Category Archives: Faith

Is God Really Interested in Hanging Out with Me?

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Here’s a seriously strange confession from me: there have been moments in life when I’ve questioned God’s existence. 

Actually, I should more accurately say this: there’ve been moments when I’ve questioned God’s presence in my own little existence.

I know. It sounds odd hearing that from me – a woman who runs a women’s Christian ministry.  But you know what?  I’m human.  And we can be a cynical, disbelieving bunch, we human beings.  I mean, one of our most often used phrases is, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  And if I don’t see it (or FEEL it), does it really exist?

Just because we can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A caterpillar inching along a leaf in a large tree may see the leaf itself, but not notice it’s attached to a gorgeous oak tree. Likewise, a person admiring the tree from a short distance away may very well not see that cutie, tiny caterpillar on the leaf.  Regardless of the visibility of the tree (OR the caterpillar) to the observer, both exist.

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The presence of God also exists, regardless of our ability to sense it.   The COOL thing is that we see the pattern of this assurance from Genesis (the very first book of our Holy Bible) all the way to Revelation (the final book).

Experiencing the presence of God is something so intimate that scripture records the following:

  • He planned you from the beginning of time;
  • He was there/orchestrated your conception;
  • He attended your birth;
  • He willed you to take your first breath;
  • He knows every single breath you will ever take;
  • He bends down to listen anytime you ask;
  • He delights in delighting YOU (so cool right?);
  • He gets you out of messes;
  • He protects you even when you don’t know or think you need protecting;
  • He is there when your eyes finally close to this world;
  • and…He meets you the moment your soul takes flight and He welcomes you home for eternity.

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So with all that Truth just begging us to believe that we are ALWAYS in His presence, why aren’t we always living in awe of Him in our lives? It’s because there are things, people, and circumstances that pull us away from experiencing God.

Rob Bell, in his book, How to Be Here, says the disconnect can begin with something as simple as an everyday distraction, and then easily move on to boredom, then cynicism, and finally despair.

So how do we protect ourselves from those things? How do we STAY connected to the wonder of the presence of God in times when we feel so very alone?

We begin by taking each one of those scenarios and turning the tables on them!

For instance, the opposite of distraction is mindfulness and focus, right? Well then, anchor yourself in the present moment, even if you have to create something tangible to do it – like our poppy stickers from our goodie bags this session or even a quick moment or two of mindful meditation on His goodness.

Purposeful activity combats boredom. I place devotional books or inspirational music around so if I start to feel bored of my everyday routines of driving or even tedious work, I can take a few minutes to reconnect to His goodness without getting lost in mindless activity.  Listen to a quick podcast or watch a video of your favorite spiritual teacher for some inspiration.

Surrounding yourself with people, activities, and environments that are life giving (instead of “battery drains”) chases away cynicism and feelings of “why me” and “why NOT me”! I go to the Arboretum to drink in His beautiful creation.   I call a friend who always lifts me up and makes me giggle.  I take a yoga class and breathe deeply.  Anything that moves my mind up and out of the temptation of complaint and self-pity works here!

Despair is a place and experience that we will all find ourselves in at one time or another. Fortunately, most of us don’t stay there long.  But if and when you do find yourself at a loss for purpose and hope (because that IS what despair is), my advice is to seek medical, therapeutic and pastoral assistance. All three can help lessen the depth and length of that you spend in that gulley and place you back into a mindset of experiencing God’s healing presence.

Finally, remember our first week of this series and the one question we asked you? (You know the one:  how do you know that you KNOW that YOU KNOW God is good and is with you?)  Well, if ever you start to feel at a loss for His beautiful presence, I want you to go back to that question and pay attention to your response.  However you answered it, let that be your first line of defense.  Because it’s  your own, personal,  GO TO thing that returns you to the knowledge of God’s presence in your life.  Let it anchor you to the truth that He’s never left you, not even for a nanosecond.

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Following along with our wonder-full series?! This week, you can read chapters .002 and .003 in the black book and complete week two in the participant guide!  Are you a fan of contemporary Christian music?  Then check out this most awesome song, “Eye of the Storm”!

See you back here next week for an eye-opening look at the important of UNFORCED rest…it’s not as easy as you might think! 😉

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Expecting Miracles

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“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Have you ever been astounded by God? I mean, has he ever just surprised the ba-geezers out of you with something He does and knocked your socks off in awe when it happened?

It can be as personal to you as a Godwink (those moments when you realize God showed up and orchestrated something JUST for you…the person you absolutely needed to see in that moment, a song on the radio that brings you immediate peace, a glimpse of something that reminds you He is near and in control?)…

OR it can be something a bit more grand, say a Godwonder?

A miracle, even?

This summer, as I was reading through our current study (Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg), I decided to take Margaret’s challenge and pray to be reawakened to the wonders of God in my life.

It started simply enough with this five-word prayer:  “God, show me Your Glory”.

I HIGHLY recommend that prayer.  Like, highly.

Little by little, I started to hear and see things around me that I had sort of become oblivious to:  beauty in nature, “coincidences” in relationships, and miracles of all shapes and sizes in the lives of people around me.  It was a beautiful thing.  And my confidence in “Divine Expectation” began to regrow – especially for those around me.

For instance, my friend, Alicia prayed a very similar prayer before she headed out on a family summer vacation this year in Florida.  That trip remains a highlight of their year!  They experienced dolphins and manatees approaching them (in their natural environments, mind you – not contrived swim situations), and even happened upon a sandbar as the tide went out COVERED in a multitude of sand dollars – which they had only seen in souvenir shops and airport gift stores.  I was SO excited for them!

And, if I’m honest, I was also a little envious.

In mid-July, my gorgeous girl and I headed to Florida to spend a little “R&R” on the Gulf Coast with my parents.  We go once or twice a year, but this time, I felt God calling me to do something just a little different:  GO TO THE BEACH!

Beach umbrellas ellas ellas cropped.jpg(copyright Ella Connors, 2016)

I know.  It sounds weird.  We visit that area often so you’d think the beach would be a staple in our vacation “diet”.  But you see, my Ella doesn’t like the beach.  As a matter of fact, she hates it.  It scares her.  And it has scared her since she was little.  Nothing dramatic ever happened to her, she just gets a bit panicked there.  Overwhelmed.  Uncomfortable. And so, for the last 10 years of visiting Florida, we’ve avoided the beach.

But this year?  God was telling me – GO.  And so I planned my trip, with DIVINE EXPECATION of meeting Him there.  I’d go alone so Ella wouldn’t have to experience the anxiety and panic she always gets.  She could stay at home with my parents and I’d spend my day there, waiting for Him to show up and show off for me, like He had for Alicia.  I prayed for my own beach miracle:  I wanted to encounter wild dolphins.

The morning I’d set aside for my beach trip arrived and, sort of last minute, my parents somehow convinced Ella to come along and we all packed up the car and headed to Anna Maria Island.  This, I thought, was sign that God was about to unload a mighty miracle of dolphin family proportions!

We unloaded the car and set up half way between the ocean waves and a beachside restaurant where we planned to have lunch. Ella was determined not to get in the water, just collect shells with my mom.  But me?  Well, I was diving in head first to go find my dolphins.

After about an hour or so (and still no dolphins), I noticed Ella actually IN the water and reaching her hands down into the sand underneath, pulling up treasures to see, touch, and put back in.  I smiled, of course, seeing how God had made sure everything was calm enough as to not disturb my dolphin search.

ella-and-the-shella(Copyright Wendie Connors, 2016)

At lunchtime, we headed up to The Sandbar Restaurant.   After eating, Ella and my parents decided to head back down to the beach for more shell finding and splashing in the Gulf.  I stayed up in the shade to finish my drink, knowing we’d be packing up soon to head back inland for the day.

I thought about my prayer for my own beach miracle.  I had been so sure He’d meet me there. I’d expected the dolphins, and while it had been such a great  day, I have to admit that I was wondering where He was that day.

A nanosecond later, this verse bubbled right up into my brain:

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord.  Jeremiah 29:13-14(a) NLT

“God”, I wondered, “I’m looking so hardWhere are you?”

I looked up and straight out into the ocean and my heart burst wide open into a million pieces.

Right there, right in front of me, was my beach miracle.

Ella was diving in and out of the waves, her eyes wide with joy and confidence.

My own personal beach miracle, my very own “dolphin” daughter splashing and laughing and unafraid and begging me with her crazy waving to come swim and dive with her in God’s beautiful ocean.

That day, I swam with my wild dolphin (or turtle, as the case may be… 😉 )!

ella-as-a-turtle-cropped(copyright Wendie Connors, 2016)

Girls, we need to learn to believe God for miracles.

In doing so, we also need to stop praying for what we think they should look like.  Our God is not limited to one kind of miracle.  We tend to sort of box Him in when it comes to divine expectation because we cannot even imagine the wonders of which He is capable.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)

I don’t want to be the kind of  person who boxes Him in. I need to remember He has infinitely more than one miracle up His sleeve, more than ONE miracle with which to bless me.

Yes, sometimes He shows off with glorious ostentatiousness, like Alicia’s entire sandbar full of sand dollars! And yet other times, He quietly blows our minds by loosening anxiety’s grip on the heart of a teenage girl, and sets her free to glide and flip and dive through the water like a dolphin, reminding us that His goodness and grace in granting miracles cannot be contained.

How about you?  Would you be so bold today to pray that five-word prayer:  “God, show me Your Glory”?    He wants to amaze you, girl.  Let Him.

Here’s a link to our favorite song this week: “Anything Is Possible“, by Matthew West!   Also, if you are reading the Wonderstruck book with us, read chapters .000 and .001!  You can also complete Week One in the participant guide if you are working at Level 4!  See you back here next week as we explore the Wonder of His Presence!  So good, right?!?!

Peace, love and WONDERFULL joy!

Wendie

 

 

 

 

 

Five Things You Can Find Today for More JOY!

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

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise sister friend!  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.

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?

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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.

Earth from Space

Take an easy hike 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.

If you are following along with our easy 2016 summer series, we have reached our second to last week! Can you even believe it?!  Only one more week to go!  But never fear as we are already cooking up what’s coming next!  We will announce our fall study in a few weeks.  In the meantime…

Click here for the following easy goodies:

  • Link to this week’s mantra and scripture card!
  • Link to this week’s yummy menu and recipe cards!
  • Link to purchase/find out about our July book, Giddy up, Eunice, by Sophie Hudson!
  • And click this link for another great tune this week by MercyMe, “Flawless” – one of my all-time favorites!!!

Have an easy week, sweet friends! See you next week when we wrap up the easy summer series!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

How to Stay Hydrated, Spiritually Speaking!

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Have you ever been dehydrated? Not necessarily the feeling like “I’m a wee bit thirsty”.  I’m talking about the kind of physical dehydration that causes symptoms like fatigue, irritability, headaches, and confusion.

Most of us can treat that kind of dehydration ourselves with water, electrolyte drinks, and rest – making sure we replenish and rebalance the fluids in our body so that we aren’t losing more than we take in. Once we are able to do that, our symptoms disappear and we feel re-energized and able to get back to the business of our lives.

Lemon Slices in Water

But what happens when we find ourselves spiritually dehydrated? Like when we feel irritated by the needs of others when, normally, we wouldn’t have batted an eye when asked for help.  Or when the everyday tasks we usually handle with ease become just a list of headache-inducing duties that cause us to feel resentment and discontent.  Or when we lack the motivation to even lift open the cover of our Bible or devotional to drink in what God has waiting to pour into us.

Been there? Me too.  How do we satisfy that thirst?

We go to meet Jesus.

NTW Week 3

The secret is to treat our dry spirits the same way we treat our parched bodies. We stop expending energy and find a place to rest.  We fill up on what we need to repair and regroup.  And in order to try to prevent it from happening more often, we learn from our experience.  We remind ourselves the importance of noticing the signs of dehydration and treating our bodies when we spy the very first symptom.

Better yet, we act preventatively to keep ourselves in a state of satiation – we fill up continuously with just the right amount so the symptoms that accompany a deficit stay at bay.

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We soak ourselves in the beauty and wisdom of scripture. We open the Bible and read over our favorite verses and let them speak to our spirits.  We spend time at God’s feet meditating on those written words and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal their healing power over us.  We ask Jesus to meet us where we are and we accept his invitation to give us time to rest in Him.  We resolve to keep watch over our “spiritual dehydration symptoms” and ask the Holy Spirit to prompt us to action when we are tempted to ignore them, forgetting where that leads us.

Take inventory of your spiritual hydration level this week. Feeling a little “dry”?  Carve out time to meet Jesus at the Well and at the Table.  Bring your cup, sweet friends, and get ready for a long, cool drink of delicious Life.

He’ll be waiting for you there, I promise!

Following along with easy 2016?  If so, here’s what you can do to stay hydrated this week (click the easy 2016 link to print up anything listed below):

  • If you are reading Simply Tuesday along with us, try and finish it up this week! We’ll be headed onto Giddy Up, Eunice in July!
  • Get out and display Week 3’s Note to Self! Remind yourself to stay hydrated!  😉
  • Looking for an easy dinner option?  This tomato tart is simply delish!!!!  Click the link above and scroll down to Week 3’s menu card and recipe!
  • Get your mindset right with our ALL TIME FAVE song by Rend Collective, “My Lighthouse” !

Have a great and easy week! See you back here next Monday for a few thoughts on THOUGHTS!  😉

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

She did what she could (and it was enough)

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Do you ever wonder if doing your best is doing enough?  Do you struggle with the feeling that your actions are big enough to count? Sometimes I do, too.

Here’s the truth, though.  Our purpose matters.  Regardless of what they look like on the outside, our actions have big significance.

Remember the story in the gospels of Mary of Bethany  anointing Jesus with an expensive bottle of nard?   We read about it a couple weeks ago – right before Easter. (You can click here to read it!)

I’ve read that story a gazillion times and heard it even more, AND taught it with a variety of lessons in mind. But one thing I never considered before was that line, right there:

She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.  Matthew 14:8-9, MSG

Matt 14

(Photo and beautiful artwork cred:  Tammy Mill 2016)

In other words, “Leave her alone. She did what she could in this moment out of love and compassion.  And it’s a big enough deal to me that I’ll make sure she’s remembered because of it.”

I get choked up because I think Jesus is speaking to each of us through this passage. He chose a girl, an ordinary sister friend, just like you and me, to be remembered throughout eternity because she did the one thing she could do in the moment.

She took what she already had on hand (scholars are quick to point this out because the cost of that nard would’ve been equal to about a year’s wages for the average MAN in those days and there was no way she had that money) and offered it to Jesus as a willing gift of devotion to the man she knew to be her savior, OUR savior.

Mary of Bethany did what she could.  She gave from the treasure trove of gifts she had been given.  She acted with what she had.  She acted where she was.  She acted when she felt moved to do so.  She acted without being asked or invited.

Think about that.

She wasn’t asked to do it.  I mean, strictly speaking, Jesus never said, “Hey Mare!  Can you do something really cool and over the top for me right now?  You know, something I can hold up as an example for my followers for years to come?”  Nothing like that is recorded as happening.

Mary felt the call of the Holy Spirit, the need to do something only she could do, out of her love of someone, in this case Jesus, and so she did.

Today I want to challenge each of us to tune our ear to that still small voice that must have called to Mary that day. The one that says, “You know, I think you could be of some help here.  You can do something that may sound or feel a little weird at first, but could really be important.”

Like, when someone keeps popping into your head that you get the feeling could use your time or a phone call today. Or when you sense someone needs a meal or just a big, fat Portillo’s chocolate cake dropped off on her porch.  Or when your wallet has the rare time of being a little heavier than normal and the food pantry flyer just ended up in your mailbox.  Or when you child says to you, “can you just sit on the edge of my bed for just a little longer?”  Or even just the hungry look of your coworker who forgot their lunch compels you to share the last few bites of your favorite sandwich.

Little things matter.  Little things have lasting consequences.  Little things become big things and become the miracles that change lives.

Miracles. They start with an offering.

So, whatever “it” is today, do it. Whatever “it” is tomorrow, then do it, too.

Inspire Week 10

Whatever it is, it is your purpose. Big or small.  Visible to many or only to one.  It doesn’t matter who knows, who sees, or who cares.  What does matter is that you do what you can, when and where you can do it, with what you have been given.  Just like Mary.    You give what you have as an offering and let God do the rest.  Because even if no one else notices, even if no one else seems to care?  Yeah.  Well GOD cares.

As we’ve learned together this session, we have ample opportunity to strengthen our purpose muscle. Through worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and yes – even evangelizing. Our gifts and talents can weave and soak right through even the most difficult of places because we CAN do all things through Christ who strengthen us.  Thank you for walking it out with us this season.  Our ministry team and I continue to keep you in our prayers as we break for summer.

AND SPEAKING OF SUMMER…!  Get excited because we have another super fun, super laid back summer series in store for you!  Stayed tune because all will be revealed in a few weeks!  😉  In the meantime, here’s little sneaky peek into our logo:

easy strawberry logo 1it all wide open for you RIGHT here on Thursday, May 19th!  😉  Stay tuned, sister friends!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

Why I’m Not Ashamed of Being an Evangelist

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“Evangelism”, “evangelist”, and “evangelizing” are words that can get a bum rap, can’t they? I mean, on one hand, evangelism can come off fake and hypocritical.  Yet on the other, it IS the “great commission” we are all lovingly called to as Christians.   But it can seem so daunting, right?

One of the greatest things Rick Warren tells us in the closing chapters of The Purpose Driven Life is that evangelism simply means sharing your own love of Jesus with other people.  Now THAT I can do!  How about you?

Not sure yet?  Check this out:

Have you read the book in the Bible called Nehemiah? It’s an Old Testament book that chronicles the life of the prophet Nehemiah.  Now, there’s a lot of history and background about this guy that is pretty interesting, but the gist of this story is this:

After the exiles returned to Jerusalem, the main temple was rebuilt. But the wall around Jerusalem wasn’t.  This was a pretty big deal because it was in a state of total disrepair, and left the city open to attack and pillage (isn’t that a wackily fun word to say?!).  You see, the state of a city’s wall represented power, protection, and beauty.  To have the wall rebuilt would be a huge help in protecting the temple and ensure the continuity of worship there.

Now,  Nehemiah was not a resident of Jerusalem, although his father and his father’s family were. Nehemiah himself was actually a high servant of a king who ruled over the Persian Empire.  He was living in another town called  Susa at the time (about 445 BC).  A friend from Jerusalem came to visit and told him about the disarray and this really weighed heavily on Nehemiah.

He asked the King for sort of a “sabbatical” to go take care of things because he felt God placed a vision and call on his heart to go and organize the people of the city to rebuild it. The King granted him time away and told him that if he felt it was from God, he definitely should go.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and began to inspire and encourage the residents (each according to their abilities, station in life, and talents) to rebuild the wall together.  And low and behold, a mere 52 days later, the entire wall was expertly rebuilt.  There was opposition, of course, but the wall WAS rebuilt in an unprecedentedly short amount of time – one that shook their enemies to the core because they realized the only way it could’ve been done was by the help of God and everyone doing their part.

My favorite part of the story has to do with the priests who were working on the wall. Nehemiah instructed them to start by repairing the section right in front of where they lived.

Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house. Nehemiah 3:28, NLT

No worrying about the enormity of repairing the entire city wall. No worrying about how big this job was going to get or how long it would take.  Just “think about what’s right in front of you.  And when you finish, help your neighbor.  Do what you can.  Today.  And then tomorrow? Well, do what you can tomorrow.”

Ephesians from Tammy

(Photo and artwork:  courtesy Tammy Miller, 2016!)

I want you to try something. Image you are sitting at a round table with 8 or 10 other people.  Now envision everyone standing up and making a circle around your table.  (I love this image because we can see each other’s faces and it reminds us of being able to stand shoulder to shoulder in support.)

Now imagine everyone turning and facing OUTWARD. At this point, you see only what’s in front of you, and maybe just a smidgen of what your neighbor sees.  THIS was Nehemiah’s goal:  to get people to focus on what was right in front of them and to then get to work on that.

That’s a pretty brilliant idea, if you ask me.  Because, this way, the task at hand doesn’t seem daunting; instead it seems doable.. And in the doing, we each strengthen the Kingdom.

Do what you’ve been called to do, authentically, right-smack-dab wherever you are. That authentically piece is important.  Your “story” is vital to you reaching others.

Inspire Week 9

Be the one who builds the connection to the heart of another.  Bring Jesus to someone else and bring someone else to Jesus.  For me, THAT’S evangelism.  Not reciting some fancy, pre-planned speech or inviting everyone you meet to go to church with you on Sunday (not that those are bad things… 😉 ). Evangelism is simply lovingly extending yourself in your own “front yard” (and even beyond!) as an outward sign of Christ’s love for people everywhere. Can you do that?  I bet you can!

Are you following along with our on purpose series?  Would it surprise you to know we only have ONE week left?!?  It’s true!  So here’s what you need to do this week to FINISH STRONG (you’ve come this far, keep it up!):

  1. Read Days 36-42 in The Purpose Driven Life
  2. Complete Week 9 in the Inspiration/Scripture Booklet
  3. Watch this video of EVERYONE’S favorite song from this session, “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz!

Check back next week as we wrap up this series!  It’s been a honor and pleasure to walk it with you!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

You is kind; you is smart; You IS Important! ;)

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Psalm 116 tammy

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2, NLT

Did you ever read the book, The Help? Maybe you even saw the movie?  Even if you didn’t, you might be familiar with the following lines:

you is kind

I just love those lines. That towel hangs in my bathroom as a daily reminder of Truth.  If I get quiet enough, I can imagine God whispering those very words to me; and then adding, “You is loved.”

That’s the thing isn’t it – that “getting quiet enough” bit. This world we live in is a pretty noisy place.  We all need what Oprah calls a “morning oasis”, even if it’s at night!  A time when we can quite literally step away from noise and chatter of life to honestly get centered, talk to God, and let Him get a word in edgewise.  A time when we make the choice to chase away the mental lists that clutter our mind and hit the reset button on the remote that controls them.  A time when we can just be in His presence and soak it in, little by little, like the slow trickle of a hose placed on a newly planted tree, so that when we get up, we no longer dying of thirst in our spirits.

tangle for peace

In our study book for this session, A Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren tells us that if isn’t important when it happens, where it happens, or what it looks like; the important piece is that it just happen.   For our souls to be saturated with Truth, we need to cooperate with God in the filling! My challenge to you this week is to find 20 minutes or so each day to get quiet enough to experience God.  Let Him remind you why you’re here; love on your tired heart; reassurance your anxious mind; heal your rattled body.  Whatever it is you need, He already knows and is waiting for you to sit a spell with Him over it.

Don’t know how to get started? Here are a few of my favorite (paraphrased) suggestions:

  1. Shauna Neiquist: Mediate on one world or one image that reminds you of God. Maybe it’s a heart, the word “love”, or something in nature. (Meditation isn’t simply the emptying of the mind, remember. It’s also the filling of it with Truth. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate! 😉 )
  2. Oprah Winfrey: Talk a walk outside and focus on your breath. Let God bring images to mind. Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.
  3. Anne Graham Lotz: Read scripture. Respond to God with your own paraphrased version back. He loves to hear you speak His word!

Create your own version of a “morning oasis” or even a bunch of different ones and share them with us here!

If you are following along with us in our on purpose series, make sure you’re up to date from last week’s assigned homework!  Catch up through Week 8 in your inspiration/scripture booklet.  AND enjoy an awesome song by Jordan Felize about filling up on God!  Click here for “Satisfied”!

See you back here next week as we begin to wrap up our Winter/Spring 2016 series!!!

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: Get Your House in Order

Why a Broken Heart is a Good Thing

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I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts and, if  I’m honest, probably been the cause of one or two along the way.  But the only GOOD broken heart I’ve ever experienced came from the most unexpected source – GOD.

I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and  replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.

Ezekiel 36:26, MSG

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(art and photo credit:  Tammy Miller, 2016)

Without a broken heart  (or maybe a better way to put it would be a “softened heart”) it’s impossible to let God’s word penetrate the calloused layers that often protect it.

How do those callouses get there in the first place, what happens?  We weren’t born with them.  It’s just that life happens.

“The soul is covered by a thousand veils.” Inayat Khan

In other words, layer upon layer, our true purpose get covered up by the circumstances and situations and experiences of life.  Disappointments hit, layers get added.  Slighted by someone we trust, more layers.  Fearful moments, hard fought – but lost – arguments, hurtful comments, scary circumstances.  Layer.  Layer. Layer.  And we eventually begin to wonder if we’ve honestly been put here for a reason.

The obvious question we begin to ask is something like, “If God put me here for a purpose, why didn’t He clue me in on it?”   The answer is, He did.  Scripture tells us that He ordained it even before we were conceived and that He places that purpose deep in our hearts from the moment of our conception.

We come into this world knowing our purpose, even if it’s at an infantile or immature level.

Think about your kiddos and the first time you start asking them what they want to be in life.  Have you ever stopped to think they know what they are here for, but may not be able to articulate it fully?  If you ask kids what they want to be and why, they are pretty darn insightful.  So, I thought it’d be interesting to take a little survey with some of the children I know.  I used the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and followed up with, “Why do you want to do that?”.

I LOVE the answers I got…

Five year old:  “I want to be a doctor so I can make people better on the insides.” (Translation – I am here to heal people.)

Six year old:  “I want to be president because I know important things that people should hear.” (Translation – I am here to lead people in the way they should go.)

Eight year old – “I want to be a teacher because I am smart and other kids like me so they would listen to me.” (Translation – I am here to share wisdom and show others how God wants us to live.)

Nine year old:  “I want to be a model because I’m pretty.”  (Translation – I am here to share the beauty of God’s creation! Ahem… 😉 ).

Twelve year old:  “I want to be an actor because I’m funny and make people laugh.” (Translation – I am here to boost the spirits and heart of people when they are down.)

Fifteen year old:  “I want to be a therapist because I’ve experienced that life can be really hard and I know how to get through it.” (Translation – I am here to use my experiences to show people the way out of the dark and into Light.)

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(Good Lord, I love this kid…)

 

Twenty-One Year old (this one is priceless!):  “Anything I want to be.” (Translation – I’m a cocky college senior.)  😉

I realize I might be taking a bit of poetic license here, but I bet I’m not too far off the translation.

But now listen to these:

Thirty year old:  “I have no idea. Ask me when my youngest turns 10!” (Translation – I’ve lost touch with what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m too turned around to see it right now – no worries, I figure out later.)

Forty year old: “I need to get back to that, but I’m too busy volunteering.” (Translation – I’m sure it’s important but I can’t take the time right now to figure it out because helping people is taking up too much of my time.)

Fifty year old: “I’m a little freaked out about that right now! What in the world AM I here for?”  (Translation – I need a purpose, I’m sure I had a purpose, but has it passed me by?)

Elizabeth Lesser, who is sort of a new age thinker with a Christian bent says that “True , honest, spiritual work is about uncovering your soul and peeling back all those veils. And, prayer”, she says, “is a tremendous veil buster.”

I agree with that 100%. The only way we are going to remove all those layers of veils keeping us from returning to a place where we can begin to remember God’s call on our life is to talk directly to Him.

Prayer. The first step in this process of remembering why on Earth we are here is to return to the Source – to GOD – and ask Him to remind us.  To help us break the layers that keep it hidden and enlighten us once again.

I recently heard a story about an old rabbi who ended every sermon with this affirmation, “…now let the words of God rest upon your heart.” One day, a member of the congregation asked him, “Rabbi, why don’t you ask us to take those words INTO our hearts.  Wouldn’t that be more beneficial?  Better for our hearts to absorb the words than to merely have them sit on top of it.”  The rabbi replied, “Only those who have allowed their hearts to be broken can let His words IN.  Most of us refuse to let that happen because we fear it might hurt. But for those who dare to try, their hearts are reborn and soften enough to grace them with the humility to become what they were always meant to be.”

“Your heart will continue to break until it finally opens.” Rumi

This journey we are taking together right now is a chance for us to throw off any veils that have been tossed on top of our souls. It’s an opportunity to let our life-hardened hearts break just enough to let a little light shine through.  It’s a time of possibility in meeting God in sincere prayer to glimpse even a sliver of what He has planned for us here, this side of heaven.

This whole thing about “figuring out our purpose” is just another way of saying “figuring out how to return to God”.

So let me leave you with one more – “What do you want to be when you grow up and why?” example.  I asked a dear, 80-something year old woman those questions, and just listen what she said:

“I’m here to bring glory to God by sharing the love of Christ with everyone I meet, and to enjoy every moment He gives.”

Yeah.  I want what she’s got.  Amen?

I’m excited to do this with you. To unveil our souls, to soften our hearts, to hear God speak over us and to us!  So if you are following along with our study, read Days 8-14 in our main book, A Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.  Complete Week 2 in your Inspiration Book.  (Our scripture for the week is that one waaaaaay up there at the top of this post from Ezekiel 36:26!).  Our Inspiration Quote for the week comes from Charles Spurgeon:

a bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't Charles Spurgeon

” A Bible that is falling apart probably belongs to someone who isn’t.”  Charles Spurgeon

And, finally,  check out this awesome song by  Natalie Grant, “Be One”!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  “Delightful!” – and why it’s one of my favorite words (thanks, Mom!  😉 )

Wanna know a secret?

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Pssst. Hey, you.  Yes, YOU.

Can I let you in on a little something important you need to know?

You are not here by chance.

You were placed here by a loving, relational, all-knowing, and purposeful God – for such a time and place as this.

In other words…

You are here on purpose.

Isn’t it time you started living that way?

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Join us this spring as we dive deep into scripture, lessons, and discussions to get better acquainted to our reason for being here! We’ll be reading Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For, and then talk about finding meaning in our lives, regardless of our situations and circumstances.  We’ll explore what the Bible has to say about our worth, our gifts, and how we can most effectively use them to really live the life God intended for us on Earth.  We’ll get inspired from motivational quotes from famous (and maybe even not-so-famous 😉 ) people.  We’ll hear real-life stories on how to apply what we are learning to our daily lives.  AND, of course, we’ll worship together using an all-new CCM soundtrack inspired by our series!

Wanna join us? Thought so!

Our Winter/Spring Bible study series starts RIGHT HERE the week of February 15th!  All new blogs will post every Thursday that will correspond with our readings from the book, questions from the study guide, scriptures we’ll be learning, AND the quotes we will surely be repeating to ourselves for years to come!

Next Thursday, we will post up pictures of all the goodies the ladies in our physical Bible studies will be receiving, along with instructions on how to create/find them for yourself (don’t you just LOVE  Bible study goodie bags?!). In the meantime, get a copy of the newly updated book (either from your local library, favorite bookstore, or online source like amazon.com), a copy of the study guide, and dust off your Bible!  (Click here for Bible buying info!)  We’ll be waiting here for you!  We are THRILLED to have you with us!

Jer 29 11

Yes, indeed. You are here on purpose, sweet friends.  Don’t ever doubt that for a second.

I CANNOT WAIT…! “See” you next Thursday for the kick off!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday (which is WAY better than any New Year’s Resolution!)

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Well, hello there 2016!  Nice to meet you, new friend.  And may I say – I can’t wait to get to know you better.

I know you probably have a lot in store for each of us this year. And I know there will be ups and downs with each day, month, and season. So instead of one, impossible resolution to try and keep this year, I’m taking a few suggestions from our boy, Friday, and making myself a 2016 manifesto.

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday:

Everything that is supposed to become BIG must begin quite small.

Everything big must start small

 

 

Anyone can fly if they believe they can.

Believe You CAN Fly

 

Sleep is really important.  Like, SUPER important.

Sleep is super important

 

Sometimes life is going to get messy, and that’s okay.

Dont be afraid to get messy

 

Create a little mischief from time to time.

Create a little silly everyday

 

ANYTHING can be a treasure if it means something to you.

Everything is a treasure

 

 

Hugs make everything better.

Hugs Make Everything Better

 

Relax.  Everything’s going to be okay.

Relax

 

 

Protect what’s important.

Protect what's important

 

Don’t be afraid of the dark.  The light always wins.

Don't be scared of shadows

 

Always make new friends – even if they look bigger than you and stand on the other side of the fence.

Make new friends even if they are bigger than you

 

Spend time with your “people”.

Love your family - biological and otherwise

 

And…spend time with your people.

Trust the ones that love you

Happy New Year, sweet friends.  From our home to yours.

Peace, love, and JOY,

Wendie (and our guy, Friday, too)