Category Archives: Bible Study

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

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

 

 

Anxiety. We can either pray, or we become prey.

Standard

You guys,  the struggle is real.  The anxiety struggle, I mean.  And as we learned last week, it can come from just about anywhere, anytime.

For instance, several years ago (okay, it was 20 years ago…) I was on an airplane.  It was one of those tiny little puddle jumper things with propellers that was supposed to fly me from Chicago to Indianapolis.  Just looking at the thing made me jumpy!

And here’s the thing.  I was a nervous passenger to begin with; I always had been.  But sitting on the runway at O’Hare, looking up at the dark and stormy sky wondering how this tiny little plane was going to fly through it, my anxiety ramped up to all kinds of crazy.

We took off and about 10 minutes into the 45 minute flight, the plane got caught in the thunderstorm storm.  It was struck by lightening (apparently, this isn’t a big deal to airplanes, but I assure you it INDEED was a BIG FAT DEAL to me), the plane dropped about 1000 feet,  and the oxygen masks dropped down.  Yes.  THOSE masks.  The ones you are instructed to put on YOURS  first before helping others.  The only problem was, I couldn’t move because my body was frozen in fear.  And I wasn’t traveling with anyone.  And the flight attendants were busy in the chaos. So…no mask for Wendie.  Luckily, it was some sort of electrical malfunction from getting electrocuted in a tin canister in the sky (!) and we actually didn’t need them.

Anxiety, anyone?

Obviously, since I’m sitting here writing, all turned out well. We turned around mid-flight and landed safely back at O’Hare.  But, OH.  I was SHOOK, sisters.  SHOOK.    I was convinced, actually, that I’d never board another flight in my whole-living-life.  This was going to be problematic, though, because I lived in England at the time and traveled often for my job.  Um, red flag alert.

(I think now is a good time to tell you that I eventually got back on a plane and sort of overcame this weird fear of flying.    How was all this possible, you ask?  Well…I sought hypnosis treatment from a certified hypnotherapist in England who also happened to be a dentist  – I’m totally NOT kidding you so you can now begin to wonder about my healthcare choices.  But that’s SUCH a long story.  Saving that beauty for another day… 😉 I love cliffhangers.)

(Oooooh.  And speaking of in-flight anxiety stories, the next time we’re together, be sure to ask me about flying with a guy whom I affectionately call “Double-Double Mark-Mark” because he needed a double-double adult beverage to make it through a flight from Chicago to Sarasota.  We ended up sharing our iPad with him so he could watch “Gnomeo and Juliet” to calm his nerves.  It was all good until he offered the remainder of his adult beverage to my daughter – who was 11 at the time.  Um, no thank you, kind sir; perhaps it’s time for you to close your eyes for a bit.)

I SWEAR, you guys, I do not make these things up.

But here’s my main point:  my anxiety in those airplane moments was totally rooted in my need to CONTROL things.  Problem is, I’m not a pilot.  Not even close.

That’s the thing, really.  Control.  Well, it’s our need to have control. Which is just a dressed up word we use when we decide we need to manipulate our circumstances instead of letting God take His rightful place at the helm.  Girls, when we grab control, we are essentially saying we don’t trust Him.  And if we don’t trust Him, we are playing right into the hands of our enemy.  (See this post regarding our enemy and his manipulative ways for more info…)

Pray or Become Prey

I love this quote from Beth Moore: “When it comes to anxiety, we can cast it and pray, or we can keep it and become prey. We’re not convinced God is listening.  If we really believed He – the creator of the Universe  who has all things at His fingertips – if we really thought He was there, we would pray.”

So what’s a good Bible study girl to do in the face of such anxious times and circumstances?  Ladies, we need a plan.

Our plan is 100% scripture-based (and therefore TRUTH-based) .  It starts with knowing what anxiety is and how to call it out, and finishes STRONG with declaring Truth over ourselves, our circumstances, and even over others.

If you are interested in attacking anxiety instead of letting it attack you, click here for our girlfriend’s guide to kicking it out of our lives.  Remember from last week, it may not change your circumstance or situation, but it sure can bring you freedom from the freak-out surrounding it.  And that freedom allows us to step out in faith and take action when and where it’s needed.

God is good all the time, sisters.

isaiah 41 10 scripture card

Following our She PERSISTED study?  You can click here for our homework for week six!  Can you even believe we are HALF WAY THROUGH this awesome study?!  And for those of you who like all the extras, click here for some great online resources supporting our topics this week!

Smooches and prayers for FEAR-FREE moments this week!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie  xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Note:  I take anxiety, on the clinical level, with extreme seriousness.  Prayer and a relationship with God have been incredible tools in my own toolbox for dealing with it, personally.  Having said that, if anxiety is affecting you in ways that disrupt your sleep, your daily life, your ability to take basic care of yourself, and/or your ability to relate to others, PLEASE reach out to a professional (doctor, therapist, pastor, counselor).  Help from every level is so important in conquering it.  If your anxiety or depression makes you feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, PLEASE tell someone immediately and call 911.  I’m praying for you.  Relief IS possible, sweet friend.

 

 

 

Dear Anxiety, You’re Not Welcome Here

Standard

Anxiety is hard wired into our brains and our physical body chemistry – think “flight or fight”.  Plainly put, when doled out properly, anxiety keeps us alive.

But somewhere along the line, for many, many, many of us, this security system of ours has become like a panic button that goes off all too often at a very high “volume”.

Here are two definitions of anxiety from Merriam Webster:

(1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious

(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

According to Max Lucado (from his book, Anxious for Nothing), the United States is the most chronically anxious nation in the world.  Fifty percent of adults over the age of 25 report seeing a doctor at least once in the past year for an anxiety related symptom. And (this one just about breaks my heart-open into a gazillion pieces):  seventy-five percent of school aged kids report experiencing anxiety on a regular basis.

Why?  Well, Lucado theorizes it all has to do with rapid changes.  We have experienced more change in this generation than any generation in the last 300 years.  Everything from technology, to travel, to instant access to anything and just about everything in between.  All good things, intentionally speaking, of course.  But they’ve come alongside our regular anxieties of daily living to sort of wallop us with daily exposure to fear.

Anxiety causes a HOST of physical problems. It can be as benign as a stress headache or queasy stomach or as quality of life altering like high blood pressure, ulcers, immune and autoimmune issues.

The effects on the mind can be equally as debilitating from panic and phobias, to depression, addictions, etc.

But how does anxiety mess or harm with us spiritually? It causes us doubt the sovereignty of God and turns us inward to rely on our own devices, attempting to take back control of things that were never meant to be our responsibility.

Lysa Terkeurst, in Unglued says this, however: “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.”  And what she means by that is that our emotions and the feelings that come from them are like  flags being waved that say, “Hey you!  Something is going on that needs attention.”  Emotions come from a gut feeling. Nine times out of ten, we do not need to spontaneously react from the gut feeling.  Instead,  we need to create a plan of action that should come from the mind, after some prayer and listening to God.

This is possible, girls! Listen to our Power Pack Scripture this week:

2 tim 1 7 card

I particularly LOVE the New King James Version on this one because it’s the perfect counter to the lie of anxiety. It gives us the confidence to look anxiety in the face and say, “God didn’t put you here so get the heck out.”

Then, we start arming ourselves with other power-packed TRUTH to help us in the battle.

You know how much I love Bible trivia, so here are a couple fun facts for you:

  • Directives regarding fear show up a whopping 366 times in the NIV; second only to LOVE (551), and just above gratitude/thanksgiving (340).
  • Philippians 4:4-8 is the most read passage in the Bible on a Kindle
  • Philippians 4:6 is the most underlined sentence on kindle

Now, I’m not so naïve to think it takes one prayer, one moment of clarity with God about it, and your circumstance changes and you never have anxiety again. If you look at the most anxious and emotionally charged story about Jesus in the Bible, it’s when He is praying in the Gethsemane.  Scripture tells us he didn’t just pray once about what was going to happen, you guys.  He went to His knees about it three times.  This thing we have with anxiety, sister, it’s an ongoing battle.

I whole heartedly agree with Beth Moore when she says that we have no bigger battle in our life-long, day-to-day living than our battle with anxiety.

But the first thing I want us to remember as we start digging deep into this topic is that we can rest in the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 and Philippians 4:4-8. God has given us a freedom plan from freaking out.

In these next couple weeks, there is another sweet piece of scripture you’re going to want to lean in on:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  I Peter 5:7, NIV

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7, NKJV

I wanted you to hear it in two versions. The NIV calls it out for what it is, right?  ANXIETY.  But the cool revelation about it comes  from digging down into the Greek lexicon from the NKJV.

Twice in that verse the word “cares” is used. The second use of it comes from a word that means tender loving-kindness and care, as in the type one receives from a parent.

The first “care” is translated from the Greek word, merimna, which means “anything that brings disruption and destruction to the personality and the mind.” That’s the level of anxiety He is asking us to cast upon Him. ANYTHING.  ALL THINGS.  Big, small, and everything.  Cast it ALL upon Him.

Next week, we’re diving into HOW that all looks, practically, in our daily lives.  It IS possible, sweet friends, to kick our Worry Bully to the curb and live with peace in our hearts!

Pope Francis Quote

May God bless you and remind you that your  are POWERFUL, FULL OF LOVE, and have a SOUND MIND!  For this week’s homework, click here.  For this week’s awesome extras, click here!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

PS – If anxiety is affecting your daily life in negative ways, I encourage you to reach out to a professional to help you navigate effective and positive ways of dealing with it.  This could include a doctor, a therapist, a counselor, a pastor, etc.  If your anxiety or ANYTHING else ever brings you to a place where you are considering harming yourself or someone else, PLEASE TELL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY and seek emergency assistance.  I’m praying for you.

The Truth About Lies

Standard

“How do you know it’s a lie if you’ve never heard the truth?”  Ella, age 17.

Ella Lie vs Truth Quote

Pretty great question, don’t you think?  I mean, when you hear something for the first time, what, if anything, do you use as your measuring stick in terms of trusting it as fact?  If you don’t have a way to measure it (or just don’t stop to size it up), anything you’re told could be taken in as truth.

This, sweet friends, is what our enemy is counting on – that we don’t/won’t stop to measure or combat the lies he tells with Truth.

Satan is the originator and author of all lies. He is the G.O.A.T. master manipulator and loves when you believe his lies about you.

“Satan is  a liar.  I know you know that, but I want to say it again:  he is a  liar.  He wants to define you, label you, and stop you from being brave and doing the work God has for you.  [He wants this because] it’s hard to believe truth if your mind is flooded with confusion and false stories.”  Annie Downs, 100 Days to Brave

When he first sizes you up, his main goals are for you to think the worst about yourself, to doubt God, and to tempt and trick you into sin.  If you don’t fall for it, his goal then becomes to quite literally destroy you.  In case you think I’m being dramatic, here’s what Peter has to say about it (and this happens to be our power pack scripture verse for this week):

1 peter 5 8 card

Girls, our enemy comes to steal our peace, kill our joy, and destroy our spirit and faith (see John 10:10 to hear Jesus weigh in on the subject!).  And his favorite way of doing this is to twist the truth and fill us with insecurities and fear.

These lies we play in our heads and come to believe about ourselves and others come from a variety of places: our own insecurities; the insecurities of others taken out on us; messages from a tainted, toxic, and broken media-fueled world; sin; and yes, from Satan.

The thing that happens is that we begin to play these lies again and again until they become like a broken record on replay in our minds.  Not only do we beat ourselves up time and time again, we begin to treat others out of that same mindset.  Our actions and words become fueled with false information and the next thing you know, we’ve sown discord and anger into the fiber of the relationships we have with others.

So how do we combat the lies? We change the broken record that has been somehow put on replay in our brain.  We change the lyrics and replace the lie with truth!

  • I Am Scared…becomes… I Am Always Protected (1 John 4:4)
  • I Am Nobody…becomesI Am Important (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • I Am Unloved… becomes… I Am His Beloved (Psalm 139:4)
  • I Am in Need of (_________)…becomes… I Am Always Well Provided For (Matthew 6:25)
  • I Am Ugly…becomes… I Am Beautiful (Song of Solomon 7)
  • I Am Alone… becomes… I Am Always with Him (Psalm 91)
  • I Am Stupid …becomes… I Am Wise (Proverbs 3)
  • I Am Incapable …becomes… I Am ABLE (Philippians 4:13)
  • I Am in a Pit…becomes…I Am in an Opportunity (Romans 8:28)

(Click here for a cool printable of this!)

We gotta start seeing everything with renewed eyes and hearing with renewed ears. Eyes and ears trained on God. Replace what sounds like a lie with what God says is true!  The fastest and most effective way to do this is with prayer and scripture study, sweet sisters!!

“When you spend time with God and immerse yourself in the truth of His Word, you will easily notice the lies and the things you hear in your head that aren’t really YOU.”  Annie Downs, 100 Days to Brave

What’s one lie that’s on replay in your brain today?  Write it down and use scripture to turn it into a TRUTH!  Experience the freedom of living your life in truth!!!  Don’t let lies steal one more minute of your joy!

Following along with us on our She PERSISTED journey?!  Click here for this week’s homework.  And if you like all the extras (and really, who doesn’t?!)  click here for our extra resources for this week.

See you back next week when we get honest about anxiety.  I’ll be preaching to myself, girls!!!  😉

Peace, love, and JOY!!!!

Wendie