Category Archives: Love

You do you. I’ll do me.

Standard

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

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

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

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

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what to do with your Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lectio Divina

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

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

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

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

So much love,

Wendie

 

Advertisements

Barely Breathing (the Power of Prayer)

Standard

Psalm 116-2

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

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

The end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Runaway bunny

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

SO MUCH LOVE!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May peace find you fully today!

xoxoxoxoxo,

W

 

How to #HAGS (Have a Good Summer ;) )

Standard

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

Yours does, too? I thought so.

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

mark 6

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

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

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

Graciously, summer dances to a different beat.

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

“GO DO YOU.

AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ENJOY IT.”

 Peony 1 Talmud

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

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

Bring Me Wine

(Photo from Pinterest)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#HAGS 😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

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

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

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

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

Play Like a GIRL!!!

Standard

I know what you think this post is about.  You’re wrong.

It’s NOT about “Girl Power” in sports or school or the working world, or even about feminism in the gender equality sense.

You need to know I wholeheartedly support those agendas; it’s so important for our voices to be heard, our accomplishments to be recognized, and our contributions to be valued just as much as anyone else’s.

But this post, sweet girls, is about the power of gal pals and our uniquely special friendships.

Last week, I had the amazing and super awesome privilege to have lunch with two of my college roomies. These are girls I love; as in LOVE LOVE LOVE.  I met both of them the very first day on campus at Butler.  And there hasn’t been a holiday, birthday, special event, or heartbreak we haven’t walked through (or belly-level crawled) side-by-side since.  Thirty years, ladies.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Kappa Al-Potatos!

( Junior year…I’m the ADORABLE brunette farthest to the right on the bottom row.  While I love ALL these ladies, my lunch girls (Chappie Sue and Reenie) are the beauties just above my right shoulder.  Blondes.  Yep.   I had to throw the hair color thing in.  Because you NEED to know we all had the SAME amount of fun, regardless of hair color.  Just saying.)

What’s our secret?

We play well together.

We get along famously. We finish each others’ sentences.  We love on each others’ children and reprimand one another’s husbands (and we adore them, too…!).  We show up for milestones with bottles of champagne and heartfelt presents/presence.

And, conversely, we sit quietly, holding hands, in grief or fear.  We’ve shared clothes, pizzas, money, tears, giggles, bedrooms, viruses, recipes, lip gloss, beers, vacations, card games, and even argued a time or two along the way.

I pray you have some “same age-same stage” friendships like ours. I love these girls to the moon and back, infinity times infinity times!  There is such great camaraderie and comfort in these crazy friendships…and a WHOLE LOTTA FUN!

But you know what? I’m equally in love with cross-generational sister friendships.  The ones where we not only are loved on and brought up by ladies a bit more experienced and seasoned than we are, but ALSO the ones in which we are doing the bringing up!

Maybe she’s an aunt, a neighbor, your mom. Or maybe she’s a niece, a younger sister, a daughter, or even a new tennis partner.  It doesn’t matter how you are connected, you know?

It just matters that you connect.

sister friend selfie

Me and She

God places special people in our lives as an extension of His love for us and our innate need for relationship. Regardless of age, stage, circumstance, and standing.

It’s how we are meant to do life.

NTS Week 5

Girls, if you don’t know the story of Naomi and Ruth, I urge you to stop what you are doing and read it right now in the short, but power packed book of Ruth. Click here. No worries; I’ll wait here while you do…!

Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I stay.  Your peeps are mine.

Yep, that’s good stuff.

Sophie Hudson (author of our July book, Giddy Up, Eunice) reacts to that kick butt verse by saying this:

“It’s one of those passages that takes my breath away a little bit, because it’s a level of commitment we don’t see modeled often in our current culture.” (Sophie Hudson, Giddy Up, Eunice)

To play like a girl means to demonstrate that “LEVEL OF COMMITMENT” to our treasured friendships.  Whether through mentoring, discipling, walking alongside, or just plain and simple “gal pal-ing”.

Let’s make that model a bit more mainstream, okay?

WHERE YOU GO, I GO.

That’s how we stick together. That’s how we do LIFE.

My prayer for you this week is that you take the time to appreciate the Ruth’s and Naomi’s in your own life. Call them up.  Tell them how much you love them.  Share a pizza (or some sushi, or whatever your thing is)!  Thank God for their presence in your world and your presence in theirs.  If you are having trouble identifying a true sister friend right now, ask God to open your heart and mind to the possibility of making a new one.  He will not disappoint you, sweet one.

Following along with our easy 2016 series?! Click here for the following goodies:

  • Link to the FABULOUS book, Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson!  It’s what we’re reading this month!
  • Print up/display our scripture and mantra card for this week!
  • Hungry? Print up our menu idea and recipe – veggie sandwiches!  Super yum!
  • And click here for a link to our fun song and video for this week: “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz (it’s a fave for many of our girlies!)!

Come on back next week and read about our ideas on trying something NEW! TRY IT…YOU’LL LIKE IT!  😉

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

P.S.   Thetas rule.  (Mic drop…)

P.P.S.  We love our guys, too.  Thought I better throw that in.  Smoochies, Bo!  😉

 

 

 

 

Why a Broken Heart is a Good Thing

Standard

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

ezekiel

(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.)

Preset Style = Bold Format = Medium Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = High Contrast Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium

(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!  😉 )

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

Standard

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)

 

 

I’m So Sorry

Standard

“The Church is where Jesus heals, not where He measures sin.” Pope Francis.

In studying the first Beatitude from Matthew 5:3 last week, we learned to empty ourselves of ourselves and take a posture of total reliance on Jesus as our savior. This week, we build on that premise and learn that coming to Him with a repentant heart makes all the difference in the world in our healing.

Golden Frond

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

Jesus himself does not specify or indicate precisely what kind of mourning He was referring to here. BUT, as we are beginning to understand, the Beatitudes are not necessarily speaking about emotional states of mind or physical states of being. Instead, they refer to our spiritual state.

We live in a fallen world; one in which sin has made a home. Foundationally, sin is the root of things that cause us all kinds of pain.  Simply stated, sin is something bad that separates us from something good.

The kind of spiritual mourning Jesus is most likely referring to in Matthew 5:4 is not from the loss of a person, possession, personal power, or even a position in life.  It’s about mourning and grieving as a result of sin.  And believe it or not, that’s a blessing.

berry in the sky

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me. The Lord has chosen me to tell good news to the poor and to comfort those who are sad.  He sent me to tell the captives and prisoners that they have been set free. … He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. … I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes.”  Isaiah 61:1-3, ERV

Man, I love it when God repeats himself in scripture! That’s a big deal – like, a really BIG deal. And Jesus KNEW his audience (the disciples, remember) would know He was quoting this gorgeous piece of comfort from the prophet Isaiah when He delivered the first two Beatitudes.  They would also be aware Isaiah was relaying a message that directly referred to the repentant hearts of the people of Israel over the exile their own sins has caused.  And because of their repentance, God assured them of His comfort once again.

What does a repentant heart look like, practically speaking and in a bit more “modern terms”?  If you did the Romans study with us (and even if you didn’t!) you are most likely familiar with the story of the Prodigal son.  You can click here to for a refresher on that story!  He wants us always to come home.

 

Scout comfort and joy

“God’s children are hardwired to run home when the storm comes. It is the heaven-born instinct of a repentant soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wing of our Father.” Jennifer Dean Kennedy, Set Apart.

Many a lost soul has been converted on the doorstep of a crisis, and you should know God is MORE than okay with that – it may even be His plan for some of us!  Life has a way of tripping us up. We have a way of falling for it (and on a regular basis)! Sometimes, we create the sin. Sometimes, sin creates itself. Either way, we don’t like it and, therefore, it brings us grief and mourning.

But Jesus hasn’t forgotten you. If you’ve come to Him with a heart of sorrow and repentance, He’s already working on “it”, whatever it may be, and He knows what your heart feels today.

Whenever I think about human, spiritual mourning, I think maybe Mary, the blessed Mother of Jesus, had it the worst, really. She didn’t ask for “this”. She didn’t wake up one day and head to the fertility clinic and ask to be the Mother of God as an unwed girl.  She didn’t ask to raise a child that others would mercilessly mock. She didn’t ask to watch as her son was brutally murdered – all as a result of the sins of human beings.    She didn’t ask for any of it.  But, she accepted her assignment. Only to be told the following by a prophet named Simeon:

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother…A sword will pierce your soul, too.” Luke 2:34-25

Sin brings so much brokenness and grief and pain and mourning to this world. But I pray you find comfort in the FACT, the TRUTH, that your God sent His son to save you from it; He came to offer you comfort through reconciliation to Him and eternity.

So, if we were to rewrite Matthew 5:4 to a more modern version, it might sound something like this:  “Blessed are those who have the honesty and humility to admit their sin and their pain and be convicted of it, because in the end, Jesus cleans up your mess, wipes away your tears, and brings you Home.”

Join us next week as we tackle the concept of a meek and mild savior…! 😉

Following along with the homework for our series?  Click here to access the link to Week Three Homework (I really, really love Level 2 Homework this week so if you can find time to delve into it, I highly encourage you to do so!).  Liking our song selections?  Then you’ll want to click here for this week’s music by Third Day, “I Need a Miracle”!

Praying for a blessed week, sweet friends!  Until next week, God bless.

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

(Photo cred and rights:  Ella Connors and Wendie Connors, 2015, all rights reserved.)

P.S.  Did you like that adorable puppy picture above?!  Then you are sure to love this one!  Welcome to the world, Scout B.!  Who’s-a-good-boy?!?!?

Scout B by back door

simpl.if.I: Be Real! (Summer Series Week #6)

Standard

Sometimes you just need to know you aren’t alone.  Sometimes you need reminding that weeping is cleansing and good and painful and hard, regardless of the reason why you’re weeping.

 Be Real Angel Statue

Jesus Wept.  John 11:35

When I read those two words from John 11 above, I honestly didn’t care why he was weeping.   I just needing reminding that Jesus wept and in the midst of it, I realized the healing power of this very short verse.  Jesus wept because he knew what it meant to be broken.  Just like us.  He wept because He knew it isn’t easy being human.  Just like us.  He wept because life is hard and He, Himself, experienced the fact that earthly life deals us blows we aren’t expecting and aren’t even able to deflect.   Just like us.  So He wept.  And therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that we do too.

 

We each weep because of a catalyst – an event.  Maybe because of a diagnosis.  Maybe because the bottom falls out.  Maybe because we can’t cope with the way it is for one second longer.  Maybe because it shatters our heart to see someone we love in shambles.  But honestly, regardless of the reason, we weep because we have been rocked at our very core.  We weep because we cannot have imagined “this” was coming.  We weep because we didn’t want it to be this way.  And we weep because we know change is coming.  But maybe change is just what we need to heal.

 

The beautiful flipside to the sadness is that we also weep when we are happy!  Can you even imagine all the times Jesus must have felt blessed tears on His holy cheeks when He looked around and thought, “My heart could burst with joy in this moment!”?  Even with all the heartache, there were most certainly tears of happiness shared around the table, too!  Just like us.

 

Weeping lets us be real, and being real is a grounding and simple and holy experience.  It puts us on an honest and transparent footing with others and, most importantly, with God.  Being real is a lifelong process that prepares us to intimately share ourselves with Him face-to-face.  To be real means to really know love.

Be Real John 11-35

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

So today, go ahead, be real.  Do the “ugly cry” if you need to – regardless the reason.  Because remember, sweet friend, you are infinitely loved and understood.

 

Practical Application:  (simipl.if.I’ed steps you can take to get REAL today!)

 

  1. Find/print our scripture card for this week: Be Real (John 11:35). Put it somewhere you can see it and read it to yourself over the course of this week!
  2. Read the verse in context of what was happening in the life of Jesus when this was recorded. Realize that Jesus experienced everything we do as humans. What a gift we have in watching how he did things.
  3. If there’s something going on in your life right now that is moving you to tears, let yourself be real enough to weep. Write a letter to yourself giving yourself permission to be mad/sad/happy/elated/frustrated. When you’ve written it, read it to God as a prayer. Tuck it into your Bible or a safe place to come back to once the emotion has faded and the situation has either resolved or lessened in intensity. It serves as a reminder that God brings us through to the other side of all things WITH Him.
  4. Check out this audio/video version of Francesca Battistelli’s “Holy Spirit”!

If you are reading before amen, by Max Lucado, this week you can read Chapter 5:  “Heal Me”.  And, if you are so inclined, complete the Chapter 5 study guide at the back of the book!

 

Thanks for joining us in this series!  We are growing together in Christ – it’s such an awesome thing!

 

Peace, love, and Joy!

 

Wendie

 

Up Next Week:  Simpl.if.I week  7:  Let Go!

“Wild nights are my glory!”

Standard

Wild Nights quote

 

I just LOVE that quote, don’t you?!  To me, something magical, practically sacred, happens when you get a group of women together to eat, drink, talk, trust, and share experiences – big and small.  It’s wild, really.  Not in the crazy, college all-nighter kind of way, mind you.  But rather in the unscripted, raw purity that sisterhood brings with it. Guards down, hearts lifted up, and eyes meeting kindred souls with whom you can relate, regardless of your place on life’s path.

THAT is why we gather for our summer series dinners!  And I am so excited to share a little slice of our wild night together this week!  Tuesday, we had our simpl.if.I 2015 Bible study dinner!

Over forty of us descended on Carol’s beautiful home, which had been transformed into a “Farm-To-Table” kind of paradise by our truly talented ministry team!

 dinner collage set up

Dinner Collage Signage

 Tables were set with a chic, farmhouse flair!

Dinner Collage Tables

They were BEYOND gorgeous!

Dinner Collage Tables Up Close

 

Food and drinks were abundant and flowing, and served by our cherished sister friends!

Dinner Collage Cooks and Bartenders

The smiles were constant (and contagious!)…

 Dinner Collage Fun 1

The conversations were light and deep and meaningful all at the same time…

Dinner Collage Fun 2

Long standing friendships were celebrated and new ones bloomed!

 Dinner Collage Fun 3

 

And through it all, our faith flowed freely and the joy was tangible!

 dinner Collage Fun 5

“This is the day the Lord has made.  We WILL rejoice and be glad in it!”  Psalm 118:24

Thank you, Lord, for such a gorgeous summer night, on which we could come together to celebrate YOU and one another.  We are grateful to spend time in one another’s company, for Your amazing blessings and provision in our lives, and for the precious blessing of friends.  We thank you for the opportunity to take a breath, to laugh, to listen, to love, and to comfort.  Father, help us to never take our friendships for granted, because we know they are the earthly manifestation of Your love for us!  We praise You in the name of Jesus, Amen!

Thanks for coming, everyone, and a HUGE, big sloppy smoochie of gratitude to our ministry team that managed to plan yet ANOTHER wild, Bible Babe party!  😉

 

Peace, love, and JOY!

 

Wendie

Up Monday:  simpl.if.I Week #3:  Pay Attention (click here to learn more about simpl.if.I !)

 

My Most Popular Post Ever (My Letter to My Girlie)!

Standard

Preset Style = Bold Format = Medium Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = High Contrast Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium

To My Gorgeous Girl,

I know what you’re thinking. “A letter from Mom?” Don’t groan, or roll your eyes, sister. You might  like to hear what I have to say.

I DO get your reluctance to read this, though. You’re  14. You start high school this fall and the world is truly beginning to open wide with possibilities for you!  You want to fly a little, don’t you? The last thing you want or think you need is a letter from me with opinions and advice, right?

But humor me, will you? I have some thoughts on the miracle that you are that you might just want to hear now, and maybe even tuck away for another day.

Here it goes…

I know sometimes you look around and see girls you think are smarter, prettier, funnier, or more popular than you believe yourself to be. But here is the honest to goodness truth:

YOU ARE GORGEOUS. Inside and out. You have an awesome sense of humor and make me laugh all the time (in a good way, of course!). You have more smarts up in that beautiful head of yours than you give yourself credit for. People honestly like you and are drawn to your kindness, goodness, and compassion. (And, BTW, I’m not the only one who thinks so.)

Now.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret about those other girls you’ve been looking at: they feel the exact same way you do. It’s true. Right now, their minds are running wild, just like yours, wondering if there’s food stuck in their teeth, if their outfit is cool enough to fit in without sticking out, if the boy in the second row of math class has noticed them, if their butt looks too big in those jeans, and what YOU (yes, YOU) think of them, too.

Here’s the BIG NEWS you may not know: You are ALL a part of something crazy big, something amazing, and something completely and beautifully orchestrated by God.

It’s called “life”.

In this life, the world needs you to become just exactly who God created you to be. To turn your back on that, or to act without the authenticity of who you are, will only lead you to unhappiness and leave you feeling empty and wanting something more.

I only know this from personal experience, my sweet girl.

And while I have your attention for a moment, I’d love to share a couple tips for living this life that I’ve happened to pick up along the way:

  1. Be God’s girl. Remember how much He loves you and never forget to thank Him for all the blessings He places in your life. Act like He’d want you to act.  Make Him a proud papa, honey, and you can’t go wrong.
  2. Don’t stoop to the level of people around you who hurt you or hurt others. The “low road” is quite literally beneath you. Maintain your dignity by remembering who (and whose) you are.
  3. As tempting as revenge is (and as fun as it might be to imagine), keep the Golden Rule tattooed on your brain! It’s as simple as this: Treat others the way YOU want to be treated. Let God take care of the judging and the consequences. He’s got it all under control and He doesn’t miss a thing. End of story.
  4. Notice the people around you and encourage them with your smile, your words, and your behavior. Laugh with friends when they are happy; cry with them when they are sad. Bring them a treat when they are discouraged or sick. Hug them when they need it, and back off when they need distance. Forgive them when they’re sorry. And, you know what?  Even forgive them when they act like they’re not sorry! Forgiveness is a gift God gives you to share. Your true friends will return the favor, my beautiful girl. You can count on it.
  5. Stay away from the things you know are bad and wrong. While we will all slip and fall sometime or another (and maybe even more than once…;) ), stick to what you know is right and you’ll be just fine. (And, um, as a side note here, you should probably be aware that I always pray that you will get caught the very first time you try something outside the realm of what I’d deem “acceptable behavior”. And you KNOW I’m a pretty powerful prayer and know lots of other ones, too, that I’m not afraid to call in for the cause. I’m just saying… 😉 … !)
  6. Stick up for those who are less able and/or less fortunate than you (and by that I mean ALL of God’s creatures!) Everyone needs a hero now and again. You have a gorgeously strong heart of compassion; don’t neglect it. The more you use it, the more others will see God through you. Be “that” girl – you know, the one people can count on as being fair and kind. Surprise people with your goodness, Elle Belle, and you will be rewarded beyond what your mind can even imagine.
  7. Lead by example, but don’t be bossy. Nobody likes a “know it all”. Let others feel important by listening well. Respond by using your intellect and lots of encouraging guidance. Never make anyone feel stupid.
  8. Be yourself. No one can “fake it” forever. It makes you too tired to try and you’ll find you won’t be able to keep it up. Besides, you were created by a glorious and perfect God…so what does that make you???!!!
  9. Life can get hard from time to time. Don’t let yourself get burned out. Take care of your body by resting when you are tired, eating (nutritiously!) when you are hungry, drinking (again, nutritiously…) when you are thirsty, exercising your body and your mind regularly, and praying all the time.   Seek help whenever you need it; never be afraid to ask for it! Important decisions require prayer, expert advice, and your own brain power. You can do it – no matter what “it” is! Relying on God in the tough times grows your faith and your spiritual endurance. He is always with you.
  10. Finally, Ellie Bean, remember that people – good, honest people –  are to be celebrated, not just tolerated, even when they don’t agree with you. God put you here for such a time and place as this, so use this time wisely, joyfully, and in celebration of the life you’ve been given. Life is a great, crazy gift of a ride from God, girl. Stay on His road and it will take you to places you haven’t even had a chance to dream of yet. I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

I love you so much, girlie-cue. I will always be here for you, no matter what. And more importantly, so will God.  These next few years will have plenty of great times and a few challenging ones, too, so let’s just keep talking, okay?

In the words of Bob the Tomato, don’t ever forget: “God made you special and He loves you very much”. 😉

Thanks for listening, baby girl.

Oh.  And remember how you used to always ask me how much I loved you?  Well, my answer remains the same, love bug:

Momma loves every single millimeter of you

to the moon and back…

infinity times infinity times.

Yep.  THAT is how much I love you.

Xoxo,

Momma

Originally Posted 11//6/2014