Hula-Hooping for Jesus

Interview with Sarah Mc

By Katia Parella

   Sarah is a friend, so we talk casually in the car, away from the humidity outside, dog inside & general noise. The time we spent talking is not enough to fully share & talk about Sarah’s life. She’s so many things – a follower of Jesus, Mom, soon-to-be wife, contributing writer to The Fire Magazine, accountant &, yes, a hula-hooper. She shares the history of her hobby & what role her faith plays in it. 

   She was born & raised as a Catholic in Albany, NY. On top of doing some writing for her school programs, she also used to write poetry & is carrying an idea of a children’s book. 

The Fire Magazine: Why are you writing for The Fire Magazine?

   Sarah Mc (SM): So I became a Christian about 14-ish years ago & my journey has had ups & downs & “all over the places”. But the thing that has been steady – always Jesus & always getting back up & trying to get back into everything that Jesus wants me to & following & learning & learning from mistakes & always moving forward to be more Christ-like. 

   TFM: So, tell me why do you want to write right now?

   SM: Because there’s this piece in my head that needs to come out! 

   TFM: And in more broader terms?

   SM: There’s a lot that I experienced as a Christian & a lot of revelations that I get from God. For myself, I sometimes write them down, but it’s never anything I shared with anyone before in any sort of formal space. So, it’ll be nice to share those. 

   TFM: Outside of your work – you hula hoop? Who do you do it for & with?

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   SM: I got into hula-hopping initially for myself….back in 2013. I had just finished my Master’s in accounting & I was down in Spin Jam. And I was never able to hula-hoop as a kid, so my friend was telling me: “Hey, Sarah, you should try this!”…I picked up one of the hoops & I started hula-hooping & I was actually able to do it as an adult. 

   TFM: So, who do you do it with now?

   SM: I do it myself & I do it with the Holograms, which is a hula-hoop troop. I also take classes from Hoops by Jem. And the Holograms will practice & perform at different events. We have our next performance at the July 4th Fireworks down at the Plaza. 

   TFM: So, you perform at different events?

   SM: We’ve performed at community events, Madison Street fair…tree lighting ceremony at the Plaza, Steampunk festival, Renaissance fair…Dance Flurry one year, other places also.

   TFM: What do you like about it the most? Besides the ability now to actually do it.

   SM: My initial reasons for getting into it was - my waste area is my worst area to tone. And I thought - oh, hula-hooping! That will just completely target that. Also, it seemed very minimalist & at the time, you know, I had [my child] Devlin…I was a single Mom, I had limited space, so, you know, hula-hoop, you just stick it behind the chair & pull it out when you have time to do it…And now I do it because…[it’s] like a challenge, always learning new tricks & new things & it’s fun to work with a team of girls that I work with…choreography & going putting on performances…And we would totally nail a performance, it feels really good.

   TFM: Tell me how you relate it to your faith. You are a Christian hula-hooping. How do you combine the two together in your performance, if you do?

   SM: Most of the people in my group are not Christians. Some of us are. And two of us actually performed at an event…for the Ronald McDonald radiothon…And we actually picked a TobyMac song. And choreographed a routine to it & we were able to perform in the middle of the mall. So, we haven’t done too much of that yet - performing to Christian songs…4th of July we are actually going to perform to “God bless the USA”. For me, when I practice at home, I like to typically just practice to Christian music. Especially, For Today is a really good band to practice [to].

   TFM: Do you have a favorite [Biblical] Book or a favorite chapter or a quote that you turn to…whenever you’re performing? Something that encourages & strengthens you?

   SM: When I’m working at work, it’s more - “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” [Colossians 3:23]…For performing…I just kind of breath & pray…More about being present & focused on whatever task at hand is. One story I can share though…I’ve had an opportunity go work with my friend at festivals. She runs a vendor booth. So, we’ve been able to…pray together before opening the tent for sales & do a Bible study before hand & just trying to be lights there in places, where there don’t seem to be any Christians. 

   TFM: Do you feel like you are going to some dark places?

   SM: With the vending I felt like we did that a little bit…We had people coming up trying to trade us drugs for products & earrings & things…They wanted to barter. We don’t do drugs, so…we had to nicely tell them: “Really sorry, but we don’t do that!”…We are not really going so much into dark places…Jen & I (she runs Hoops by Jem & she’s the head of the Holograms), we were going to a circus therapy training out in Buffalo a couple months ago, which focused on occupational therapy & using circus techniques to help disabled or refugee population. We were trying to think - how can we take what we learned & apply it a little more…We’ve been tying to think less about performing (we love the performing!), but more about how we can use this in community. So, she’s [Jen] doing a lot with the schools. We’ve also talked a little bit about doing something down at the pregnancy center or any kind of women’s shelter. Because circus techniques can be used to help empower. And on top of that, I’m planning on getting a certification for personal finance, so that I can coach ladies down in those places as well…Meeting the basic needs of people, as the Bible says. 

   TFM: Do you have anyone you look up to? 

   SM: A lot of my Christian friends…like you [laughs], bunch of my friends from Redeemer [church], my Mom & my aunts.

   TFM: Are those the people that encourage you?

   SM: Yes!

   TFM: So, you’re engaged to get married?…When?

   SM: Yes! We’re thinking…end of July. Of this year…at a Christian music festival. Where I’ll be bringing my hula-hoops…We’re basically eloping…and throw a party later. It’s not about the day, it’s about preparing for marriage. 

  TFM: What else do you see yourself doing with the hula-hooping in the near future?

   SM: For me, right now, just continuing as we are with the hula-hooping, just trying to get better at it, just stick with the group that I’m with. Because it’s a nice group of ladies & it’s always great to get together with them all…It’s kind off a neat mix. And it’s neat how hula-hooping brings us all together. 

   TFM: If someone, who’s looking to get into hula-hooping, is reading this interview, and…can’t do it, afraid to do it, what…word of encouragement would you give to that [person], be it young person or 31-year old, 51-year old?

   SM: Try different hoop weights! And different sizes & see how it works. And start there! 

   TFM: My last question, what is the biggest challenge you’re met with when you’re hula-hooping?

   SM: Being frustrated with myself that I am not as good as some of the…ladies & men [in Instagram videos that I watch]…that I’m just not nearly up to that standard…But I keep showing up & I keep trying & I keep learning & growing.

Sarah is clearly passionate about hula-hooping. She genuinely enjoys the process, loves her group & performing. And she’s not slowing down in her learning the skill. She talks about the future plans that she’s already implementing: “We recently started “Hoops for Jesus” type groups on Facebook. One lady in Texas started one & Jen started one out here…We’ve been connecting with Christian hula-hoopers from across country”. Hula-hooping started as a hobby for Sarah, but now has grown into a way to share the Gospel, a way to witness, show God’s love & unite with other hula-hooping Christians. Truly, Colossians 3:23 plays right into Sara’s story: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”.

To find out more about The Holograms, its members & upcoming performances, visit here.

To learn more about Hoops by Jem, visit here