“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness.” 

2 Corinthians 3:18

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“The more we allow ourselves to be transformed into His likeness, the more captivating, irresistible, and breathtaking we become.” Work in Progress: An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace~Kristin Armstrong 

We are blessed to take our precious granddaughter to a Zumba class once a week.

We make our way on country, curvy roads, across the lake to small, rural Chesnee, South Carolina. As we get closer to the street that turns towards Gethsemane Baptist Church, the string of tail lights up head winds long to turn in.

It seems The Fitness Divas for Jesus draws quite the crowd.

I carry a book to read, my Gatorade, her water, drag a chair up against the wall. I read with one eye, watch with the other.

I am always amazed how fast the hour passes since I cannot participate.

This past Tuesday night I experienced something I won’t soon forget.

The Fitness Divas for Jesus were hosting their once a year fundraiser. We stepped into the gym where voices were loud with excitement, energy was snapping off the walls, sparks flying around the room.

Being a runner in my  pre-“new normal” life, I have stood at the start line at many races. People jumping up and down. Loud music in the background. Syncing my Garmin. Talking strategy with my best friend and running partner. Pure fun. True joy. Heart pounding with excitement. Memories and experiences I wouldn’t take anything for.

Then there was Tuesday night.

Two hundred thirty nine women were in that place. From young to old. All sizes, shapes and color. Smiles were big. Laughter contagious.

I soon found my place. Everyone else took their spot. Reverend Miller prayed over us all, prayed over our fearless leader. Prayed over that place.

The music began.

I picked up my book. I laid it down. I took it all in.

I felt as if I had intruded upon hallowed ground.

I watched beautiful faces gleaming with sweat. Some youthful, some etched with wrinkles. Some carefree, others with burdens on their shoulders.

Comparison of bodies and ability set aside. Encouragement yelled. Steps occasionally missed. Arms swinging high in the air.

I picked my book back up. After a while I realized it was upside down. Yes, that’s my very own Zumba night selfie up above, holding the book! I gave up.

I was entranced. I could not take my eyes off the faces. I watched them all.

It was beauty unveiled. Transparency in purest form.

Oh they were exercising all right. But there was worship in that place. Women coming together in a safe place honoring the bodies that God gave them to house His Holy Temple. Women laying it all down, if for just this place and time, this hour.

Women who love big and give grace.

The beauty in that place took my breath away. With every beat of the music I could feel the very beat of His Heart. Thumping hard through two hundred and thirty nine women. Women who loved Jesus. Women, who with complete abandon were shouting “amen, praise His name.”  Hands clapping in the air.

There was a sweetness all around. It was as if the heavens had come down and God’s Presence could be felt.

Sixty minutes gone by in a flash, yet for just a moment time stood still.

Stretching began…

Faces raised up, turned toward the heavens, eyes shut, singing & mouthing these words…

“I Am Redeemed

You set me free

So I’ll shake off these heavy chains

Wipe off every stain

I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed”

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Wiping tears from my eyes. I stand up. Women clap. We “circle up” for a time of prayer.

We’ve been doing this a few months now, going to Zumba.

This “circle up” time of prayer, women holding hands, never fails to humble and amaze me. I’ve held a different hand each time. Most I don’t know, yet our hands squeeze tight as we cling to The One who sees us as the beautiful, captivating, creations He made. Knit us together in our mother’s womb.

“Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength…Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.”

Isaiah 52:1~2

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn