Category Archives: Thoughts

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

That Time God Told Me to PIPE DOWN, ALREADY!

Standard

just-be-quiet

Oh, good Lord.  Did He really just say that?

(Yes, He DID. I can’t EVEN.)

He can’t possibly be talking to me.

(Spoiler Alert: Yep.  He IS.)

Because I’ve foolishly been thinking it’s all about me and my big ideas. (*Ahem*)

Because, you see, without big ideas, I can’t make a plan to execute. (*Sigh*)

I’m a person who loves to execute plans.  Like, LOVES to.  It’s hard for me to “stop”.  Do you know what I mean? I like BIG ideas, BOLD plans, and BEAUTIFUL executions of them!   And God has been SO, SO good in blessing me with a great season of DOING all these things!

But the fact that He and I don’t seem to be “doing” anything like that in my life right now has me like:

what-you-talkin-about-willis

(photo: Pinterest)

(Did you just do the Scooby Doo “huhhhhh?” voice in your head?!  Me too! Me too!)

I’m the girl  (and maybe you are, too?) who likes to immediately take matters into my own hands when I don’t think I’m getting my way. So, in the absence of visions and plans coming my way, I have been a bit busy to try to kick start the process.  And every time I come up with a brilliant idea, it energizes me for about a day or two.

BUT THEN.

THEN  it’s like the fire under the boiling  “BIG IDEA” pot gets turned down to a low simmer and moved to the back burner, clearing lots of space once again on a big ol’ empty stove.

Every. Single. Front. Burner.

Wide. Open.

Like God is saying, “Well.  That looks delicious and all.  But let’s save it for another time, okay?  No need to be cooking up a storm right now. I’ve got reservations for us elsewhere.”

Kind of like a frying pan to the face – in a really good Godly way, I mean.  😉

God isn’t looking for me to DO anything right now except be obedient to the “season of rest” to which He called me last fall.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been so great at being restful.  I love-love-love being an ACTION VERB kind of girl – a doer, a creator, a teacher, a writer, a speaker.  But instead, I think I need to learn how to be a BEING VERB kind of girl (as in – be still, be quiet, be kind, be with others, be with myself, be with GOD…).

I need to pipe down, already.

And I need to be o-BE-dient.  

ecc-4-6
As I let that verse right there weave together with the original message I got from God, a more gentle wording came out:

Dear Wendie,

Will you please just be with Me for a bit instead of trying to DO things I haven’t even asked of you yet?  How about we start by taking care of you and your own four walls (literally and figuratively)?  I’ll be right with you every step of the way, but – for the moment – you need to STOP IT with all this other stuff. It’s going to be worth it, trust Me. 

And since you are wondering, YES – I see you. I hear you. I know you.  I adore you. I love you. You matter more than you can fathom.  And you’re Mine -always and forever.

Thanks, sweet one. Carry on being you by being with Me.

Xoxo,

God

Geez.  He writes really good letters, doesn’t He?!

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I’m wondering if maybe He’s writing a similar love letter to you, asking you to let Him into your “four walls” for a bit.

With Lent starting on Wednesday, I’m asking you to join me in committing these 40 days to honest-to-goodness o-BE-dience to His voice and will.

After all, isn’t that the point of the season?!?

To be, rather than do.  To pray, rather than produce and plan.  To listen, rather than think/talk so much.  To let it “be what it is supposed to be”, rather than expect so much or try so hard to change it. To let “it” change us.

So what is this going to look like?  I’m not sure; it’s going to look different for each of us. We’ll just have to let each other know how it all shakes out in 40-some days.   All I know for now is that I’ve got my own four walls to focus on:  a guest room to clean out (long story…), a body to care for, some great people to love on (including YOU!), and an amazing God to hang out with all the while.

Not too shabby of a season centered on living in o-BE-dience, right?

My yoga teacher ends every class instructing us to take a deep inhale, and then exhale everything out that won’t serve us. I’m taking that seriously this Lent.  I’m breathing in the good stuff He has for me, and letting the rest go. Well, that and being a little more quiet, too! 😉

Love you and miss you girls so, so much.  Smoochies all around!

Peace, love and JESUS-LEVEL JOY!

Wendie

PS: (If you are looking for something different and meaningful  – and QUIET –  to try this Lent, join me in participating in this fantastic idea on praying for others! http://catholickatie.com/writing/my-favorite-thing-to-do-for-lent.html )

PPS: If you like awesome Christian music, click here to take a look at my current playlist!  It’s soooooooo good!  😉

The WONDER of Forgiveness…

Standard

This past summer, I learned an interesting tidbit of American history this about dams. Now, dams themselves have been around for as long civilization.  Dams are structures that help control the flow of water for irrigation, prevent flooding, create reservoirs for times of drought, etc.  But it has only been really within the last century or so that technology and structural engineering techniques have made it possible to create dams powerful enough to generate massive amounts of electricity .  But in order to do so, they change the landscape of the land surrounding them by actually flooding over entire valleys and the towns in them.  The result?  Hundreds of towns across the country have been strategically and intentionally flooded and are underwater.

So there are actual man-made lakes around the world that look beautiful and tranquil on the surface, yet lurking just below the surface (in some cases as little a 5-10 feet below the surface). Lovely to look at, but a little suspect for swimming!

town-under-water

One of the things we know is important to Jesus is that we are women of integrity. Believers whose outside appearance authentically represent the state of our insides.

How do I know? Well, many of you will recall this verse from our study of the Beatitudes:

 You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. Matthew 5:8, MSG

When we, as believers in Christ, refuse to forgive someone, we become like those flooded lakes. We may look good on the surface, but anyone digging any deeper into our spirits better watch out for some jagged wreckage in there.

We block God’s mercy – we dam up grace – when we refuse to forgive.  We gotta learn to let that forgiveness FLOW.

rushing-water

But how? Especially when the issue seems so unforgiveable to us.  But this is where the supernatural power of true reconciliation, when we actually take our unforgiving hearts to God, gets going.  Because for the big stuff, we cannot do it by ourselves.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Mathew 19:26, NLT

When Jesus says everything is possible, he means everything. So how do we do it?  Girls, this has been a bit life altering for me and I’m just getting used to it, but listen to this for a sec:

1 Peter 5:5-7New English Translation (NET Bible)

…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.

CAST. YOUR .CARES. 

That’s where we begin.

Cast your cares, cast your cares, cast your cares! Your cares include issues surrounding forgiveness, girls.  So, in all humility, on your face, cast your cares.  You say to him, “Lord, this issue with forgiveness about __________ is about to crush my spirit.  This is beyond painful and it is splitting me in two.  This is compromising my soul integrity. I cannot do this alone and I need you.  So I’m giving it to you because only YOU can do something positive with it.”

And so the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit within us begins. And then we change our mindset. We move our minds up and out of the mucky mire of unforgiveness with purpose and intent, because we KNOW we have a faithful God and we let Him know we fully expect Him to work this out.

Of course, all of that along with the humility of saying we know He will work it out in His time and within His will for it. We know He wants us to live with forgiving, merciful, grace-filled hearts.  That’s how we know we can expect a victory here.

I get it. I’ve lived with stuff that I find it almost impossible to think God could forgive someone for so how in the world am I supposed to do that?  Nowhere is it written that it’s going to be easy.  But because scripture says ALL things are possible with God, I’m going to try.  Regardless of/with whom it is I need to reconcile and regardless the issue – myself, someone else, or even God.  I’m going to try.

Following along with our series, Wonder-FULL?!  This is our LAST week of wonders!  Finish up reading the main book, Wonderstuck, and complete week 6 in your participant guide!  Meet us back here next week for a wrap up of the series and a special announcement of what we’re up to in 2017!

Peace, love, and WONDER!!!

Wendie

 

Be Mindful (Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter…!)

Standard

One of the most unsettling noises a homeowner can hear is the drip…drip…drip of a leak, especially when that dripping noise isn’t happening in a sink or near a faucet!  On a recent rainy morning, as I was rushing to get out the door, I was suddenly panicked to hear that noise from not just  ONE place in the house, but THREE.

Water was dripping in over the fireplace in our family room, seeping through the floor from the deck into the kitchen, AND managing to find its way down the insides of the windows in the dining room. It was a bit of a mess.

Good times.

The rain eventually stopped and so did the leaks. After some inspection, we were relieved to find out the leaking was due to clogged gutters, NOT some other structural issue.  We called out the Gutter Squad and were very excited, when the next rain storm rolled around, that we were completely dry and leak free.  We learned the valuable lesson on keeping the gutters clear of junk so the water can flow freely through the gutters, keeping the house clean, dry, and well, “healthy”.

Sometimes, we can get our minds all cluttered up with junk, you know?  What we think about is affected by everything we take in: television, radio, internet usage, conversations with others, our senses, our worries, what we read, and so on. If we are not careful to run all that “input” through a filter, our minds can get clogged with things that dampen our spirits and skew our perspective in some pretty negative ways.

So, what’s the spiritual equivalent to a Gutter Squad clean-out?! Check this out:

NTS Week 4

THAT is the “gutter guard” of the mind, sweet friends. I don’t know about you, but THOSE are most definitely the kinds of things I want to be focusing on!!  We know from this scripture from Paul that it pleases God (and therefore good for us!) when we think about things that are:

  • True (reality based – as defined by God/Bible)
  • Noble (worthy of respect by God and those you personally respect)
  • Reputable (lawful and just under the jurisdiction of where you live AND most importantly, by God)
  • Authentic (pure, untainted, natural)
  • Compelling (attractive – morally and ethically speaking!) •
  • Gracious (admirable, you can honestly recommend this idea/thought/concept to others as Godly)
  • Beautiful (it is an exceptionally special thought/idea/place/person/etc. in the eyes of God)
  • Worthy of praise (God will be pleased with this thought/idea/circumstance)

Therefore, when we sense we are taking our thoughts into muddy waters, we can meditate on (…meaning “to be mindful of and think on”) these eight themes to unclog the blockages and replace them with free-flowing water (the kind we talked about last week! ).

This week, to take a few moments out of each day to clear your mind. To unclog the pathways of junk in your soul and fill your spirit with Truth.  Find a quiet place where you can breathe deep, let some things go, and find God.  Be present in the moment, away from to-do lists and tasks that would normally occupy your mind.  Give social media, television, and even radio a break and in their place fill up on healthier mind food – scripture, prayer, and focused time with God!

Following along with our summer series, easy 2016? Click here for the following items:

  • Printable note to self with our mantra and scripture for the week!
  • Printable copy of this week’s EASY recipe! (Kabobs – YUMMY!)
  • Link to amazon.com to find out more about our SUPER FUN book for this month: Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson (I mean SERIOUSLY – how could you NOT want to read a book with a title as awesome as that!)
  • And if you like music, you can click this link which will take you to another great tune from our summer song list! This week, we’re dancing along to” Nobody but You”, by Dara Maclean!

Have a great week! See you back here next Monday for some seriously FUN talk about how to play like a girl… 😉 !!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

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

Standard

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

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

Standard

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:

 be blessed logo rustic

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: Thank GOD! (Summer Series Week #9)

Standard

Sunflower

There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as if nothing is a miracle, and the other is to live as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

OOOOOooooo! I LOVE that! Two different perspectives; and you get to choose which one you will use as the lens with which you live out your life here on Earth.

As for me? I’m choosing the “everything is a miracle” plan. It’s the one that leads us down the gratitude path, and in turn grants us the great gift of grace – day in and day out.

Did you know that before every miracle Jesus ever performed, he stopped and gave thanks to our Father in heaven?  Gratitude.

Here’s the thing, sweet friends. Gratitude works miracles when we actually take the time to notice gifts and blessings from God. In other words, the second we can see something meaningful – even the tiniest of tiny things, like a smile from a stranger – as a little taste of God’s goodness, it activates something in our spirit to experience gratitude. And in that split second when we begin to feel that gorgeous feeling of gratefulness, we feel compelled to pass it along to someone else. And when we pass it along to someone else, we begin this incredible cycle of grace that cannot be stopped or contained.

It pattern that sort of looks like this:

See/experience blessings –> Experience gratitude –>

Express Gratitude –> Experience Grace –>

Pass It On –> See/experience MORE blessings…

and so it continues!

I’m loving that!

Thank God Romans 11-33

Gratitude precedes miracles and deserves our thanks in return. Always. And gratitude deposits gobs and gobs of grace. Always.

Gratitude is the state of being in which we get to take a deep breath and see things through peace-filled eyes. It’s when we see something as big as sunset and sense how blessed we are to be so small in its presence. It’s when we feel something as simple as hug and realize the hugeness of love. It’s the privilege of praying for someone in need and knowing a God as big as ours already has it covered. And it’s being in awe of the fullness of eternal life through Christ, yet confidently knowing the reality of it is ours.

Gratitude begins with “thank you” and expands into “let me bless you, too”. It’s the experience of “pay it forward” boosted by the goodness of God, which creates miracles we could never imagine, let alone create by ourselves.

You and I are never at a loss for something to be grateful for – big or small. Remember what Albert Eisenstein said – it’s all in your perspective. So this week, let’s choose the lens that helps us to see that ALL things are miraculous and trust that God prepared them with goodness and blessing in mind, regardless of how it looks in the moment.

Let’s spend our week focusing on blessings and giving thanks to God for all He provides. And when you really notice the miracles in your midst, you might find yourself surprised in how you, in turn, begin blessing others!

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take today to amplify your attitude of gratitude):

  1. Find/print today’s mantra-scripture card for this week! Focus on the words and remind yourself that you have a choice on how you see life – miraculous or not!
  2. Here’s a fun exercise from our book for the summer by Max Lucado, before amen: take a sheet of paper and make a list from A to Z of things you are grateful for! Get your friends and family involved in the process and don’t stop until you have a list of blessings that make you smile at God’s faithfulness and goodness in your life!
  3. Go back through all our mantra/scripture cards from our series so far. Which ones still resonate with you? What moved you the most throughout our series?
  4. Check out this very cool song from Dara McLean “Nobody Like You”!

Following along with before amen? If so, it’s time to read Chapter 8 and complete the study guide at the back of the book!

Beautiful friends, next week we bring our summer series to a close. We cannot thank you enough for your support and encouragement this year with our simpl.if.I series. It’s been life changing for our team and hope it has been for you, too!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie and the Stringing Pearls Ministry Team

Up Next Week: simpl.if.I week 10: Be Happy!

Just Get Up, Already. You Can Do It!

Standard

When Jesus saw her and knew she had been paralyzed for a while, he asked [her], “Would you like to get well?”

 “I can’t, sir,” [she] said, “for I have haven’t a clue how to rise up from this mess.”

Jesus told [her], “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:6-8

It seems almost absurd that anyone wouldn’t want to get well, doesn’t it?  But it honestly happens.  Sometimes we tend to just sit in the mud and mire that surrounds us because at least we “know” it.  We can “own” it.

We know how to work it, if you catch my drift.  It’s what everyone is used to seeing us do and has become a way of thinking and behaving (albeit faulty) for us. We trick ourselves into thinking we’re stuck in this scary place forever, so we just better just get used to it once and for all.

Fear paralyzes us from the inside out.  It begins as a jolt to our system when something so extraordinary happens that our mind can’t make immediate sense of it.  And so, in an effort to sort of “self-protect”, we begin to shut down.  And sometimes, we end up settling into that space for the long haul.

Maybe, after a while, we almost forget what it was like to live more freely; without that feeling of anxiety.  We begin to believe that it’s just easier to keep ourselves lying flat-out in fear than to fight it.

If we aren’t careful, fear has the power to keep us down.

But then, in the middle of our settling into a pattern of learned helplessness, there’s this thing that happens when Jesus just simply points out, “Um, you know, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you just get up, you can start moving.”

And if you trust Him, you try to raise yourself up a little to see if He’s right.  And joy-of-all-joys…you realize He is!

Suddenly, your surroundings don’t look so scary anymore.  So, then, that little, ice-cold hand that grips your heart starts to melt ever so slightly and your blood starts pumping a little easier.  Then the fog starts to clear, your sea legs stabilize, and you stand up for the first time in a little while and see over the top of the hole you’ve managed to get stuck inside and hope shines just a smidgen brighter than it did a moment ago.

Are you stuck right now?  Are you starting to believe that your surroundings will always be your reality?  Gosh, if so, I want to encourage you today!  Be brave.  Listen to the voice of Jesus.  Get up.  Take that first step.  And BE well!  I’ll be the one jumping up and down, clapping like crazy for you!  You CAN do this; and I can too!

Let the healing begin.

 White Paint - Baby Blue Background. Painting

Speaking of The Best Yes, are you following along with us this session?!  If so, be sure to finished reading the last three chapters of the book and complete Session 5 in the study guide.  Can you even believe we just have TWO little sessions left?!  *Sigh*

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

See you next week with some thoughts on building your legacy!  😉

 

 

How to Please God, Not People!

Standard

After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect in your own human effort?  Galatians 3:3, NLT.

I thought today we could have a little talk about expectations.  The great ones.  The not-so-great ones.  And the really wacky ones, too.

expectations

Because we all do it.  Create some crazy expectations, I mean.  Not only do we place them on ourselves, but we place them on others, too, even without their knowledge!  Sometimes people put them on us, as well.  And the end result just never is a good one when we do that, is it?

Holley Gerth writes about expectations in her book, You’re Already Amazing.  She says,

Expectations are laws we place on ourselves and each other.  Yep.  Laws.  And expectation equals ‘You must do X or you will be punished in some way.’  Oh , the punishment might be subtle – rejection, guilt we lay on our shoulders, a look across the room that lets us know we didn’t measure up.  No one is going to throw us in jail.  But consequences of the heart can seem even more frightening.”  Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing, copyright 2012.

You know what she’s talking about, right?  It’s like expecting yourself to plan the perfect party and even though you just feel too burnt out to do it, you end up doing it anyway because you “always” have and you’re afraid of disappointing others if you don’t. And the sad result is that you miss a million little things at home and your family suffers because of it and you can see it in how they look at you…

Or you expect that your husband can read your mind and that this year, for your birthday, he’s going to get you that beautiful handbag you’ve been eyeing in a local boutique window.  Only you never told him about it.  So you get an umbrella and an iron instead because he thought that’s what you needed.  And your heart hurts because you think he just doesn’t know you like you know him so you give him a little bit of the cold shoulder treatment…

I could go on and on here, but you get my point.

Thankfully, there are scriptures that gives me great hope in times of failed expectations.  Check them out and see if they don’t just give you a little lift, too:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, TNIV).

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

You see, here’s the difference:  YOU put those expectations on yourself and on others.  God didn’t.  We know from Matthew 11:28-30 that Jesus promises to never put anything “heavy” on us.

And we know from another scripture verse that God only expects three things from us:  to do what’s right through self-control from the Holy Spirit, to treat others like we want to be treated, and to be humble as we walk with Him without taking ourselves so seriously!  (Micah 6:8) That’s it!

Any expectation placed on us BY GOD always comes with the assurance that we are not expected to complete it alone, without His guidance and support.  Scripture is very clear on that!

And, if He wants it to get done, it’s gonna get done, honey:

The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” (Isaiah 14:24, TNIV).

This TRUTH frees us up from the “expectation-chain-gang” and grants us peace.  GOD’S peace, not just a little respite from the “chaos of daily life” kind of peace.  We’re talking “everlasting life, secure-in-Him-no-matter-what-is-happening-around-us kind of peace”!  Can you even imagine being so free to feel that?!  Isn’t that what we crave?!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

He wants nothing more than to displace worry at the center of our lives (Philippians 4:6-7)!  Because THEN, sisters, THEN we get down to the business of HIS expectations for our lives, not our own!  And that’s a lot more life-giving than trying to live up to the expectations (real or perceived) of this world!

Life events will come and go whether they “live up to” all the expectations others associate with them or not.  Why not spend the time enjoying the them as they happen instead of holding onto expectations out of the fear of not meeting up to your skewed sense of what ought to be?

Let. Them. Go.  You have His permission.

love all please one

Love all.  Please One.   

Let’s make that our new motto.  Who’s with me?

Now THAT is a Best Yes Decision!

And speaking of The Best Yes, next week is a “catch up” week!  So spend the next week making sure you’ve read through chapter 15 in the main book.  If you are also doing the study guide, you should be through session 5 by this time next week!

I hope and pray you all have enjoyed a spring break of some kind or another, and that you had a most blessed Easter with those you love!  See you here next week, sweet friends!

Peace, love, and joy!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  Word to the Wise (or NOT so wise) About Boundaries

God’s bigger than your fears! I promise.

Standard

“I’m very brave generally, only today I happen to have a headache.”  (Tweedledum, Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.)

I can totally relate, can you?!

We’ve been talking about walking through those open doors God places in front of us, haven’t we?!  But sometimes we fear what is on the other side of that door. Maybe it looks a little darker or scarier than we thought it would.  Maybe the task all of a sudden feels a little too big or even dangerous.  What then?  What do we do when we know it’s a God Opened Door, but the anxiety in our own heart is keeping us from walking through it and therefore, preventing us from getting where God wants us to be?

The cure for the anxiety we feel at the threshold of God Opened Doors is found in this:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…1 John 4:18, NIV.

Let me say it another way – the cure for anxiety is being in the presence of God – and God’s presence lives in us!

Jude 1-1 REAL

We will find ourselves, at times, staring at the door, realizing we need to walk through it, but for any number of reasons, not exactly jumping for joy to walk through it.  It’s interesting to me, too, that when you see some of these BIG OPEN DOOR opportunities being presented to people in scripture, even THEY aren’t too keen to take the leap!  (…Abraham, Moses, Esther, Mary, and even Jonah?!)

Jonah’s story is sort of an odd one, really.  God asks Jonah to leave the comfort of his home and friendly town and head out on a mission to the town of Nineveh to teach about repentance.

Jonah is none too keen to make this journey.  Nineveh and her citizens aren’t exactly known for their good-natured hospitality, especially not to those who aren’t her own.  Not only does Jonah not LIKE them, he’s a little afraid of them, too.

So instead of following God’s call, Jonah runs away and in the process, takes refuge on a ship, gets thrown overboard, swallowed up by a whale, where he spends three days in its belly before being sort of deposited on dry land where he finally does God’s biding in Nineveh and 120,000 Ninevites actually repent.

Other than the “ewww” factor, I think the big lesson we can learn from this story is that Jonah could’ve saved himself a lot of anxiety and trouble, not to mention physical hardships, if he had trusted that God had a plan…and a good one.  Because regardless of what circumstance Jonah found himself, no matter how many times he ran in the other direction, God always provided for him, and eventually brought him out the other side.

Whenever I get stuck in that spot of paralyzing fear or maybe simple resentment of where the door is leading me, I always come back to 1 John 4:18 – perfect love (GOD) casts out all fear.  And if I’m walking with God, fear must flee.

Making Godly wise, Best Yes (and NO!) decisions requires us to be strong and courageous.  And by keeping close to God, adding to our arsenal of Godly wisdom through scripture, prayer, and wise counsel, we are better able to confidently make those decisions – not because of who WE are and what WE, but because of our convictions of knowing who GOD is and what HE can do.

Are you following along with us in our GracePace Series this spring? If so, here’s what you need to do this week!

1.  Read Chapters 10-12 in your The Best Book!

2.  Complete Session 4 in the study guide!

3.  Write out a proverb or two on your chalk board (there are listed at the end of Session 4 in your study guide).

4.  Watch this video about accepting and asking for HELP – based on the parable of the Good Samaritan –  from our GracePace series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1qJd0OwRbA

5.  Enjoy a listen or two of our song of the week from Steven Curtis Chapman, “Take Another Step”.  Yeah.  I needed this one today.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E0F2s_3I78

We’re off for a week of “vacation”, sweet friends!  We’ll be back in two weeks with a little blog about the beauty of Jesus, right before Easter.  Have a great week!

Much love,

Wendie