Top Five Faves for February!

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Happy GALentine’s Day, sisters! And in YOUR honor,  we’re starting a new, monthly feature we like to call “Top Five Faves and Finds”! The first week of every month (yeah, I know we’re a week late – blame the Polar Vortex called Chiberia for delaying us for a week!), we’ll post our top 5 favorite things for the month RIGHT HERE! It’s like a virtual-reality, monthly Breathe Box by SPM Ministries! This way, you can see what we’re loving and using to intentionally inspire our spiritual wellness! We’ll provide direct links to the companies in case you are interested in finding out more!

And just so you know, we are NOT getting paid for any endorsements here and we are NOT receiving any free products! We’re just sharing with you – sister to sister – what’s making us happy each month! We’re spreading a little fun and spiritual sunshine JUST BECAUSE WE WANT TO!

Each product fits into one of the FIVE categories of items in our normal Breathe Boxes by SPM Ministries: Comfort; Delight; Enlighten; Motivate; AND Nourish! And so, here are our top five faves for Feb!

Comfort: Ro’s Argan Body Condition (LUSH USA)

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LOVE this in-shower body conditioner from LUSH Cosmetics! This cruelty-free, clean cosmetic and body product company knocks it out of the park with this one! Slather this delicious, rose-oil infused cream on your bod after washing and do a quick rinse. VOILA! No need for applying body lotion once you’re out of the shower! Smells DIVINE and is super hydrating. Wendie’s favorite body care product BY FAR!

https://www.lushusa.com/shower/body-conditioners/ros-argan/9999907035.html

 

 

Delight: Handmade Malas by Reeny Linstrom of Precious Garland Malas

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I met Reeny about 16 years ago and simply fell in love with her spirit! She’s a walking example of peace, grace, and God’s creative goodness! Yoga teacher and mala creator, anything she makes is super special. I personally own a few of her pieces and have also given them away to friends as special gifts. Malas are used in many of the world’s wisdom and religious traditions as prayer beads and meditation aides. I love wearing mine as reminders of the beauty of God’s creation, but also as a way to center myself in prayer. This one is made of rose quartz beads and I absolutely love it! I can wear it as a long necklace, or wrap several times as a bracelet. Check her out on Etsy!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/PreciousGarlandMalas/items

 

 

Enlighten: IF: Gathering Live Stream

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Last weekend, the annual IF:Gathering took place; this time in Dallas! I love watching the Live Stream and getting so much inspiration from Jennie Allen and all the speakers and worship leaders each year. THIS year, I wasn’t able to watch due to a schedule conflict, but I did snag a $15 digital download pass that will allow me to watch it whenever I want! You can get the same pass by clicking the link below!

https://iflocal.com/individual-access/

 

Motivate: Prayer Journal, Val Marie Paper

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I have seasons of my life where my prayer life flows freely and beautifully. And then there are the times when I’m fighting to find the time, motivation, and energy to make it happen. This year, I snagged a copy of Val’s famous prayer journal and I’m LOVING it! It focuses me, helps me find the time and the words my soul is desperate to share with God. It IS a yearly journal, but I just started mine Feb 1st! There’s never a bad or wrong time to focus on prayer, sisters! This journal is beautiful, feels great in your hands, and has THE best prompts I’ve seen on prayer. It’s changing my routine, girls. And that’s a good thing!

 

2019 Yearly Prayer Journal

 

Nourish: Half Baked Harvest Blog and Cookbook

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Okay. I LOVE to cook. LOVE. And I LOVE cookbooks. But I have SO. MANY. OF. THEM. I swore I wouldn’t buy another. BUT. THEN. TIEGHAN. And now I have a new cookbook… I started following Tieghan’s blog, Half Baked Harvest, at the recommendation of my friend, Patty. SWOON!!! Her photos are gorgeous, her recipes are flawless, and they taste like heaven! I was hooked after the first recipe! It’s awesome, healthy (well, sometimes it’s healthy-ish!), delicious, and easy! I look forward to her recipes in my email in-box each day and her cookbook is the first one I grab when I’m looking for something new to try! Try her ricotta banana bread with chocolate chips. Yes; it is THAT good!

 

https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/

 

So there you have it – February’s virtual Breathe Box of fabulousness! Let us know what you think and if there’s something you want us to try for next month!  Check back next week where we pick up in WEEK 4 of Seamless, by Angie Smith!

 

Enjoy your day, sweet sisters! Take a few moments today to BREATHE…! 😊

 

Xoxooxooxo,

Wendie

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It is WELL with my soul!

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We’re back and SO excited to get back into our Bible study sessions with YOU!  This semester, we pick up where we left off in Seamless, by Angie Smith!  Next week, we’ll do a quickie recap of what we covered last fall, so we’re all on the same page.  This week, let’s just catch up with who WE are as a ministry and what we’re all about!  We’re so glad you’re with us!  🙂  Welcome to our semester called, “Bloom”!

Bloom logo with frame

We are  SPM Ministries.  We stand for SPIRITUAL teaching; PRODUCTS and PROGRAMS that inspire; and MEANINGFUL investment in organizations and events that support women and children in crisis.  My current prayer for this ministry is that He would use it to fan that flame so our faith would be evident in all aspects our lives, not just our Sunday (Church Day) lives, Tuesday (Bible Study Day) lives, etc.

Every day, every moment, every decision. So we can say and feel that we are walking well with God. Be able to say “It is well with my soul”. Not just “at the end of the day”, but at the end of EVERY day.

I’m talking about soul-level wellness. Not just a healthy soul – which, of course, is important. But, you see, there’s a difference between health and wellness. Wellness goes deeper, lasts longer, exists on a continuum, and can be difficult to measure.  But it means more in the long run than “health”- at least in my own definition of those two words.

I’m a little obsessed with the healing miracles in the Bible. I love all the miracles, of course. But there is something so, so, so comforting and reassuring about the healing ones. This one might be my fave:

LUKE 5:12-13

One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”
Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.

“I WANT TO. BE WELL.” YOU GUYS.  Jesus wants to make us well. He WANTS it. He’s not just, “Eh, sure. I’ll heal you. Or, “Nah, I’m not feeling it today, man.” He’s like – HECK YEAH I DO. THANKS FOR FINALLY ASKING. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO ASK.

Now, one of the things I want to point out first is that the precursor to healing (regardless what kind) is faith on the part of the one needing healing. Even demons flee out of their victims when Jesus commands them because they KNOW Him and His power and must submit to Him. So, it’s honest belief in who Jesus is that opens the door to the miracle.

The next thing I need to say is that physical healing, in the way we pray for it, does not always come to our bodies here on earth. I don’t know why.  And it isn’t fair.  But life, this side of heaven, rarely is.

But hear me out on this idea of healing. Especially in the story we read above.

Of course, leprosy is a physical disease. And Jesus provides physical healing there. But what if, and this is pure conjecture on my part, there’s a double meaning with this one?

Leprosy destroys nerve endings and inhibits the ability to feel pain. In other words, the afflicted may not be aware of the effects of her wounds. Infection gets in and runs amok, making things even worse and systemic, and the person is oblivious to the damage.

Why am I telling you this? Because sin works in the same way. Left unchecked, we begin not to notice or feel the effects of it on our spiritual wellness. This, in my humble opinion, is why we are repeatedly called to repent of our sins.

Here’s where this all gets even more interesting. The Hebrew word for repent is shuv, and one translation of it is to physically return to where you came from. It means, “Come home”.

What Jesus demonstrates in this healing is not just a physical healing, but also one of the SOUL.  “PLEASE COME HOME,” He says. “I WANT YOU TO.”

Comehome

Last semester, woven into all the stories we read (and we will continue to see) is this: Man mucks things up. Man grumbles to God. God is merciful and asks man to repent. Atone. And it looked brutal in the Old Testament to us because it’s through altar sacrifice and things that seem certainly foreign at best to us and downright cruel at the worst.

But through Jesus, through the Gospel message, that changes. It’s about coming home. It’s not about doing predetermined penance. (And I’m not trying to step on your toes or belittle your methods if that’s your thing.  I respect and have benefitted from the sacramental healing and privilege that comes with it.)

What’s I’m trying to point out is this:  It’s about coming home. Asking if He wants to make me well and hearing Him assure me He does. Letting Him reach out, welcome me back, and pull me close. Asking Him to hear me out, forgive my indiscretion and/or indifference. To grant me healing and wellness where I need it, in accordance with His plan and will for me, personally, and my life. Touch my spirit and heal me.

I’m making a daily intention – every day – to come home to Him. While we’ve seen foreshadowing and evidence of Jesus already in this study, we’re about to move into teachings where His presence is going to be in our faces. And the coolest part is that we won’t even wonder who He is or question what He can do when we finish.

If you’re still with me and reading this, then I thank you.  Welcome Home.  🙂

See you next week where we pick up where we left off!  If you’re doing the Seamless study with us, read over your completed weeks 1-3 in your books! Have a great week, sweet loves!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

xoxoxooxox,

Wendie

 

Womankind IS my business

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This world is full of beautiful souls motivated and capable of meeting the needs of those around them.  As Glennon Doyle says, “We belong to one another”, which perfectly mirrors Jacob Marley’s declaration in A Christmas Carol, “Mankind [is] my business!”.

Yesterday, my sweet friend, Patty, and I had the BEST time playing “Elf” and delivering personal clothing items to a group of special teen moms in Chicago!

Wendie Patty and Boxes

The moms participate in the YoungLives Chicago program, which supports, mentors, and helps shape the lives of these brave, young women and their precious children.  You can read more about YoungLives by reading this post!

Simpson Boards

Simpson Academy for Young Women!  What a school, what a place!  This place, you guys.  THIS PLACE!  They’re taking the everyday, yet often extraordinary, needs of young women (education, healthcare, guidance, counseling, and love) and not only MEETING them, but exceeding them in ways only God could orchestrate.

Hallway Stairs at Simpsons

We are His hands and feet, my loves.  We ARE.

Group in front of wall at Simpson

(Pictured here:  Simpson Academy for Young Women Principal, Sherita Carter-King; SPM Ministries Founder, Wendie Connors; and YoungLives Chicago Simpson Academy Coordinator, Khadija Warfield)

Here’s the thing, sister friends.  Someone will always have “more” than you, whether it’s physical, financial, spiritual, emotional, or intellectual. But the flipside is this:

YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE MORE THAN SOMEONE ELSE.

Let’s stand together and “make womankind our business” and our goal in 2019.  Let’s be the Esther Generation (see Esther 4:14; more on this to come…) and use our God-given gifts and resources outside our own four walls to make a difference in ways and for causes that we are uniquely equipped for.

This one sure spoke to my heart, girls.  But again, more on that to come… 😉

Boxes on couch at simpson

A big thank you to the lovely women of Glen Ellyn who went out of their way on super short notice to drop off 26 brand new bras, 56 pair of brand new undies, 55 pair of brand new socks, and 6 pair of fuzzy slippers!   You are incredible.

And an even BIGGER thank you to those of you who reached out to say you’d pray over these teen moms and their children this holiday season and throughout the year.

We see you, YoungLives mommas.  We love you.  We’re proud of the hard work of mothering you are doing.  And, more importantly, so is our amazing God who does all good, good things, even when our circumstances would tell us otherwise.  Believe it.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  And thanks, Jacob Marley, for reminding us that we really are here simply to help one another get “Home” safely…and well loved.

God bless us, every one (thanks, Tiny Tim…).

xoxoxoxo,

Wendie

P.S. Massive love and gratitude to my Elfin partner in “Christmas Crime” today, Patty Cavanagh, for her heart, her joy, her friendship, AND her freakishly awesome photo skills!!

 

 

Mind the door.

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I think one of the most jarring noises is that of a door slamming shut.  Not only can you hear the sudden thud, you feel it.  Your eyes squeeze closed in a wince.  Your body tenses momentarily as your nervous system deals with the mini aftershock until a few seconds can pass and you readjust.

Sometimes, a slammed door is just the result of a strong wind blowing it closed, or a broken hinge that needs tending.  Other times, the slamming comes from a place of anger or fear in a desire to keep something (or someone) out of a space.

But sometimes, the door slams behind us due to our preoccupation with getting inside and we don’t even notice it close.  I’m not talking about a physical door here.  I’m talking the door of opportunity.  We’re so anxious to get in that the moment we step through the “door”, we forget someone might be right behind us and could get caught in the backdraft of the door closing.

It’s not that we’re necessarily being exclusionary.  We’ve worked hard to get through that door and our first (and often times understandable) emotion is one of relief to have finally made it past the threshold of a space we’ve been longing for. But it shouldn’t stop there.

This week, I heard someone say: “My mantra is ‘Keep the door open’.”  At first, I thought she meant, “Keep your options open”, which is an awesome sentiment.  But what she really meant was this:  extend a hand backward and help pull that next person behind you up and through the door you have worked so hard to get through.

Good Lord, I LOVE that.  Whether it’s a vocational, societal, or spiritual door.  Doesn’t matter.   All that matters is this:

 

mind the door

 

This is the door I want you to mind, sisters.  I believe in the transformative power of women’s ministry, regardless of religion, race, age, or social standing.  I believe in the power we have to lift each other up and extend a hand to pull others through with us.  And I believe that if you’ve made it past the doorway,  you have a responsibility to keep it open for the ones still in line behind you who are trying  – just as hard as you did – to step through.

Want a helping of truth?  Here it is:  There’s room for all of us.  And this is awesomely freeing news for those of us  who sometimes worry there isn’t enough space in the room to accommodate the masses.  Or maybe we’re worried the air will be taken up by those with bigger lungs.  But, girls.  There IS enough room for all of us and everything we each bring to the space.

So mind the door.

Why?  Because only YOU can “do YOU”, regardless of who else is in the room.  And do you want to know what else?  You can really only do YOU when everyone else in there is doing their own “THEM”, too.  (You’re following me, right?!)

Mind. The. Door.

This is my new mantra.  And it fits beautifully with my old one:  “If not you, then who?” (Esther 4:14)

So what does this “door minding” look like in action?  Like this:

  • See a need? Meet it.
  • Walk through a door? Prop it open for the one who comes next.
  • Spot someone starting out? Mentor her.
  • See someone struggling? MIND. THE. DOOR. and bring her inside.

Because if not you, who will?

Have a blessed and DOOR-MINDING weekend, sister friends.  I believe in you.

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY.

Wendie

This post is dedicated to the biggest and best Door Minder I know:  Patty Cavanagh.  Love you and your heart, girl.  Thanks for always minding the door.

 

 

The Waiting Game

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Waiting on God. Or more specifically, NOT waiting when we called to be still. If you are following along with our Woven series this fall,  no doubt you will have seen the consequences of this pattern of NOT waiting in every story you read this week in Seamless Week Two!  (And, SPOILER ALERT,  you’ll continue to see it in the weeks to come!)

 

The problem is, waiting usually results in some level of anxiety. Why? Because we are control freaks. When you really get down to it, though, saying, “I’m a control freak” is actually a prettied-up, socially acceptable way of way of saying “I’m a master manipulator”. When we attempt to control a situation, we’re really attempting to manipulate it to the outcome we desire.
When we are waiting for an answer to prayer and/or for something God has promised, we are waiting on an outcome of something we want, but the outcome is currently unknown to us. But we get tired of waiting or anxious in the waiting and then we decide to take matters into our own hands. We decide to help God initiate His plan and/or accelerate it if it seems like it’s moving too slow.
But here’s the thing. We are being called to wait. In obedience. Not “wait for 15 minutes and then get in there and manipulate it”. We are called to wait on the Lord, obediently.

“Wait” is used 106 times in the Old Testament translation of the KJV. Many times, it’s translated from a word that means TRUST. So,  “wait on the Lord” can be translated into “TRUST in the Lord”.  It’s also translated from a Hebrew word for “expect” which would mean “Expect God to act”. Third, it is also translated from a word that means “Be still”. In other words, “Stop acting, you goof!  He’s got this.” And finally, it’s translated from yet another word that means “Serve”. So it can also mean “serve God and others while you are waiting”.
So, if we put all that info together, waiting on God looks like this: Trust Him. Have faith that He is already working on this – even in the waiting. Expect Him. Let HOPE fill your spirit that the answer is coming in the perfect way and at the perfect time. Be still – cultivate peace and grace instead of nervous or anxious energy. And finally Serve Him. Looks for ways to get outside yourself and be that image bearer we talked about a few weeks ago – look for ways to be the visible manifestation of our invisible God to others.

And the truth is, God has very good reasons for asking us to wait on Him and His plans for us and they are not because He’s trying to punish us or “teach us a lesson”.  Jennifer Dukes Lee, in her new book, It’s All Under Control, points out three GREAT reasons:

  1.  It could be a part of your testimony.  Your waiting could be a chance for you to be a witness to a world in need of hope.  Perhaps God has you in this season so others can witness His power in your life through it!
  2. Maybe it’s a path to His protection.  Because God sees the WHOLE plan and not just the small present plan, He knows when to hold us back in order to protect us from consequences we cannot yet imagine that would be the result of us getting what we want exactly when we want it.
  3. Finally, it could also be a piece of His glory.  “His delay may be setting the stage for a divine display.”

 

Waiting isn’t easy, I know.  And sometimes we are going to have to wait all the way to heaven to know why we’ve had to endure such frustration.  I have a fabulous friend who, many years ago as I was really forming my Christian muscles, gave me some invaluable advice about what to do while we are “waiting” and are tempted to “help” God get things moving.  Check it out:

First, my friend says, pray for wisdom and discernment on whether the plans you are trying to initiate are from God.  Get quiet and ask for guidance.

If, after a period of this kind of prayer, you still feel like God is calling you to act, you need to ask yourself the following 4  questions:

  1.  Is this plan of action in line with what I know to be the character of God?  (In other words, do I think God, Himself, would do what I am about to do!)  If so, move to the next question.  If not, go back to prayer!
  2. Is this plan of action supported by scripture?  (Is there support in the Bible for this or is their clear CONTRADICTION of it?)  Armed with this knowledge, move to the next question.
  3. What is the Holy Spirit prompting me to do?  (Listen to that small, still voice of conviction – NOT condemnation!)
  4. Take your thoughts and ideas to your “wise counsel” to talk it through.  This person should be someone you trust to help you honestly evaluate what you’re thinking and someone you know can deliver hard truths along with Godly insight and guidance.

If all of that lines up, chances are you’ve got a green light from God to GO!  But let’s also give ourselves a little grace, too, for the times we react out of our humanity.  When we make a mistake, always ask forgiveness.  And rest assured that God always incorporates our mistakes into His plan!  Week Two of Seamless is proof positive of that!  🙂

See you back here soon, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

Visibly Invisible

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1, NLT

The first book of Bible (the book of Genesis) begins with that sentence. And in fact, the word “genesis” means beginning.  And there are lots of firsts and beginnings found within this book!

But the one thing this book is NOT a beginning of is God. God has always existed. He was, He is, and He always will be!  And if we are going to get anything out of the enormity of that statement, we need to understand two things about Him.
First, God is transcendent, this means that He is not limited by time, space, or matter. This is very hard for us to understand and get our heads around, but it is true, and if we believe in God, somehow we have faith in our belief that HE is indeed transcendent.

Yet God is also immanent. Let us not confuse that with eminent – which is someone of importance (i.e. Your Eminency) or with the word imminent, which means something that is about to happen. Immanent means to be fully inserted into something, existing within something in every aspect. We also believe THIS because we believe in and can sense God’s presence in the world around us in things big AND small.

So while Genesis isn’t the story of the very beginning of God and His existence, it is the beginning of His story and interaction with His creation – including us.

And speaking of US, take a look at this:

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27, NLT

You know when God repeats something back-to-back in the same verse He wants us to pay attention, right?!   And this particular verse is a doozy because He repeats Himself with TWO things.

First, the phrase God Created/He Created is repeated three times. DO NOT MISS THIS. You are GOD created. Every single thing about you He created. His love for you is such that  this world would not be complete in His eyes without you. This theme of His overwhelming, amazing, reckless love is transcendent and continues forever! I never want us to forget that, even though I know there are days when it feels either far fetched or even like a bold-faced lie.   Stand on that Truth, sister friends!

The other “repeat” lesson here is that you and I are created in HIS image. His OWN image. And here’s the cool part – that word “image” is translated from the Hebrew word t’selem which means “a visible representation of the invisible”. (New Testament spoiler alert –  this is the same verbiage used to describe Jesus by Paul several times in his letters to various churches!)

YOU GUYS!  We have been created to be the “face” of God.  His visible representatives, mirroring His goodness and character back to all of creation!   And why does that matter?  Because it is WHO WE ARE.  And what we do should naturally flow from who we are.

When God created you, He knew the world would need your exact, detailed, unique concoction of DNA, personality, quirks, and beauty to reveal and represent yet another holy facet of Him that could not be made visible without you.  How awesome is that?!

Genesis begins with the beginning of the story of YOU and a God who SO wanted you to be His.  As we journey through this study together, I pray that Truth really does sink in and transforms you more and more each day in His image.

And speaking of our study, if you are following along with us at home, take time this week to read Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in your favorite Bible translation!  Just let the wonder of it all wash over you as you read it!  Next week, we’ll jump into Genesis 3 with Angie Smith and the beginning of Seamless!

This week, I’ve been listening to Lauren Daigle’s new album, Look Up Child, on repeat!  Here’s a link to listen to the title track!  ENJOY!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

New Beginnings!

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I love new beginnings.  Everything feels possible.  Clean slates, hope abounds with what is to yet to come, and GOOD butterflies flitting around in your belly!

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And so this post brings us to another NEW beginning for …spm…!  If you’ve been with us from the beginning, then this is your 23rd study with us!  Can you EVEN believe it?!  Things certainly have changed and evolved over the years, but the ONE thing that has driven all of it is our ministry’s desire to ignite a fire in the hearts of women for Jesus.  And we continue to use that mission as our guide!

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Our new study is called “woven” and we are so very excited about it!  And overall, what I really, really want us to be able to walk away from this series with is the ability to answer the following three questions:

• What is the overall message and story of the Bible?
• How do I fit into that story?
• What am I going to do about it?

Those are some BIG questions, aren’t they?!  So, how are going to answer them?  Well, using the Bible study book called Seamless:  Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story by Angie Smith (you can click here to order it) as our base, we will dig into scripture to discover the back story that builds to THE Story – the Gospel.  And as much as I love new beginnings, I cannot EVEN explain my LOVE of a good back story!

This “semester”, we’re diving into the Old Testament and all its richness and tradition and ceremony and PEOPLE!  We’ll wrap that up right about at the end of November – perfect timing to prepare our hearts for Advent, right?!

Next semester (Feb-April 2019), we take on the New Testament, seeing how it ALL weaves together (see how I wove that all together?!  😉 ) and what it means to you and to me and to all of us.

Our local studies started this week and we are so pumped to be back into the Bible study swing of things!  Our beloved Breathe Boxes were once again prepared, prayed over, and handed out to local participants!

woven outside box

(YES – we hand-wove those beautiful ribbons on every single box top!)

And speaking of those beautiful boxes, CLICK THIS LINKY-LINK and take a look at this awesome video! 😉 We entered ourselves into the ChipStarter 2.0 competition!  Only GOD knows what will come of it (well, and Chip and Joanna, of course!), but you know what?  We sure had a total blast making it!  (Our hearts go out in gratitude to Shelly at Stanley Glen Productions for her miraculous creativity and mad, mad video skills!  WE LOVE YOU, SWEET SISTER!)

Okay, ladies!  Get those Bibles out (and dusted off if needed…).  Order Seamless if you want to follow along with us. And get excited to begin a brand-spankin-new study with US!  It  is going to be so, so good!

God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good!  Genesis 1:31

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  GENESIS!

Happy 100 Day!!!

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Happy 100th Day of Cultivate 2018! Today concludes our summer reading of Melanie Shankle’s devotional, Everyday Holy! I hope you have managed to make a little time each day to spend just a few moments centering your mind and spirit in God’s word and Melanie’s signature commentary on it!

Day 100 from Eveyday Holy
That right there, that Esther 4:14? That’s my LIFE verse, people. (Well, it one of them, anyway… 😉 ) I even have it hanging in my office!

Esther 4-14

That verse, and the story of Esther in general, remind me that our life and our prayers, and the decisions and actions born OUT of them, are so very important. Every minute of every day you spend here on Earth has purpose and meaning far beyond what your sweet brain can comprehend. Don’t waste you time wishing things away or living in moments that have already passed. Stay here – in the present and DO YOUR THING. Even if (maybe even BECAUSE) it’s hard, and scary, and lonely. Something always depends on you doing YOUR thing, love bugs.
It’s been a good, good summer here in my house and I pray the same can be said about yours. I know it seems like we were a little quiet around here, with fewer posts than normal and not as many social media posts. That’s because we have been SO VERY BUSY behind the scenes and have big things to announce this fall! We’re growing and evolving and planning and EVERYTHING! And couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store for us and for YOU! But more on that later this week…! (I love a good cliffhanger, don’t you?!)
For now, let me congratulate you on 100 days of cultivating your FAITH by investing your time and energy in scripture even if just a few moments each day. God DELIGHTS when you spend time with Him, sweet friends. Well done!
One thing that’s been running around in my head lately is that powerful F word: FAITH. (Sheesh, move your mind up people, what did you think I meant?!) It occurs to me we might mix up various definitions of that word and it can get in our way of knowing and believing in our amazing God. There is a big difference between Faith (with an uppercase F) and faith (with a lowercase F). This summer, we’ve been hopefully cultivating the uppercase kind! What’s the difference? Let’s start with this definition from Hebrews:

 

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this Faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1, The Message

 

In other words, uppercase Faith is based on HOPE. Not wishful thinking, but hope. Uppercase Faith is BELIEF in something good and holy and sacred that is bigger than you. And by the way, the miracles we witness everyday from flowers blooming, seasons changing, medical healings, and teenagers actually putting away their laundry without being asked are the evidence that backs up this Faith!

 

Lowercase faith is based on our human-sized belief, which cannot comprehend the bigness, vastness, etc. of the God we profess to know. Therefore, lowercase faith is constrained by our own human experiences (and lack thereof) and we fill in the gaps with our own limited understanding and data points to make sense of things. Lowercase faith isn’t a bad thing, it just relies on our wishes. But uppercase Faith? It relies on BELIEF that transcends understanding.
And, you guys, I want to assure you that uppercase Faith does exist in you and in me. How do I know? Because you and I pray to a good, good God. If we didn’t have Faith, we’d only be making wish lists like those we made at Christmas when we wrote letters to Santa, only to forget later what we had asked for or settle for something we didn’t want in the first place. Prayer sticks with us and we don’t stop believing with HOPE that God will answer our prayers (of course, in His time and within His will…but that’s a sermon for another day!).

 

This summer, I have cultivated and grown in upper case Faith, and I hope you have, too! I pray you’ve seen Him in so many ways over the last 100 days that encourage you to keep going back to His word and to sit at His feet on a consistent basis. Every good thing starts small and needs tending. So keep the Faith, sister friends, and cultivate it!

 

Thank you for going on this journey with us this summer. And if you like surprises, come back on Thursday for a few FUN announcements to get your Fall FAITH going!!!

 

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

Let GO.

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“Let Go.”

 
A simple, two word statement that isn’t always so easy to do.
The first time we encounter those words is in childhood, when we playing tug-of-war over a toy with another child, or when we’ve gotten a hold of something we shouldn’t and someone who knows better is trying to ply it out of our little hands!
As we get a little older and experience times when a friend hurts our feelings or even betrays our trust, those two, small but powerful words are doled out to us by “wise counsel” who encourages us to let go of our hurt because holding on to it just makes us feel worse.
When we have children of our own and they begin to grow up and find their footing and their own way, we’re told by those who’ve been through it before that it’s our job to let them go; that holding on for dear life (even if it’s what our heart is desperate to do) will only delay the inevitable and cause other issues in the process.
When we have painful pasts (or even rocky presents) and when we work through those experiences with people and professionals who help us come to terms with it, we’re counseled to let go of what’s behind us in order to live in here and now.

 

That’s all good and honest and wonderful advice! But it’s just not always easy, is it?
I think the reason it’s so hard for us to just “let go” is because we don’t know where we’re supposed to “put it”! In other words, if the experience or feeling exists, it’s got to go somewhere, right? You just can’t un-feel it, or undo something that happened. It’s like cleaning out your closet – those clothes that you no longer wear or need don’t simply vanish into thin air just because you are ready to let them go; you need to clear them out and give them to someone else in order to actually be rid of them.
That’s why this week’s mantra and scripture verse are so powerful! As Christians, when we talk about letting go, we’re really talking about the freedom that comes as a result of giving it up to God and trusting that He’s got it for us. We’re not just releasing our stuff out into thin air and hoping it doesn’t come back and settle right back on us. We’re literally giving it to the only One who can take it on without judgement and fight for us through it all.

Let Go Exodus 14-14

Freedom in letting go is possible when we trust God. It’s possible whether you need to grant forgiveness or you need to receive it. It’s possible when you need to let your child navigate the newness of middle school, high school, or even college. It’s possible when the time comes to let go of your past. It’s possible EVEN if you need to release control of a situation that you are desperate to keep your hand on/in when you know it would be better if you didn’t.
At the end of the day, that’s what our soul is desperate for – spirit-cleansing freedom.  I don’t know what you might need to let go of today, but I do know that if you trust it in the hands of Christ, He will take it from you and carry it and replace it with peace in your heart.

 

Let’s pray for each other this week as we trust God to fight for us and let’s celebrate our victory in freedom!

 
Ruthie Donovan

(Photo Cred: Alicia Donovan, of her beloved Ruthie running FREE!)

 

BTW – How are you coming along with our summer devotional, Everyday Holy, by Melanie Shankle?!  It’s sooo good, sooooo rich, and soooo real, isn’t it?!  This week, we should be on Days 64-70.  Can you believe it?  We’re almost to Day 75!!!!

Enjoy your day, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

xoxoxoxooox

Wendie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boxes, Goodie Bags, and Goosebumps!

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“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”  Philippians 4:13, MSG

Oh my dear ones!  Never underestimate a woman with a soul full of Jesus and a fire in her heart for others.

What happens when you gather a group of such women?  Well, a modern-day version of loaves and fishes, that’s what!

This summer, …spm… has partnered with YoungLives Chicago, a division of YoungLife that serves teen moms and their children.  What started  out as an idea to provide a few necessities for the teen moms for a week at camp grew into SO. MUCH. MORE!

YL Party Collage 1

(Having FUN at our summer party!!)

Our partnership culminated in our Cultivate 2018 Summer party!  Last week, forty-plus women gathered together to hear YoungLives staff explain their amazing program and share their experiences about the beautiful young women and children they minister to.  We also had the chance to pack 35 goodie bags chocked full of awesome goodies and necessities for the girls who will head off to camp in just two weeks!

YL Goodie Bags

(Goodie Bag Table and Assembly Line!)

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

Here’s the BIG GOD CULTIVATOR NEWS: through your additional generosity, ALL THE GIRLS ARE GOING TO CAMP; GOODIE BAGS WILL BE WAITING FOR THEM; THE SNACK SHOP WILL BE OPEN FOR THEM EVERY AFTERNOON AT NO CHARGE; and they have transport to take them to and from Chicago safely!

Sort of like the story of the loaves and fishes…

*sigh*

*fist pump*

*God is BEYOND BEYOND*

Our God is an awesome God (yes, I’m stealing that from a song). I am blown away by Him in this story (and of course, in so many others).  This summer, as a ministry, we had a specific amount we could give for goodie bags from the proceeds of the Cultivate …breathe boxes… .

Breathe Box for Cultivate (Summer 2018)

AND THEN. Due to the generosity of some amazing people, the girls and their babies are not only going to camp, they have cool goodie bags and snacks in the afternoon, and they have safe transport to get them there with their precious kids.

YOU GUYS. We started with goodie bags and these precious girls and children got even more than we imagined. We didn’t think to ask for all that extra but He provided it anyway.

I stand in awe of an incredible God who took what we had to offer and grew it into something incredible. I thank each of you for your generosity and I praise those of you whose hearts went viral with support of this program. I can’t wait to get pictures from Camp of “our” girls having fun and being teenagers all the while being such brave individuals who chose to parent in the face of crazy hard odds. And I’m so, so grateful for YoungLives Chicago for partnering with us and letting us have a glimpse of the miracles they perform.

YL Staff and Wendie

(Young Life Staffers Delilah, Kimmy, and Khadijah with Wendie!)

Check out this link for more information on YoungLives and a glimpse into the camp experience!

Most of all, I want to just remind you that God can do anything if you have a willing heart and spirit. The timing may not be what you expect. The way He does it may not fit how you imagined. The road to get there may not look good from the onset. The journey may have detours, flat tires, and canceled flights. You may have blisters from walking and sleepless nights from wandering. But HE SEES YOU. He’s got this. His itinerary outshines yours. And the ending is way better than you can ever imagine on your own.

Enjoy this day, sweet friends!

Peace, love and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie