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"!

Mind the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

mind the door

 

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

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

So mind the door.

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

Mind. The. Door.

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

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

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

Because if not you, who will?

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

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY.

Wendie

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

 

 

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The Waiting Game

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

See you back here soon, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

Visibly Invisible

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

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

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

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

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

And speaking of US, take a look at this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

New Beginnings!

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

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

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!

Happy 100 Day!!!

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

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

Esther 4-14

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

Let GO.

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“Let Go.”

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

 

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

Let Go Exodus 14-14

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

 

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

 
Ruthie Donovan

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

 

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

Enjoy your day, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

xoxoxoxooox

Wendie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boxes, Goodie Bags, and Goosebumps!

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

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

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

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

YL Party Collage 1

(Having FUN at our summer party!!)

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

YL Goodie Bags

(Goodie Bag Table and Assembly Line!)

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

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

Sort of like the story of the loaves and fishes…

*sigh*

*fist pump*

*God is BEYOND BEYOND*

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

Breathe Box for Cultivate (Summer 2018)

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

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

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

YL Staff and Wendie

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

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

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

Enjoy this day, sweet friends!

Peace, love and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie

 

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

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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!)

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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!

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“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