Author Archives: Wendie J. Connors

About Wendie J. Connors

Momma, wife, writer, speaker, and Jesus Girl! Founder of Stringing Pearls with Wendie ministry. Dog lover...and admittedly a little too obsessed with "Diet Coke-from-McDonald's"!

You do you. I’ll do me.

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If there is ONE thing I can say about practicing spiritual disciplines it’s this:  it’s personal.

Even though we’re all reading the same study (Enjoying Jesus) and following along with the same series here (Come Closer), we are all getting something different out of it.

That’s the beauty of such a wonderfully creative God.  We are each unique.  We each respond to the vast aspects of His holy character and His call on our lives differently.

And while I know study and meditation may not necessary sound amazingly exciting on the surface, these two disciplines we are covering this week  are my jam.  They are my entire heart toward God wrapped up in one luscious package.  They are the love language in which God speaks to my heart and the voice with which I hear Him most clearly. There is NOTHING I love more than some good, solid alone time with my Bible, a pen, my journal, and GOD.  As a matter of fact, I even told all the sister friends this week that if Tim were ever to ask them what the perfect gift would be for me, they now know they are supposed to say:  “A weekend away at a shwanky hotel tucked away with cozy pah-jeejees (aka pajamas), Prosecco, Perrier, and a Bible.”  Well, and maybe this handsome devil, as long as someone was willing to walk him for me.

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

I’m a simpleton at heart, aren’t I?  😉

The point is, I LOVE these two disciplines and if you aren’t sure about them yet, I’m hoping to convert you today!

We read and study scripture to get to know the sound of God’s voice and heart. We get to know the things that matter to Him, to His heart, and we also get to know the things He doesn’t like.  It’s not so much knowledge for the sake of knowledge (although there really isn’t anything wrong with that unless we use that knowledge in order to be a know-it-all or to somehow distort the teaching of it).  But it’s more about getting to know what’s important to God because that information beings us closer to Him.

Think about it.  In your best relationships, you know what is important to the other person, right?  So it makes sense that we should know what’s important to God!  He reveals His character to us through His Word – His Living Word.

In other words, “study”, in and of itself, answers the questions of what does God say, what does God like, what does God want us to do.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NIV

Meditation, which of course goes hand-in-hand with study, answers the question of what does God want this information to mean personally for me? So while study could stand alone without meditation, meditation would be difficult to be independent of study because it’s hard to think about something you don’t know about!

So in order to get the most out of scripture, we should be doing both.

One of the videos for this week’s chapter has Julie talking about how meditation allows her time to dwell with a specific portion of scripture. I love that, especially if we put that in context with how we defined “dwell” a few weeks ago as in “pitching a tent with”.  So when we meditate, we are sitting down and hanging out with God and His word for a little while and letting Him speak to the importance of that piece of wisdom to us.

There are tons of different formulas to studying a piece of scripture. But the first thing we should do before we even begin the study piece of this is to come quietly before God and ask that He guides our study.  We ask that He would be with us and help us to get a little bit of wisdom out of what we are reading.  We surrender our own agenda or preconceived ideas that might be lurking in our hearts and minds, and just ask the Holy Spirit to guide our reading.

And then, I think it comes down to personal choice in how you decide to study. I found this graphic on Pinterest this weekend and think it’s just brilliant.

what to do with your Bible

I already put one in each of my Bibles, I love it so much!  Basically, study is a way for us to answer the question for ourselves:  “What does this say and how can I make this as easy as possible for me to understand.  You all should know yourself well enough at this point to know how you learn best.  Maybe you’re a memorizer or maybe you are a list maker.  Maybe you are artsy or a journal-er.  Whatever your preferred method of learning something, do that.  And don’t rush through it.  It’s not a race, it’s an exercise, a practice, a discipline.

As you first start out, you might find it difficult to decide what passage to study. You can always think about your favorite Bible stories or verses and start there.  Maybe there is something particular on your mind and heart that day and so you can use your Bible index or Concordance to look up a few verses that speak to that topic until you find one that seems to really resonate.

You can use a devotional or the gospel of the day or anything like that to get you started.  You can use any of the verses we’ve looked up so far in this study.  The key is to pick something digestible in one sitting.  In other words, a few verses or a short chapter – not an entire book.  Read it and play around with it for a bit. You will know God nudging  you to it if it piques your interest, makes you want to ask a question about it, or if you want to sort of insert yourself into the story.  Stay with the study piece until you get it.  Take it with you throughout your day, your week, etc.  Maybe read it a couple times a day.  Share the facts of the story with someone else (even if it’s me – I’m always up for some good Bible stories!).

Once you are able to close your Bible and sort of factually retell the “story” or verses you’ve been studying, you’re ready to move on to meditation!

Meditation basically answers the questions of “What does God want me to know about Him through these words and what is He calling me to do about it?”

Now. Just like study, there are a bazillion ways you can go about this.  You should’ve tried out one method in our book on day 2 with Psalm 1, which I hope was a good experience for you.  Maybe it feels weird at first, but it is insightful, right?

And AGAIN, the first thing to do is always invite the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process!  Otherwise, it’s just you deciding what YOU think about it, not what God wants to reveal to you!

I personally have used a method called Lectio Divina (which is Latin for Divine Reading), which is a contemplative sort of prayer meditation that originates from the Benedictines I think dating back to the 6th century.  And sort of like the Ignatian Daily Examen, it can be morphed a bit to suit your needs.  Here’s a graphic that explain it more clearly than I probably can in words!  If you want more info on this, just Google it!

Lectio Divina

The most important piece of this dynamic duo of study + meditation is this:  quiet your mind and ask God to guide you.  He never turns down an authentic, intimate invitation like that, girls.  And be patient with yourselves.  We are a society of BUSY BUSY BUSY.  And these disciples we are learning about and trying are all about QUALITY TIME spent in pursuit of drawing closer to God.  It’s counterintuitive to our nature.  But the payoff is well worth the time and effort!

Following along with our Come Closer study?!  Make sure you’re up to date with all the reading so far (you should be finished reading through Week 3 in the Enjoying Jesus Book).  This week, I encourage everyone to find two or three verses and attempt to study AND meditate on them!  We will be back here on the blog in two weeks (we are using next week to have extra study and meditation time!).  Get ready for the next two disciplines  (one of which is my LEAST fave…fasting 😉 ).

Here’s a great link to our fifth song by The Afters.  I LOVE it!

May God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week!

So much love,

Wendie

 

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It is Well with My Soul (or, “Confession in a Nutshell”)

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One of my favorite stories in scripture is the recounting of Jesus meeting Zaccheus. I love this story.  Seriously.  I totally identify with that guy.  For some of my formative years and adult life, I lived like I didn’t really care what God said about things, letting my sins sort of create my identity without giving them much thought.  But then one day, when I was sitting in Bible study (ironic, right?)  it was like I felt Him look right at me and say, “Girl, get outta that tree and get down here.  We’ve got stuff to do.  Enough of this already.”  And off we went.  Thank you, Jesus (literally)…!

“Jesus isn’t just a friend of sinners.  Jesus is ONLY a friend of sinners.”  Judah Smith, Jesus Is _________

This is super great news for me, sister friends!  Because I am Zaccheus, I am the Prodigal son (or daughter as the case may be).  I am the woman at the well.  I am Saul, who became Paul.  I AM a sinner.

And don’t get mad at me for saying this, but you are too.

So this idea of being a friend of sinners is a good entry into confession, because we’ve got a friend in Jesus.  Thank God (literally).

As we learned in our Enjoying Jesus reading this week, the word confession comes from the Greek word homologeo, which very simply means to “admit that something is factual or true”.  In other words, to confess something means to own up to doing something (or not doing something you were supposed to do, as the case may also be).

And adding to that, the word sin (as a verb – so , “to sin”) means to do something that causes someone to grieve.

So to “confess a sin” means we go before the person(s) aggrieved and admit we did something wrong. Ideally, we include remorse in doing it and add our intention in not doing that again.  But plain and simple, confession of a sin is to literally say we did something wrong that caused grief to someone else.

The purpose of confession in terms of our spiritual life is to heal us and restore us in relationship to others and God. It’s considered a discipline because it is something that doesn’t come naturally to us as humans, so we practice it.  We aren’t naturals at, “hey – I’m so glad I messed up and I cannot wait to admit it and talk about it. Woot!” So yes, it’s a discipline – something we are being led and taught to do by Jesus.  But it’s also a gift, because in doing so, we receive grace and mercy in exchange for our sin.

“The usual notion of what Jesus did on the cross runs something like this:  people were so bad and so mean and God was so angry with them and could not forgive them unless somebody big enough took the rap for the whole lot of them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Love, not anger, brought Jesus to the cross.  Golgotha came as a result of God’s great desire to forgive, not his reluctance.  Jesus knew that by his VICARIOUS SUFFERING he could actually absorb all the evil of humanity an so heal it, forgive it, and redeem it.”  Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

psalm 103 12

According to John (the one Jesus loved…!) Jesus’ three final words before He died were: “It is finished.”  John 19:30.

It is finished. Through taking on our sins (“vicarious suffering” – I can’t even, that has me SHOOK, as the kids say… 😉 ) He somehow supernaturally reconciled us to God.

It IS finished.

Now, that might cause you pause right there. The “It is Finished” bit.  As in, “if it’s really finished and through His death He reconciled us to God once and for all, then what’s all this business about needing to confess?”

Because we are human and on the earthly plane, un-confessed sin causes us the burden of guilt. Think of Adam and Eve, right?  After that first bite, what’s the first thing they felt?  Guilt.  And guilt causes ailments in us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically when it isn’t resolved.  It literally makes us sick.  Right here, right now.

Okay? So what needed to be done in the spiritual realm is done, right?  But here.  Right here in the middle of living an earthly life.  Sin still makes us sick.

But what did Jesus say about that?

mark 2 17

We need us a good doctor, amen?

Through confession – both to God and to one another – we, as Dallas Willard puts it, “lay down the burden of hiding and pretending which normally takes a dreadful amount of human energy” and allows us to heal.

Amen to that.

I so resonated with the story in our study this week about the man who was trapped for 27 days in rubble in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. Stuck in dark, cramped place, pressure bearing down, heart beating hard, anxiety closing in.  I had a total panic attack just reading the story.  But that’s because it  reminded me a LOT of what it feels like when I’m burdened with the guilt of my unconfessed sins.

Hebrews 3:12-15 tells us that unconfessed or unacknowledged sin will deceive us into thinking we’re okay and so then it hardens our hearts against God and one another.

I’m convinced that is the devil’s favorite lie.  I think his lie of choice to people like you and me is this: “It’s fine!  You’re okay!  It’s no big deal.  No one will remember or notice anyway. Nobody knows but you and me. I got your back.”

Uh, I really don’t want the devil acting as my partner in crime, do you? So that’s when we turn to scripture to get him kicked up and out of the picture.

psalm 139 23 and 24

I need the healing light of GOD to shine into my soul. I need Him to search me because in my humanness, there may be times I don’t even realize what I’m doing is sinful.

Check out Proverbs 20:27.  One of my favorite translations of this comes from the ERV, here it is:  “Your spirit is like a lamp to the Lord.  He is able to see into your deepest parts.”

In other words, confession is God’s way of lighting up the corners in the closet of our soul so anything hiding out in there can be swept up and out into the healing gaze of God. Not for us to feel condemnation and guilt, because that’s the opposite of the gifts confession offers, namely grace and mercy.  (Remember grace is receiving something we didn’t earn and mercy is receiving grace when we deserve the exact opposite!)  But instead, the purpose is for us to experience inner healing and reconciliation in close, deep, personal relationship with God.

When we practice confession, we release God’s supernatural power to heal us spiritually.

Confession allows us to be reconciled with God’s grace and mercy so that we are able to honestly say the six most beautiful words ever: It. Is. Well. With. My. Soul.

“What do we do?  St. Alphonsus Liguori writes, ‘For a good confession three things are necessary:  and examination of conscience, sorrow, and a determination to avoid sin.”  Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline.

We examine our spirit; we acknowledge the things God brings up; we ask for forgiveness (repent), we try to right the wrong if possible, we pledge to do better next time (because that’s what regret is and it isn’t a bad thing, it’s good if we harness it because it allows us to do it better the next time), and we receive the healing that comes from it.

How does that look practically?  Well, any number of ways, actually.  You can bring your thoughts to your pastor, your priest, a spiritual director, therapist, or trusted wise counsel.  Those are always great avenues because those folks are trained and gifted in helping you make sense of what’s happened and help you see any patterns to your behavior.  They can also act as mediators if your confession has something to do with another person and emotions and feelings are running a bit too high for the two of you to work things out. Jesus is very clear that we don’t leave these things unsettled unless the other person clearly has no intentions on working it out with us.

You can also simply sit down with God and go through the steps we talked about above.  Here’s a link to something called The Daily Examen.  It’s a 500 year old prayer from St. Ignatius that opens up the conversation with God about your day and His presence in it!  Ask Him to reveal places and thoughts that are running contrary to His will for you.  Be open and honest and come to Him with a spirit of humility and he will greet you with love and tender mercy.

Nothing feels better at the end of the day than being able to say, “It IS well with my soul.”

Following along with us in our Come Closer journey this fall?  Read Week Three, Days 1-5 for next week! We’ll be back next Friday for our discussion on the disciplines of study and meditation!

Check out our song this week, “Wonder”, by Hillsong United! This video is the acoustic version and I LOVE it! There’s also an interview about the song and lots of other good stuff!   Sooooo good!

May God’s peace, love, and joy douse your soul this week!

xoxoxoxoxxo,

W

Thy Will Be Done (for reals.)

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Oh my GIRLS!  There is so so so much that we still need to discuss and digest about prayer.  Like, how and why Daniel was so good at it and how he did it.  Like, what is the secret power (if any…) to the prosperity prayer of Jabez.  Why did Job keep the faith in the face of unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer?  What was Jonah thinking when God wouldn’t let up on His will for Nineveh and Jonah’s part in it?! And..and…and…!

BUT… it occurs to me that the title of our study book is Enjoying Jesus.  Not Enjoying Daniel, or Jabez, or Jonah, or Job.  It’s Enjoying JESUS.  So why don’t we spend our time today looking at Him?

Revive Matt 1128-30

I love it! LOVE it!  So much richness in three little verses.  But right now, there is one key phrase I want you to focus on:

Watch. How. I. Do. It.

It’s little but it’s mighty.  In other words, Jesus is simply saying, “WATCH ME”.

In everything He came here to do, in all His holiness and goodness, He acted as the ultimate role model didn’t He? And from today forward in this study, we will be looking at how Jesus, Himself, practiced each of these disciplines.

First of all, through the gospels, Jesus is in constant contact with the Father. Communicating = Prayer.  Prayer was not only important to Jesus, but something He treated as a priority.

Second, when the disciples asked Him how to pray, it’s one of those rare times that He doesn’t answer them with a story or a parable.  He just straight up answers them with solid teaching on HOW TO PRAY.

I’m going to park myself right here for a bit while you look up these two nuggets: Luke 11:1-4;  and Matthew 6:7-13.

(Those might sound just a wee bit familiar to you if you’ve spent even a millisecond in a church at any point in your life 🙂 !)

If we look at those two passages, we see exactly how Jesus would like us to pray, and it basically encompasses a lot of the “types” of prayers we talked about last week and wrote for homework!

Sister friends, it’s pretty simple: we acknowledge God; submit our will to His (okay, this one is WAY easier said than done…); ask Him to meet our needs, ask for forgiveness when we don’t get it right (and for Him to teach us how to let others off the hook when they screw up – because, guess what?  They are human too).  We pray that He would protect us and the people we love and keep us from harm.  And we end by praising Him for His awesomeness!

That’s how we pray.

Our friend, Margaret Feinberg, says this about prayer:

“Speaking + Listening + Waiting = Prayer”

(She’s pretty smart, isn’t she?!)

Oh but  that waiting part; that’s hard. At least it is for me, because I can fall into the pit of a pity party if I’m not careful.  “God didn’t hear me.  I must not have prayed hard enough or had enough people praying with me or He’s mad at me or just doesn’t care enough to answer me.”

It’s all fine and good when things worked out as we would have them, right? But what about when we think He hasn’t answered us, or even worse, when it seems as if He says “NO WAY, JOSE!”?

Well, let’s just open back up to Matthew chapter 6 for a sec. I’m going to re-read just the second half of verse 10 for you here:

“May your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”

Your will. Meaning God’s will.

In other words, “Help me to step out of the way and let You do Your thing; regardless of how You work it out. Your will, Lord.  Not the millions of options I’ve set at your feet waiting for You, God, to pick one of them. Your option. Your will be done. Not mine.”

Surrender. 

(You might want to cue the “Mic Drop” here because this is where it gets super for reals.)

Jesus uses this phrase again – “Your will be done” much later in Matthew in the garden of Gethsemane : “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine’.” (Matt 26:39)

He says it again just three verses later: “Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done’.” (Matt 26:42)

Let’s be clear here. Jesus is God.  He knew what was going to happen so He knew the suffering was coming.  Yet twice He prayed, “Your will be done”.  I don’t claim to know what Jesus was thinking in these moments.  But I’m asking you to just think on it for sec.  I don’t know if I’m right here or not, but I don’t think Jesus prayed those words for His benefit, or even for the benefit of the sleeping disciples; I think He said the words for ours.  Maybe a part of the reason He said those very words is so we could “WATCH HOW HE DOES IT” even in the face of death.

Thy will be done.

Now. I know firsthand how confusing this piece of prayer life with God can seem because that level of utter surrender could put us at 180 degrees at odds with our desire to believe we have a good, good Father.  AND a Savior in Jesus who will rescue us and all those we love from pain and suffering.  And yet we continue to experience things that are difficult, full of pain, and could even be perceived as cruel.

But then, this:

Jer 29 11

This, sweet friends, is the very essence of faith. Can we, when everything is stacked against us and we know that we know that we know we have a God that could swoop down and save us in a millisecond, yet He does not (at least in that moment), can we still claim that He is for us and not against us, and has good and prosperous plans in mind for us here on Earth?

Thy will be done.

“For we know that in all things God works together with those who love Him and have been called to His purpose to bring about what is good.” Romans 8:28

I love that verse because it serves as a comforting reminder that regardless of what it looks like in terms of our current circumstances, He’s “on it” because we love Him and we’ve been called to walk with Him. He’s working the good already into it even when we don’t feel it.

But you wanna know something REAL? Sometimes even Romans 8:28 doesn’t alter the feelings and emotions that accompany the disappointment that something we so madly have prayed for isn’t going to come our way now – or maybe ever – in the earthly realm.  But I hope it gives you the faith and the strength to keep praying because where you are at any given moment (and the circumstances surrounding it) are purposeful to God, even if excruciatingly painful.   He reveals Himself to us in the waiting, pulls us closer, answering our heart’s biggest desire, which is to be walking in alignment with Him and His will.

So this week, I encourage you to keep up with the prayers we started last week! And let’s add another line to the prayer we are building together this series:

“Lord, help me hear You today.

Thank you for loving me.

I know you have good plans for me; Thy. Will. Be. Done.”

Whew.  Thank you, God, that it’s Your  will and not mine.  For reals.

If you are following our Come Closer study online with us, please read the last three days of Chapter 2 in Enjoying Jesus.  We’ll be back here next week talking about CONFESSION!  I know, you’re already jumping up and down in excitement 😉 !

Check out this week’s song, “Loving My Jesus” by Casting Crowns!

Praying that God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week, sister friends!  A JESUS BATH BOMB, SISTERS!!!!  😉

Xoxoxoxoxo,

W

Barely Breathing (the Power of Prayer)

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Psalm 116-2

Do you pray? I ask because it’s as important as anything else we do in our relationship with God.

Prayer, as a practice, is inherently built into all of the remaining disciplines (practices!) in our study book, Enjoying Jesus.  The practice of prayer is literally woven into everything we do when it comes to our spiritual life because basically, at the core of it, prayer is any form of communication with God.  That’s the basic definition of it:  prayer  = talking with God about what we are doing, feeling, experiencing, hoping for, not hoping for, etc.

The end.

Just kidding. I have a bit more to say on the subject… 😉

First, let’s agree that prayer is different than “wishing” because prayer is more than just asking for something. If all we are doing with our prayer life is asking for things, then we are simply creating a wish list and treating God like Santa Claus.  Don’t get me wrong.  He wants us to share our desires and our needs with Him; of course He does!  And those prayers of petition (a.k.a. asking for the things we need) are a vital and healthy part of prayer. But they are just one of many different kinds of prayer in which we can engage.

Here’s what prayer really is, sister friends. This is what author John Orberg says and I LOVE IT:  “Among all the other work prayer does, prayer is most importantly the knitting together of the human heart with the heart of God.”

Our hearts woven together with His. SWOON!!!!

We, as Christians, have a real-life relationship with a real-life God. There’s really no other way to say it.  So let me say it again, girls:  We are in a relationship with God.  Even more than that, and I know it sounds weird and maybe a little awkward to say this, but we are in a love relationship with Him.  I’m not talking romantic love.  But I am talking this crazy kind of love that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

That’s some pretty big love right there. And this love of His is all encompassing because we can’t get away from it!

Runaway bunny

(Ahem…The Runaway Bunny, anyone??!! I cry even looking at the cover of that one!)

SO MUCH LOVE!!!

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23, NIV

That phrase there: “make our home”?  That’s translated from a Greek phrase that means to “pitch a tent”.  So, in Jesus’ own words, through our obedience, through our hearing of His words, He chooses to make space in each of our individual “worlds” and pop a squat.

And He’s not going anywhere. Regardless of how our world is spinning, how messy it gets, and even if we choose to ignore the tepee He pitched in the middle of it all.  He’s saying, “I’m not going anywhere, girl. So come closer, have a seat, and let’s talk.”

He’s not asking for long, drawn out rehearsed prayers. But hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. However, if you just want to say, “This day stinks.”  That’s cool with Him, too.  If you want to say, “That is the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.”  He’ll sit back and watch it with you.  No matter how big or small your thoughts seem to you, He wants to hear about it and share IN it with you.

Girls, if it matters to you, it matters to God. Big, small, or somewhere in between.

Let me say that again: If it matters to you, it matters to God.

Prayer is our way of getting thoughts up and out so we can make space for what He has to say about it in return.  And trust me.  You’re gonna want to know what He thinks.

Prayer can be done in many different ways. We have traditional, memorized prayers that have been passed down to us through our families and churches. These are things like grace before a meal, versions of creeds we say at church, the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and rosary sequences.  These are prayers  because they are words we speak to God.  It’s okay that we’ve been taught and possibly even memorized them – as long as we remember they have MEANING.

We also have prayers from the heart, spoken within our own private space. These prayers can take the form of worship (telling God how great we believe He is); petition (asking for things we need spiritually and otherwise); intercession (praying for the needs of others); thanksgiving and gratitude (thanking God for providing for our needs and for the good things that happen to ourselves and others), and praise (answered prayer, expression of our love for God, etc.).  We even have laments, which are passionate prayers expressing our pain and disappointment, these prayers are “real talk” about our honest feelings of our current situations and circumstances.

Next week, we’ll talk about practical ideas on incorporating prayer into your life “for reals”.  We will also talk about how to deal with it when prayer answers are delayed or answered in a way we didn’t expect.

Between now and then, though, I want you to take some time and try writing 5-6 prayers of your own:

  1. Prayer of worship (praising God for His goodness – check out Psalms 103-107 for some awesome thoughts on the greatness of God)
  2. Prayer of petition (asking for something you personally need)
  3. Prayer of intercession (praying for the needs of someone else)
  4. Prayer of thanksgiving (gratitude for something great that day you didn’t expect or even think to pray about)
  5. Prayer of Praise (answered prayer, expression of your love for God)
  6. Prayer of Lament (honest feelings of pain and disappointment – even if directed at God – He can take it, girls.)

All of the prayers you record can be ones we’ve been taught or memorized, or they can be of our own wording, or even a combo of both. No prayer is a wrong prayer because God wants us communicating with Him.  Why?  Because His love, His grace, and His mercy meet us (AND CHANGE US) when we pray.

This week, let’s add another intention to our list! Last week, we started our intentions with, “Lord help me hear you today.”  How about we add this one for our current week:  “Jesus, thank you for loving me.”  It’s almost like we are building ourselves a perfect prayer, isn’t it?  Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?! 😉

Take some time this week to check out our song for this week called Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells! It’s my “go to” anthem on  “those days”…!

See you back here next week as we finish up our discussion and practice of prayer!

May peace find you fully today!

xoxoxoxoxo,

W

 

Would You Go to Jail for Jesus?

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“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.”

Hebrews 6:1, NLT

That’s our guiding scripture this series, sisters, and it’s a good one!

Here it is in The Message:

Hebrews 6-1

I love that!  Let’s grow ourselves up a bit in how well we know our Savior, sisters.

Why?  Because many of us believe in God but don’t live in a way that clearly bears fruit, or shows, that we honestly know Him.

In the book, The Christian Atheist,   Craig Groschel states that 94% of the American Christians claim to believe in and follow a God that is good, loving, and benevolent.  But he goes on to surmise that 94% of American Christians aren’t living in a way that would show others they hold that belief.  He begins his book with this:  “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  In other words, do you know Christ so well that your outward behavior conveys that you know Him.

Take a sec and ask yourself that question. And then take a sec to consider the disciple, Peter.  When the going got tough, he wouldn’t admit to even knowing Jesus, let alone let himself get convicted for it.  And if Peter could do that, the “rock the church was built upon” Peter?  Um, well then, you better believe you and I are capable of that same level of denial in both word and deed.

“People claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.”

Titus 1:16, NLT

In our time here on Earth, I doubt many/any of us will actually be placed on trial for being a Christian, so we may never actually have to utter the words that we do not “know Him”. But we do deny Him when we live in ways that don’t mimic or reflect His heart.  Why do we do that?

Maybe it’s because we haven’t spent enough time with Him to really know Him.

THIS is why we are back at Bible study this fall: to get to know Him so well that our lives reflect Him in all we do.

We cannot know Him personally unless we spend time with Him. Bottom line.  And that means spending time with Him in more than just a mass or church service here, or a Bible study meeting there.  Girls, we need to be looking for Him.

You’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31, MSG

I love this quote by a 17th century French archbishop (Francois Fenelon):  “There is only one way to follow God:  to not take a single step without Him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever He leads.”

These spiritual disciplines we are about the begin studying together are ancient practices, or ways, in which we can seek that voice of God so that we can achieve that goal of not taking a single step without Him and following bravely and in faith where He leads.

“What God wants is reverential intimacy. He wants us close enough to Him that we know His heart – close enough to hear His heartbeat.  He wants to look in our eyes, and He wants us to look into His.  He wants us to hear His voice above all other voices we entertain.”  David Benne, Surrender to Love.

Girls, in order to know Him, we need to hear Him.

Did you know that the word obey comes from the Latin word audire, which mean to listen, or to hear.  And so, in order to know Jesus, we need to hear.  We need to be “all ears”.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey [hear] his commandments.

1 John 2:3-6, NLT

Every single spiritual discipline we will study, practice, and try together this fall has a common thread – we are learning to listen for His voice.

I love when I can bring things full circle. Last fall, we completed Margaret Feinberg’s study, Wonderstruck.   A few years before writing Wonderstruck, she wrote a very cool book about understanding scripture from the viewpoint of shepherds, farmers, and bee keepers.  It’s called Scouting the Divine.  I’ll park myself right here for a minute while you click this link to read something from that book that just might just blow your mind about the importance of getting to know His voice.

john 10 27, 29

Is  that perfect or what? He promises that we can hear His voice, and that when we follow Him: He. Will. Not. Let. Us. Go.

Amen to that. Jesus is not content to just sit around waiting for us.  He’s pulling up the chair, calling your name, cupping your face in His hands, and saying, “Come closer.”

What will you do? Because you do have a choice.  As for me,  I choose to scooch my chair right up next to His to hear Him speak to my heart. I will rest my head in His Holy hands. I will let Him disciple me (which is the root word in discipline, derived from a Greek word that simply means “gentle tutoring” – how awesome is that?) so that I can get “convicted” in the courts of heaven for being a follower of Christ.

Such good stuff, right? If you are interested in following along with us here online, click here to find out more about our study, Come Closer!  If you are in our physical studies OR following along online with the Enjoying Jesus book, please read Chapter 2, Days 1 and 2 (on prayer) for next week!

Are you rocking our playlist? Click here to hear the first song on our list: Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE

Each week, we will end  with a short phrase based on scripture that we can call to mind throughout the week, that helps us to set the tone each morning and throughout the day and helps remind us that we are seeking to infuse every moment of every day, not just Bible study morning and Sunday at church, with a deepening of our spiritual relationship with God.

This week, let’s recall that scripture from John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”  Our intention phrase/mantra this week is:  “Jesus, help me hear you today.”  Maybe you pray it before your feet hit the ground in the morning.  Maybe you say it several times during the day to remind yourself He promised you’d know His voice.  Maybe you use that short prayer in difficult moments or in simple celebrations of joys.  Maybe you turn it into a prayer of gratitude as your head hits the pillows at night:  “Jesus, thank you for speaking to me today.”  Use the comments section below to let us know how YOU hear and experience Him this week!

I pray blessings and love over each of you this week. Can’t wait to meet you back here next week for some thoughts on coming closer to God through prayer!

Peace, love and joy,

Wendie

 

 

We’re back! We’re BACK!! WE ARE BACK!!!

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Let me tell you a not-so-secret secret:  you are not reading this blog by accident or coincidence.

Please believe me when I say this arrived in your inbox or on your screen today ON PURPOSE.  You NEED to know that God has delivered it RIGHT HERE for a very precise reason:  to draw you CLOSER to Him!

I am so excited to get this message in front of your gorgeous eyes! And whether you’ve been in one of our studies before or not, our ministry team is bursting at the seams to share this bit of awesomeness with YOU: WE ARE BACK!!!

Our …stringing pearls ministries… team has revamped and regrouped and we are ready to get this new thing GOING ON!!

Several years ago, I prayed that God would use our ministry to help ignite the pilot light in the hearts of women in our community for Jesus. Boy, oh boy – did He answer that prayer!  YAY, God!!!

We believe God is now calling us to go deeper.  To come closer, if you will.  To scooch our chairs right next to Jesus because, if God really is who He says He is, why in the world wouldn’t we?!

Sister friends, it’s time to take our flame up a notch.

Wanna take a “closer” look?!

Come Closer Logo with Fall 2017

Isn’t that just the prettiest thing ever?

Come Closer.

Um.  Yes, please.

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.

Hebrews 6:1, NLT

Honestly, I need this.  And I think you night need it, too.

Our overall vision is to GO DEEPER and GET CLOSER to Jesus and one another. In order to meet this mission, we are:

  • Moving from lighting pilot lights to igniting mighty torches! FLAME ON, SISTERS!
  • Getting intentional on studying WHO and WHAT Jesus is all about by scooching our chairs next to Him and studying scripture and other resources to deepen our understanding of Him.
  • Encouraging each sister friend to show up (in our weekly local meetings OR here on the blog), follow along at home, support one other in prayer and in person, AND spend an hour a week applying the principles of the study (we’re calling this our “happy hour”!).
  • Furthering our mission of women’s fellowship through the pursuit of intentional discipleship (doing life eye-to-eye, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder).
  • Providing high quality teaching that supports the study through large group teaching, small group attention, the blog, and other forms of technology.
  • Providing high quality, tangible tools that support the weekly study concepts! These tools will be provided to women attending local meetings in the form of a SUPER COOL “Breathe Box” filled with all study related items, including the actual study book and ALL materials and goodies needed (think “BS Swag Bag on Steroids”)! Here’s a sneak peek at the beautiful box.

BB Up Close

BB Open Box with Goodies Showing

 

Gorgeous, right?! The list of items in the box can be found here!  (And YES – we have a new play list with the latest, greatest CCM tunes!)

Our mission is ALL ABOUT getting closer to Jesus. Why?  Well, because that’s where He’s calling us to be – closer.   And that makes everything we do, and all we are, different – in really good ways (More on this in the weeks to come!)

Our actual study book is entitled Enjoying Jesus and has been beautifully created by the amazing folks at IF:Equip out of Austin, Texas.  We’ll be studying 12 different spiritual disciplines (ways of communicating with God) that are ancient traditions designed to draw us closer to Jesus.  We’ll talk about (and TRY!!) everything from Prayer to Meditation, and a bunch of other cool stuff in between!

I’m ramping up the weekly teaching by using a variety of other materials ranging from classic to modern authors whose books and works relate to the various disciplines we will explore. We will post here  weekly for 13 weeks, beginning the week of September 4th and ending the week of December 4th (with 1 week off for Thanksgiving!).

So you’re in, right?   It’s all about good friends, great teaching, incredible discussions, meaningful mentorship,  and  – MOST IMPORTANTLY – an incredibly GRAND God.

Here’s a glimpse at our team assembling all the boxes! It felt like Christmas on a hot August day!

Assembly Day

Seriously. I mean c’mon, sister.  It just won’t be the same without you.

Looking forward to joining us? Then here’s what you need to do:

  • If you are signed up to be part of the local meetings, please be sure to collect your box BEFORE next week! READ CHAPTER 1 (Introduction) before coming to study (you’ll get an email with all the scoop if you are in a local group)!
  • If you are following along online, get yourself a copy of Enjoying Jesus by clicking here. Read Chapter 1 (Introduction) before next Thursday (9/7).  Make sure you are all set to follow this blog (hit the “follow via email” button right up there on the right!).  And check back here next Thursday when our first blog of the study will post.  We’ll take it from there!!

I’m looking forward to diving deep into scripture and fellowship with you this fall. Questions?  Let me know by commenting below!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!!!!!

Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo,

Wendie

How to #HAGS (Have a Good Summer ;) )

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Happy First Tuesday, sweet sister friends! It’s FINALLY summer break!  I’m so, so happy about this for, like, a million and fifty-seven reasons. But Reason Number One is (drumroll please):  this beautiful family of mine needs a break.

Yours does, too? I thought so.

Don’t worry. We aren’t the only ones.  It’s been an issue for millennia.

mark 6

He knew we’d all need a break at times.  Thank you, LORD!

So here’s the practical application and importance of this – at least in my world.  For me, summer break means a break from the “control” of school days because it’s totally structured FOR us, but not necessarily BY us.  The school system decides when the kids will be in school.  The coaches and activity leaders decide when practices and games and recitals are held.  The tutors decide what hours they are available.  The teachers decide what homework is due and when.    The moms at pick up decide who is playing with whom afterschool and where…AHEM.

The order of our days is predetermined by the forces around us and, for the most part, we need to get in line with it in order for there to be order, if you know what I mean.

Graciously, summer dances to a different beat.

And so today, at the start of what is summer break for many of us, I am giving you a little advice on how to have a good summer. It goes something like this:

“GO DO YOU.

AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ENJOY IT.”

 Peony 1 Talmud

Is that awesome or what?! So often, we think of indulging in things we enjoy as something we will judged for.  But God (don’t you just LOVE Him?!) basically turns that thought on its ear and says, “Girl, if it’s permissible  –  and tons of amazing and fun things in this life are – you might as well enjoy it because I made it just for you.”

I don’t know what it looks like for you because He wired each of us so beautifully different. For me, it’s a big girl glass of wine on a starry night sitting by the outdoor fire.  Or maybe it’s just an extra half hour by myself at the pool with my Bible.  Or hey – it’s even ordering pizza two nights in a row just because I don’t feel like cooking.  But whatever allows you to have some seriously permissible fun this summer, I say GO FOR IT!

Bring Me Wine

(Photo from Pinterest)

Girlies, let’s shake things up for a couple months. Change your schedule and include something new you’ve been wanting to do.  Try taking after dinner walks with your spouse, or maybe early morning coffees on the deck.

Ask your boss if you can shift your work schedule to come in an hour earlier for a week or two so you can earn a little flex time and take a few extra days off to just kick around in your garden or in the city. Get creative with your time.

Let your kids “drive the boat”, so to speak. Have them choose activities that allow exploration of their passions and interests.  Let THEM choose their playmates and embrace their own choices and decisions (within reason 😉 ).  Consider ditching those dreaded “summer skills books” in favor of comic books and silly novels and even Netflix (did I just say that out loud?!). Volunteer at the food bank and make blankets to distribute to those in need when the cold weather returns (because  – SPOILER ALERT – no matter how hot it gets this summer, that Chiberian chill will be back).

Go get lost on a road trip. Swim in a lake. Wear cut-off overalls.  Go to a concert.  Call your college roomie. Hang out with your mom. Show up at your best friend’s house with some flowers and iced tea just because you can.  Talk a walk with Jesus.  Smooch a puppy on the lips (this one might be my favorite!)!

Have your own church service in the park. Eat a humongous cheeseburger, for Heaven’s sake, and wash it down with a cold beer or soda in a glass bottle.  Have a popsicle at breakfast and ride the Ferris wheel…three times in a row!  Eat sweet cherries and spit the pits on the ground.  Embrace simple things that bring mega-doses of joy.

Yeah. These are the things I wish for you AND for me this summer because even the smallest, simplest things reveal God’s great love for us.  And we are blessed to be able to experience them. Be aware of your gifts and use them to better this world.

I guess what I’m saying, love bugs, is that I wish you the happiest summer break ever. Like, EVER.

Stop making your summer bucket lists and just go do all the things you were going to put on them. Sometimes the spontaneous stuff is sooooo much better anyway.

Okay. Enough screen time.  Go on now. Get on out there.  The world is waiting.

What are you still doing here?!?!? I mean it – GO!  Get outta here!  I triple dog dare you.

#HAGS 😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

PS – See you back here on July 4th for the next First Tuesday post…!

PPS – If you are local to the Chicagoland area, I encourage you to check out a great resource:  “Glen Ellyn Moms Village”!  They have awesome social media sites for ideas and inspiration for your summer… AND year-round!! Be sure to follow them so you can  keep updated about local happenings and musings regarding Glen Ellyn and the surrounding communities; the sites are run by one of my favorite sister friends!!!

https://www.facebook.com/glenellynmomsvillage/

https://www.instagram.com/glenellynmomsvillage/

I’m Stuffocating. (a First Tuesday* post!)

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I used to love email.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Those days when you’d open your inbox and it would have super fun and entertaining notes from people you actually knew

These days, though, opening my inbox feels a lot like going to the real, physical mailbox at the end of my driveway:  just one more “box” filled with junk.  Advertisements, bills, political circulars, coupons, and catalogs from stores I’ve never heard of clutter to the point of “stuff-o-cation”.  I almost hate to open it!  Ninety percent of the messages in that box are from people/companies I don’t even know.  Sometimes I delete 100 emails a day.  It all just feels so…impersonal.

stuffocating

Letters, postcards, and once treasured emails from my beloveds have been replaced by text messages and snapchats and social media posts that can be seen by hundreds (if not thousands) of others. Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as much as the average person, but my heart aches a bit for that special feeling I used to get when a letter or email would arrive JUST for me.  That excitement of knowing someone intentionally wanted to get MY attention and share a little love with me made my heart super happy. It was personal, in a good way.

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about Jesus and the way He communicates. I’m learning that He personally seeks us out and actually cherishes time spent in our presence.  Interestingly (and quite counter-culturally), He’s not in the business of mass mailing His agenda and platform out to the myriad of mailboxes (and inboxes) around the globe, and He isn’t sitting at His laptop waiting for Likes and Loves on social media, YouTube, and blogs.  He’s in the business of dwelling with His people.

pitch that tent

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

John 1:14

I absolutely love the usage here of that word: dwell.  Translated from its original language, it means “pitches a tent”.  Can you even imagine?! JESUS came to camp out with us.

YOU and ME.

Camp out! As in, “Let’s do this together – in person. Face to face.  Life on life.  I’m intentionally pitching my tent with yours.  You’re that special to me.”

We don’t need a mailbox, an inbox, a social media account, or television to connect with Him. But what we DO need is space for His tent and His Word in our heart so we can DO life alongside Him.

“Watch how I do it and learn my methods (…because you seem to make it all so complicated when you try to do it on your own).”  Matthew 11:29 (my personal interpretation in parentheses!)

His Word is alive and well and begging for us to watch how He did it so we can replicate that love, that grace, that MERCY all around us. The problem comes when we stop looking to Him and instead clutter things up with all our own stuff.

This spring, in order to get serious about pursuing an intentional life of dwelling and camping out with Jesus, I’ve made it my mission to quiet down a bit and start the process of decluttering my own “space”, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s an ongoing process, sister friends, and often feels a bit slow-going!  But one thing God has got very serious with me on is the fact that I have become laden down with “stuff”.  On every level.  And in order for Jesus to comfortably pitch that tent with mine, I need to clear Him room.

Maybe you do, too?

create space for Jesus

Take a minute and answer this question for yourself: what’s stuff-o-cating you?  Is it physical clutter that needs clearing?  A preoccupation with emails and social media accounts that needs to be curbed? A habit or way of doing things that just doesn’t serve you anymore?  Is it a relationship that drains you more than energizes? Your physical being that could use to be cleaned up and cleared out a bit?  Start with one thing, just one thing, that you can begin to clear a little space within to make Him a little more room.  If there’s one thing you can be certain of, His deepest desire is to hang out with you.

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’”  John 14:23

Home sweet (uncluttered) home.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Practical Application:

  • Pick one area (body, physical space, mind, spirit) where you feel stuff-o-cated right now.
  • Pray this prayer (or one of your own): “Lord, I want nothing more than for you to come and pitch your tent next to mine! Right now, though, I’m feeling really overwhelmed and cluttered in the area of _________. I want to relinquish control of this area in my life to you. I want to clear it in such a way that makes more room for YOU! Jesus, help me to clean it up and let go of what doesn’t need to be there. Help me to use what You intended me to have in this area in the ways in which You have always planned. Show me Your way because I know it is better than mine. Forgive me for letting things get out of Your control. Thank you that You love me so much that You get personal! Help me not to feel guilt or condemnation over this clearing out, but instead to deeply know Your delight in my obedience to listening to this call from You. Lord, I am so looking forward to all our camp outs to come! In Your mighty name, Amen!”
  • Get quiet and let God guide your next step. Accept that it’s always one step at a time, girls. And remember that sometimes things gets messy before they can be completely cleaned up. 😉
  • Consider these scriptures as you start to “un-stuff yo-self” (pray them out loud, write them down, read them when you get up and before you go to sleep) to keep your mind focused: John 1:14; Luke 12:16-19; Luke 12:29-31; John 14:23.

Happy De-Stuffocation, sweet friends! I’m praying for you!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

*PS – Today is the launch of a series I’m calling “First Tuesday”! It’s my intention to post here on the FIRST TUESDAY of each month with a fresh look at scripture alongside some practical life applications to make it relevant to YOUR life!  The First Tuesday of the month is a special day around here because our local “emergency sirens” are tested at 10am!  Our Tuesday Bible Babes have come to LOVE those sirens because whenever we are in session, we stop what we are doing and offer prayers of gratitude to God for the privilege and freedom to be worshipping together!  It’s become our habit that (even when we aren’t in Bible study session) as soon as we hear those First Tuesday sirens, we drop to our knees and pray for one another! Check back here on Tuesday, June 6th for a lively post about How to Have a Good Summer, Spiritually Speaking!  You won’t want to miss it!  😉

That Time God Told Me to PIPE DOWN, ALREADY!

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just-be-quiet

Oh, good Lord.  Did He really just say that?

(Yes, He DID. I can’t EVEN.)

He can’t possibly be talking to me.

(Spoiler Alert: Yep.  He IS.)

Because I’ve foolishly been thinking it’s all about me and my big ideas. (*Ahem*)

Because, you see, without big ideas, I can’t make a plan to execute. (*Sigh*)

I’m a person who loves to execute plans.  Like, LOVES to.  It’s hard for me to “stop”.  Do you know what I mean? I like BIG ideas, BOLD plans, and BEAUTIFUL executions of them!   And God has been SO, SO good in blessing me with a great season of DOING all these things!

But the fact that He and I don’t seem to be “doing” anything like that in my life right now has me like:

what-you-talkin-about-willis

(photo: Pinterest)

(Did you just do the Scooby Doo “huhhhhh?” voice in your head?!  Me too! Me too!)

I’m the girl  (and maybe you are, too?) who likes to immediately take matters into my own hands when I don’t think I’m getting my way. So, in the absence of visions and plans coming my way, I have been a bit busy to try to kick start the process.  And every time I come up with a brilliant idea, it energizes me for about a day or two.

BUT THEN.

THEN  it’s like the fire under the boiling  “BIG IDEA” pot gets turned down to a low simmer and moved to the back burner, clearing lots of space once again on a big ol’ empty stove.

Every. Single. Front. Burner.

Wide. Open.

Like God is saying, “Well.  That looks delicious and all.  But let’s save it for another time, okay?  No need to be cooking up a storm right now. I’ve got reservations for us elsewhere.”

Kind of like a frying pan to the face – in a really good Godly way, I mean.  😉

God isn’t looking for me to DO anything right now except be obedient to the “season of rest” to which He called me last fall.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been so great at being restful.  I love-love-love being an ACTION VERB kind of girl – a doer, a creator, a teacher, a writer, a speaker.  But instead, I think I need to learn how to be a BEING VERB kind of girl (as in – be still, be quiet, be kind, be with others, be with myself, be with GOD…).

I need to pipe down, already.

And I need to be o-BE-dient.  

ecc-4-6
As I let that verse right there weave together with the original message I got from God, a more gentle wording came out:

Dear Wendie,

Will you please just be with Me for a bit instead of trying to DO things I haven’t even asked of you yet?  How about we start by taking care of you and your own four walls (literally and figuratively)?  I’ll be right with you every step of the way, but – for the moment – you need to STOP IT with all this other stuff. It’s going to be worth it, trust Me. 

And since you are wondering, YES – I see you. I hear you. I know you.  I adore you. I love you. You matter more than you can fathom.  And you’re Mine -always and forever.

Thanks, sweet one. Carry on being you by being with Me.

Xoxo,

God

Geez.  He writes really good letters, doesn’t He?!

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I’m wondering if maybe He’s writing a similar love letter to you, asking you to let Him into your “four walls” for a bit.

With Lent starting on Wednesday, I’m asking you to join me in committing these 40 days to honest-to-goodness o-BE-dience to His voice and will.

After all, isn’t that the point of the season?!?

To be, rather than do.  To pray, rather than produce and plan.  To listen, rather than think/talk so much.  To let it “be what it is supposed to be”, rather than expect so much or try so hard to change it. To let “it” change us.

So what is this going to look like?  I’m not sure; it’s going to look different for each of us. We’ll just have to let each other know how it all shakes out in 40-some days.   All I know for now is that I’ve got my own four walls to focus on:  a guest room to clean out (long story…), a body to care for, some great people to love on (including YOU!), and an amazing God to hang out with all the while.

Not too shabby of a season centered on living in o-BE-dience, right?

My yoga teacher ends every class instructing us to take a deep inhale, and then exhale everything out that won’t serve us. I’m taking that seriously this Lent.  I’m breathing in the good stuff He has for me, and letting the rest go. Well, that and being a little more quiet, too! 😉

Love you and miss you girls so, so much.  Smoochies all around!

Peace, love and JESUS-LEVEL JOY!

Wendie

PS: (If you are looking for something different and meaningful  – and QUIET –  to try this Lent, join me in participating in this fantastic idea on praying for others! http://catholickatie.com/writing/my-favorite-thing-to-do-for-lent.html )

PPS: If you like awesome Christian music, click here to take a look at my current playlist!  It’s soooooooo good!  😉

See ya on the flip side, sisters. XOXO

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A Letter to My Favorite Sister Friends Ever (HINT:  if you have ever been a Stringing Pearls Bible Babe in any way, shape, or form…I’m talking to YOU):

You know how there’s that saying, “She’s a woman of few words”?

Yeah. Well, whoever “she” is…I’ve never met her. 😉

I mean, that has certainly NEVER been said about me (and this post will prove that, sorry…).

AND it hasn’t been said about any of you either!

wendie-queened-up-crop

Verbose. Wordy. A little too hyperbolic.  Yeah.  That’s us when we get around this table of ours we lovingly call “BS” (Bible Study, people.  Sheesh, move your mind up! 😉 ).  There is very little that I can think of that makes my heart happier than a lively gaggle of girlies yakking it up around said table together about life, and specifically spiritual life with Jesus!

Because one thing has become abundantly clear to me this session: life around the Bible study table matters.  It defines our people and our relationship to them. It gives us a sense of belonging. It provides a space in time and place to rest our souls with sisters we trust and it blesses us with opportunities to serve each other.  The table, sweet friends, is where it’s at.  And somehow, it’s magic.

tuesday-party-collage-5

“Woohoo!” (Oh Margaret Feinberg, we DO love you…! 😉 )

We each bring a solid support leg to our table. Without each leg in place, the table doesn’t feel quite right.  It can function, for the most part, but it’s far more stable with all of us holding our unique seat, set by God with a royal place setting meant only for the one seated in that spot.

tuesday-party-collage-2

My favorite tablescapes are the ones with vintage or super unique table cloths and each setting has a different plate and mismatched flatware. I adore different glasses and mugs.  A vase with wildflowers and sunflowers just makes it all the better.   Every single thing is different and unique in its own right, but gorgeously perfect nonetheless.

Just like you and you and you

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If there’s one thing we can say about doing life around the BS Table, it’s that we are never bored, never at a loss for words, and NEVER at a loss for love. These seven years have been so full of wonder, haven’t they?  Never in a million years could we have put ourselves together as a cohesive, tight-knit group of sister friends without God’s divine intervention.  Sure, some of us were friends beforehand, and many of us attend the same churches and schools. And yet…we couldn’t have all found each other without God.

OH how like our God, right?!  Our amazing and WONDER-FULL GOD.  He did this.  And I, for one, am forever in a stunned state of gratitude and giddy joy because of it.

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He’s got plans for us, doesn’t He? That is the first scripture we learned back in 2009 (and then grew by leaps and bounds in 2012!) when we all took a big ole step of faith and formed this ministry together.  So it seems like we should end this chapter there, as well.

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.

Plans to give you hope and a future. 

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

You guys know how much I love that verse. It always give me hope.  But I’ve suddenly realized that I’m a girl that likes it a bit more spelled out.  Like – “HERE is the plan I have for you – now go and enjoy the prosperity today!”  But that’s not what this verse says, is it?  It’s basically saying, “Girlie, chillax.  I got this.  It may (or may not) be awhile before you get to see it.  But either way, just remember that I got it.  Keep calm and carry on. xoxo, God.”

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The thing is…I want to know NOW.  I’m a little like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  (as in:  “I want a Golden Goose NOW, Daddy!”).  It sorta reminds me of this HGTV show I love.  It’s called “Fixer Upper”; you’ve probably seen it, too, because it’s like, UBER successful. I love it for so many reasons starting with Joanna, and I’ve sort of fallen for Chip, too – he is such a goof!  They’re basically my “reality show crushes”!

But the huge-iest reason  I love the show is the big reveal.  (I know. You are SO going to miss my made-up words and awesome grammar…) If you’ve seen the show, you know what I’m talking about .  It’s that moment when Joanna and Chip are standing in front of this fixed-up renovated place and, in unison, they enthusiastically yell out, “Are you ready to see your fixer upper?”  And every time, my heart screams back, “YES!  YES!  YES, you guys!!!  I’m SO ready for the big reveal!  Show me the finished product of what you have had planned all along!”

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It’s almost as if I’m just begging God to make my life as tidy and easy to wrap up as an episode of Fixer Upper…

*sigh*  🙂

So if you are anything like me, I want to leave you a smidgen of encouragement “in the waiting” as we take this hiatus from BS together because it is something I, myself, am totally struggling with.  Here’s the cool part:  what I’m starting to learn is that there are these perfect blessings hidden in the uncertainty of the “big reveal”.  I’m starting to learn that it’s all about faith IN the uncertainty, not in opposition to it.

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Click here for an amazing piece of poetic comfort on the blessing of the wait and unfolding: Pierre T Peilhard de Chardin’s lovely piece about growing within  uncertainty. I’ll hang here while you read it…

Goodness me, I love that. And I love you.

Thank you for taking the leap of faith to join me and your sisters in this awesome adventure of Bible study.  I am honored, humbled, thrilled, and giggly happy to have been your guide for a season.  We’ll be back together in some fashion or another; I just know it!. And I know that Jesus is so happy with you, so proud of your commitment to growing spiritually and making this a priority in your world.  Keep up the great work, girlies!

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Thank you for allowing me the time, the space, and the grace to step back and let him work His Fixer Upper magic in my life for a season.  And I can’t wait to see and hear what He does with your spiritual renovations!

I will miss seeing your unbelievably gorgeous grins each week so don’t be strangers, okay?  I won’t be one either.  (Unless you run into me in the grocery store, and well…most of you know what happens then…ha ha ha ha ha!)

To quasi-quote Ruth, “We are each other’s people.  We share the same, amazing God.  Let’s do this thing called life together.”

Until we meet again, here’s my prayer for you, most fittingly from Paul…my Bible boyfriend:

Be assured that from the first day I heard of you, I haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. I pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. I pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.  Colossians 1:9 MSG

Peace, love, and so much JOY and gratitude for your incredible selves,

Wendie