Category Archives: Truth

Visibly Invisible

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1, NLT

The first book of Bible (the book of Genesis) begins with that sentence. And in fact, the word “genesis” means beginning.  And there are lots of firsts and beginnings found within this book!

But the one thing this book is NOT a beginning of is God. God has always existed. He was, He is, and He always will be!  And if we are going to get anything out of the enormity of that statement, we need to understand two things about Him.
First, God is transcendent, this means that He is not limited by time, space, or matter. This is very hard for us to understand and get our heads around, but it is true, and if we believe in God, somehow we have faith in our belief that HE is indeed transcendent.

Yet God is also immanent. Let us not confuse that with eminent – which is someone of importance (i.e. Your Eminency) or with the word imminent, which means something that is about to happen. Immanent means to be fully inserted into something, existing within something in every aspect. We also believe THIS because we believe in and can sense God’s presence in the world around us in things big AND small.

So while Genesis isn’t the story of the very beginning of God and His existence, it is the beginning of His story and interaction with His creation – including us.

And speaking of US, take a look at this:

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27, NLT

You know when God repeats something back-to-back in the same verse He wants us to pay attention, right?!   And this particular verse is a doozy because He repeats Himself with TWO things.

First, the phrase God Created/He Created is repeated three times. DO NOT MISS THIS. You are GOD created. Every single thing about you He created. His love for you is such that  this world would not be complete in His eyes without you. This theme of His overwhelming, amazing, reckless love is transcendent and continues forever! I never want us to forget that, even though I know there are days when it feels either far fetched or even like a bold-faced lie.   Stand on that Truth, sister friends!

The other “repeat” lesson here is that you and I are created in HIS image. His OWN image. And here’s the cool part – that word “image” is translated from the Hebrew word t’selem which means “a visible representation of the invisible”. (New Testament spoiler alert –  this is the same verbiage used to describe Jesus by Paul several times in his letters to various churches!)

YOU GUYS!  We have been created to be the “face” of God.  His visible representatives, mirroring His goodness and character back to all of creation!   And why does that matter?  Because it is WHO WE ARE.  And what we do should naturally flow from who we are.

When God created you, He knew the world would need your exact, detailed, unique concoction of DNA, personality, quirks, and beauty to reveal and represent yet another holy facet of Him that could not be made visible without you.  How awesome is that?!

Genesis begins with the beginning of the story of YOU and a God who SO wanted you to be His.  As we journey through this study together, I pray that Truth really does sink in and transforms you more and more each day in His image.

And speaking of our study, if you are following along with us at home, take time this week to read Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in your favorite Bible translation!  Just let the wonder of it all wash over you as you read it!  Next week, we’ll jump into Genesis 3 with Angie Smith and the beginning of Seamless!

This week, I’ve been listening to Lauren Daigle’s new album, Look Up Child, on repeat!  Here’s a link to listen to the title track!  ENJOY!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

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Freckles are Cute, but You’re Cuter ;)

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Confession time. And it’s “juicy”.

The summer after second grade, I read the book, Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume and suddenly became convinced that my life would be perfect if I just had freckles.

I know – I’m totally aging myself here and some of you won’t even know what I’m talking about with that book title or maybe even the name Judy Bloom.

PEOPLE. JUDY BLOOM IS LIFE.

Well, she’s LIFE for those of us girls who grew up in the 70s and early 80s. And if you take Judy Bloom books and follow them up with John Hughes movies? Now THAT is honestly LIFE.

But I digress. Back to Freckle Juice. I’ll have to admit, prior to reading it, I never gave freckles a second thought. But after reading this book, I was obsessed with having freckles because I thought they would make me special. The thing was, I was NOT willing to drink the concoction (I totally thought it was real, BTW):

“Sharon’s Secret Recipe for Freckle Juice: Mix up all these things together – stir well and drink fast: grape juice, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, juice from one lemon, pepper and salt, ketchup, olive oil, and a speck of onion. One glass makes an average amount of freckles.” (from Freckle Juice, by Judy Bloom)

SO instead of drinking that gross juice, I decided to try sun-tanning, permanent marker, and prayer. But no matter what I did or how many prayers I prayed, I never got freckles.

You ready for a sage truth I’ve learned that summer? Here it is:

If you don’t have freckles, YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO HAVE THEM.

Feel free to insert anything you’ve coveted and yearned for over the years. There are times we look at the attributes we admire in others and wonder why we weren’t gifted and blessed in those ways. We spend too much time looking outside of ourselves and feeling neglected and left out because of what we don’t have. But the truth of the matter is that you weren’t made for those things; you were made for different (and dare I say BETTER) things. Things that suit you. Things that allow you to do YOU.

This summer, I’ll be encouraging all of us to start thinking about the following three questions:

Who am I? (How have I been created? What am I good at? What are the attributes God uniquely ascribed to me?)
What do I care about? (What are the things that make me tick? What moves me to tears – both good and bad? What do I want out of life?)
How can I live my life so that it reflects God’s purpose for me? (How can I marry up who I am to what I care about in order to make a difference in meaningful ways?)

Why are we doing this? Because it matters deeply that you connect and cultivate the gifts, talents, and attributes that God bestowed upon you. These things are uniquely yours and have significance beyond anything your sweet little head can imagine.

Our job is to take everything good and sacred and holy that God has placed within us and, as we nurture and cultivate and grow them, pour them right back out into the lives of those He places around us.

This world, YOUR world, needs you to be YOU. Not “a version” of you, not the you that has Sharpie freckles tattooed onto your precious face because you think that is what makes you special. WE need you to actually be YOU. Because THAT you is the special you.

Here’s what I want you to do this week.

• If you don’t already have one, get yourself a copy of Melanie Shankle’s new 100-day devotional, Everyday Holy: Finding a Big God in the Little Moments. Start it NOW!

 

Melanie Book

 

There are 100 days from Memorial Day up to Labor Day! I can’t think of a more FUN and meaningful book to keep us in God’s word this summer!
• Start noticing the things that make you uniquely you. What are you good at? What do people tend to bring up about you that they admire? What role(s) do you personally gravitate to in your family/job/friend group (i.e. the one who gets things done, the big idea girl, the creative one, the teacher, the FUN one, the peacemaker, the calming influence, the math mind, etc.)?
• Grab a journal and start writing these things down!  Keep track of things as they pop into your head.
• Meditate (or even memorize!) this verse: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10, NLT
• Make this your motto this week:

be who you were created to be

 

See you back here next week for more Cultivate 2018! And follow us on Instagram and Facebook for Meaningful Mondays, Wisdom Wednesdays, and Friday Fundays!

It’s going to be a great summer, sister friends!
Enjoy your week!

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

What did you just say?!

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I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people in this world would like to be known as people of integrity as opposed to deceitful, right? We want to be good and honest friends, spouses, parents, co-workers, etc.! We want our legacy to be one of respect and fairness.

Integrity: being whole, honest, upright; being a person with good moral principle.

One main characteristic of a person of integrity is that she does what she says she is going to do. Shows up when she says she’ll be there; performs the tasks she said she’d do. In other words, her words match her actions and vice versa.
And in the realm of spiritual simplicity, our words (just like our actions) communicate who we are and what we believe so the more straightforward they are, the simpler they are to understand, the better.
Words can be far more powerful that we might imagine and can pack a serious punch. They have very real consequences and they often reveal the state of our hearts.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45, NIV

Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 ministries came out with a book a couple years ago called Keep It Shut and she has a 40 day Devotional out just last week as a follow-up called Zip It! In her book, (and I haven’t checked her sources, btw), she says there are more than 3,500 verses in the Bible that relate to words, speech, silence, and communication.
That’s a lot of verses! And it makes sense, really, that words and speech would be written about so often because, according to a recent University of Arizona study out of their College of Communications, the average person speaks 16,000 words per day orally and in writing. That’s a lot of words.
So…what DOES the Bible say about words and speaking and how can we learn the best ways of keeping them simple enough that our actions match our words in integrity-maintaining ways?

Let’s start by reading James 3:2-12.  You can either read it in your own Bible or you can  Click this link.  I’ll hang here while you do!  😉

Kinda serious, right?!

Here’s the thing. Our words and the messages we communicate get complicated by five different things:
1. We speak out of emotion, instead of fact. (Remember that our feelings are indicators but they do NOT have to be dictators!)
2. We speak too much. (Our message gets muddled, complicated, or just plain not listened to after awhile.)
3. We speak before we listen. (Sadly, there is no class on public listening, just public speaking!)
4. We say things we don’t mean (Flat out lies or saying yes when we really mean no).
5. We don’t speak up when we should. (Because of our desire to people pleasing and our own insecurity.)

So what’s a good BS girl to do to ensure integrity and simplicity of speech? Glad you asked! Before we let our mouths get us in trouble, we stop, we shut it, and we grab hold of this week’s power pack scripture verse from Psalm 46:10:

PSalm 46-10

 

Standing on the simplicity of that bold directive, we can then pray David’s words from

Psalm 141:3: Set a guard over my mouth, Lord, and watch over the door of my lips.

We then stay in the Psalms a minute longer and pray 19:14:

Psalm 19:14 New Living Translation (NLT)
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Those words should be enough to give us a reboot  to recalibrate our hearts to a place where our words are true, thoughtful, caring, and helpful. This is a reboot of the thoughts BEFORE those thoughts can escape! How many times have you wanted a reboot after words came out of your mouth? (If you’re like me, maybe your answer is…A LOT!)

And if you can’t remember those particular verses easily, here’s my favorite way to stop my words before I regret them:  I do a REBOOT of my mouth just like I do on my computer:  ctrl-alt-del.

Control those lips – keep ’em shut!  Alter what’s about to come out!  Delete anything from my mental dialogue (or keyboard and screen…) that isn’t helpful!  Turn to prayer, scripture, and trusted wise counsel to process what’s really going on in your heart before spouting off, girls.  It just might save your integrity!

Tim told me about a quote from the movie, Invictus, he always tries to remember. I didn’t see the movie but it was something one of the rugby coaches tells another coach when they are talking about how to successfully motivate players. He says, “We must be careful to use our words as to encourage rather than criticize.”  That totally reminded me of this beaut:

Proverbs 16:24 New Living Translation (NLT)
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

We’re not talking sickly sweet placations that have no footing of sincerity. We’re talking thoughtful, honest words that help instead of hurt.  Just think about how lovely it feels when someone speak kindly over you or to you!  And remember how good it feels when you do the same for someone else.
Finally, I want to end on this note from Proverbs today:

Proverbs 18:21 The Message (MSG)
 Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

You choose, sweet friends; you choose.

Following along with us in our She Persisted study?  Click here for this week’s homework!  And, if you one of my kindred spirit sisters who likes the extra goods, click here for some additional resources for this week!  I apologize for the two week gap in homework and extra resources! My computer “died” and I got a new one (YAY) so unfortunately, those two weeks aren’t able to be digitized.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you!  But hey, just think of it as a two-week vaca!  LOVE it!

Come on back next week as we begin our discussion on calling…and talk about something fun we’re cookin’ up for summer!

 

Peace, Love and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Anxiety, anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray or Become Prey

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

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

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

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

God is good all the time, sisters.

isaiah 41 10 scripture card

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

Smooches and prayers for FEAR-FREE moments this week!

Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!

Wendie  xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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

 

 

 

Dear Anxiety, You’re Not Welcome Here

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

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

Here are two definitions of anxiety from Merriam Webster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 tim 1 7 card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis Quote

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

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

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

The Truth About Lies

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

Ella Lie vs Truth Quote

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

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

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

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

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

1 peter 5 8 card

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

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

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

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

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

(Click here for a cool printable of this!)

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, love, and JOY!!!!

Wendie

 

Please Take Care of YOU!

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This week, we have the chance to hear Shauna Niequist talk about her book, Present over Perfect, with Oprah! I especially love this video because it serves as such a great reminder that three spokes of our OVERALL health:  body, mind, and spirit  – are intrinsically linked.  We are our own version of a trinity, sisters!  Just as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three unique entities yet also one united source, we are too!

Our power pack scripture for the week speaks to this truth:

1 thess 5 23 card

Now, we are NOT God, of course, or even mini-Gods. That’s  not what I mean. But we ARE created in His image.  And the truth of the matter for us as humans is that we are at our own personal “best” when all three spokes of our wheel are functioning and in balance together.  When one piece of our “triune”,   is out of whack, it does affect the other pieces. Each part needs nourishment and nurturing.

Yung Pueblo Quote

 

Next week, we’ll begin a 4-week study of the connection of our spirit and our mind, and how we can learn to lean in and on God to help in the fight with things like anxiety, fear, depression, attacks on self-esteem, etc. THIS week, we’ll watch this video from Shauna and Oprah to hear about the importance of self-care and its effect on our overall health.  Our homework will focus on mindfulness and living in the present moment!

Let’s watch Shauna describe what happened to her when her own life got out of balance and how she got back to a well-balanced place.  Here’s the link!  Enjoy!

If you are following along at home with our study, click this link for Week Three Homework!  And if you like all the extra goods (!), click here for Week Three Resources!

See you next week, sweet sisters!  Be good to yourself this week – body, mind, and spirit!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

 

The JOY of Gratitude! (She PERSISTED Week Two!)

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Gratitude Quote

Here’s a little Bible trivia for you. In scripture, how many times to you think God speaks to us about gratitude in the New International Version?  Well, according to a word count website, christianbiblereference.org,  it’s 340 times.

That’s third in frequency only to directives regarding love, which comes in at number one at 551 times, and fear at 366 times (one for every day of the year plus leap year)!

We understand the importance of love, of course. It’s the very fabric of Christianity and woven into our DNA!  And we can also understand the need to reassured about fear and anxiety and to be directed to trust God! But gratitude?  Why would it have such a prominent place in terms of scripture themes?

Dr. Robert Emmons (UC-Davis), has helped to open the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkely to not only scientifically study gratitude and its effects on us, but also to promote the practice of gratitude world-wide.

Emmons and his associates have scientifically studied some of  the positive effects of a regular practice of gratitude (practices range from keeping a written daily gratitude journal, recording gratitude in some other way [like the 365grateful.com project we read about last week in  our Flow Book:  The Book That Takes It’s Time] to simply thinking of three things you are grateful for at the end of the day). The first thing they discovered is that you can rewire your brain to be happier by simply recalling three things you are grateful for each day for 21-days.  It all has something to do with neurotransmitters and the chemicals and hormones and stuff!  Basically, gratitude actually rewires the neuro-pathways in the brain to help release more happy chemicals than in the brains of folks who do not practice.

In addition, they identified these seven benefits mind and body benefits to the regular practice of gratitude:

  1. Strengthens relationships and helps to make new ones
  2. Improves your physical health and motivates you to take better care of yourself (less illness, quicker recovery times, exercise more, eat better, see doctors on regular basis)
  3. Improves psychological health (lead to improved memory, happier outlook, and a diminishing of depressive feelings and anxiety)
  4. Increases empathy and decreases aggression behaviors
  5. Improves sleep (one study states that if you spend 15 minutes recalling things that make you thankful at the end of the day will help you sleep better, deeper, and longer that those who do not)
  6. Improves self-esteem and helps you become an encourager of others
  7. Increases your mental strength and fortitude and makes you more resilient in times of hardship

Those are some pretty powerful and peace-inducing changes you can make to your body and your mind, right?  But, spiritually speaking, what’s so special about being grateful, other than the politeness of saying thank you?

Phil 1 3-4 Card

 

Gratitude breaks down the barrier between the mind and the spirit and is a TRIGGER for joyful and worshipful prayer!  How awesome is that?!

When we feel a sense of gratitude for something God has provided, (and let’s face it, it all comes from God!) our spontaneous response is prayer!  We don’t thank God because it’s the polite thing to do.  We thank God because we can’t help ourselves!  It’s our soul’s response to His goodness and our reward is His joy in our hearts.

Ann Voskamp, in her book 1000 Gifts, dives into the spiritual significance of gratitude.  She traces it back to the Greek word, eucharisteo, which, in Greek, encompasses the words:  grace, thanksgiving, and JOY.  Hang onto that for a sec, because we will be circling right back to it.

There is something called cognitive dissonance and that is a psychological term that means you cannot think and believe two polar opposite things at the same time. Like, you can’t be proud of your work while simultaneously being ashamed of it.

So with that in mind, you cannot feel gratitude in the spiritual sense (which we now know means grace, thanksgiving, and joy) and ALSO be sullen, burdened, and angry.

 

I did an informal poll over the weekend and asked people, spiritually speaking, what could they use more of in their lives. Unanimous two responses?

Peace and joy.

Okay.  So let’s do a quick recap of what we already know:

  • Number one thing gratitude does for your mind? Brings you peace.
  • Number one thing gratitude does for you spirit? Brings you joy.

Looking for more peace and joy in your world? The answer is to practice gratitude.

But , this is not something we do quickly, nor should we treat it as a “to do item” on a list of chores! It’s not just:  “QUICK!  Name three things you’re thankful for – GO!” and be done with it. It’s something we do persistently, intentionally, mindfully, prayerfully.  As Ann Voskamp says, “It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation.  How long do you think it takes your soul to realize when your life is full?”

I Belong to Jesus Mug

THIS is where we start getting intentional about mindfulness:  what it is, why it’s important, what it does for you, and how to begin a practice of it.  Our readings this week will be on mindfulness and gratitude and we’ll be stepping into exercises from our books to help nurture it!  Click here to access the homework exercises and click here to access additional resources for this week!

Go enjoy your week, sweet friends!  And get into the gratitude groove! 

I am GRATEFUL for YOU!!!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  A Special Conversation with some special guests!  😉

 

Would You Go to Jail for Jesus?

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“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.”

Hebrews 6:1, NLT

That’s our guiding scripture this series, sisters, and it’s a good one!

Here it is in The Message:

Hebrews 6-1

I love that!  Let’s grow ourselves up a bit in how well we know our Savior, sisters.

Why?  Because many of us believe in God but don’t live in a way that clearly bears fruit, or shows, that we honestly know Him.

In the book, The Christian Atheist,   Craig Groschel states that 94% of the American Christians claim to believe in and follow a God that is good, loving, and benevolent.  But he goes on to surmise that 94% of American Christians aren’t living in a way that would show others they hold that belief.  He begins his book with this:  “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  In other words, do you know Christ so well that your outward behavior conveys that you know Him.

Take a sec and ask yourself that question. And then take a sec to consider the disciple, Peter.  When the going got tough, he wouldn’t admit to even knowing Jesus, let alone let himself get convicted for it.  And if Peter could do that, the “rock the church was built upon” Peter?  Um, well then, you better believe you and I are capable of that same level of denial in both word and deed.

“People claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.”

Titus 1:16, NLT

In our time here on Earth, I doubt many/any of us will actually be placed on trial for being a Christian, so we may never actually have to utter the words that we do not “know Him”. But we do deny Him when we live in ways that don’t mimic or reflect His heart.  Why do we do that?

Maybe it’s because we haven’t spent enough time with Him to really know Him.

THIS is why we are back at Bible study this fall: to get to know Him so well that our lives reflect Him in all we do.

We cannot know Him personally unless we spend time with Him. Bottom line.  And that means spending time with Him in more than just a mass or church service here, or a Bible study meeting there.  Girls, we need to be looking for Him.

You’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31, MSG

I love this quote by a 17th century French archbishop (Francois Fenelon):  “There is only one way to follow God:  to not take a single step without Him, and to follow with a brave heart wherever He leads.”

These spiritual disciplines we are about the begin studying together are ancient practices, or ways, in which we can seek that voice of God so that we can achieve that goal of not taking a single step without Him and following bravely and in faith where He leads.

“What God wants is reverential intimacy. He wants us close enough to Him that we know His heart – close enough to hear His heartbeat.  He wants to look in our eyes, and He wants us to look into His.  He wants us to hear His voice above all other voices we entertain.”  David Benne, Surrender to Love.

Girls, in order to know Him, we need to hear Him.

Did you know that the word obey comes from the Latin word audire, which mean to listen, or to hear.  And so, in order to know Jesus, we need to hear.  We need to be “all ears”.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey [hear] his commandments.

1 John 2:3-6, NLT

Every single spiritual discipline we will study, practice, and try together this fall has a common thread – we are learning to listen for His voice.

I love when I can bring things full circle. Last fall, we completed Margaret Feinberg’s study, Wonderstruck.   A few years before writing Wonderstruck, she wrote a very cool book about understanding scripture from the viewpoint of shepherds, farmers, and bee keepers.  It’s called Scouting the Divine.  I’ll park myself right here for a minute while you click this link to read something from that book that just might just blow your mind about the importance of getting to know His voice.

john 10 27, 29

Is  that perfect or what? He promises that we can hear His voice, and that when we follow Him: He. Will. Not. Let. Us. Go.

Amen to that. Jesus is not content to just sit around waiting for us.  He’s pulling up the chair, calling your name, cupping your face in His hands, and saying, “Come closer.”

What will you do? Because you do have a choice.  As for me,  I choose to scooch my chair right up next to His to hear Him speak to my heart. I will rest my head in His Holy hands. I will let Him disciple me (which is the root word in discipline, derived from a Greek word that simply means “gentle tutoring” – how awesome is that?) so that I can get “convicted” in the courts of heaven for being a follower of Christ.

Such good stuff, right? If you are interested in following along with us here online, click here to find out more about our study, Come Closer!  If you are in our physical studies OR following along online with the Enjoying Jesus book, please read Chapter 2, Days 1 and 2 (on prayer) for next week!

Are you rocking our playlist? Click here to hear the first song on our list: Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE

Each week, we will end  with a short phrase based on scripture that we can call to mind throughout the week, that helps us to set the tone each morning and throughout the day and helps remind us that we are seeking to infuse every moment of every day, not just Bible study morning and Sunday at church, with a deepening of our spiritual relationship with God.

This week, let’s recall that scripture from John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”  Our intention phrase/mantra this week is:  “Jesus, help me hear you today.”  Maybe you pray it before your feet hit the ground in the morning.  Maybe you say it several times during the day to remind yourself He promised you’d know His voice.  Maybe you use that short prayer in difficult moments or in simple celebrations of joys.  Maybe you turn it into a prayer of gratitude as your head hits the pillows at night:  “Jesus, thank you for speaking to me today.”  Use the comments section below to let us know how YOU hear and experience Him this week!

I pray blessings and love over each of you this week. Can’t wait to meet you back here next week for some thoughts on coming closer to God through prayer!

Peace, love and joy,

Wendie

 

 

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.

pitch that tent

“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!  😉