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"!

New Beginnings!

Standard

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!

33468481_10155746889887675_6454859735878336512_n

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!

woven logo 1

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!

Advertisements

Happy 100 Day!!!

Standard

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.

Standard

 

“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!

Standard

“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

 

Be Glad TODAY (because it IS a good day)!

Standard

Psalm 118-24

 

You all know I LOVE a really good microphone. Always have – always will. Put a “mike” in my hand, or slap one on my lapel, and well, you best be ready to hear my voice for a spell.

 
I’ve always been this way. Started in grade school when I got my first taste of the joys of being on stage when I sang the theme song of Winnie the Pooh…into a microphone. Yep, I have it BAD for a mike.

 
In middle school, I was part of a glee club type thing called Up With People, Junior. We sang all sorts of show tunes and traveled around to local places entertaining everyone from senior citizens to country club members. I loved it! Not only for the microphones, but for the upbeat songs and the feel-good vibes they gave off.

 
My FAVORITE song of all was called “The Best Time of Your Life”. It was written by the Sherman brothers way back in the 1950s and originally was the theme music set to a ride in Tomorrowland at the Disney parks (does anyone do “Happy” better than Disney?!).
The lyrics still run through my head from time to time and they immediately sprang to mind when I was thinking about our scripture this week! Here they are:

 

Now is the time. Now is the best time.
Now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes and watch how you win it!
Yesterday’s memories may sparkle and gleam,
tomorrow is still but a dream.
Right here and now, you’ve got it made.
The world’s forward marching and you’re in the parade!
Now is the time. Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.
There’s so much to cheer for, be glad you’re here.
For it’s the best time of your life.

 

Sweet friends, today IS a good day. See, we can’t “hold” on to time – we can’t store it up in a jar or even lock it up in a vault. We cannot manipulate it with some sort of Orwellian remote control that would allow us to go backward to relive the good old days or catapult us forward through dry valleys today in order to get to the good times we pray still await us.

 

I love to imagine that the last couple words of that Psalm above (you know, the part that says, “let us rejoice and be glad today”) are a REAL LIFE, REAL TIME invitation from the Psalmist to stop and “smell the roses” – TODAY.
Sure, I encourage you to enjoy the big stuff and successes that come your way, but don’t miss those little morsels of joy that are just sitting there waiting for you to notice them.

Celebrate today

Like…the way the wind makes the lilac blossoms bounce on the bushes. The way the water shines on the tanned back of your child as she crashes into the pool with a swan dive. The smell of suntan lotion being sprayed on the kids on the softball fields. The sound of an old song you love being played a few cars up from you at traffic light. The intensity of a lightning bolt at night and the feeling of thunder’s reverberation rattling your storm screens. The scent of the rain on the fresh cut grass outside your window.

 

We have to take time (MAKE time) to do these things EVERY day, to combat the notion that we think we are all “too busy” to stop to smell anything, let alone roses.

 
Let’s take this week to remind ourselves to slow down and rejoice in today’s moments – big and small. Let’s also remind ourselves, if something unpleasant or difficult comes our way, to say, “If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I can still count it as a good day, because (insert a blessing here)…”

 
“This is the day the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad!”, really translates as, “This is a God created day, not me created day. And since everything He creates is good, today is good. So I’m glad to be living it today.”

 
So when you are tempted to forget to celebrate a “today”, just imagine me, as my 6th grade self, standing right there in front of you, microphone in hand and animatedly singing:

baton girl wendie

 

Because if nothing else makes you giggle in the moment, I’m quite sure that will! 😉

 

(What’s that? Oh, I’m sorry. Had I neglected to mention I also twirl baton???!!! )

 
Peace, love, and JOY!

 

Wendie

The Butterfly Effect (why YOU matter!)

Standard

I don’t remember the first time I heard about The Butterfly Effect but I DO know it fascinated me immediately! The thought that a single butterfly could flap its wings somewhere in like, Arizona or something, and that the eventual effect could cause a hurricane somewhere on the other side of the world (due to the movement of air molecules that, in turn, moves more air molecules, and so on and so on…) is just SO COOL!

butterfly effect

Did you know The Butterfly Effect actually has been scientifically proven and is now considered scientific law?  It even has a fancy pants title.  Listen to this mouthful: The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions. Don’t ask me to explain it to you, because math and science aren’t really my thing. But overall, I can explain it this way: every flap of wings, breath breathed, and action taken all matter because they cause another reaction, which causes further reactions, etc.

That refers to YOU, too, spiritually speaking.  As in:  your actions, your words, your skill sets and talents.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m evaluating myself and my “strengths and skills”, I have a tendency to look around at the skills sets of others and wonder why I didn’t get theirs instead!

But here’s the thing, you guys.  We cannot all perform the same function(s) because NOTHING on earth would get done. We’d all just be flapping our wings and moving air molecules back and forth at one another and they’d never make it half way across the globe in order to change the world in the way God intended! Listen to what Paul has to say about this in his first letter to the Corinthians:

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

1 Cor 12:14-24,The Message

I know. The ear always wants to be the foot. The foot wants to be the eye. The eye thinks it would be better off as the mouth. The mouth decides the hands have it goin’ on much more than it does. Sound at least a little familiar?!

But God knows what He’s doing, sweet friends. He designed us with a million different ways of serving, relating, leading, and connecting with one another so that things will get done and get done in His will! Here’s another way Paul said it:

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

1 Cor 12:4-11, MSG.

If we’d all been given the spiritual gift of wise counsel, who’d be out there healing the sick? If we all only had the gift of clear understanding, where would we get the miraculous acts? I could go on, but I think you’re getting the picture.
butterflly it matters

“There are generations of yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moved you make and the actions you take today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. By [God’s] hand on you, millions – billions – of lives will be altered, caught up in a chain of events begun by you this day.”

Andy Andrews, The Butterfly Effect: Everything You Do Matters, copyright 2009.

Whatever you’ve been given, however you’ve been wired, whoever you connect with and how, is a GIFT. Every single thing you do, every flap of your wings? It matters.  Spread those beautiful wings of yours and SOAR!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

Stop In Your Tracks!

Standard

“Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.” Oprah Winfrey

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise woman! And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

sunflower-field
We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

Job, are you listening?  Have you noticed all this?  Stop in your tracks!  Take in all of God’s miracle-wonders!

Job 37:14, The Message

From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much, He wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.  He’s a cultivator.

Don’t believe me?  I have a dare for you this week so I can prove it to you!  I want you to get outside this week and find things that meet the criteria listed below! Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” He created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring.

Regardless of the season, let him remind you that He is always good.

Keep on reading your Everyday Holy Devotional, sweet friends!  It is sooooooo good, isn’t it?!  We LOVE Melanie Shankle!  And check us out on Instagram and Facebook this week for some SUPER FUN extras!  Post your photos from this week’s dare using the #cultivatespm  tag and be entered to win a surprise!  😉

Peace, love, and SO much JOY!

Wendie

Freckles are Cute, but You’re Cuter ;)

Standard

Confession time. And it’s “juicy”.

The summer after second grade, I read the book, Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume and suddenly became convinced that my life would be perfect if I just had freckles.

I know – I’m totally aging myself here and some of you won’t even know what I’m talking about with that book title or maybe even the name Judy Bloom.

PEOPLE. JUDY BLOOM IS LIFE.

Well, she’s LIFE for those of us girls who grew up in the 70s and early 80s. And if you take Judy Bloom books and follow them up with John Hughes movies? Now THAT is honestly LIFE.

But I digress. Back to Freckle Juice. I’ll have to admit, prior to reading it, I never gave freckles a second thought. But after reading this book, I was obsessed with having freckles because I thought they would make me special. The thing was, I was NOT willing to drink the concoction (I totally thought it was real, BTW):

“Sharon’s Secret Recipe for Freckle Juice: Mix up all these things together – stir well and drink fast: grape juice, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, juice from one lemon, pepper and salt, ketchup, olive oil, and a speck of onion. One glass makes an average amount of freckles.” (from Freckle Juice, by Judy Bloom)

SO instead of drinking that gross juice, I decided to try sun-tanning, permanent marker, and prayer. But no matter what I did or how many prayers I prayed, I never got freckles.

You ready for a sage truth I’ve learned that summer? Here it is:

If you don’t have freckles, YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO HAVE THEM.

Feel free to insert anything you’ve coveted and yearned for over the years. There are times we look at the attributes we admire in others and wonder why we weren’t gifted and blessed in those ways. We spend too much time looking outside of ourselves and feeling neglected and left out because of what we don’t have. But the truth of the matter is that you weren’t made for those things; you were made for different (and dare I say BETTER) things. Things that suit you. Things that allow you to do YOU.

This summer, I’ll be encouraging all of us to start thinking about the following three questions:

Who am I? (How have I been created? What am I good at? What are the attributes God uniquely ascribed to me?)
What do I care about? (What are the things that make me tick? What moves me to tears – both good and bad? What do I want out of life?)
How can I live my life so that it reflects God’s purpose for me? (How can I marry up who I am to what I care about in order to make a difference in meaningful ways?)

Why are we doing this? Because it matters deeply that you connect and cultivate the gifts, talents, and attributes that God bestowed upon you. These things are uniquely yours and have significance beyond anything your sweet little head can imagine.

Our job is to take everything good and sacred and holy that God has placed within us and, as we nurture and cultivate and grow them, pour them right back out into the lives of those He places around us.

This world, YOUR world, needs you to be YOU. Not “a version” of you, not the you that has Sharpie freckles tattooed onto your precious face because you think that is what makes you special. WE need you to actually be YOU. Because THAT you is the special you.

Here’s what I want you to do this week.

• If you don’t already have one, get yourself a copy of Melanie Shankle’s new 100-day devotional, Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments. Start it NOW!

 

Melanie Book

 

There are 100 days from Memorial Day up to Labor Day! I can’t think of a more FUN and meaningful book to keep us in God’s word this summer!
• Start noticing the things that make you uniquely you. What are you good at? What do people tend to bring up about you that they admire? What role(s) do you personally gravitate to in your family/job/friend group (i.e. the one who gets things done, the big idea girl, the creative one, the teacher, the FUN one, the peacemaker, the calming influence, the math mind, etc.)?
• Grab a journal and start writing these things down!  Keep track of things as they pop into your head.
• Meditate (or even memorize!) this verse: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10, NLT
• Make this your motto this week:

be who you were created to be

 

See you back here next week for more Cultivate 2018! And follow us on Instagram and Facebook for Meaningful Mondays, Wisdom Wednesdays, and Friday Fundays!

It’s going to be a great summer, sister friends!
Enjoy your week!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Cul.Ti.Vate! Our Summer 2018 Series!!!

Standard

cultivate logo 2

 

Cul-ti-vate: (verb)

To foster the growth of something through nurturing and encouragement.

This last week in Chicago has been like a real-time viewing of  time-lapse video of spring.  Each day, it was like you could see the greenery and flowers growing right before your very eyes! Pure magic!  And a sure sign that, regardless of how long winter hung around this year, seasons really do come and go.

If you have ever lived in this area of the Midwest, you know that spring is short lived.  It lasts about a two or three weeks and is nestled in between snow and frigid temps and the heat and humidity of Chicago summers!  So, these few weeks are when we all bust out to Home Depot and get busy planting fledgling flowers and gardens, tidying lawns, and pulling out the patio furniture.  It’s all about hope for what is yet to BLOOM!

Spring brings with her so much hope for all measure of possibilities!  And along with the sunny days and warmer temperatures, we also experience rain and storms which are necessary in cultivating the growth that will surely be a result of our hard work in and on the ground.  

Ground level.  That’s were our efforts need to be focused to get the growth growing, girls.  You plant something too far down, it never gets the chance to sprout up into the light.  You plant it with roots exposed  instead of right a ground level, it withers from the lack of being nurtured by the soil.

Growth requires ground level cultivation.

We can all use a little cultivation these days, right? And, really, is there a better time to renew and grow than summer?!

BB Outside of Box

This summer, I hope you’ll join us as we take the time to slow things down just a bit and focus on what matters, and take time to cultivate people, experiences, and moments for ourselves and for those we love!

We’ve got great blog posts, fun resources, and a fabulous summer …breathe box…(TM) to get us digging into what God has planted in our hearts.

BB Contents

 

Inside BB

 

“Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!”

Zechariah 4:10, NLT

If it matters to you, CULTIVATE it!  Because all good thing start small!  You guys, good things all begin at GROUND level. 

Our Cultivate summer series starts right here on the blog on MONDAY, MAY 28th!  We have lots of great things in store for you  so mark your calendars,  and get ready to grow with us this summer!

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

What did you just say?!

Standard

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people in this world would like to be known as people of integrity as opposed to deceitful, right? We want to be good and honest friends, spouses, parents, co-workers, etc.! We want our legacy to be one of respect and fairness.

Integrity: being whole, honest, upright; being a person with good moral principle.

One main characteristic of a person of integrity is that she does what she says she is going to do. Shows up when she says she’ll be there; performs the tasks she said she’d do. In other words, her words match her actions and vice versa.
And in the realm of spiritual simplicity, our words (just like our actions) communicate who we are and what we believe so the more straightforward they are, the simpler they are to understand, the better.
Words can be far more powerful that we might imagine and can pack a serious punch. They have very real consequences and they often reveal the state of our hearts.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45, NIV

Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 ministries came out with a book a couple years ago called Keep It Shut and she has a 40 day Devotional out just last week as a follow-up called Zip It! In her book, (and I haven’t checked her sources, btw), she says there are more than 3,500 verses in the Bible that relate to words, speech, silence, and communication.
That’s a lot of verses! And it makes sense, really, that words and speech would be written about so often because, according to a recent University of Arizona study out of their College of Communications, the average person speaks 16,000 words per day orally and in writing. That’s a lot of words.
So…what DOES the Bible say about words and speaking and how can we learn the best ways of keeping them simple enough that our actions match our words in integrity-maintaining ways?

Let’s start by reading James 3:2-12.  You can either read it in your own Bible or you can  Click this link.  I’ll hang here while you do!  😉

Kinda serious, right?!

Here’s the thing. Our words and the messages we communicate get complicated by five different things:
1. We speak out of emotion, instead of fact. (Remember that our feelings are indicators but they do NOT have to be dictators!)
2. We speak too much. (Our message gets muddled, complicated, or just plain not listened to after awhile.)
3. We speak before we listen. (Sadly, there is no class on public listening, just public speaking!)
4. We say things we don’t mean (Flat out lies or saying yes when we really mean no).
5. We don’t speak up when we should. (Because of our desire to people pleasing and our own insecurity.)

So what’s a good BS girl to do to ensure integrity and simplicity of speech? Glad you asked! Before we let our mouths get us in trouble, we stop, we shut it, and we grab hold of this week’s power pack scripture verse from Psalm 46:10:

PSalm 46-10

 

Standing on the simplicity of that bold directive, we can then pray David’s words from

Psalm 141:3: Set a guard over my mouth, Lord, and watch over the door of my lips.

We then stay in the Psalms a minute longer and pray 19:14:

Psalm 19:14 New Living Translation (NLT)
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Those words should be enough to give us a reboot  to recalibrate our hearts to a place where our words are true, thoughtful, caring, and helpful. This is a reboot of the thoughts BEFORE those thoughts can escape! How many times have you wanted a reboot after words came out of your mouth? (If you’re like me, maybe your answer is…A LOT!)

And if you can’t remember those particular verses easily, here’s my favorite way to stop my words before I regret them:  I do a REBOOT of my mouth just like I do on my computer:  ctrl-alt-del.

Control those lips – keep ’em shut!  Alter what’s about to come out!  Delete anything from my mental dialogue (or keyboard and screen…) that isn’t helpful!  Turn to prayer, scripture, and trusted wise counsel to process what’s really going on in your heart before spouting off, girls.  It just might save your integrity!

Tim told me about a quote from the movie, Invictus, he always tries to remember. I didn’t see the movie but it was something one of the rugby coaches tells another coach when they are talking about how to successfully motivate players. He says, “We must be careful to use our words as to encourage rather than criticize.”  That totally reminded me of this beaut:

Proverbs 16:24 New Living Translation (NLT)
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

We’re not talking sickly sweet placations that have no footing of sincerity. We’re talking thoughtful, honest words that help instead of hurt.  Just think about how lovely it feels when someone speak kindly over you or to you!  And remember how good it feels when you do the same for someone else.
Finally, I want to end on this note from Proverbs today:

Proverbs 18:21 The Message (MSG)
 Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

You choose, sweet friends; you choose.

Following along with us in our She Persisted study?  Click here for this week’s homework!  And, if you one of my kindred spirit sisters who likes the extra goods, click here for some additional resources for this week!  I apologize for the two week gap in homework and extra resources! My computer “died” and I got a new one (YAY) so unfortunately, those two weeks aren’t able to be digitized.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you!  But hey, just think of it as a two-week vaca!  LOVE it!

Come on back next week as we begin our discussion on calling…and talk about something fun we’re cookin’ up for summer!

 

Peace, Love and JOY!

Wendie