and Me alone.  Settle down! (Isaiah 30:15 MSG)  And even though the brook is dry, I am never dry!  I am a grave-robbing, water-walking God who reigns over every situation you will ever find yourself in.  In fact, do not give up by the brook.  Hold your head up, because God may {be} about to blow your mind.  Just one chapter later, Elijah was not dry anymore (1 Kings 18).  He was calling down fire, wiping out 900 prophets of Baal and Asherah, and out-running chariots (1 Kings 18).  So rest in that!  What can God do in your next chapter?”

‘…But this was for them.  Not me.  Right, Lord?’

I was in the valley and my brook was dry.  I could believe it for others, but for myself…no bigger bear.  I stumbled into the New Year pretty numb, but also beginning to accept the goodness in where I was.  But I wrestled with the bigger bear concept all the while.

nikki-and-me

Nicki and Me
(at her decorated mailbox)

I digress a bit to share an important part of the story here, because it highlights the importance of persistent obedience and prayer for one another.  I will be forever grateful for my sister, Nicki Robbins.  During the holidays, I was decorating Nicki’s mailbox (for a cheerleader fundraiser) and she came out to the street to visit.  You should know she got that nostril flair, eye-rolling, untamed tongue response when she asked me “What are you doing not teaching?  It’s your calling!”  {She forgave me :)}

She then said to me, “Have you met Amy Weber?”  My very inappropriate reply was, “Nicki…that would never work.  She’s not a believer in Jesus!  And, no…I have never met her.  I have just heard of her work and her studio.”  Nicki’s reply, “Are you sure?  She sounds like it.  And the studio reflects HIM.”  I drove away blowing her off and ashamedly limiting our good gracious God, who is in the business of relentlessly pursuing every lost soul – even studio owners with Buddha in the window.

I did not think another thing of that conversation, probably because I went on to decorate 20 more mailboxes, celebrate the holidays, travel to Disney for Cheer Competition Nationals, and host the Winter Yoga Retreat – all the while still reading the book of Ruth.

Where was my Chapter 3?  Was there a Bigger Bear?

On February 23, Nicki reached out again about Amy Weber.  She said that God had told her while in the studio taking a class that ‘I was supposed to be in this studio.’  She told me “You should at least have a conversation with Amy.”  I was probably the weakest I had ever been in my life at that moment.  I was in the bed with the flu and pneumonia.  It felt like the closest to death that I had ever experienced – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I grabbed my cell phone, opened Facebook, and typed out a message introducing myself to Amy.

She replied within 10 minutes.

The next day, my husband Mitch and I walked through the doors of Relevé One and into what would be my Chapter 3.  I was so guarded…like the walls of Fort Knox were resurrected around my heart.  I hardly said a word (I know…you are shocked!)

I told the Lord “Please…do not break my heart.” 

I was just letting go of it.  I was beginning to move on.

I scanned the place for anything that would tell me she walked with Jesus.  Mitch asked several questions, and I felt like it was an out-of-body experience.  The Spirit was so strong, I felt I could barely stand – or was that how weak the flu had made me?  Quite abruptly, like a little girl anxious to share her news, Amy shared, “I know you and what you are all about.  And I want you to know on October 25th of last fall…I gave my life to Jesus.  I am a Christian and I was {never} going to be a Christian!”  (Read Amy’s story here, as well as a couple of excerpts from her FB page below:


March 1st:
For 20 years, I doubted, denied, and even spoke against Christianity!  I wanted nothing to do with hearing about it…or about Him!  It wasn’t until October 25, 2015 when a radical encounter with the Lord forever changed my heart.  All the while, He had been perusing and protecting me…LOVING me!  And here I am today, shouting His name and telling our love story every chance I can!  We live in the world of the enemy and he is real too…in every negative, hateful, dark, ugly, addicted, judgmental, and doubtful thought, voice, and action in and around us!  If you know me well, you can attest that I was never going to be a Jesus Girl! You may read my posts of recent and think I’ve completely gone crazy.  Well, I kind of have…crazy in love with Jesus!  Because that’s what He is…LOVE!  These words are what it’s all about.  His faithful, never-ending, unfailing, perfect, immeasurable LOVE! #holyspirityouarewelcomehere #lovesperfectlight #howgreatisourgod #jesusgirl #love #ifitsnotloveitsnotHim

March 15th:
This is a place where strength meets peace. A place where love lives and joy dominates!  A place where freedom over mind, body, and soul overrides doubt, fear, and anxiety! In November, I asked the Lord to fill up our studio with HIS unfailing and perfect love…and wow, has HE ever!  Ask and you shall receive!  Beautiful things happening within our studio, and I can’t wait to witness our community soar to new heights! Praise HIM in ALL things! #livelifeinreleve #lovesperfectlight #riseup #love #fitness #mindbodysoul #releveone #thepowhermethod


I began to weep!  Could this {be}?

She continued by saying, “I want every person who enters every class in this studio to feel the love of Christ and hear His message.”

That is all I needed to know.

We laughingly now say ”She had me at hello!”

Chapter 3 had come!  The Bigger Bear was here!

Beyond Yoga
Still. Gentle. Powerful.

It is with inexpressible joy that I announce the Beyond Yoga Studio will open May 1, 2016!  Relevé One will continue to exist as it is in Studio A, and a Christ-centered yoga studio will be taking residence in Studio B.

Why Beyond Yoga?  Because HE has gone {beyond} anything I could ever ask or imagine!  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly {beyond} all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)  He does not withhold blessings, even when we are bitter, give up, and harden our hearts.  He is bigger than that, and let us {be} generous with Him.  He reaches down to save lost souls to make a way for His work to be done.

I invite you to be a part of our community.

But most of all…I ask you to believe for yourself and trust, even when things are dried up.

He can be trusted!  He is always at work!  Hold your head up, and when you cannot, there are brothers and sisters out there who will do it for you.  Praise the Lord!

{Beyond} blessed,

Keleah

24 Comments

  1. Dana R. Taft on April 5, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Words can not express the joy I am overcome with reading this. Your story, Amy’s story and the undeniable love of Christ has me in awe! I am so thrilled at what God is up to! I support you as one of my teachers, as a fellow yoga teacher and as my sister in Christ! Xoxo

    • Keleah Anderson on April 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Thank you sister! I am beyond blessed to read your sweet words. Grateful for your support. Love ~ Keleah

  2. Laura McCarley on April 5, 2016 at 11:09 am

    YAY! So happy for your abundant blessing. I love watching you shine.
    MWAH!

    • Keleah Anderson on April 6, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Thank you! Your support means the world. Long time coming but sure the time is now. Cannot wait to have you join us at the Spring Retreat. Love ~ Keleah

  3. Paula Nelson on April 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    This bring such happy tears! I knew God wasn’t finished with you, Keleah – I was begging Him not to let you be done teaching yoga because He is using YOU to change lives! Thank you for your obedience! He just had bigger plans – a bigger bear that He wanted to give you. YAY!!!!

  4. Teresa on April 5, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Happy tears reading this. Beautiful, authentic story. Thank you for putting it to words.

  5. Amy Weber on April 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    You’re MY Chapter 3 too, Keleah!!
    Jesus is rocking our worlds for sure and I’m honored to be on this journey with you! Sisters in Movement…Sisters in Christ!! XOXOXOXO

  6. Misty on April 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    So happy for you and so blessed by your testimony of His faithfulness!

  7. Brittany on April 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    You don’t know me, but your teaching at The People’s Church had such an impact on me, that
    Holy Yoga certification became a pursuit. God speaks through you and your yoga. I cannot wait to support your
    studio, God changing yoga in Nashville and inviting friends to do the same!!

  8. Amy Workman on April 5, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I love you, friend!! I have no other words right now. I just love you. :)

  9. Lizzy smith on April 5, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    So thankful! So much hope and glory in this story! Thank you, kaleah!

  10. Sherri on April 5, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    So, so happy for you Keleah. Makes my heart just smile…

  11. Brea DeTray on April 5, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Finally got to finish reading this story and am thrilled for you and encouraged yet again by you and how you share Christ in everything, the good, the bad and the in between! Blessings on this new adventure!

  12. Heather Blankinship on April 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I’m so thrilled for you!! And thrilled to come back to your classes. Yours and Tracey’s classes always left such deep marks on my heart, sometimes just weeping over what the Lord was speaking to me that day on the mat. I’m so thankful you have shared your gifts. Excited for this next chapter for you!

  13. Judy Wiggers on April 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I am so happy and excited for you Keleah! I will miss your sweet spirit and joyful smile everyday. It has been wonderful working with you. I am going to give your classes a try and I look forward to seeing how His blessing will flow through you! What a wonderful vessel you are going to be!!!!!!!!!

  14. Sara Camp on April 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Wow!! This is such wonderful news! Can’t wait!

  15. Kim Parks on April 14, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Kaleah, What an awesome story! I love hearing how God is moving in your life and our community! I applaud you for listening and being obedient! Go be HIS light in this dark world <3
    ( I hope to see you…I sooo want/need to start doing yoga again…with YOU!)

  16. Janice Rittenberry on April 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    WOW! WOW! WOW! I am BEYOND happy for you and how beautiful to see the hand of God so clearly in these details. So thankful for this new chapter (3) in your story and am confident the Lord has GREAT plans for Beyond Yoga!

  17. Katherine on April 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Girl! I knew bits, pieces, and parts but this is beyond amazing! It is just meant to be. It is simply His plan and your plan! Love it and so enjoyed reading Amy’s testimony. The spirit is going to overflow for you both. We miss you in Room C-12 but more excited for you.

  18. Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty on April 15, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    What a beautiful story! I see our Father’s heart in all of it. I absolutely agree that this is your calling, and though I don’t know you well and don’t do a lot of yoga, I knew the first time I came to your class you were called to this. But I also totally relate to the idols we can make…even of our calling. Love that you were obedient to a pruning season, but love it even more that God has given this back to you in bigger and better ways than you could have asked or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20) I signed up for your retreat…just for the sweet intimacy I know I’ll enjoy with the Holy Spirit. You bring His presence in a powerful way. May his favor and anointing be upon you always!

  19. Amy on April 20, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    My heart is so full for you. You have been faithful. You are called faithful.

  20. Emily Carroll on April 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Keleah! This is beautiful. Thank you so very much for sharing this story. It brought me to tears. I am beyond excited for what’s ahead!

  21. Anita Wilt on April 20, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    You are “the tree that survived the winter!” So thrilled to hear of how God is scripting this new chapter in your life!

  22. Dominique Jordan on April 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Kaleah,

    This is so inspiring! I love you and I am so grateful for you. May God continue to bless you in numerous ways! You are such a blessing to so many!

    XOXO,

    Dominique

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