Tag Archives: Bible Study

“I love bread!” (Me too, Oprah ;) !)

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I was so incredibly excited when Oprah signed on with Weight Watchers.   I mean, I’m thrilled that she’s getting healthy and all that.  But honestly, the best part was when she said, – ON NATIONAL TELEVISION –  “I love bread”!

Breakfast toast with red heart jam symbol on a red checkered table cloth.

ME TOO, Sister Oprah! Me too!

My favorite kind of bread is homemade and hot out of the oven, fresh as can be, and with special touches (like organic sundried tomatoes baked right in and homegrown rosemary sprigs on top, and maybe even a little finely shredded artisan cheddar thrown in for good measure) that everyday, store bought brands just cannot produce.

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(Excuse me while I salivate…)

I’m coming out of the anti-gluten closet and admitting it.  I’m a girl who loves artisan bread.

I ALSO love craft beer and single vineyard wines.

I like small batch iced teas and I love the health benefits and freshness of organic food.

I’m “all-in” on the farm-to-table movement.

I completely support the sustainable food agenda.

I’d much rather each a whole food than one that’s been processed.  And don’t even get me started on stuff that’s been genetically modified or chemically enhanced.

(Let’s ignore my diet coke habit for the moment, shall we? *Ahem.*)

People  who love and care this much about food know ONE THING for sure: the process is just as important as the end product.

For instance, a food artisan knows everything about the ingredients and process of what she’s making, and often uses traditional methods.  Why?  Because she’s learned that tried and true ways of doing things endure; traditions create consistently masterful products.

The craftsman makes his product by hand, using minimal processing and checking each step of that process to ensure it is done to his specifications for a quality product that he’s proud to call his own.

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The small-batch creator believes in taking the time and effort to make each batch just so, just right, to please her consumers and make them feel special in receiving something that got such care in creation.

The food producers, shops, and restaurants who subscribe to the farm-to-table philosophy understand the value of cutting out the middle-man and ensuring the good stuff is coming directly from the maker.

And everyone who buys into the concept of sustainability is 100% on board in making sure that the resources we have will not be used up or destroyed so they can replenish as needed and continue for as long as possible.

The artisans who create these kinds of foods and drinks have two things in common:

  1. They are intentional in what they do (meaning they put thought, care, and time into each part of the process); and,
  2. They are specialized in their trade, not diversified (meaning they don’t have a million different things going on) which allows them to focus on the passion of their particular trade.

That’s pretty amazing stuff right there, don’t you think?!

So, what if we applied these concepts to something spiritual in addition to food? What if we used these ideas to radically affect our prayers and how we spoke them?

I think we’d be equally as nourished spiritually as we are when we eat cleanly!

I’m encouraging each of  us to do one (or more!) of the following things this week as we set some time aside for intentional prayer:

  • Apply the principle of organics: cut out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there!  Don’t be so verbose, adding in all kinds of words that don’t add anything to the purity of your prayers.  Keep it simple, sisters, and just say what you need to say as simply as possible. Then quietly sit back, waiting for Him to speak back to your spirit.

 

  • Use the concept of small batch creations and artisan work: be intentional in how you speak your prayers, carefully thinking about them and making little notes for yourself before you dive in.  Use traditional methods passed down to you from previous generations that honor the sacred process of prayer.  Use time-honored prayers you’ve heard in your own faith tradition to enrich your prayer life instead of saying those prayers as rote and perfunctory obligations.  Rewrite them in your own words in order to make them come alive to you again.

 

  • Subscribe to the main idea behind the farm-to-table “theology” and cut out the middle man! You have a direct line to Jesus!  Don’t “worry your prayers” with friends and hope God was listening while you did it; instead, sit down with God one-on-one and offer him your best instead of worn out and tired thoughts and prayers.  (“Go to the throne, not the phone!” 😉 )

 

  • Focus on sustainability in your prayer life. Try different methods until you can settle in on one or two that make it possible for you to be consistent and create quality, positive interaction between you and your Father.  Tend to the “soil” of your prayer life – if you will – which basically means to get your heart in the right condition to not only offer up gratitude and praise, but also to receive nourishing sacraments like forgiveness and loving correction.

Good soil can take years to cultivate, right? And even a novice gardener like me knows that sometimes the fields you use to grow something great need to be rested every now and again to maintain and regain their efficiency.  So be patient with yourself in this process and remain flexible in trying new things along the way, okay?

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The important thing is that you DO commit to trying to create something artisan with your prayers. Why?  Because it will make the difference between a processed, plastic bag of white bread and a hot-outta-the-oven, multi-grain loaf bejeweled with morsels of deliciousness!

Following along with our Wonder-FULL series?  (You can click here for more info!)  We are reading chapters .005 and .006 in the Wonderstruck main book and completing section 4 in the participant guide!  And check out our song of the week:  “In Your Hands” by Unspoken.  This acoustic version makes me SO happy!  Enjoy!

Peace, love and JOY!!!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Wonder of Friendship

 

 

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Is God Really Interested in Hanging Out with Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

You are Wonder-FULL. I mean it.

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Oh girls. OH MY GIRLS!  It’s here!  We’re live and in person and it’s WONDER-FULL!

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You know all those times when you somehow get all caught up in the distractions of today and lose sight of what you thought the day would be?  Or maybe you’re the type that starts out with the right mindset, yet somehow finds yourself replaying the mistakes of yesterday? Or…are you like me, and just find yourself obsessing over what “might” happen tomorrow?

Who am I kidding?  I fit all three categories.  Amen?

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, we’re here to remind you that…

GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.  He isn’t a task master.  He never is scary.  He never yells at you over what you did yesterday.  And He isn’t planning some icky, crazy,and unexpected “surprise” for tomorrow.  He’s on your side.  And He thinks you’re pretty incredible.

And He’s given you a life that’s wonderful...in terms of… FULL of WONDER.

Will you join us today in embarking on a study that helps us rediscover the goodness of God in ALL things and in ALL circumstances? Will you take a chance on the God who created ALL the beauty in this crazy universe and start believing that you are part of that wonder?

Will you anchor yourself to the present moment without letting the past pull you back or the future freak you out so much that you cannot see the wonder that is already filling your world?

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Say YES!  Join us this season for an eye-opening look at our good, good Father and all He has prepared and surrounded us with – even when (maybe ESPECIALLY when) we can’t seem to perceive it?

Sound fabulously wonder-full?!  Yeah.  We think so too.!  Join the all women in our area and the 600 women online following our study with us!  Click here for the full scoop – it’s going to be awesome!  We can’t wait to see you back here next week for our first lesson!

And here’s a question for you:  How do YOU know, that you know, that you KNOW you are experiencing the presence of God?!  Is it in nature?  Is it in music?  How about when you are creating something?  Or maybe when you are immersed in scripture?  In the faces of your kiddos?  The feisty (but-oh-so-cute) faces of your pets?  In the power of the ocean?  No matter HOW you know, we want to hear it!  Comment below for a very cool give-away!  We’ll announce the winner and the prize next week!

Welcome back to Bible study, sweet sisters!  We are super excited about this series and hope you will be too!  He’s always doing something new, isn’t He?!  That’s why it is ALWAYS an adventure to be His.

Annnnnnd…if you know me, you know I’m always going to leave you with a cool link to the coolest new songs.  So here is our song for this week, “Come to the Table” by one of my ALL TIME fave bands, The Sidewalk Prophets ( I LOVE their unplugged version from their “Family Room Sessions” instead of the radio edit version – I’m totally sure you’re going to love it, too!)!  Click here to enjoy!

Peace, love, and WONDER-FULL JOY!!!

Wendie

Up next week:  Magic!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Things You Can Find Today for More JOY!

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

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise sister friend!  And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

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From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much he wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.

Earth from Space

Take an easy hike outside this week and find things that meet the  criteria listed below!  Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.)
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” he created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring. Regardless of the season, let him remind you that he is always good.

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

Click here for the following easy goodies:

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

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

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

She did what she could (and it was enough)

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

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

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

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

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

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(Photo and beautiful artwork cred:  Tammy Mill 2016)

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

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

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

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

Think about that.

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

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

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

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

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

Miracles. They start with an offering.

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

I’m doing it on purpose (and I’m not sorry)

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I’m spilling it all here today, right here.  The secrets are coming out and I’m tell it all to you on purpose.  And I am not even remotely sorry about it.

So, what’s the big deal?

BIBLE STUDY – that’s what!!!!

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Did I get you?! I hope so!  I love a good hook…

Is there anything more FUN than the beginning of a Bible study series?! Well, you might be able to name a thing or two… 😉

But around here, there is a certain giddiness and awesomeness surrounding the start to a new study season. First, I think it’s because we are finally back together again after a month or more apart!  The joy of seeing one another again and knowing it will be on a regular basis for a bit fills us with joy and giggles!

Add to that an inner anticipation of all the Godly wisdom and knowledge we always seem to glean every time we study God’s Living Word together, and you have the perfect recipe for greatness!

Oh, and lest we forget to mention – THE GOODIES! Yeah.  We’re kind of gaga for goodies.  And who WOULDN’T be when you get study supports like THESE:

Whole package of goodies

You’re all excited just lookin’ at it, aren’t you?! A super cool package all wrapped up in pretty orange ribbon, AND a reusable Starbucks cup!!!  WAHOOOOO!

“So”, you ask, “what’s inside?”

I’m so glad you asked…

The rest of the goodies

So then, you’ve got yourself some prayer cards for sharing prayer requests and praises with your sister friends! All you need for this is a simple o-ring and some tags with a hole punched on them, tied up with a cute ribbon!

You also have some kleenex (we cry a lot…), mints (because “..fresh breath is a priority in my life” – Sixteen Candles quote, thank you very much!), a pen, and a couple mandarin oranges to keep up your strength while you study!

You also have your series CD chocked full of some of our favorite current Christian tunes! You can click here to see the song list for yourself!  You can find the songs on iTunes and other downloadable music stores, OR you can even search the web for free videos of the songs!

And finally, you have your “on purpose” Book of Inspiration!  It’s 20-pages of scripture and inspirational quotes that correspond to our weekly lessons, designed to get you thinking and connecting the dots between what we are learning in study and how to apply it to everyday life!  (It you want to create your own booklet, you can click here for instructions and the link to the cards themselves.)

So. You ready to begin?  We are!  Our studies begin here in our local area next week.  If you aren’t in one of our studies, we encourage you to start one of your own and use this blog as your reference for teaching notes and schedule!  We also invite you to simply follow along individually with us here if you prefer!  Whatever floats your boat gives us a boost of encouragement to keep doing what we are doing, so thank YOU for coming along with us on the journey.  A new blog will post each Thursday through April 28th, when we wind down for a bit to get geared up for our summer series…but that’s another story…

Okay, girlies. It’s time.  Get your books, get excited and GET READY TO STUDY next week.  We’ll be waiting for you – we’re chomping at the bit to get going TOGETHER!

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Let’s get to living this one wild and precious life on purpose, shall we?

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week: The Heart of the Matter

Wanna know a secret?

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Pssst. Hey, you.  Yes, YOU.

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

You are not here by chance.

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

In other words…

You are here on purpose.

Isn’t it time you started living that way?

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

Wanna join us? Thought so!

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

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

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

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

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

Look Out Energizer Bunny – I’m Coming for you.

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Recharge.

Revive.

Re-energize.

Elle (my favorite 14-year old in the whole world) got this crazy contraption for Christmas.

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It’s a super-duper, fancy schmancy phone case that doubles as a battery charger.  It basically means her phone is never, ever able to collapse, energy-wise.

God knows we could all use a recharging battery pack.  (Only the one WE need must fit our bodies, not our phones.)

Yeah.  THAT is what I need right now.  One of those Energizer Packs in a big-girl size, please.  Thank you very much!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30, MSG

Unforced rhythms of grace?!  Really?!  Is it honestly possible?  Living freely, lightly, and even (dare I say it) fully energized?

But, Lord.  I’m tired.  I’m depleted.  I’m BUSY.  I’m spent.  I’m something to everyone, yet unable to be anything to anyone.  I’m a “Push-me Pull-you” from Dr. Dolittle, going in circles, looking busy but unable to finish a thing because I just can’t seem to get everything moving in the same direction.

Can no one help?

Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  Romans 7:24-25, MSG

So I need to learn to live like Jesus.

Wait…WHAT?!  Live LIKE Jesus?

Is it possible?!  I mean, can we – even today – learn to tap into that tempo of grace that Jesus so confidently promises?  Can we learn to honestly find our footing on even enough ground where we feel we aren’t running uphill all the time and, instead, clip along at a pace that’s full of grace?

A little digging turns up a lot of insight.  Take a look at this:

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Jesus is giving us the perfect solution through this equation, isn’t he?!  Come to me.  Walk with me.  Learn from me.

“LIVE like me”, he says.  So, I say YES.  YES, Jesus, I will. 

Will YOU?

Join us this winter and spring as we delve into this equation and uncover the secret to living in the unforced rhythms of grace.  Let’s get this right.  THIS time, let’s get it right together!

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If you’re local (in the Glen Ellyn/Wheaton area!), sign up for one of our in-person Bible studies!  Email wendieconnors@gmail.com for availability!

If you aren’t local, or have a schedule that doesn’t allow for daytime Bible study, just keep yourself connected here!  We’ll be going through Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes book and study guide here, too!  We’ll do it together – whether in person OR online!

Watch our online video series, GracePace, on Mayslake Ministries YouTube page throughout Lent 2015!  We’ll have the links up here when they go live, along with some cool graphics and summaries for you!

It’s time to refill and to believe God for a life that is FULL of grace and energy, not depletion!

Join us, won’t you?!  We begin the week of February 16th – plenty of time to order your books.  Click here to get them from Amazon.com!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

The Days I Always Dread

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“Sunday Night Syndrome”.  It’s honestly a real thing.  I don’t make this stuff up.  (Plus, Google says it’s real so I’m going with it… 😉 )

But seriously, I do believe it’s actually a REAL deal of a psychological phenomenon.

It’s that “blue-ish” kind of feeling many of us get on Sunday evenings (or ANY evening, really) as the fun and relaxation of the weekend comes to an end and we get ourselves back into “go” mode for the work week/school week, or whatever kind of week you might be dreading!

Know what I’m talking about?!

I’ve been known to experience it from time to time, especially around the time an elongated vacation comes to an end (as in:  summer vacation) or even the end of a special time I’ve spent with people I care about (as in:  the last day of Bible study).

That’s where I find myself today – feeing the blues – because today is the final day of our Fall 2014 Bible study series:

Seeing the Big Picture Romans Logo

So, yeah.  I’m feeling a smidgen “blue”.

I know, I know.  “All good things must come to an end”, and all that.

And yes, I know that we’ll start up again after the holidays have come and gone.  But it doesn’t change the fact that, today, I’m sad.

But here’s the crazy thing.  I’m also elated!  I’ve seen friends grow exponentially through the study of this amazing book of Romans.

I’ve watched as light bulbs went on in the spirited minds of people in our study because of Paul’s honesty and willingness to share from his heart.

I’ve witnessed moments of faith, steadily maturing, as we full-on dove into God’s Living Word and let it change us from the inside out.

I’ve listened as people told stories of sharing insights with their families and friends (even in the grocery store!); I’ve been amazed at stories of spouses sharing back their own experiences.

And I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for a Father in Heaven who so graciously gives us exactly what we need, when we need it.

A God who speaks to us in inspired words penned 2000 years ago, yet still somehow relevantly apply to our life situations today.

A God who hasn’t once left our sides, even when we veer directly off course, and shines the light back on the path to encourage us to come home.

So, even in the feeling of not wanting this to end, I’m realizing there is an abundance of joy in my soul!  There is evidence of change for the better; proof of His faithfulness, grace, and mercy; and a hopeful sense of anticipation for what’s next!  Listen to this:

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.  Romans 8:15, MSG

So, my friend, maybe you’re like me today and facing the end of something you treasure.  Well… take heart!  God promises that if we stick close to him, something equally amazing (OR POSSIBLY EVEN BETTER) is right around the corner.

dont-cry-because-its-over-smile-because-it-happened

Experiences with our awesome God change us for the forever better, sweet friends.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to participate in them.  They exist all around you:

Join a Bible study; plug in to your local church; GO FOR A WALK; listen to some great music.

PRAY.

Have lunch with a friend; read a great book; hug your dog.  Take a warm bath; write a letter to someone special; or simply BE STILL.

Let’s encourage each other not to dwell on endings, but instead, seek out new beginnings with God.

He’s waiting!  Go find out what He’s got up His sleeve for you.  I guarantee it’s gonna be good.

And speaking of GOOD

Even though this session of Bible study has come to an end, we are already gearing up behind the scenes to get ready for our NEXT one beginning in early 2015 – and it’s pretty awesome!  We’ll be announcing it soon right here.  In the meantime, beginning next week, we’ll be moving our posting schedule back to Tuesdays.  And not only will we be posting cool new stuff, but we’ll also be reprising some of our most popular posts from the past!

Thank you for your friendship, your comments, your insights, and your encouragement as we journeyed with Paul through his letter to the Romans!  I loved every second of it and sure hope you did, too!

One last song before we go, tho!  Check out this video for “Start a Fire” by Unspoken!  It’s the perfect anthem for our God-ignited souls!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Beauty of Saying Thank You!

The Antidote for Crazy, Control Freaks

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I have a tendency to want to do things my way. Like, all the time. On a good day, you might say I’m just a quirky, micro-manager. On a bad day, well, I don’t think I want to know what you’d say about me.

I get all caught up in keeping control of “the situation”, thinking I know the best way to do things, handle things, say things…you get the picture. And the more stressed and the busier I get, the bigger control freak and the more defensive I become.

Try to give me advice? Forget about it. Offer to help? I don’t think so, thank you very much. Remind me to “let go and let God”? Let’s say you just better run for the hills if you offer up that gem.

I get ahold of the reins and I don’t let go. I pull those reins tighter and harder until…you guessed it; I get bucked off the horse, rubbing the knot on my head wondering where it all went wrong.

Sounding at all familiar? Thought so.

We can be a prideful people, disguising it all under the headings of productivity, industriousness, and results-oriented living. But strip away the disguise and what it really amounts to is: the fear of failure; the fear of being seen as who you really are; and the fear of losing control.

Psalm 127

What if we really learned and applied the message of these verses? What if we could/would honestly ask God into every area of our life (home, work, community, and spirit life) and let Him show us HIS way?

Would our perception of success look different? Yeah. I am quite sure it would.

Maybe our foundations would feel firmer. Maybe our rest would feel more refreshing. Maybe our faith would feel more, well, real.

Maybe we would be stronger, less fatigued, happier, more humble, less filled with pride and insecurity.

 humility does not equal humiliation

 

Instead, humility means accepting God’s Way over my way. God’s Unchanging Truth over the world’s volatility. The Bedrock of Salvation over the trappings of a shiny, empty promise.

So how do we get there? How do we learn the process of letting go, stepping out in faith, walking on water? We listen to God’s Word, taking it in however and whenever we can, trusting that it is already tilling the soil of our spirits and taking root in our hearts. We take moments of our day to slow it down to hear what He would have us know, to tell Him our heartaches and heart desires, to bless Him and to be blessed back. To let go of the reins wound so tightly around our fingers and place them back in the Only Hands who could ever steer that horse straight in the first place.

It took a lot of practice for us to learn to hold those reins so tightly. It’s going to take some practice to learn to give them up, too. Let’s do this together.

If you are interested in joining me, click here for some additional scripture and words on how to seek God’s voice in your life. I’ll be praying for you, knowing that he is waiting there for each of us who are looking to Him with sincere hearts!

For all of you setting out on Spring break this weekend, I pray protection and blessings over you, asking God to shower you will joy and great moments of memory making! Happy Trails – remember not to hold those reins too tightly!

Give yourself a moment of rest today and watch this glorious video of Hillsong United preforming “Ocean”.

 

Peace, Love, and JOY!
Wendie

Up Next Week: A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ from the Archives!