Category Archives: simplicity

I’m Stuffocating. (a First Tuesday* post!)

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I used to love email.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Those days when you’d open your inbox and it would have super fun and entertaining notes from people you actually knew

These days, though, opening my inbox feels a lot like going to the real, physical mailbox at the end of my driveway:  just one more “box” filled with junk.  Advertisements, bills, political circulars, coupons, and catalogs from stores I’ve never heard of clutter to the point of “stuff-o-cation”.  I almost hate to open it!  Ninety percent of the messages in that box are from people/companies I don’t even know.  Sometimes I delete 100 emails a day.  It all just feels so…impersonal.

stuffocating

Letters, postcards, and once treasured emails from my beloveds have been replaced by text messages and snapchats and social media posts that can be seen by hundreds (if not thousands) of others. Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as much as the average person, but my heart aches a bit for that special feeling I used to get when a letter or email would arrive JUST for me.  That excitement of knowing someone intentionally wanted to get MY attention and share a little love with me made my heart super happy. It was personal, in a good way.

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about Jesus and the way He communicates. I’m learning that He personally seeks us out and actually cherishes time spent in our presence.  Interestingly (and quite counter-culturally), He’s not in the business of mass mailing His agenda and platform out to the myriad of mailboxes (and inboxes) around the globe, and He isn’t sitting at His laptop waiting for Likes and Loves on social media, YouTube, and blogs.  He’s in the business of dwelling with His people.

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“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

John 1:14

I absolutely love the usage here of that word: dwell.  Translated from its original language, it means “pitches a tent”.  Can you even imagine?! JESUS came to camp out with us.

YOU and ME.

Camp out! As in, “Let’s do this together – in person. Face to face.  Life on life.  I’m intentionally pitching my tent with yours.  You’re that special to me.”

We don’t need a mailbox, an inbox, a social media account, or television to connect with Him. But what we DO need is space for His tent and His Word in our heart so we can DO life alongside Him.

“Watch how I do it and learn my methods (…because you seem to make it all so complicated when you try to do it on your own).”  Matthew 11:29 (my personal interpretation in parentheses!)

His Word is alive and well and begging for us to watch how He did it so we can replicate that love, that grace, that MERCY all around us. The problem comes when we stop looking to Him and instead clutter things up with all our own stuff.

This spring, in order to get serious about pursuing an intentional life of dwelling and camping out with Jesus, I’ve made it my mission to quiet down a bit and start the process of decluttering my own “space”, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s an ongoing process, sister friends, and often feels a bit slow-going!  But one thing God has got very serious with me on is the fact that I have become laden down with “stuff”.  On every level.  And in order for Jesus to comfortably pitch that tent with mine, I need to clear Him room.

Maybe you do, too?

create space for Jesus

Take a minute and answer this question for yourself: what’s stuff-o-cating you?  Is it physical clutter that needs clearing?  A preoccupation with emails and social media accounts that needs to be curbed? A habit or way of doing things that just doesn’t serve you anymore?  Is it a relationship that drains you more than energizes? Your physical being that could use to be cleaned up and cleared out a bit?  Start with one thing, just one thing, that you can begin to clear a little space within to make Him a little more room.  If there’s one thing you can be certain of, His deepest desire is to hang out with you.

“Jesus replied, ‘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

Home sweet (uncluttered) home.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Practical Application:

  • Pick one area (body, physical space, mind, spirit) where you feel stuff-o-cated right now.
  • Pray this prayer (or one of your own): “Lord, I want nothing more than for you to come and pitch your tent next to mine! Right now, though, I’m feeling really overwhelmed and cluttered in the area of _________. I want to relinquish control of this area in my life to you. I want to clear it in such a way that makes more room for YOU! Jesus, help me to clean it up and let go of what doesn’t need to be there. Help me to use what You intended me to have in this area in the ways in which You have always planned. Show me Your way because I know it is better than mine. Forgive me for letting things get out of Your control. Thank you that You love me so much that You get personal! Help me not to feel guilt or condemnation over this clearing out, but instead to deeply know Your delight in my obedience to listening to this call from You. Lord, I am so looking forward to all our camp outs to come! In Your mighty name, Amen!”
  • Get quiet and let God guide your next step. Accept that it’s always one step at a time, girls. And remember that sometimes things gets messy before they can be completely cleaned up. 😉
  • Consider these scriptures as you start to “un-stuff yo-self” (pray them out loud, write them down, read them when you get up and before you go to sleep) to keep your mind focused: John 1:14; Luke 12:16-19; Luke 12:29-31; John 14:23.

Happy De-Stuffocation, sweet friends! I’m praying for you!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

*PS – Today is the launch of a series I’m calling “First Tuesday”! It’s my intention to post here on the FIRST TUESDAY of each month with a fresh look at scripture alongside some practical life applications to make it relevant to YOUR life!  The First Tuesday of the month is a special day around here because our local “emergency sirens” are tested at 10am!  Our Tuesday Bible Babes have come to LOVE those sirens because whenever we are in session, we stop what we are doing and offer prayers of gratitude to God for the privilege and freedom to be worshipping together!  It’s become our habit that (even when we aren’t in Bible study session) as soon as we hear those First Tuesday sirens, we drop to our knees and pray for one another! Check back here on Tuesday, June 6th for a lively post about How to Have a Good Summer, Spiritually Speaking!  You won’t want to miss it!  😉

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simpl.if.I: Be HAPPY! (Summer Series Final Week!)

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When I was in high school, I worked at McDonald’s and my favorite shift to work was in the drive-thru on weekend mornings! I loved wearing the headset microphone because it made me feel quite important and fancy! And it always felt like customers were in a really great mood on Saturdays and Sunday, without the impatience that a typical weekday morning might bring with it 😉 !

The BEST part was sending customers off with a smile and a kind word about their day. We were encouraged to say, “Have a great day!” as the customer was exiting the drive-thru. I took my job seriously, sweet friends. I really, really wanted those people to go out and have a great day and think to themselves, “You know what? I really DID have a great day and it’s all thanks to that darling girl in drive-thru!”  🙂

McD's sign Eph 5 15

Thinking on that phrase, I wish I’d have been wise enough back then to use a more active phrase like, “ENJOY your day!”; it just feels like a better way to remind each other that we all have a CHOICE in how we experience our daily reality. I mean, “have a great day” sounds like all you have to do is sit back and receive it, and some days, those “great” days just don’t seems to find you. Whereas “ENJOY your day” implies active participation on your part, doesn’t it? Kind of that “Mary Tyler Moore” attitude of making today a day GREAT regardless of what life throws at you.

Here’s the secret Mary Tyler Moore (aka “Mary Richards”) knows that maybe you don’t: “day changing opportunities” are always within your reach.

Be Happy Ecc 3-12

If there’s ONE thing Mary and I can tell you about having a good day and being happy, it’s this: if all else fails, do something good for someone else. No matter what today has thrown in your path, the moment you reach out and change the day for someone else is the same moment the day changes for YOU. It’s actively choosing and pursing goodness and not sitting back and waiting for it to find you. It’s stepping beyond circumstances and defying Satan’s attempts to bring you down into a bad mood. It’s believing God and taking Him at His word and partnering with Him to make TODAY enjoyable.

BE HAPPY. “Be” is an active word and happy is a delightful thing to be. And most of the time, being happy is simply, and quite frankly, up to you. It begins with your thought process and blooms from there.

Roald Dahl Sunbeams

(Is that the coolest quote ever, or what?!)

So if you are having trouble enjoying today, sweet friends, take a lesson from Eccelsiastes, Roald Dahl, and Mary Richards: go do some good for this world and find yourself BEING HAPPY as a result!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today toward HAPPINESS!):

  1. Find/Print our mantra and scripture card for this week. Display it on your easel or somewhere you will see it on a regular basis!
  2. Think of someone in your life for whom you could do a little something “good”. Make a note of how you feel before you do it and what your mood is AFTER. I think you’ll find God “ups” your happiness quotient as a result!
  3. Take a moment each day to read over ALL our scriptures and mantras for this summer series. I pray you find comfort and blessings through them.
  4. Watch this cool video from Building 429, “Impossible”!

If you are reading before amen by Max Lucado, time to finish the book! This week, read the final chapter – Chapter 9 and complete the study guide at the back of the book. Pat yourself on the back for another Bible study – well done!!!

What a great 10 weeks it has been simpl.if.I’ing our summers together this year! I am humbled and honored that you took the time to do so and spent it with us. Just like everything in life, all endings just mean a beginning of something new! We are excited to share with you the theme for our Fall 2015 stringing pearls ministries Bible study:

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Yes!! We will be studying the Beatitudes together beginning the week of September 14th! Details on the series will be posted here on the blog and on our Facebook page in a couple weeks! In the meantime, I hope you’ll swing back next week for our Back To School blog post for all of us sending kids of ALL ages back into the classrooms of the world!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: The Back to School Blues

 

Simpl.if.I – Choose God! (Summer Series Week 1!)

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There’s this amazing and crazy cool thing that happens when we free fall into God’s arms.  We actually experience the peace of Christ, which transcends all human understandingDoesn’t that sound amazing?!

But here’s the thing:  in order to experience it, we must choose to do so.

Choose God Psalm 16-5

The choice of making God “first and only” can come from two places:  a place of desperation, OR a place of gratitude and worship.

Do you find yourself in one of those places today?

Are you in a “good spot” where you can sit with God for a bit, letting go of any mundane cares of the day and allow your spirit to spend time counting your blessings and thanking God for them?!  If so, DO IT!  Because when you do, you’ll wind up worshiping the One who Blesses instead of just worshiping the blessings.

Praise brings Peace, sweet friends!  Choose God and watch your spirit soar in joy! 

On the flip side, are you swimming in a sea of anxiety or fear today unsure of which way is up, wondering how much more you can take and the thought of “counting your blessings” is so absurd that it makes your head spin? Yeah, I’ve been there, too. So today I want to especially encourage YOU and your spirit to choose God.

This past spring, my family traveled through a season of upheaval and uncertainty.  Some of you walked it right alongside me, and for that I am so humbly grateful.

But when it first hit, my first instinct was grab onto anything I could and try to right the ship on my own, in a frenzied effort to avoid the storm.  I withdrew from friends and family, worried a lot, and kept trying to grasp control of each second in a desperate attempt to manipulate the outcome.

I did everything I could think of doing, except I forgot about choosing God.  Don’t get me wrong; I prayed – sort of.  I told God what I needed Him to do and got mad when He didn’t provide the outcome I requested.  I bargained and pleaded and wrung my hands and worried some more until, finally, I felt Him telling me to let go of my own agenda and choose Him instead because His plan was the only good one.  I needed to let everything else fall away so I could fall right into Him.

So I chose Him first, and chose Him only.

There were days when it was a choice I had to make every single minute because, in being human, it’s hard to give up control.  But the more I consciously did it, the more Peace began to infuse my spirit and the easier I could breathe.  The more I chose God, the more trust I found I could place in Him. And the more I found I could trust Him, the looser that icy cold grip anxiety had on my heart became.

It’s honestly so amazing what happens when we let God get in there and take the place of worry in our hearts!

phil 4-6

We’ve all got a journey to travel here, and some parts of the road are going to be more torn up than others.  The lesson to remember is that wherever we are on it – whether it’s on miles of smooth pavement or smack dab in the middle of major (re)construction – we have a choice on how we roll.  With God, or without.

Let’s Choose God together.

Practical Application (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take to deepen the meaning of this lesson in your life):

  1. Find and display our first mantra/scripture card for simpl.if.I: Choose God. Spend a little time each day reading over it and talking with God about what it means to you, personally, and what He wants you to know about Him through it. (If you don’t have the scripture cards already, you can print them up here!)
  2. Read Psalm 16 in its entirety in order to see our verse in context!
  3. Think about the blessings God has placed on your road at this time of your life. Write them down and take the time to thank Him for them – remember: Praise brings Peace!!!
  4. If you are in some major (re)construction right now, remember that a journey of any kind inherently means you are in motion. You are NOT stuck here – choose God and allow Him to move you through.
  5. Watch this awesome music video by Rend Collective and share it with someone you love!

If you are following along with our optional reading from before amen by Max Lucado, please read the last section of the book called “before amen Prayer Strengths”.  I know it sounds funny to begin at the end of the book!  But there is a method to my madness!  This section is designed to help you figure out what kind of “pray-er” you are and will take you to a website (BeforeAmen.com) where you can take a little assessment.  Then you can go back and read about prayer strengths and learn a little more about how you can best incorporate effective prayer into your life!

I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers this week, knowing God is working in great ways in your life right now.  I’m so excited to be on this journey together, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week two – Always Pray

Life would be SIMPLE if I would just…

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Life would be simple if I would just get outta of my own way, and listen to God speak.

Yep.  It’s true.  Even though I’m not consistently good at doing it, I wholeheartedly believe that.  And I am wondering if there’s anyone out there ready to believe it right alongside me (don’t leave me high and dry here, sweet friends…)!   😉

We’ve been so excited to share with you our summer Bible study series for 2015:

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And we’re even more excited that we’re diving into the ten simpl.if.I lessons together beginning NEXT MONDAY!!!!  Wooohoooooo!

Many of you who are in our local area and have been in our studies before will receive a package this week (today, even!!!) that looks like this:

 Goodie bag polaroid

And contains things like THIS (yessiree, it’s another car magnet…)!!!!

 goodies and all

For those of you who aren’t local or haven’t been in our studies in the past, never fear, because today  – as in THIS VERY DAY – you can start perusing, printing, and enjoying our 10 mantras/scriptures by accessing them right here on the blog by clicking this handy dandy link (click here!).

Each week, as we introduce a new blog devotion that matches up with a mantra and scripture card, we want you to find it in your goodie package (or print it by using that lovely link above).  Then, we encourage you to read it and meditate on it each day that week to let God’s word get in and get going in your life to help you simpl.if.I  – especially in those moments when you’re tempted to let things get more complicated than they were ever meant to be (and honestly, we all do that every now and again…!)

If you need a refresher on what we’re doing and where we are headed for the next 10 weeks, click here to access our introduction letter on our “simpli.if.I central” blog spot!

If you want a little more detail on what we’re doing, keep reading!  We’re excited to have you along with us this summer because we really think this simple idea is a pretty cool way to grow closer to God and to one another!

Here’s the overall scoop in one spot for you:

  •  We’re simplifying life together this summer with 10 awesome lessons based on easy-to-remember scripture!  Each Monday, beginning 6/15, a new blog will be posted at www.stringingpearlsbiblestudy.wordpress.com! It will include a simple, two-word mantra along with a short scripture, AND a devotion from Wendie giving it some practical, real-life application!

 

  • We’ll also be including optional reading from the book, before amen, by Max Lucado – a great little book based on a prayer Max created to help make prayer a simple, yet meaningful, part of everyday life! Be sure to get your copy of the book now so you’re ready to begin on June 15th!

 

  • Each week, as you read the blog post, you’ll find out which mantra/scripture card we’re discussing.  We encourage you to grab the corresponding card, pop it on your fridge with a magnet or even a cute little easel, and keep referring to it throughout the week!  If you are printing them at home, try printing them on card stock to make them super sturdy!

 

  • We hope you can join us for our “simplicity” dinner – an easy, breezy night of fellowship, fun, friendship, and fabulous food on June 23rd!  If you are local, you should’ve already received your Evite for this fun event and we’d sure love you to RSVP by 6/17/15!  If you aren’t local – we dare you to plan your own!  😉

 

  • You can invite anyone you want to join us online and/or in person! Lots of the goodies in this bag are printable and available now on the blog (click here)!  So grab a friend and simpl.if.I with us this summer!

 

Looking forward to kicking this off together next Monday!  So…on your mark, get set,  SIMPL.IF.I !!!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

Up next Monday:  simpl.if.I Mantra One:  “Choose God” (and learn what kind of pray-er you are!)

 

Simpl.if.I (…you know you want to!)

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Happy Summer 2015, Sweet Sister Friends!

Have you ever thought or said anything like this:

Life would be simple if I just:

    • would’ve said no to…
    • cleaned up “that” mess in the first place…
    • kept my mouth shut when…
    • got back to basics on…
    • focused on what really matters with…
    • stuck to my guns on…
  • knew what God wanted me to do when…

 

Yes?  Me, too 😉 !

That’s why I’m so excited to ask you to join us this summer as we learn to simplify life through scripture and prayer.  We’ll be breaking it down to what GOD says about what’s truly important when our souls yearn for simplicity.

Girls, we gotta simpl.if.I.

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Let’s invite God’s word to get inside these beautiful hearts of ours and do its work in mighty ways!  We’ll be cutting the fat (so to speak!) and learning ten, simple and important lessons:

  1. Choose God.
  2. Always Pray.
  3. Pay Attention.
  4. Believe God.
  5. Don’t Worry.
  6. Be Real.
  7. Let Go.
  8. Be Nice.
  9. Thank God.
  10. Be Happy.

These two-word, weekly mantras will be accompanied by easy-to-remember scriptures, AND fun blog posts that will tie everything together!

These mantras aren’t “recipes” for gaining God’s love – we already have that!  And they’re not “to-do list items” that make us look better in the eyes of others.  Instead, they’re simple reminders to our body, mind, and spirit to turn to God and find what’s truly important in those moments when we tend to let things get more complicated than they were ever intended to be.

We’ll also be doing some optional reading in our series!  So, for those of you craving a great book this summer, get ready to start an awesome new read a by Max Lucado called Before Amen!

AND —ooooooohhh— did we mention there’d be a dinner party?!  Like, a REALLY fun dinner party.  Because we don’t tend to do anything without a party.  😉  If you are local, mark your calendars for June 23rd and watch your email for more info on the dinner!  If you AREN’T local – we triple dog dare you to organize your OWN dinner!  Come on – you know you want to…!

Next Monday, those of you who have been in our studies before will receive your simple.if.I goodie bag on your front porch or in your mailbox!  Inside, you’ll find some super fun stuff and further explanations to get you geared up for our June 15th start date!

(If you are NOT local or haven’t been in our studies before, don’t you worry!  Everything you need will be posted right here for printing and perusing on Monday, June 8th!  Invite a friend – the more the merrier for the glory of God, girlies!)

We are so excited to simpl.if.I with you this summer, sister friends!

Peace, love, and so much joy!

 

Wendie Connors & the …stringing pearls ministries… Team*

 

 

*This ah-mazing team includes these BEYOND angelically cool peeps:

 

Carol Murray, Marcie Clark, Lyn Schmidt, Laura Ulepic, Kathy VanEk,

Lisa Mojica, Lora Bak, and Lori Gapinski

Simple Blessings of a Hotel Room

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I know people who simply hate to travel.  They hate the crowds, the lines, the airplane air, the ground transportation, and even the starkness of their hotel room, once they finally reach their destination.  No matter how well they plan it, it doesn’t seem to go their way.

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I get it.  I really do. Crowded airports are maddening and  air turbulence ignite fireworks in my stomach (and adrenal glands…).  But once I hit that hotel room on the first night away?  Well.  That’s when everything else falls away, the twisted road unravels, and the blessings abound.

And they abound in simplicity.    Gleaming fixtures.  Clean bathrooms.  Made beds.  Stocked fridges and/or diet coke machines down the hall next to ice machines that churn out the perfect little cube to accompany your drink.  Warm cookies doled out to your and your family before bedtime.  Breakfast delivered to your door or prepared for you in the lobby.

Those blessings are all a part of it, to be sure.  But honestly, it’s the fact that everything my family and I need for that day is in one compact, uncluttered space.  No distractions searching through messy closets and drawers.  No clutter on my desk.  No surfing the fridge for the last soda or diving into the cabinets for an old piece of chocolate for that late night fix.  No dirty socks blocking entrance into the bathroom.

Just today’s necessities neatly laid out and ready for us to use and enjoy.  Bliss.

What if we had that kind of room that we could access every day?  Where we could let all the distractions and imperfections of our day fall away and instead, we could fall into the blessings of receiving exactly what we need for the moment?

We do!  It’s the “room” we enter when we open up scripture and let God’s word displace (and replace) everything else we’ve got going on inside (and out).

“My choice is You, God, first and only.”

Psalm 16:5, MSG

I’m so excited to share with you a sneak peak at our summer 2015 Bible study series:

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We’re kicking it off in just a few short weeks and all the details you need to know will be posted here soon!  In the meantime, spend a little time pondering the blessings of what life could look life if you learned to simpl.if.I!  Can’t wait to spend the summer with YOU!

Of course, in the meantime, if you have any unused hotel vouchers and you don’t know what to do with them, send them my way! My peeps and I can take care of them for you!  😉

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

Up next week:  Surprise Guest POST!!!!